Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Grant Trifecta

In addition to everything less that went on at Monday's informal Common Council meeting, John "Duke" Duchessi and Bill Roehr, of TGW Consulting, made a presentation about three grant applications being made on behalf of the City of Hudson: Community Development Block Grant, Rural Area Revitalization, and Main Street. The Council will be asked to approve the latter two at its meeting on July 16. 

On June 6, at a meeting advertised as a continuation of the public hearing to solicit ideas from the community, Roehr pitched a project that brought together funds from the three programs--CDBG, Rural Area Revitalization, and Main Street--and concentrated them on a single area to make exterior improvements to owner-occupied houses. At the time, Roehr suggested the target area might be the 200 and 300 blocks of State Street.

Since that meeting, the plan seems to have changed. On June 27, at a meeting of the board of Hudson Community Development & Planning Agency (HCDPA), Duchessi described a CDBG application that would seek $400,000 for housing rehabilitation. Grants from this $400,000 would be available to low and very low income homeowners for housing rehabilitation. The maximum grant per house would be $20,000, and upgrades to heating and plumbing systems would be priorities. No mention of exterior improvements.

A public hearing about the project chosen for the CDBG application is scheduled for Thursday, July 11, at 6 p.m. in City Hall.
Meanwhile, at the informal Common Council meeting on June 8, Roehr and Duchessi explained the proposals for the other two grant programs: Rural Area Revitalization and Main Street. For the Rural Area Revitalization program, the proposal is to seek $200,000, which must be matched with $50,000 from the City, to make repairs to 10 Warren Street, the double house on lower Warren Street that is the location of the Hudson Day Care Center. According to this plan, $250,000 would be used to give the building a new roof, re-point the chimneys, and make structural improvements in the cellar. 

It has been suggested more than once--most recently by Alderman John Friedman (Third Ward) when discussing plans for the senior center--that the City should sell this building, valuable for its desirable location in the first block of Warren Street, and relocate the day care center to a building more suitable for providing care to infants and preschool children. On Monday, however, Roehr said it had been determined that there was no better place for the day care center, although it wasn't clear who had come to that conclusion or by what process.

For the Main Street program, the application would seek funding for facade improvements for commercial buildings on Columbia Street. When asked about the target area, since Columbia Street has so few commercial buildings, the answer was "from Fourth to Seventh." But how many commercial buildings are there in that stretch of Columbia?

From Fourth to Fifth, there's only Club Helsinki--unless the building owned by the not-for-profit TSL somehow qualifies as commercial. From Fifth to Sixth, there's Five & Diamond, Keegan's Antique Restoration & Custom Design, the office of Phil Gellert's Northern Empire Realty, and the office of Columbia Opportunities, also not strictly speaking commercial. From Sixth of Seventh, there are residences on the north side and parking lots on the south side, and at the corner, the former Community Theater now owned by the not-for-profit Marina Abramovic Institute.

Columbia from Seventh to Eighth streets would make a far better target area for a grant intended for facade improvements to commercial buildings. On that part of Columbia Street there exists an almost continuous streetscape of surviving commercial buildings--particularly on the south side of Columbia between Park Place and Eighth Street. Maybe Duchessi and Roehr misspoke when they said Fourth to Seventh.

Whether or not they got the target for the Main Street grant right, one wonders that happened to the synergy? What happened to the plan to focus three funding sources on a single area to really make an impact? Now the only thing the projects have in common is that they are all north of or on the north side of Warren Street. 

Perhaps we will learn more tomorrow night at the public hearing. It begins at 6 p.m. at City Hall.


  1. why do these people need government grants? why waste the money? how about selling the building and making money ?

  2. "Roehr said it had been determined that there was no better place for the day care center, although it wasn't clear who had come to that conclusion or by what process."

    If he was elevating his own "determination," as I believe he's done in the past, then he ought to be reminded of his place (again). Such things are for residents to decide, not bureaucrats from elsewhere. He should try living here before expressing such opinions, at which time he can test his views against his equals.

    Thank you Gossips, for not letting him get away with that infuriating garbage.