Tuesday, November 17, 2015

One Step Closer

Tonight a supplemental bond resolution, authorizing the city treasurer to seek an additional $1.7 million to finance the police and court building, came before the Common Council for a vote, and as usually happens when the subject is the police and court building, all hell broke loose.

Alderman Robert "Doc" Donahue (Fifth Ward) wanted to know why the authorization couldn't wait until the bids came in. Council president Don Moore explained that the municipal bidding process requires that the City has the authorization to borrow the money for the project when bids are solicited.

Alderman Tiffany Garriga (Second Ward) wanted to know if the money had to be used for 701 Union Street, claiming that "people wanted a different building--a different vacant building or starting from the ground up."

Aldermen Abdus Miah (Second Ward) fretted at length about the increased cost of the project. 

Donahue brought up once again the additional amount that had to be paid to the architect to analyze the cost estimates, do the value engineering, and redesign the building as a consequence of the initial bid--the only one received--coming in too high. Once again, Moore pointed out that the total amount that has been paid to the architect is still less than the next lowest bid the City received from architectural firms.

Clearly annoyed by the quibbling, Alderman Henry Haddad read aloud a letter received this morning from the Office of Court Administration. The entire letter can be read here, but the salient paragraph is this:
In light of the long history of delays in addressing the needs of the Hudson City Court, it is essential that this project move forward now, and any further delay would require that we consider our legal options under section 39 of the Judiciary Law.
Among OCA's legal options is building a new courthouse for Hudson--just a courthouse, not a police headquarters, too--and making the City pay for it. Moore pointed out that this happened in Newburgh, and the cost to the City of Newburgh was $8 or $10 million. To put things in perspective, Moore also told of a proposal from 1991, discovered in the city clerk's files, to construct a police, court, and city hall building for $8.5 million and made the point that, a quarter century later, $4.3 million for a police and court building seemed to be a good deal.

Alderman John Friedman (Third Ward) called the city's current accommodation for the court and the police force "an abomination, an embarrassment." He charged that "every step of the way, this project has been befouled by members of the Council who bring no understanding or professional acumen" to the task, and he railed against "members of the Council who think they are adding to the conversation by questioning how much money is being spent." He declared $4.3 million was "a small amount of money for a city police and court building."

When the resolution finally came to a vote, it passed unanimously, although Miah prefaced his vote by saying he didn't want the project to go "one dime over $4.3 million." 

After the vote, Miah stood, gathered his belongings, and, after delivering an indignant tirade incomprehensible to this observer, left the room. He did not, however, leave the building. He was still in the lobby of City Hall when the meeting was adjourned.


  1. Thank you to those Aldermen who didn't indulge in incivility.

    To the others, what is wrong with you?