Wednesday, July 15, 2020

We Are Not Alone

The numbers from the Columbia County Department of Health suggest that we're doing fine, but apparently that's not the case everywhere in the Capital Region. According to a press release from the Columbia County Board of Supervisors, Albany County had 44 new cases of COVID-19 earlier this week. The number of new cases being reported today for Albany County is 33. This increase in Albany County could be a setback for the entire Capital Region. The press release states:
Of particular concern at the moment are July 4 gatherings, which appear to have generated much of the recent positive test results in the Albany area, according to Albany County Executive Dan McCoy.
"I would urge anyone who attended a party around that time to get tested," said Columbia County Board of Supervisors Chairman Matt Murell. "It's important for the individuals involved and, should positive tests turn up, for others who were in attendance with those individuals and who may have become infected. Everyone needs to continue to do their part to stop the spread of the virus. Nobody wants to see the strides we've made to reopen the economy get turned around now."

COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health has released its numbers for today. Since yesterday, there have been no new cases of COVID-19 and there have been two recoveries, reducing the number of active cases in the county by two, to 14. There are six fewer county residents in mandatory quarantine today than there were yesterday, and six fewer on precautionary quarantine. Two people have left the hospital, and there have been no new deaths. All good news!
As of 3:00 p.m. on July 15, 2020:
  • Columbia County has had 37 residents that have passed away from COVID-19.
  • Columbia County has 463 confirmed positive cases.
  • There are 14 active cases of COVID-19 in Columbia County. We are monitoring 43 county residents on mandatory quarantine, and there are 18 on precautionary quarantine.
  • 412 of the 463 cases have recovered from COVID-19
  • 7 of the positive cases are hospitalized, none of those hospitalized are in the ICU
  • We have received 14,662 PCR reports. Please note this number may represent duplicate reports, out of county reports, and multiple nursing home testings.

Lodging Tax Dollars at Work

The law that created Hudson's short-term lodging tax and also created a Tourism Board, empowered to "take all steps it determines desirable, necessary and proper to market the City of Hudson as a destination for overnight and day-trip visitors." The law also allocated a percentage of the revenue from the lodging tax to be used by the Tourism Board in the fulfillment of its mission. In January 2020, the Common Council amended Section 275 Article VIII of the city code to defund the Tourism Board and direct all revenues from the lodging tax into the general fund, but the Tourism Board still has an estimated $435,000 to use at its discretion, with the approval of the Common Council.

The original Tourism Board understood its task as trying to figure out how Hudson could perpetuate itself as a destination of interest to travel and leisure journalists and to travelers. The effort to hire a consultant to help craft a strategy for marketing Hudson encountered stiff opposition from members of the community and the Common Council. Now, a new Tourism Board, reconstituted at the beginning of 2020, is redefining its mission and doling out the $435,000 in grants to community events and projects--much in the way that the Common Council Arts, Entertainment and Tourism Committee used to with $20,000 or $25,000 back in the day.

On July 1, the Common Council approved grants totaling $63,625. On Monday, July 13, the Council approved a second round of grants totaling $66,800. So far, the total amount awarded to the projects listed below is $130,425. The Tourism Board still has $300,000 to go. Click on the name of the recipient in the list below to see the proposal for the event or project to be funded.

Update on Hudson Small Businesses

At the end of June, Marie Balle and Ian Chambers closed the brick and mortar version of Look Hudson. Earlier this week, Wendy Kenneally announced on Facebook that Bruno's would not be reopening. Today, Paul de Marchin announced in an email that de Marchin, which opened in May 1996, would be closing in August 2020. The message begins:
It was with mixed emotions that I decided last year, in September 2019, to close de Marchin this August after 24 years.
Although I'm sad about closing in Hudson with many new opportunities for growth on the horizon, I look forward to remaining in the area to see them thrive. I truly believe Hudson is ready to resume its Renaissance and resurgence.
On a brighter note, yesterday, on Bastille Day, the Red Dot celebrated its 21st anniversary!

One Solution to All Our Problems

While the Common Council is still considering the tax abatements sought by the Galvan Foundation for the 70-unit building it has proposed for North Seventh Street, Mayor Kamal Johnson today announced another campaign promise fulfilled and another partnership with Galvan. Here's the press release:
Hudson Mayor Kamal Johnson today announced that the city will be providing $50,000 in grants to minority-owned small businesses and free technical assistance to minority entrepreneurs. The City is coordinating the technical assistance program, which is expected to include support with business planning, marketing, accounting, bookkeeping, human resources, website development, and financing.
The programs are made possible by a $100,000 grant from Galvan Foundation to the City. In addition, Galvan announced plans to partner with the City to create a $1 million revolving loan fund to provide low-interest loans to minority-owned businesses in Hudson and Columbia County.
"As mayor, my highest priority is bringing equity to our city. That means improving access to health care and housing, as well as making sure that entrepreneurs of color can successfully start and grow businesses. The programs we are announcing today will help our businesses get through these unprecedented times and thrive in the years to come," said Mayor Johnson.
"Hudson's business community has been hit hard by COVID-19, and for minority-owned businesses, the crisis is one more obstacle that they must overcome. We are pleased to partner with Mayor Johnson to provide immediate funding and long-term support to the small businesses that need it most," said Dan Kent, Galvan Foundation's vice president of initiatives.
Interested businesses should contact Michael Chameides at mayoralaide@cityofhudson.org for more information on how to apply for grants and technical assistance.

You Can't Come Here From There . . .

unless you're prepared to self-quarantine for two weeks.

On Tuesday, four more states--Minnesota, New Mexico, Ohio, and Wisconsin--were added to the list of high risk states, and one state--Delaware--made it off the list. There are now twenty-two states on New York's list of states from which travelers arriving by plane must complete the traveler health form and travelers arriving by land, sea, or sky must quarantine for fourteen days. Those states are:
  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Iowa
  • Idaho
  • Kansas
  • Louisiana
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Wisconsin

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

STRs and Hudson

Yesterday, the HDC Emergency Business Task Force held a roundtable discussion of the proposed law to regulate short term rentals (STRs) in Hudson. The proposed law can be viewed here. Seventy-eight people participated in the Zoom meeting.

The meeting started off with Bob Rasner, president of the HDC board, presenting a study that he and HDC executive director Branda Maholtz had done to provide factual evidence that "Hudson's economy is heavily dependent on visitors." The entire study can be found here, but some of the more salient facts are these. In 2019, visitors staying overnight in Hudson paid $346,193 in lodging tax and $692,386 in sales tax. As the study points out: "Before they dined or shopped they paid over ONE MILLION DOLLARS in taxes." The study also provides these statistics:
In 2019 there were 492 rooms available each night in Hudson. Each of those rooms brings a minimum of $32,648 visitor spending to the city each year. Every room contributes $703.64 in lodging taxes. Every room contributes $10,438 in restaurant charges. Every room contributes $2,280 in sales taxes. 
The study also pointed out that in three significant revenue lines--lodging tax, sales tax, and parking fees--the City is falling significantly behind last year and what was budgeted for this year.
  • Lodging Tax--in 2019, the City budgeted $280,000 and took in $346,193; in 2020, the City budgeted $340,000 and in the first half of the year has taken in $24,705.
  • Sales Tax--in 2019, the City budgeted $1,700,000 and took in $1,791,922; in 2020, the City budgeted $1,900,000 and in the first half of the year has taken in $419,099.
  • Parking Fees--in 2019, the City budgeted $315,000 and took in 346,864; in 2020, the City budgeted $350,000 and in the first half of the year has taken in $94,829.
Rasner commented, "The City budget is falling way short on revenue from these sources, and now we are looking at restricting them."

In talking about the purpose of the law, Alderman John Rosenthal (Fourth Ward) spoke of the large number of houses that are being converted to STRs and the need for workforce housing and claimed that "STRs contribute to the increase in rent." Responding to that, Rasner asked: "Does the [Legal Committee] have any factual evidence that this legislation will have any effect on affordable housing?" Rosenthal did not have a clear answer to that.

Interestingly, Rosenthal, who chairs the committee that drafted the legislation, seemed to want to distance himself from the current draft. At one point, he said he wanted a "simple law," with a "simple residency requirement." He also expressed the opinion that the second draft--the one now being considered--"dives too far." One was reminded that when Mayor Rick Rector vetoed a nine-month moratorium on new STRs in December 2019, he pointed out that the Legal Committee had already been working for more than a year on legislation and during that time "there could have been common sense legislation such as 'owner occupied' regulation put into place." 

Rosenthal maintained that the draft "is not necessarily the one that will be passed next month." When Monica Byrne observed that what he was saying was inconsistent with the draft legislation, Rosenthal said he had decided to "put this out to get input" to arrive at "sensible legislation." He also reported he had gotten responses from people who "totally support the concept." 

At the end of the meeting, Rasner commented on how respectful the group had been in its discussion, which was true, but he obviously wasn't monitoring the chat. When the new owner of two buildings that were formerly part of the Inn at Ca' Mea remarked, "Taking away beds, we will strangle the city's economy," Dylan Weidman retorted in the chat, "Y'all wealthy bastards are strangling our community."

The link to the recording of the Zoom meeting can be found here.
COPYRIGHT 2020 CAROLE OSTERINK

COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health has released its numbers for today. Since yesterday, there have been no new cases of COVID-19 and three more recoveries, reducing the number of active cases by three, to 16. The number of residents in mandatory quarantine remains the same; there is one fewer person in precautionary quarantine. The number of people hospitalized with the virus remains the same, and there have been no new deaths.
As of 3:00 p.m. on July 14, 2020:
  • Columbia County has had 37 residents that passed away from COVID-19.
  • Columbia County has 463 confirmed positive cases.
  • There are 16 active cases of COVID-19 in Columbia County. We are monitoring 49 county residents on mandatory quarantine, and there are 24 on precautionary quarantine.
  • 410 of the 463 cases have recovered from COVID-19
  • 9 of the positive cases are hospitalized, none of those hospitalized are in the ICU
  • We have received 14,415 PCR reports. Please note this number may represent duplicate reports, out of county reports, and multiple nursing home testings. 

Ear to the Ground

This month, the Hudson Housing Authority did not provide information for accessing the Zoom meeting of the Board of Commissioners, and when Gossips contacted board chair Randall Martin to request access, there was no response. The audio recording of the meeting is now available on the HHA website.

The interesting news from HHA, which was shared today by Martin at the HCDPA (Hudson Community Development and Planning Agency) meeting this morning, is that HHA is "looking into a lower density project on the State Street site." He mentioned specifically townhouses. An RFP for the project is expected to be ready within the next 45 days.

Martin indicated that the soil at the site "is conducive to doing a lower density project," which suggests that instability of the soil, a situation that has plagued Bliss Towers across the street for decades, may have contributed to the decision to abandon the ambitious development plans that were proposed in 2018.

 COPYRIGHT 2020 CAROLE OSTERINK

COVID and the Rest of the Country

In his COVID-19 briefing on Monday, Governor Andrew Cuomo reported that the rate of COVID-19 infections is now increasing in thirty-nine states and the District of Columbia.

Cuomo also announced a new requirement for people arriving by plane in New York--not just New York City but any airport in the state--from any one of the high risk states. (There are now nineteen.) This new requirement was inspired by the asymptomic passengers who landed at the Albany airport from Georgia and tested positive for COVID-19 four days later.

Every passenger arriving at any airport in New York from one of the high risk states must complete a form indicating where they came from and where they are going. Failure to submit the form will result in a $2,000 fine and mandatory quarantine.

The nineteen states to which this travel advisory applies are:
  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Iowa
  • Idaho
  • Kansas
  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi
  • North Carolina
  • Nevada
  • Oklahoma
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah 
COPYRIGHT 2020 CAROLE OSTERINK

Monday, July 13, 2020

COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health has released its numbers for today. Since yesterday, there have been three new cases of COVID-19 and six more recoveries, reducing the number of active cases in the county by three, to 19. The number of residents in mandatory quarantine has increased by six, and the number in precautionary quarantine has increased by three. The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 remains unchanged, as does the number of deaths from the virus.
As of 3:30 p.m. on July 13, 2020:
  • Columbia County has had 37 residents that have passed away from COVID-19.
  • Columbia County has 463 confirmed positive cases.
  • There are 19 active cases of COVID-19 in Columbia County. We are monitoring 49 county residents on mandatory quarantine, and there are 25 on precautionary quarantine.
  • 407 of the 463 case have recovered from COVID-19
  • 9 of the positive cases are hospitalized, none of those hospitalized are in the ICU
  • We have received 14,123 PCR reports. Please note this number may represent duplicate reports, out of county reports, and multiple nursing home testings.

Chicken Law Redux

At the June Common Council meeting, the proposed law amending the city code to allow the "keeping and raising of chickens" was laid on the aldermen's desks.

At that meeting, Alderman Jane Trombley (First Ward) said that she wanted to go on record as having changed her mind about the chicken law. She acknowledged she had supported it "in the winter, when it seemed like a cool, quirky idea," but now, "with the enhanced understanding of disease transmission" brought on by the pandemic, she did not. She spoke of the "overall detriment to quality of life" and asserted "to further burden code enforcement is not appropriate." Alderman John Rosenthal (Fourth Ward) argued "the benefits [of backyard chickens] far outweigh risks of Hudson becoming ground zero for the next pandemic." Alderman Rebecca Wolff dismissed Trombley's concerns as "a superstitious connection and not something that should stand in the way."

Gossips again refers readers to an article that appeared in Bloomberg CityLab in 2018: "Have Backyard Chickens Gone Too Free-Range?" The thesis of the article is that urban poultry laws need to be stricter about public health and animal welfare. On the issue of public health, the article states:
Although urban poultry-keepers often believe that their birds, and eggs, are safer and more nutritious than products of commercial farms, many municipal regulations do not address sanitation, vaccination, or disease control. Indeed, urban poultry is linked to hundreds of salmonella cases each year in the United States. In Egypt, 70 percent of the people who came down with H5N1 bird flu in a 2015 outbreak reported exposure to backyard poultry.
The attention given to public health and animal welfare in the law being proposed by the Common Council is pretty much limited to this: "Chickens must be provided with adequate food, water and space, and all premises occupied or used by chickens shall be kept in a clean, sanitary condition."

The Council will not be voting to enact the proposed chicken law tonight, because it's the informal meeting, but they may be planning to do so next week, the regular monthly Council meeting on July 21.

To access tonight's informal Council meeting, click here. The meeting ID is 817 6249 4408; the password is 344882.
COPYRIGHT 2020 CAROLE OSTERINK

What's Happening for the Rest of the Week

Gossips published the meetings for today this morning, before rushing off to join the site tour and discussion at Promenade Hill. (A report about that will follow.) Now to catch up on the meetings happening during the rest of the week. 
  • On Tuesday, July 14, Hudson Development and Planning Agency (HCDPA) meets at 10:30 a.m. You never know what may happen at these meetings. The HCDPA board is made up entirely of ex officio members: the mayor (Kamal Johnson), Common Council majority leader (Tiffany Garriga) and minority leader (Rebecca Wolff), Planning Board chair (Betsy Gramkow), and Hudson Housing Authority board chair (Randall Martin). Click here to access the Zoom meeting. The meeting ID is 817 4877 8841; the password is 597143.
  • At 1:00 p.m. on Tuesday, July 14, the IDA (Industrial Development Agency) will meet to continue its consideration of a PILOT for 620 Hudson House LLC. Click here to access the meeting on Google Meet. Questions and comments during the meeting can be emailed to mtucker@columbiaedc.com.
  • At 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday, July 14, the HDC Emergency Cultural Task Force holds its regular weekly meeting at 3:00 p.m. Click here to access the meeting. The meeting ID is 972 7312 5560; the password is 009933.
  • At 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, July 14, the Planning Board meets at 6:00 p.m. On the agenda for the meeting are public hearings on proposals 502 Union Street and 620 Union Street and conditional use permits for A. Colarusso and Sons. Information to access this meeting has not yet been provided, but the meeting can be viewed on YouTube at Hudson City Zoom Meetings
  • On Wednesday, July 15, there are no meetings. The ZBA (Zoning Board of Appeals) meeting regularly scheduled for that day has been canceled.
  • On Thursday, July 16, the HDC Emergency Hospitality Task Force is scheduled to meet at 3:00 p.m. Click here to access the meeting. The meeting ID is 857 3559 2807; the password is 917586.
  • At 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, July 16, the Common Council Economic Development Committee is scheduled to hold its regular monthly meeting. Information to access the meeting has not yet been made available.
  • On Friday, July 17, the Tourism Board meets at 5:00 p.m. An agenda and information to access the Zoom meeting have not yet been made available.

Reminder to Commenters

Totally anonymous comments will not be published. You can use a pseudonym. You can use your initials. But comments submitted without some identification will be ignored.

Meetings of Importance Today

There's a lot going on today. We'll focus on today's meetings first. We'll cover the rest of the week later.
  • At 11:00 a.m., the DRI Committee is making a site visit to Promenade Hill with Starr Whitehouse, the landscape architecture firm that will be doing the renovation/restoration of the historic park and the plaza that leads to it. The public is invited to join in on the visit. You are required to wear a mask and stay six feet apart, a situation that will undoubtedly challenge everyone's hearing.
  • At 3:00 p.m., the HDC Emergency Business Task Force is holding a roundtable discussion of the proposed law to regulate STRs (short term rentals). Alderman John Rosenthal (Fourth Ward), who chairs the Legal Committee which drafted the legislation, will be present to answer questions. Click here to access the meeting. The meeting ID is 884 8032 6330; the password is 658221.
  • At 6:00 p.m., the Common Council holds a special meeting to consider more grants recommended by the Tourism Board. Click here to join the meeting. The meeting ID is 878 2698 2980; the password is 173110.
  • At 7:00 p.m., the Common Council holds its monthly informal meeting. As yet, the agenda for the meeting has not been made available nor has the information needed to access the meeting been provided.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Pressure on the Planning Board

The Planning Board is meeting on Tuesday, July 14, and back on the agenda is the public hearing on the conditional use permits sought by A. Colarusso and Sons. The process has been going on for years now, but lately there's been pressure from some elected officials for the Planning Board to make a decision--the decision being to sacrifice the waterfront in order to get the gravel trucks off the streets. 

One of the voices calling for the Planning Board to grant Colarusso its permits of that of Alderman Shershah Mizan (Third Ward). For a month now, this sign has appeared in front of his property at the corner of Fairview Avenue and Green Street. Even before the sign appeared, Mizan had been trying to persuade his colleagues on the Common Council to recommend that the Planning Board approve the conditional use permits.

At the Council meeting on June 16, Jeff Baker, counsel to the Council, advised that the Council "as a whole" could "make their views known," and Council president Tom DePietro said he would write to the chair of the Planning Board "to invite them to present to the Council and see what the timeline is." No information is available on when such a presentation might take place.

A moving force behind the pressure to get the gravel trucks off the streets by granting Colarusso the needed permits is Linda Mussmann, Fourth Ward supervisor and co-director of Time & Space Limited (TSL). In June, Mussmann sent letters to people who live on Green Street and Columbia Street, the route of the Colarusso trucks through the city. In the letters, Mussmann stated: "I am organizing an effort to have people speak out about the Gravel Trucks that pass near your door daily here in Hudson, NY. . . . This traffic can move if the Hudson Planning board will give them the permits that Colarusso seeks to seek [sic] an alternative route--thereby removing the gravel trucks from Greene St." 


In recent weeks, Mussmann has been posting videos on her Facebook page featuring people who live or work on lower Columbia Street talking about the tyranny of the gravel trucks in their neighborhood and calling on the Planning Board to grant Colarusso its conditional use permits to get the gravel trucks off the streets.






Last week, The Valley Alliance did a mailing also calling for an end to the gravel trucks but arguing for a different means to achieve the goal: deny the permits.

TVA asserts, "By denying the dock permit, the Planning Board can stop the gravel trucks driving on Columbia & Front Street," and backs it up with these arguments:
For too long, gravel mining companies have put Hudson at risk by running heavy, dngerous gravel trucks to the Hudson Waterfront. Now we have a chance to put a stop to it.  Colarusso did work on the dock without getting the necessary permits. This gives the Hudson Planning Board the power to end these deliveries.
Without access to the dock, the trucks have nowhere to go. But if instead the permit were approved, trucks would continue on Broad Street and through the protected South Bay, still creating hazards for pedestrians, cars, trains, businesses & homes nearby and harming the environment.
Colarusso has had more than enough special treatment from previous City administrations. Denying the permit protects everyone--both the safety of our families on the streets and the environment. The Waterfront can then generate more jobs, recreation, housing and other benefits for the whole community, rather than all benefits going to one out-of-town company.
The mailing asks the recipient to detach the post card, sign it, and mail it to Planning Board chair Betsy Gramkow. 

The Planning Board meeting begins at 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, July 14. It is expected that access to the Zoom meeting will be published on the City of Hudson website sometime on Tuesday. 
COPYRIGHT 2020 CAROLE OSTERINK

COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health has released its numbers for today. Since yesterday, there has been one new case of COVID-19 and one new recovery, so the number of active cases in the county remains at 22. The number of people hospitalized remains the same. The number of people in mandatory quarantine has been reduced by two, and the number in cautionary quarantine by one. There have been no new deaths.
As of 12 p.m. on July 12, 2020:
  • Columbia County has had 37 residents that have passed away from COVID-19.
  • Columbia County has 460 confirmed positive cases.
  • There are 22 active cases of COVID-19 in Columbia County. We are monitoring 43 county residents on mandatory quarantine, and there are 22 on precautionary quarantine.
  • 401 of the 460 cases have recovered from COVID-19
  • 9 of the positive cases are hospitalized, none of those hospitalize are in the ICU
  • We have received 13,917 PCR reports. Please note this number may represent duplicate reports, out of county reports, and multiple nursing home testings.
Today's update from Governor Andrew Cuomo indicates that the Capital Region--that's us--has had the highest percentage of new COVID cases this weekend of any of the ten regions in the state. Two percent of those tested on Saturday tested positive. By comparison, the rate for the Mid-Hudson Region was .9 percent and New York City was 1.3 percent. The greatest number of new cases is in Rensselaer County, which reported 23 new cases on Saturday. The update reports: "New York State is closely monitoring an uptick in COVID-19 cases in Rensselaer County, a number of which are being investigated as being linked to several individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 after traveling back to New York from Georgia. They are in isolation and the New York State Department of Health and Rensselaer County Health Department are conducting contact tracing."

Stay home. Stay safe. When you venture out into the world, wear a mask.
COPYRIGHT 2020 CAROLE OSTERINK

Saturday, July 11, 2020

St. Louis Has Nothing on Us

Today, in Kinderhook, a couple pointed a gun at a group of Black Lives Matter protesters marching peacefully down their street. Hudson mayor Kamal Johnson was part of the march. His video taken at the scene and his account of what happened can be viewed on his Facebook page.



Considering the Designation of Old Shiloh

On Friday morning, members of the Historic Preservation Commission discussed the proposed designation of 241 Columbia Street as a local landmark.


When the HPC turned its attention to the proposed designation, Phil Forman, chair of the HPC, reviewed Chapter 169-4 A of the city code, the section that deals specifically with the designation of individual landmarks.
The Commission may propose or may receive a proposal for an individual property, structure, park, work of art or statue as a landmark if it:
(1) Possesses special character or historic or aesthetic interest or value as part of the architectural, cultural, political, economic, or social history of the locality, region, state, or nation; or
(2) Is identified with historic personages; or
(3) Is the work of a builder, architect, or designer whose work has significantly influenced an age.
Forman reminded the commission that only one of the three criteria was sufficient justification for designation and noted that, in the case of 241 Columbia Street, the first criterion was the one that applied.

Presenting his research into the history of the building, Paul Barrett, historian member of the HPC, called the architecture of the church "iconic for rural meeting places, particularly African American meeting places." He shared these observations, based on research in the archives of Shiloh Baptist Church and an examination of the building:
As the Shiloh Baptist congregation grew, by 1917 a sufficiently sized permanent church building was needed. Convenient, readily available materials and affordability would have been factors in the church construction. Social class and ease of construction may also have been a consideration in the design of the building which may have been by the clergyman or local laity. The Old Shiloh Baptist church was erected with a communal effort of the congregation. There may have been a hired a builder to oversee construction, but it appears the labor was volunteered by congregants.
The use of less expensive local materials (and perhaps materials from other buildings) and largely unskilled labor resulted in a rather simple and economical church design which is more in keeping with rural churches of the 19th century. . . . The degree of exterior and interior decoration often depended on the financial wherewithal of church congregations and ornamentation came later as the wealth of the congregation grew. In the case of the Old Shiloh Baptist church, decorative stained glass windows were added to the very austere exterior in the 1940s and subsequently removed.
The church with its stained glass windows in place
Barrett concluded by recommending that the building be designated a local landmark because, referencing urban renewal which "all but obliterated the neighborhood," the building "survives as the only vestige of African American history and culture in Hudson."

Chip Bohl, architect member of the HPC, commented on the architectural merit of the building, declaring, "This building's architectural historical value is its stark contrast to the towering masonry churches constructed by the white affluent Hudson community at the same time." Bohl went to say:
This contrast is an architectural manifestation of the great disparity of wealth between white and African Americans in Hudson. . . . 
The vernacular architectural style of this building is iconic in the African-American community. The building silhouette and aspirational tower can be be found throughout the United States in the form of countless rural churches. This building also has a strong visual connection to "Twin Oaks," the summer home of Frederick Douglass (built by his son Charles Douglass in 1895 in Highland Beach, Maryland), which also has an aspirational tower.     
Photo: Preservation Maryland
Also, note the similarity of simple building form and proportions of the Rosenwald Schools, built to provide public education for Southern African American communities in the early 20th century, and many later converted to Masonic Hall use. 
Photo: Karen Riles|Texas Almanac
The workmanship of the Shiloh Baptist Church speaks to a group effort and the strong community of volunteer self preservation evident in African American Hudson.
Bohl concluded by calling the former church building "an important building for Hudson, and the nation," saying it was "an architectural object that is a tangible link to the history of racial patterns in our country." As did Barrett, Bohl recommended the building for landmark designation.

Bohl also responded to several of the objections to designation raised by the building's owner, Victoria Milne, among them that review by historic preservation commissions increases renovation costs. He called it a "decades old canard" and asserted, "Attendance at any Historic Preservation Commission meeting will illustrate the commission's concern for undue property owner expense."

When invited to comment, Milne focused on Bohl's assertion that concern for cost was an "old canard." She claimed to have documentation that windows proposed to the HPC had been rejected, and the windows the applicant was "forced to use" by the HPC increased the cost from $600 to $2,600. She told the commission she "does a blog warning people not to buy a designated building." 

Forman told her, "If you want to sway us, you need to sway us on the question of whether or not this building tells an important story. Financial hardship is a separate thing."

Milne and her attorney, Kristal Heinz, both repeated their objections about the way the process of designating the building was initiated back in February--with an impassioned sense of dire emergency based on the false belief that the building was in imminent danger of being demolished. Milne reiterated that no one had reached out to her to find out if the threat of imminent demolition real even though "the City has had no trouble finding me for taxes and for fines." Referring to the incomplete application for designation that had been submitted, she told the HPC, "You have greeted me with sloppy paperwork and sloppy government," and claimed the message sent was: "Get out of here, newbie. We're going to screw you." His patience fraying a tad, Forman asked, "Do you think I'm leading some bloody conspiracy against newbies?" Milne replied, "That's exactly the effect."

Three of the commissioners--Miranda Barry, Philip Schwartz, and John Schobel--expressed regret that communication with Milne had not been handled differently but also expressed the opinion that the building merited designation. No vote was taken on the designation at Friday's meeting. Instead, the meeting ended with the commission going into an attorney-client session to seek advice from the HPC's counsel, Victoria Polidoro. The next meeting of the Historic Preservation Commission is scheduled to take place on Friday, July 24, at 10:00 a.m.
COPYRIGHT 2020 CAROLE OSTERINK

COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health has released its numbers for today. Since yesterday, there are two new positive cases and no new recoveries, increasing the number of active cases in the county by two, to 22. The number of people in mandatory quarantine has decreased since yesterday, from 66 to 45. The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 has not changed since yesterday nor has the number of deaths.
As of 12 p.m. on July 11, 2020:
  • Columbia County has had 37 residents that have passed away from COVID-19.
  • Columbia County has 459 confirmed positive cases.
  • There are 22 active cases of COVID-19 in Columbia County. We are monitoring 45 county residents on mandatory quarantine, and there are 23 on precautionary quarantine.
  • 400 of the 459 cases have recovered from COVID-19
  • 9 of the positive cases are hospitalized, none of those hospitalized are in the ICU
  • We have received 13,724 PCR reports. Please note this number may represent duplicate reports, out of county reports, and multiple nursing home testings.

Eleanor Is Back on This Side of the River

When Gossips last reported on the status of the historic Hudson River sloop Eleanor, she was being moved from the space at 99 South Third Street, where her restoration had been going on for the past nine years, to Riverview Marina in Catskill, where her mast, rigging, and sails were installed. It was promised at the time that Eleanor would be back in Hudson before the summer was out.

Photo Louise Blisss
Early yesterday, with warnings of Tropical Storm Fay heading our way, Joe Kenneally sent out this email:
We have a reservation for storm dockage at the Hudson Power Boat. The storm is tracking up the Hudson River valley. The prediction is 5" of rain this weekend. The Catskill Creek takes all of the water out of the Catskill Mountains, along with the water there is usually much debris. . . . I will work on getting a person with a boat to assist in the transportation of Eleanor from Catskill to Hudson. The storm is not expected there until late tonight and last all weekend.
By early afternoon, Gossips learned the rest of the story from one of the participants:
. . . Scott Davis, Dock Master Hudson Power Boat Club approved of dockage for Eleanor. Joe Kenneally, Dennis Pitts, Chris Hoppe, and Louise Bliss sprang into action to bring Eleanor to Hudson. Thanks to Bill Palmer with his boat who followed Eleanor as an escort. Eleanor made it on her own to Hudson with her electric motor [and is now] safe in Hudson. [No one] will have to get up tonight and go over in a rain and wind storm and move Eleanor to an anchorage in the river. The word in the creek is, if in doubt, get out. That is what we did.
This morning, Gossips received this picture of the Eleanor on the river yesterday, passing the Hudson Athens Lighthouse.

Photo: Chris Hoppe

Friday, July 10, 2020

COVID-19 Alert

Earlier today, this notification was issued:
WERE YOU ON THIS RECENT DELTA FLIGHT?
On Tuesday, July 7, there were at least three symptomatic passengers on Delta flight 4815, a direct flight from Atlanta, GA, to Albany, NY, said Columbia County Board of Supervisors Chairman Matt Murell on Friday.
"If you were on this flight, please quarantine and get tested as soon as possible, we are concerned for these passengers and those with whom they may have come into contact with," said Chairman Murell.
Update: CNN tells a somewhat different story: "3 people test positive for Covid-19 after taking Delta flight from Atlanta to Albany, airline says." According to the CNN report, the passengers in question were asymptomatic on the flight, which took place on July 6 not July 7. They started showing symptoms on July 7 and tested positive for the coronavirus today, July 10. The flight number given in the press release from Matt Murell was correct. It was Delta flight 4815.

COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health has released its numbers for today. Since yesterday, there has been one new case of COVID-19 and four more recoveries, reducing the number of active cases by three, to 20. Two fewer people are now hospitalized with COVID-19, and there have been no new deaths.

Today's report from the CCDOH contains information that hasn't been included for a while: the number of people being monitored by contact tracers. This is where the spike is. There are now 66 county residents on mandatory quarantine and 23 on precautionary quarantine.
As of 3 p.m. on July 10, 2020
  • Columbia County has had 37 residents that have passed away from COVID-19.
  • Columbia County has 457 confirmed positive cases.
  • There are 20 active cases of COVID-19 in Columbia County. We are monitoring 66 county residents on mandatory quarantine, and there are 23 are precautionary quarantine.
  • 400 of the 457 cases have recovered from COVID-19
  • 9 of the positive cases are hospitalized, none of those hospitalized are in the ICU
  • We have received 13,539 PCR reports. Please note this number may represent duplicate reports, out of county reports, and multiple nursing home testings.

Where the New COVID Cases Are This Week

The Columbia County Department of Health released its breakdown of COVID cases by municipality and nursing home for the week. Throughout the county, there were ten new cases of COVID-19 this week. The new cases are spread around the county, with the greatest number being four in Kinderhook. Next is Greenport, with two new cases. In the past week, there has been one new case in each of the following localities: Hudson, Craryville, Ghent, and Pine Haven.

In the following list, the first number indicates the number of COVID-19 cases reported last week; the second is the number reported this week. Bear in mind, these are the total number of cases reported since the beginning of the pandemic not the number of active cases at this time. 
Ancram  4 | 4
Canaan  9 | 9
Chatham  16 | 16
Claverack  20 | 20
Clermont  6 | 6
Copake  21 | 21
Craryville  1 | 2
Gallatin  3 | 3
Germantown  1 | 1
Ghent  21 | 22
Greenport  23 | 25
Hillsdale  12 | 12
Hudson  26 | 27
Kinderhook  26| 30
Livingston  13 | 13
New Lebanon  9 | 9
Niverville  2 | 2
Philmont  6 | 6
Stockport  4 | 4
Stuyvesant  12 | 12
Taghkanic  6 | 6
Valatie  12 | 12
Nursing Homes
Barnwell  142 | 143
Livingston Hills  2 | 2
Pine Haven  50 | 51

Meeting Reminder

The Historic Preservation Commission meets at 10:00 a.m. today. The designation of 241 Columbia Street, the former Shiloh Baptist Church, is expected to be on the agenda. The public hearing on the designation has been closed. The Zoom meeting is streaming on YouTube.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Talk About Short Term Rentals

The draft of the local law regulating short term rentals, now familiarly known as STRs, has been available on the City of Hudson website since Monday, June 29, and the public has been invited to email comments on the law to Alderman John Rosenthal (Fourth Ward), who chairs the Legal Committee, the committee that drafted the law.  john.rosenthal@cityofhudson.org 

Today, Hudson Development Corporation announced that a major portion of its Emergency Business Task Force meeting, to take place on Monday, July 13, at 3:00 p.m., would be a roundtable discussion of the draft law to regulate STRs, and Rosenthal would be in attendance to answer questions. Lodging is an important element of Hudson's economy, and this roundtable is an opportunity for those who understand and appreciate its role to make their concerns about the law known. Click here for the link to join the Zoom meeting.

The plan for the legislation outlined at the last Legal Committee meeting was that the draft law would be made available for public comment until the next Legal Committee meeting, to take place on Wednesday, July 22, at 6:15 p.m. Possible amendments to the law, based on public comment, would be discussed at that meeting and possibly agreed to before the proposed law goes to the full Council in August.
COPYRIGHT 2020 CAROLE OSTERINK

COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health has released its numbers for today. Since yesterday, the only change is a correction in the number of active cases, from 24 to 23, to account for the one person whose recovery was reported yesterday, and the admission of one of the confirmed positive cases to the hospital, increasing the number people now hospitalized with the virus from 10 to 11.
As of 3 p.m. on July 9, 2020:
  • Columbia County has had 37 residents that have passed away from COVID-19.
  • Columbia County has 456 confirmed positive cases.
  • There are 23 active cases of COVID-19 in Columbia County.
  • 396 of the 456 cases have recovered from COVID-19
  • 11 of the positive cases are hospitalized, none of those hospitalized are in the ICU
  • We have received 13,317 PCR reports. Please note this number may represent duplicate reports, out of county reports, and multiple nursing home testings.

Shared Streets: Improving the Appearance

One criticism of the Hudson Shared Summer Streets program has been disappointment about the tacky appearance of the barriers at street corners, signaling drivers that they must share the streets. That situation is in the process of changing for the better.

Photo Hudson Hall
Marc Scrivo and a team of students from Operate Unite he is training in carpentry skills are building planter boxes on wheels, which serve as barriers to traffic during Shared Streets hours and are rolled to the curb when not required.

Photo: Hudson Development Corporation
Photo: Hudson Hall
So far, just one of the planters has made its appearance on the street, at northwest corner of Warren and Third, but soon they will be everywhere.

"Foster parents" are now being sought for the planters. The proprietors of businesses near the corners are encouraged to adopt a planter--which involves watering the plants and rolling the planter into place during Shared Streets hours and rolling it back again. Anyone interested in adopting a planter should send an email to hello@hudsonhall.org for more information.