Sunday, April 26, 2020

The State of the City

In his preliminary remarks during the virtual town hall meeting on Friday, Mayor Kamal Johnson said he had directed every department to submit plans for how its budget could be reduced by 5 percent and by 10 percent. This seemed to be in direct response to a suggestion made by Alderman Eileen Halloran (Fifth Ward) at the Finance Committee meeting the previous Tuesday, although the percentages proposed then by Alderman Jane Trombley (First Ward) were 10 and 20 percent.

The proposal for 75 North Seventh Street was a major subject in Council president Tom DePietro's comments during the virtual meeting. He started out by assuring everyone that "the city continues to operate effectively" and "the City Council [sic] is looking towards our future." He then announced that, in response to criticism that the project was proceeding too fast and without enough public input, "a comprehensive guide to the project" would be posted early Monday morning--that's tomorrow--on the city website. The page will allow the public to submit questions and comments about the project. DePietro concluded by asserting, "It's important that we address perennial problems in Hudson as much as we deal with the urgent ones."

In his closing remarks, which begin at 1:01:52 in the video that can be viewed here, Johnson talked about what he called "the elephant in the room"--the proposed housing project. He declared that he "firmly believes" in the project, but it is now up to the Common Council to do "its due diligence." He claimed he cannot speak about Galvan's other properties in the city, saying, "My relationship with the developer is only around this project." He then dismissed "polar plunges, WiFi programs, food distribution, and other symbolic resolutions" as "feel-good initiatives" and asked "What are we really accomplishing if we are not progressing the lives of each other and our neighbors?"

This drawing of the proposed building appears in the PILOT presentation

Yesterday, Gossips learned that the Galvan Foundation will be funding a study of the PILOT for the proposed project to be conducted by the Benjamin Center for Public Policy Initiatives at SUNY New Paltz. Hudson has a little bit of experience with this group. Last summer, in the Future Hudson series of community discussions, Joshua Simons, senior research associate with the Benjamin Center, was one of the presenters in the "Preserve, or Not to Preserve" event in the series. The video of that event can be found here. Simons' presentation begins at 2:25.

A few things to bear in mind: The City's share of the $77,000 PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) for the proposed project has been calculated to be $22,237--an amount that will increase by only 2 percent every year for the next forty years. Over the past three years, the Oakdale Plunge, which the mayor characterized as a "feel-good initiative," has raised close to $60,000 for the Youth Department and the Fire Department Water Rescue Team--almost as much annually as that PILOT would bring into the City's coffers. The decision to join East Light Partners' community solar plan, which was like pulling teeth for many of the aldermen, will save the City between $30,000 and $40,000 a year in utility costs.


  1. The drawing of the proposed building looks like a warehouse. Is this the "vision" the Common Council has for the "Friendly City?" I thought stacking citizens up like Bliss Tower was debunked decades ago. The more things change the more they stay the same in Hudson apparently.

  2. The proposed building looks more like a penitentiary than housing, and the large and ponderous scale is at odds with the rest of the small City of Hudson. This more fits in with Newburgh, or the South Bronx.

    The scale of the building will hold many school age children I think, and the minimal PILOT will pay very very little for the huge school expenses that the taxpayers of Hudson will have to bear.

    If the administration were smart, it would negotiate a PILOT that at least covers the costs of the services that the City must provide. 400 thousand, or 500 thousand for a PILOT is more realistic, but these proposals seem to only benefit the proposer and hurt the City and its people. It does not generate any business for the City with sales taxes and merely piles on alot of expenses.

    Does this huge out of scale project really fits the needs of the City of Hudson ? It may only fit the needs of the devloper and should be reconsidered at a much later date.

    1. If the administration were smart, it would ask itself why a PILOT is needed to develop housing in a city where housing is both very desirable and there are a large number of subsidized housing options already available. Another good question would be "why should the taxpayers give money to the richest person in town for a project it seems he will have no risk in?" Remember, the developer's reputation in Hudson is to start and not finish. Can we afford for him to lose interest before it's complete and then just leave us a giant non-contributing hole in the ground? The history shows it could happen. There are simply too many questions and not enough assurances.

  3. As proposed, this building will house middle and upper middle class people. These people all own cars, some families two or three cars. Has anyone considered the impact on traffic, on parking and pollution? Where are they planning to park 100 cars? Is a multi level parking garage next? This is an insane proposal. Why are Hudson taxpayers being asked to subsidized rents through a pilot for people making up to $92,000 a year? Take this project to Albany, Kingston or Newburgh. If the city wants housing on this land, divide it into lots and build houses. Nice ones that have some character.

  4. I am glad the Council slowed this process enough to allow the vetting the finances of the PILOT for their edification, before voting on this. Just looking at the city's portion of the PILOT and compounding this is today's numbers, the total PILOT paid after 40 years would be: $1.7M (again just the city's portion based on $22,683) - this divided by the 40 year term gives us, on average, $44K a year PILOT to the city.

    Not only low for today's dollars but when figuring out what your future value is, would probably be pennies by the time the term has ended.

    For a $22M project - $44K a year to cover all services for the city seems really a win for the developer, but not financially for the city.

    I look forward to what SUNY New Paltz comes back with. This is all specific to the PILOT - the project still has to get funded and still have to go through numerous city boards: zoning/planning/etc. - so I only refer my comments to the financial viability of the project, based on the current resolution on the Council's desk.

  5. He claimed he cannot speak about Galvan's other properties in the city, saying, "My relationship with the developer is only around this project."

    Can’t speak to the Robert Taylor House, the City’s oldest extant building, who’s gable wall is literally collapsing? Can’t speak to the half-dozen other properties he cleared out and abandoned in the First Ward? Can’t speak to the dozens of calls we’ve made about the collapsing Partition St. carriage houses? Can’t speak to the many dozens of warehoused apartments across this City? Can’t speak to the $10M of already tax-exempt property GalVan owns in Hudson? Can’t speak to the half-dozen or so rackets this City has been offered by GalVan in the last decade? Can’t speak to essentially anything but this project, and from that you’ll negotiate our position as a City?

    1. My father left Hudson as a teen in the 30's. His only comment about Hudson the night the Antiques business brought me back to the land of my forbearers was ... "It's a god forsaken city." I chose to believe in Hudson instead. His wisdom resonates.