Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Quarantine If You're Coming to New York

Today, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that eight states have been added to the list of states that qualify for the travel advisory requiring travelers from those states to quarantine for fourteen days upon arrival in New York. The newly added states are California, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, and Tennessee. There are now sixteen states on the travel advisory list. 
  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Iowa
  • Idaho
  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi
  • North Carolina
  • Nevada
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
If you are a New Yorker returning home from any one of these states, the requirement to quarantine applies to you as well.

The two maps below are from the website CovidActNow.org. The first, which Gossips has published previously, is from June 23. The second is from today, June 30. Outside of the Northeast, things are not getting better.

Red on the map indicates "Active or imminent outbreak"; the pumpkin color indicates "At risk"; gold marks states classified as "controlled risk growth." The green is "On track to contain COVID." In the past week, Connecticut has joined New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts as a green state.

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 in Columbia County and four recoveries, reducing the number of active cases in the county by three, to 22. The number of number people hospitalized with COVID-19 has decreased by four. There have been no new deaths.
As of 3:00 on June 30, 2020:
  • Columbia County has had 37 residents that have passed away from COVID-19.
  • Columbia County has 441 confirmed positive cases.
  • There are 22 active cases of COVID-19 in Columbia County.
  • 382 of the 441 cases have recovered from COVID-19
  • 6 of the positive cases are hospitalized, none of those hospitalized are in the ICU
  • We have received 11,159 PCR reports. Please note this number may represent duplicate reports, out of county reports, and multiple nursing home testings.
In terms of new cases of COVID-19, here's what the month of June has looked like:

The highest number has been six new cases, which occurred on three days during the month. There have been twelve days that have seen only one new case, and eight days that have seen none at all. Things appear to be under control, and tomorrow we enter Phase 4 in the reopening, which includes higher education, low risk outdoor arts and entertainment, low risk indoor arts and entertainment, and media production.

No County Fair This Year

Bill Williams just reported on Facebook that the Columbia County Fair has been canceled for 2020. Here is the press release that came from the Columbia County Fair Board:
At a meeting of the Board of Directors of the Columbia County Agricultural Society on June 29, 2020, the Board reluctantly concluded that it would be unable to hold this year's Columbia County Fair. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the limitations on social gathering and related mandates under the regulations which have been adopted by the State Government in response to the same make it impossible to conduct a Fair this year.
Board President, Nelson R. Alford, Jr., stated that this would have marked the 180th consecutive Columbia County Fair. It has prevailed through the Civil War, the Spanish Flu, and two World Wars, but the health and safety of our patrons, our employees, our exhibitors and our vendors require that the 180th annual Columbia County Fair must be postponed until September 2021.
This was a very disappointing decision for the Board to have to make, and it is hoped that it will be understood by the public and all who are involved in the presentation and conduct of the annual Columbia County Fair.
The first comment on Williams' post was this:
This speaks volumes of who we've become as a county, as a state, as a nation. Civil war, Spanish flu, Great Depression, two world wars, Korea, Vietnam, outbreak of 1969, desert storm, Iraqi freedom, hurricanes, h1n1 in 2008-9, on and on. 99.7% survival rate, at worst, was too much. We have become soft.

Waterfront Wednesdays

Tomorrow, after you have stocked up at the Wednesday Farmers Market in the Public Square, head down to riverfront park for the first official installment of Waterfront Wednesdays.

The vendors will be in place from 4 to 8 p.m. The Ujima Community Collective from the Kuumba Dance and Drum Academy will lead a drum circle from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. (Bring your own drum to join the circle.) The Bindlestiff Family Cirkus will have a parade at 6:30 p.m., Mike Mosby will DJ, and throughout the evening there will be kayak rentals and lighthouse tours. 

So, if you can tear yourself away from tomorrow night's lineup of Common Council meetings, go down to the waterfront for some masked and socially distanced fun.

Update:  Owing to the likelihood of rain tomorrow, the Bindlestiff parade will be rescheduled for a later date.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Laws in the Making

At the Common Council Legal Committee meeting last Wednesday, Jeff Baker, counsel to the Council, said the drafts of two new laws proposed by the committee would be posted on the City of Hudson website the next day. They finally appeared sometime today. They are the current draft of the law regulating short-term rentals and an amendment to the law regarding standards for sidewalks. Both are now available on the City of Hudson website, and the public is invited to submit comments on either or both laws to Alderman John Rosenthal (Fourth Ward), who chairs the Legal Committee: john.rosenthal@cityofhudson.org.

It was decided at the Legal Committee meeting that the sidewalk law would be introduced to the full Council at the next informal meeting on Monday, July 13. The short-term rental law would stay in committee, subject to revision based on public input, until August. 

Interestingly, the proposed sidewalk law takes away from the Historic Preservation Commission an authority it never realized it had: to require a certificate of appropriateness for new sidewalk installed in historic districts. Had the HPC and code enforcement only known, the replacement of blue stone sidewalks with characterless concrete in historic districts might have been avoided.

COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health has released its numbers for today. Since yesterday, there has been one new confirmed case of COVID-19 and one more recovery. That would seem to indicate that the number of active cases remains unchanged, but CCDOH reports there is one more active case since yesterday, making the number 25. There is one more person hospitalized since yesterday, but there have been no more deaths.
As of 3:00 p.m. on June 29, 2020:
  • Columbia County has had 37 residents that have passed away from COVID-19.
  • Columbia County has 440 confirmed positive cases.
  • There are 25 active cases of COVID-19 in Columbia County.
  • 378 of the 440 cases have recovered from COVID-19
  • 10 of the positive cases are hospitalized, 0 of those hospitalized are in the ICU
  • We have received 10,874 PCR reports. Please note this number may represent duplicate reports, out of county reports and multiple nursing home testings.

Thirty Years Ago in Hudson

I recently came upon a copy of the Register-Star from June 27, 1990--almost exactly thirty years ago. The article found at the top of the front page of the paper is of particular interest, because many of the things Hudsonians were grappling with thirty years ago are challenges we are still facing today, or, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, facing again. For that reason, and because the article provides an useful snapshot of Hudson thirty years ago, Gossips reproduces it here.

Ruins of burned-out store start coming down today
By Robert Mitchell
HUDSON--Burned-out eyesore Charlie's Corner at 5th and Warren streets was to come down today and the lot will be cleared said Hudson Development Corp. spokeman Alice Ensign, at Tuesday night's public forum to discuss the promotion of Hudson.
It was reported there are no immediate plans for using the lot.
This was the second in a series of gatherings of merchants, professionals and city officials to discuss ways to upgrade the Warren Street business climate.
Tuesday night's meeting was attended by about 35. . . .
Among the ideas aired for examination at the first brainstorming session were producing a city directory listing services, businesses, parks and their locations.
Campaigns to organize neighborhood watch committees and a "Clean Sweep" project also were seen as positive steps to enhance the city's image.
Some type of incentive for landlords to lower rents for start-up businesses has been encouraged, though the group acknowledged the difficulty of resolving how this could be done.
The forum favors encouraging expanding professional offices.
Cooperative advertising, whether of "sales" or professional services, to increase public awareness of what is available had support.
A "fact sheet" for real estate brokers providing information on needed city businesses also was suggested.
The consensus of the first meeting was a shortage of parking is not an issue so much as public awareness of parking areas actually available. Improved and larger signs at access points to the city to point the way clearly to municipal lots was suggested.
Tuesday night's forum began with [SPOUT president Barbara] Mazur telling the assemblage the new logo "Hudson, Have You Been There Lately?" will be ready for merchant use in advertising by the end of July.
Merchants will need an authorization release to use the logo, said Mazur, and encouraged business people to use it.
[Public works superintendent Charles] Butterworth told the group the city has additional tiles available to business owners who want to repair sidewalks in front of their premises.
A business that already engaged a contractor should have him get in touch with his office, he said.
"We are going to be repairing city owned sidewalks this summer," said Butterworth.
The forum also discussed the idea of the information kiosks. These would be to list city services, their locations and perhaps carry a calendar of events.
No cost was available, but designs were on hand for study.
Some people asked about lining Warren Street with trees to beautify the area, but when at another point [Alderman Alvin J.] Kritzman [chairman of the common council commerce and industry committee] spoke of the city budget constraints, participants considered raising outside funds themselves for a variety of projects.
One store owner said it had cost only $200 for him to plant two trees in front of his shop.
The merchant said Butterworth had helped the process and the type of sidewalk paving tiles now in place made it simple to plant trees.
A committee was started to "pass the broom." One store owner sweeps in front of his store and then passes the broom to the next owner, and so on down the street.
One of the group asked the aldermen present what business could do to help the city.
Self-reliance on the part of merchants, said Kritzman, would be a good thing, because the city budget was described as "very limited."
Some people complained about public transportation and asked about the lack of Saturday buses. Butterworth said ridership had been low and consequently a deficit was created, but it could be tried again.
Butterworth, addressing the clean street concerns, said the street were swept seven days a week, alternating each side daily.
Merchants asked each other not to sweep sidewalk trash into the gutters for the city cleaners, as it only adds to the general unsightliness of Warren Street.
One person opined that the real problem in Hudson was the lack of a broad tax base and cited a recent study quoted in the Register Star showing Hudson having 62 percent of its real property tax exempt.
There were many suggestions for alleviating parking problems, including diagonal parking, but generally a restatement of the last meeting's conclusion that the parking problem is perceived rather than actual and ample spaces are available.
There was discussion of finding vital tenants for empty and derelict but architecturally attractive buildings in the city.
These are privately owned, it was pointed out, and the owners are evidently not inclined to lower prices to see them occupied.
There was considerable debate about loitering, which merchants perceive to be worse during the day than at night. Merchants were told to call the police department to enforce the ordinances against loitering.
The police are mostly too busy to spare manpower for this, said one merchant.
There is no law against being on the sidewalk, only in shop doorways, and the effort involved in moving people along constantly not only passes the problem to the next owner but is not really a viable possibility, said some merchants.
The meeting ended with the desire to concentrate on bringing in more business, repairing sidewalks, increasing professional office space, encouraging light industry, coordinating opening hours and aiming for a consistency in improvements--when one part of the street is improved in some way the improvement should be carried over for the benefit of all merchants.
SPOUT, whose president was quoted in the article, is an acronym for "Society for the Promotion of Our Unique Town," in addition to being a nod to Hudson's whaling origins.

I could find no documentation of what the eyesore that was Charlie's Corner looked like. Presumably, it replaced the plain but handsome building that appears on the site in this 1901 photograph of Warren Street. (The building can be seen in the background at the right, with the tower of the First Reformed Church rising behind it.) 

PhotobyGibson Collection
Thirty years after the burned-out Charlie's Corner was demolished, the lot at the corner of Warren and Fifth streets remains vacant. The lot first became the property of Hudson Development Corporation. Around 2006, there were two parties interested in buying it. Architect Peter Sweeny wanted to build a hotel there and, in pursuit of that, had entered into a preliminary agreement to buy it. Then Eric Galloway decided he wanted it. As Gossips reported a few years later, "There was a legal contest, made interesting by the fact that Mark Greenberg, who typically represents Galloway, was representing Sweeny, and Jack Connor, the once and future city attorney [who didn't have that position at the time] . . . , was representing Galloway. The details of the case are not known, but Galloway ended up owning the property. . . ."   

In 2010, Galloway's not-for-profit Lantern Organization in New York City proposed a project for the corner known as "Starboard"--thirty-three units of permanent supportive housing for men with mental disabilities and substance abuse problems.

The project met with fierce opposition from the community and was eventually abandoned. Since then, there have been no plans proposed for construction on the site, and the lot remains vacant, although next door, on what had been the site of the First Reformed Church, a cinder-block building that started life as a 7-Eleven has been expanded by the Galvan Foundation into the building whose major tenant is now the food emporium Olde Hudson.

The lot does figure into the Hudson Shared Summer Streets plan, as a public picnic area for people buying food from the Yummy Kitchen Food Truck, Olde Hudson Cafe, other nearby restaurants offering takeout, or bringing food from home, but it is not known if Galvan has agreed to this or not.


COVID-19 Testing in Hudson

The mayor's office has announced the following opportunities to be tested for COVID-19 in Hudson.

Free Walk-up Clinics on the sidewalk in front of the former John L. Edwards School, 360 State Street
  • Tuesday, June 30, 9 to 11 a.m.
  • Tuesday, July 7, 9 to 11 a.m.
  • Tuesday, July 21, 9 to 11 a.m.
  • Tuesday, July 28, 9 to 11 a.m.
No registration is required but testing is limited to the first 50 people who show up. Wearing a mask is required. Bring ID with you.

Free Drive-thru Clinic at the Department of Health, 325 Columbia Street
  • Sunday, July 12, 9 a.m. to noon
Preregistration is required. Click here to register. 

You can also be tested at WellNow Urgent Care, 446 Fairview Avenue, in Greenport. Testing is covered by health insurance. If you do not have health insurance, the fee for testing at this facility is $150.

You should seek testing if any of the following describes you:
  • Experiencing symptoms of coronavirus (fever, cough, trouble breathing, loss of taste or smell, or stomach upset)
  • Have a job that puts you in contact with people outside your household
  • Have been in contact with people experiencing symptoms or people who have tested positive

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Virtual Meetings in the Week Ahead

It's a light week for meetings as we approach that high summer holiday, the Fourth of July. The only heavy meeting day is Wednesday, which has three meetings back to back in the evening. You may have to leave one meeting to join another.
  • On Monday, June 29, the HDC Emergency Business Task Force meets at 3:00 p.m. Click here for information to access the meeting.
  • On Tuesday, June 30, the HDC Emergency Cultural Task Force meets at 3:00 p.m. Click here for information to access the meeting.
  • On Wednesday, July 1, the Common Council Youth, Education, Seniors and Recreation Committee meets at 5:30 p.m. Information for accessing the meeting will be published on the City of Hudson website on the day of the meeting.
  • Also on Wednesday, July 1, at 6:00 p.m., the Common Council holds a special meeting to consider grant applications recommended by the Tourism Board. Information for accessing the meeting will be published on the City of Hudson website on the day of the meeting.   
  • At 6:45 p.m. on Wednesday, July 1, the Common Council Housing and Transportation Committee holds its monthly meeting. Information for accessing the meeting will be published on the City of Hudson website on the day of the meeting. 
  • On Thursday, July 2, the HDC Emergency Hospitality Task Force meets at 3:00 p.m. Click here for information to access the meeting. 
Update: This meeting has been canceled.
  • On Friday, July 3, City Hall will be closed in observance of Independence Day.

Shared Streets: What Did You Think?

The trial/rehearsal weekend of Hudson Shared Summer Streets is now over. I must admit my personal experience of the experiment was limited. On Saturday, I drove onto Warren Street, sometime between 5:00 and 6:00 p.m., to pick up some wine I'd ordered from Hudson Wine Merchants. I entered Warren Street from Third Street and exited on Fourth Street. Except when the car was parked in front of HWM while a retrieved my wine, I traveled at 5 mph. (Not a remarkable achievement. I have much experience driving my little car in Pride Parades, not to mention years of driving the golf cart carrying the Queen of Winter Walk through festive holiday crowds.) On Saturday, after the rain, there were no pedestrians on the street, but the one or two other cars on the block were not traveling at 5 mph. One actually passed me.

Tonight, Future Hudson released two surveys: one for Hudson residents and visitors and one for Hudson business owners. Because a decision has to be made fast about how to move forward, you are asked to complete the survey in the next 48 hours. To facilitate your doing so, here are the links again.
Just as a reminder of what Hudson Shared Summer Streets is all about, here is this message from Future Hudson.
The goal of the Shared Summer Streets program is to begin a process of opening up Warren Street to businesses, residents and visitors to practice safe, physical distancing.
It has two primary components:
The first is a permitting process to help the City facilitate the expansion of businesses into parking spaces which are valid throughout the week.
The second is the Shared Streets concept which calms traffic by closing Warren Street to thru traffic on Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Help with the process by completing the appropriate survey.

What's to Become of the Kaz Site?

It's been ten years since the Hudson Development Corporation (HDC) acquired the Kaz warehouses, an acquisition that involved forgiveness of back taxes due to the City of Hudson and assumption of responsibility for any environmental issues that might exist on the site. The original plan was to raze the buildings and either sell the site for development or use the concrete slab for parking. Years later, that plan has been partially realized. In 2017, the owners of The Wick Hotel, at their own expense, demolished the part of the warehouses nearest the hotel and are now renting parking spaces for hotel guests on the concrete slab from HDC.

Although the idea was that HDC would market the site, no effort to do that was made until 2016. In that year, an RFP (request for proposals) was issued, and in April 2016, HDC announced that Sustainable Community Associates (SCA) had been selected "to move forward into negotiation for the redevelopment of the former warehouse and vacant land into a mixed-use development that includes residential, retail, coworking office, and live/work spaces."

The negotiations went on for more than a year. In March 2017, HDC and SCA announced that plans for redevelopment had been put on hold "until control of the CSX parcel is obtained." The CSX parcel was necessary to give the site access to Front Street. Eventually, the negotiations with with SCA were abandoned.

In October 2017, HDC issued a second RFP. By April 2018, HDC had three contenders for the project--Bonacio Construction, Kearney Realty & Development, and Redburn Development--and a community up in arms about being excluded from the planning process and HDC's perceived lack of transparency. Common Council president Tom DePietro's request that the city attorney "look into how does one get rid of an LDC [local development corporation]" led to resentment and resignations (the Common Council president is an ex officio member of the HDC board), and, with the departure of HDC executive director Sheena Salvino in early August 2018, the redevelopment of the Kaz site fell by the wayside. HDC did, however, pursue the acquisition of CSX parcel and succeeded in purchasing the property, with a loan from Columbia Economic Development Corporation (CEDC), in October 2019.

HDC board member Steve Dunn, board president Bob Rasner, and city attorney Andy Howard at the closing on the CSX parcel in October 2019
It would seem now, with the needed access to Front Street secured and lessons learned from its past experience, the time is right for HDC to move ahead with the development of the Kaz site. They could start with some community engagement--it could be done virtually--to craft a vision for the site instead of looking to developers to bring that vision, as they have in the past. Instead the proposal now on the table is to sell it all and leave it up to the Planning Board and the ZBA to ensure that whatever is built there is compatible with and acceptable to the rest of the city.

At a meeting of the HDC Emergency Business Task Force last Monday, HDC board president Bob Rasner read a written statement recounting HDC's actions since March 22, when Governor Andrew Cuomo issued his New York on Pause executive order. The statement concluded in this way:
We need to reimagine Hudson and the HDC in a serious way.
To that end, at the HDC meeting tomorrow I will be asking the board to take bold steps to reimagine their future. A return to the purpose for which we were chartered.
  • Relieving and reducing adult unemployment
  • Promoting and providing maximum employment
  • Bettering and maintaining job opportunities
  • Promoting instruction or training of individuals to improve or develop their capabilities for such jobs
  • Encouraging the development and retention of business and industry . . . 
During my term on the HDC board we have spent an inordinate time on matters of real estate. This is not our function nor our purpose.
That needs to change.
We are not developers nor does the current board see that as our role in fulfilling our charter's purpose.
For the first time in years we will be introducing a concept that speaks directly to our mission. Job Training.
I will be asking the board to take steps that will insure the organization's future and that of the city. Although some may not agree, that will be the basis of a spirited discussion to which I look forward. . . .
Rasner read the same statement the next day at the monthly HDC meeting. At this meeting, it was made clear that he was advocating for the sale of the Kaz site, as he first did in September 2018, when he said of the Kaz redevelopment, "This project sucks enormous energy," and asked, "Why don't we just put a 'For Sale' sign on it and sell it and get on with our core mission?" On Tuesday, Rasner called for the creation of a Real Estate Committee to be chaired by Nick Haddad, who spoke of the site as "the largest piece of property available for development" in Hudson and "putting it back on the tax rolls in a significant way."

It was clear from some things said in the meeting that there are members of the HDC board opposed to the idea, but the "spirited discussion" Rasner spoke of has not yet begun . . . at least not publicly. It would be nice if, before HDC decides to put the whole parcel up for sale, the board would revisit the idea of platting it, dividing it into lots, as Walter Chatham proposed when he was on the HDC board and Matthew Frederick has also recommended. Perhaps the parcels don't have to be 26' x 120' to replicate the size of the lots in the adjacent original part of the city. Perhaps, the lots could be a bit larger, to honor this section of city's industrial past. 

Dividing the site into smaller parcels would have the effect of preventing the kind of monolothic, out of character development many fear. HDC should also, at the very least, look carefully at the design guidelines that are Appendix G of the LWRP (Local Waterfront Revitalization Program) adopted by the City in 2011 and determine if these guidelines are sufficient to ensure visually appropriate development on this site, and, if they are insufficient, engage the talent on the Historic Preservation Commission and perhaps Chatham and Frederick as well to come up with guidelines that will ensure that "the largest piece of property available for development" in Hudson is developed in a manner appropriate to the rest of the city. 

COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health has released its numbers for today. Since yesterday, there has been one new confirmed case of COVID-19 and three more recoveries. That would seem to indicate that the number of active cases has been reduced by two, but CCDOH reports there are 24, three fewer than yesterday. One more person is hospitalized with COVID-19 today than yesterday, but there have been no more deaths.
As of 12:00 p.m. on June 28, 2020:
  • Columbia County has had 37 residents that have passed away from COVID-19.
  • Columbia County had 439 confirmed positive cases.
  • There are 24 active cases of COVID-19 in Columbia County.
  • 377 of the 439 cases have recovered from COVID-19
  • 9 of the positive cases are hospitalized, 0 of those hospitalized are in the ICU
  • We have received 10,755 PCR reports. Please note this number may represent duplicate reports, out of county reports, and multiple nursing home testings.

A Comment on Comments

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Saturday, June 27, 2020

Reinventing the HPD--When Do We Begin?

On Monday, June 15, when Mayor Kamal Johnson introduced his executive order regarding police reforms, Gossips asked how it coordinated with Governor Andrew Cuomo's executive order, issued three days earlier, requiring local police agencies to develop a plan to reform and reinvent themselves based on community input. Talking about his New York State Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative initiative, Cuomo spoke of starting with a blank piece of paper and creating the police force the community wants. Johnson said his executive order was the first step in the process, but we don't yet know what the second step will be.

On Monday, June 22, there was a Common Council Police Committee meeting. This was the meeting that Alderman Tiffany Garriga (Second Ward) wanted to hold outdoors so that more people could attend. Despite the call for a gathering in riverfront park, the meeting happened on Zoom, with 59 attendees. 

Much of the meeting was taken up with Alderman Rebecca Wolff (First Ward) asking a series of twelve questions which had been submitted by a group calling itself Hudson for Social Justice. The questions had been sent to the Common Council, and Wolff had forwarded them to Police Commissioner Peter Volkmann. Since Volkmann was not present at the meeting (Mayor Kamal Johnson excused his absence by reminding people Volkmann was not "a paid employee"), Chief Ed Moore, with the approval of the commissioner, provided answers to the questions. Some useful information emerged.

Responding to questions about the number of police officers in the Hudson Police Department, Moore explained that the city charter allows for a maximum of twenty-six officers. There are currently twenty-four: a chief, two lieutenants, four sergeants, one detective sergeant, four detectives, and twelve patrol officers. Of the twenty-four, one officer has been on extended sick leave and will probably be retiring soon; one sergeant will be retiring in July; one officer is recovering from shoulder surgery; one officer is a cadet in training and is expected to graduate in July. Regarding race and gender, there are three African American officers--a patrol officer, a detective, and a sergeant--and there are five female officers. Later in the meeting, in response to a question from Garriga, Moore acknowledged that "recruiting is where we could do better," indicating that "folks go on to other agencies, like the state police."

Hudson Police 1959--PhotobyGibson.com
One question raised by Hudson for Social Justice alleged that Hudson's police force was 18 percent larger than the police forces of both Kingston and Poughkeepsie. Responding to the question, Moore said the size of the department has not varied over recent years. He said he had a c. 1955 HPD roster on his desk that shows twenty-three sworn officers. Moore noted that the size of the police department "has most likely been linked to need and calls for service."      

He also compared Hudson's officer-citizen ratio with that of Kingston and Poughkeepsie. For Kingston, it is 1 to 333; for Poughkeepsie, it is 1 to 304; for Hudson, it is 1 to 300. Moore commented, "Contributing factors to HPD's size may be our crime rate, week-long tourist population not reflected in the census, and calls for service." He also cited a study published in 2019, based on FBI crime data from 2017, which ranked the 30 most dangerous cities and towns in upstate New York. Hudson was ranked 13th, Poughkeepsie 22nd, and Kingston didn't even make the list. The entire list and the methodology for creating the list can be found here. It must be remembered that the data was from 2017, the summer Hudson experienced a rash of shootings involving two rival groups. 

Yesterday, it was reported that the City Council in Minneapolis, where George Floyd was killed by a police officer on May 25, had unanimously approved a resolution that would alter the city's charter to eliminate the police department and create in its place a "Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention." As proposed, the Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention can include a division of law enforcement services made up of licensed police officers, but the director of the Community Safety and Violence Prevention department must have "non-law enforcement experience in community safety services, including but not limited to public health and/or restorative justice approaches." 

The proposed amendment to the Minneapolis charter begins (italics added for emphasis): "The City Council must establish, maintain, adequately fund, and consistently engage the public about a department of community safety and violence prevention." What's needed now in Hudson, as we move ever closer to the April 1 deadline, is more community engagement on the issue. We need a calm and dispassionate analysis of our expectations for community safety, an informed and unbiased assessment of how our police officers carry out their duties, an accurate understanding of how mental health and substance abuse issues are currently dealt with, and a shared vision for how we want the police to partner with social services in volatile situations. That will take lots of meetings and discussion, which is difficult to do while social distancing is required but not impossible. April 1 is just 277 days away. It's time to begin.

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, increasing the number of active cases in the county by one, to 27. There have been no new recoveries, but one COVID-19 patient has left the hospital. For the eighteenth consecutive day, there have been no deaths from COVID-19 in the county.
As of 12:00 p.m. on June 27, 2020:
  • Columbia County has had 37 residents that have passed away from COVID-19.
  • Columbia County has 438 confirmed positive cases.
  • There are 27 active cases of COVID-19 in Columbia County.
  • 374 of the 438 cases have recovered from COVID-19
  • 8 of the positive cases are hospitalized, 0 of those hospitalized are in the ICU
  • We have received 10,603 PCR reports. Please note this number may represent duplicate reports, out of county reports, and multiple nursing home testings.

Friday, June 26, 2020

More Good News for Our Stretch of the Hudson

In March, Gossips reported that plans for a construction and demolition waste processing facility proposed for Athens had been abandoned. Tonight, the Times Union reports that plans for a similar site proposed for Catskill have also been withdrawn: "Plans for debris site along Hudson River in Catskill are dropped." The reason given for abandoning the plan in Catskill was "a poor economy."

Where Are the New COVID-19 Cases?

The Columbia County Department of Health has released its tally of COVID-19 cases by municipality and nursing home. In the past week, there have been a total of ten new cases of COVID-19 in the county. Six of those were at Pine Haven. The other four were scattered throughout the county--one in each of the following towns: Claverack, Greenport, Kinderhook, and Livingston. Hudson has had no new cases for the past two weeks.

In the list below, the first number is the number of cases last Friday; the second is the number of cases today.

Ancram  4 | 4
Canaan  9 | 9
Chatham  15 | 15
Claverack  19 | 20
Clermont  6 | 6
Copake  21 | 21
Craryville  1 | 1
Gallatin  3 | 3
Germantown  1 | 1
Ghent  21 | 21
Greenport  19 | 20
Hillsdale  11 | 11
Hudson  24 | 24
Kinderhook  25 | 26
Livingston  12 | 13
New Lebanon  8 | 8
Niverville  2 | 2
Philmont  6 | 6
Stockport  4 | 4
Stuyvesant  12 | 12
Taghkanic  6 | 6
Valatie  11 | 11
Nursing Homes
Barnwell  142 | 142
Livingston Hills  2 | 2
Pine Haven  43 | 49

COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health was released its numbers for today. Since yesterday, there have been no new cases of COVID-19, and one more person has recovered, reducing the number of active cases in the county by one, to 26. Two more people are hospitalized with COVID-19 today than there were yesterday. There have been no more deaths.
As of 3:00 p.m. on June 26, 2020:
  • Columbia County has had 37 residents that have passed away from COVID-19.
  • Columbia County has 437 confirmed positive cases.
  • There are 26 active cases of COVID-19 in Columbia County.
  • 374 of the 437 cases have receovered from COVID-19
  • 9 of the positive cases are hospitalized, 0 of those hospitalized are in the ICU
  • We have received 10,403 PCR reports. Please note this number may represent duplicate reports, out of county reports, and multiple nursing home testings.

Books for Everyone

Out of fear that the books might spread COVID-19, the Little Free Libraries positioned around town were emptied of books in the middle of March and have been closed ever since.

To make up for the loss, tomorrow, on Saturday, June 27, Hudson Little Free Libraries is collaborating with the Hudson Area Library, Early Learning and Literacy Network, and other community partners to hold a Free Book Day, from noon to 4:00 p.m., at Front and Warren streets, in front of the Chamber of Commerce.

There will be books for everyone--from pre-readers to adults. The Hudson Area Library is providing bags, prepacked with games and activities. Everyone can add two books to their bag. The books will be laid out on tables, organized by age level, in a single layer. Participants will point to the books they want, and the books will be handed to them. Masks and hand sanitizer will be provided.

If it rains tomorrow, as the forecasts indicate it might, Free Book Day will take place on Sunday, June 28, same time, same place.

Update: Gossips has been informed that, because of bad weather forecasts, this event has been canceled for this weekend, to be scheduled for some other, still undetermined time.

Wednesday Evenings at the Waterfront

This past Wednesday, when people gathered in riverfront park to salute the Apollonia and the Hudson River Maritime Museum's solar-powered boat Solaris as they passed by on their voyage from Albany to Kingston, was the prelude to a weekly event planned for this summer at Henry Hudson Riverfront Park.   

The schooner Apollonia, Operation Unite, and the Hudson Arts Coalition are teaming up to create Waterfront Wednesday, energizing riverfront park every Wednesday evening with offerings for the whole family. The announcement of the event explains:
The spacious and scenic Riverfront Park is large enough to allow for social distancing and comes equipped with waterfront activities, picnic tables, and public restrooms. Not only will Waterfront Wednesdays encourage healthful outdoor excursions by our city residents, but it will also provide non-profit organizations and local businesses a contactless delivery point. Interest in this project has been fast-growing and diverse. Participants range from non-profits such as Kuumba Dancers and Drummers and the Senior Center, to businesses, artists, and artisans who may not have their own shops or have been temporarily forced to close due to distancing measures. Visitors will also have access to community rates on rentals from Hudson Paddles and tours of the Hudson Athens Lighthouse. As the season progresses, and our region enters Phase IV, we also look forward to welcoming performances by Bindlestiff Family Cirkus, a Loumingou Night performance by the Badila Sisters, and more. For current information on the Waterfront Wednesdays calendar, please visit www.hudsonartscoalition.org.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

What's Happening with the Empire State Trail

Anyone who has driven along Harry Howard Avenue in recent weeks knows that work on the Empire State Trail and Safe Routes to School project has been halted.

Yesterday, a reader told Gossips that earth from the excavation along Harry Howard was being dumped at the back of the lot across from the Central Fire Station on North Seventh Street. The area was now roped off, and there were signs warning about asbestos.

Today, the same reader reported there were workers in hazmat suits at the site on North Seventh Street, and he encountered resistance and some belligerence when he asked what was going on.

These reports inspired Gossips to investigate the situation--an investigation that began and ended with DPW superintendent Rob Perry. Even though the NYS State Department of Transportation (DOT) is doing the project, I figured Perry would know what was happening, and he did.

A hundred or so years ago, when Harry Howard Avenue has being developed, transite pipe, an asbestos-cement pipe, was used, not for potable water but for storm water and sewage. Prior to the 1970s, the connection between asbestos and mesothelioma hasn't completely understood, and asbestos was used in all manner of building and construction materials. Those transite mains, relics of another time, are still in the ground along Harry Howard Avenue.

As part of constructing the sidepath along Harry Howard Avenue for the Empire State Trail, DOT is installing new drainage lines. During the excavation for the new lines, some of the old transite mains were disturbed, and it is believed that sections of the old mains may have made it into the lot on North Seventh Street. Hence the asbestos warning signs.

When this was discovered, DOT directed the contractor working on the sidepath to hire a subcontractor to remove the transite pipe on Harry Howard that interferes with the new construction and to remove the material that was dumped on North Seventh Street. Once the remediation is complete, the construction of the sidepath will resume. DOT, the Department of Labor, and the Department of Environmental Conservation are all involved in overseeing the remediation.

Addendum:  When the Conservation Advisory Council first saw the rendering of the sidepath shown at the beginning of this post, members of the CAC tried to get DOT to incorporate trees into the plan. That was a little more than a year ago. They were told that it was too late in the project calendar to make changes. The CAC has not given up and intends to pursue planting trees along the trail after construction is complete, in 2021 or 2022.

Disaster Aid or Street Festival

Tomorrow at 10 a.m., the trial/rehearsal weekend for Hudson Shared Summer Streets begins.

Although the intent of the plan is to support Hudson's small businesses by allowing restaurants to serve people on the sidewalk and allowing pedestrians to social distance by spreading out into the street, the notion persists that what's being proposed is a street fair or a mile long block party meant to attract throngs of people to Hudson. The fact that Hudson Hall, with some knowledge of what's involved in closing down Warren Street, participated in the planning seems to have fed the notion that Shared Summer Streets is the equivalent of Winter Walk--all weekend, every weekend, throughout the summer. The detail of the plan that allows organizations and businesses not on Warren Street to get permits for parking spaces adds to the confusion about the plan's purpose and goals.

Still, despite the dire warning voiced at the HPC Hospitality Emergency Business Task Force meeting this afternoon that "people could die because of what you are doing," the trial, rehearsal, pilot, whatever you want to call it, begins tomorrow. In advance of that, a "Parking Guide" and a list of FAQs about Shared Summer Streets were made available today. They are reproduced below. (Click on the images to enlarge.) You can download PDFs of the "Parking Guide" and the FAQs here.

COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health has released its numbers for today. Since yesterday, there have been six new cases of COVID-19 and three more recoveries, increasing the number of active cases by three. The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 remains the same. There have been no new deaths.
As of 3:00 p.m. on June 25, 2020:
  • Columbia County has had 37 residents that have passed away from COVID-19.
  • Columbia County has 437 confirmed positive cases.
  • There are 27 active cases of COVID-19 in Columbia County.
  • 373 of the 437 cases have recovered from COVID-19
  • 7 of the positive cases are hospitalized, 0 of those hospitalized are in the ICU
  • We have received 9,929 PCR reports. Please note this number may represent duplicate reports, out of county reports, and multiple nursing home testings.

You Can't Make This Stuff Up

In March, Gossips reported that the alternative learning program known as Warren Street Academy, located at 11 Warren Street, would cease to exist on June 30, 2020: "The End of an Experiment." The school opened, with much fanfare, in 2016. The image below is a screen capture from Dan Udell's video of the ribbon cutting ceremony, which took place on July 3, 2016.

Today, five days before the dissolution of the school, the Register-Star reports that a teacher at Warren Street Academy, who apparently lives in Latham, was arrested and charged with multiple felonies involving child pornography: "Hudson teacher charged in child porn case."

Learn About Hudson Shared Summer Streets

Today at 3:00 p.m., there is a meeting of the HDC Hospitality Emergency Business Task Force. At the meeting, Sage Carter, of Hudson Hall, and Peter Spear, of Future Hudson, who have been working to conceptualize and implement the Hudson Shared Summer Streets plan, will be providing information and updates and fielding questions about this weekend's pilot version of the plan.

In an email this morning to the Hudson Business Coalition list serve, Carter already provided clarification of the 8:30 p.m. curfew. Restaurants can continue serving outdoors on the sidewalk until 10:00 p.m. What stops at 8:30 p.m. is closing the street to through traffic and imposing a 5 mph speed limit on vehicular traffic.

The Zoom meeting can be accessed here. The meeting ID is 857 3559 2807; the password is 917586.