Monday, August 31, 2020

COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health has released its numbers for today. Since yesterday, nothing has changed, except there are now nine fewer county residents in mandatory quarantine. It has been eighty-three days since Columbia County has had a death from COVID-19.

The following charts review the county's experience with COVID-19 during the month of August. The first chart shows the number of new cases reported each day. For eight days in August, there were no new cases reported. The greatest number of new cases reported was five, which occurred on August 11.

The chart below shows the number of active cases in the county. The month started out with sixteen active cases, and there are now just half that number. The lowest number of active cases was seen on August 24, when there were only four.


Virtual Meetings of Interest in the Week Ahead

It's a leisurely week as August ends and September begins, with only two nights of meetings.
  • On Tuesday, September 1, the Conservation Advisory Council meets at 6:00 p.m. Information to access the meeting is not yet available.
  • Also on Tuesday, September 1, the Tourism Board meets at 7:00 p.m. Information to access the Zoom meeting will be published on the City of Hudson website prior to the meeting. Scroll down to the calendar. 
  • On Wednesday, September 2, the Common Council Youth, Education, Seniors, and Recreation Committee meets at 5:30 p.m. Information to access the Zoom meeting will be published on the City of Hudson website prior to the meeting. Scroll down to the calendar.
  • Also on Wednesday, September 2, the Housing and Transportation Committee meets at 6:45 p.m. It is rumored that committee chair Tiffany Garriga wants the meeting to be held outdoors rather than on Zoom. If this is to happen, Gossips will notify readers of the location of the meeting.
  • On Thursday, September 3, Mayor Kamal Johnson is holding a public hearing at 3:00 p.m. on a local law that amends Chapter 129 of the city code to conform with recent changes to the Energize NY Benefit Financing Program. The original law implementing the program was enacted in September 2016. The public hearing will be held as a Zoom meeting. Click here to join the meeting. The meeting ID is 825 0245 4463; the passcode is 353582.

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Update on the Bridge

The Ferry Street Bridge, described by as "an extremely unusual and historic structure," began providing vehicular and pedestrian access over the railroad tracks to the river in 1905. 

In October 2014, the bridge was determined to be unsafe, and it was closed to vehicular traffic. In April 2016, it was announced that funding had been secured to replace the bridge and restore this access to the river. According to the schedule then announced, a schedule determined by the NYS Department of Transportation (DOT), construction of the new bridge would happen in 2020. There have been some delays, and construction of the new bridge has now been postponed until 2021. 

At the last Common Council Public Works and Parks Committee meeting, DPW superintendent Rob Perry reported that permission from DOT to move from preliminary design to final design this still being sought. The preliminary design was presented at a public meeting in October 2018, and public comment was solicited. The next step in the process--moving from preliminary design to final design--will also involve public engagement. 

Two things have eliminated the notion of restoring the existing bridge. The State Historic Preservation Office determined that the bridge was not eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places because it was constructed with salvaged parts and had been altered several times since it was built in 1905. The conclusion was that the bridge "no longer reflects its original design or use." The second reason is that Amtrak is requiring greater clearance for trains under the bridge. The vertical clearance of the current bridge is 19.5 feet. The required clearance is 23 feet. As a consequence the slope of the approaches to the bridge, both from Front Street and from Broad Street, will have to be significantly steeper than they are 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 one more person is now recovering, reducing the number of active cases in the county by one, to eight. Nine fewer county residents are in mandatory quarantine today than yesterday, and, as was the case yesterday, no one is in precautionary quarantine. One person remains hospitalized with the virus, and, for the eighty-second day, there have been no new deaths.

Today at the River

Pop-Up Shops in Hudson, showcasing black entrepreneurs, takes place today from 3 to 7 p.m. at Henry Hudson Riverfront Park. 

The event celebrating Black Business Month offers delicious takeout food, custom-made jewelry, skin care, good music, and more. The featured vendors are Moisturize Me, Midtwn Custom Jewelry, Hollis Shea Skin Care, Fatboy Grill, The Juice Branch/Seafood Steamery, and Collins Kitchen. Click here for more information.

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Art All Around

The ten-day public art event in Hudson known as The Hudson Eye began yesterday and continues through Labor Day. As part of the event, artwork is being exhibited throughout Hudson and beyond, including the first ever art installation on the Hudson River Skywalk.

Photo: Trixie's List
Aaron Levi Garvey, the event's curator for visual arts, called the installation of public art a "treasure hunt." You can come upon it while walking the dog (as Gossips has) or going to work or just being out and about in Hudson. But if you want to make your discovery less serendipitous and more intentional, there's a map showing the locations which can be downloaded here.

In addition to art installations, The Hudson Eye includes music and dance performances and "Hot Topic" Zoom discussions. To learn more about The Hudson Eye, visit the website or check out the coverage on Trixie's List.

COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health was released its numbers for today. Since yesterday, there have been two new cases of COVID-19 and no new recoveries, which increases the number of active cases by two, to nine. There are two more county residents in mandatory quarantine, but the number in precautionary quarantine remains at zero. There is still just one person hospitalized with the virus, and, for the eighty-first day, there have been no new deaths.

Friday, August 28, 2020

Meanwhile in Vermont

For the past two days, Columbia County has had no new cases of COVID-19, and the New York State dashboard is reporting our infection rate is 0.0%. There are seven active cases now in the county, but Vermont is calculating that as 494 active cases per million. So Columbia County is still yellow on Vermont's interactive map, and we still cannot visit Vermont without quarantining for fourteen days.

COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health has released its numbers for today. Since yesterday, nothing has changed except the number of county residents now in mandatory quarantine. That number has increased by three. The county has now gone for eighty days without a death from COVID-19.

Where the New COVID Cases Are This Week

The Columbia County Department of Health has released its weekly breakdown of COVID-19 cases by municipality and nursing home. Since last week, there have been eight new cases of COVID-19. Four of the new cases were in Livingston, and the following towns each had one new case: Chatham, Claverack, Philmont, and Stuyvesant.

In the list below, the first number given is the number of cases last week, the second number is the number of cases this week. These are the total number of cases since the pandemic began, not the number of active cases. The number of active cases in the county today is seven.
Ancram  4 | 4
Canaan  10 | 10
Chatham  24 | 25
Claverack  26 | 27
Clermont  8 | 8
Copake  23 | 23
Craryville  3 | 3
Elizaville  1 | 1
Gallatin  3 | 3
Germantown  4 | 4
Ghent  24 | 24
Greenport  40 | 40
Hillsdale  15 | 15
Hudson  30 | 30
Kinderhook  39 | 39
Livingston  14 | 18
New Lebanon  9 | 9
Niverville  2 | 2
Philmont  8 | 9
Stockport  7 | 7
Stottville  1 | 1
Stuyvesant  17 | 18
Taghkanic  8 | 8
Valatie  17 | 17
Nursing Homes
Barnwell  142 | 142
Livingston Hills  2 | 2
Pine Haven  51 | 51

Approaching the Historic Promenade

This past Tuesday, the consultants working on the two city DRI projects that now seem to be moving forward--Hudson Connects and the redesign of the plaza at the entrance to Promenade Hill--held an open house to give the community the opportunity to respond to design concepts.

Starr Whitehouse, the landscape architecture and planning firm working on redesigning the entrance to Promenade Hill, presented two design concepts, which they called "The Meander" and "The Terrace."


Since universal access to the historic promenade and its scenic vistas is a principal goal to be achieved by the re-imagined plaza, the path that brings wheelchairs and baby strollers up to the level of the promenade is a central element of each design. In "The Meander," the path takes a curving route; in "The Terrace," it takes a route that zigzags.

Starr Whitehouse is seeking input from the community on these two design concepts. The entire presentation of the two concepts can be found here. They are asking the community to study the design materials and then share their thoughts in a survey that can be found here. The survey will be available to be completed online until Tuesday, September 8.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

It Can Be Done

Some readers may accuse me of being obsessed with Stewart's Shops, and perhaps I am, but I couldn't resist sharing this news, reported today in the Albany Business Review: "Stewart's Shops denied permission to build store in Albany."

Photo: Albany Business Review
Construction of the Stewart's proposed for the corner of Washington and Colvin avenues would have involved the demolition of a former Key Bank building and two two-family houses. The conditional use permit required for the project was denied "on the grounds the store would be inconsistent with the character of the neighborhood and the objectives of the zoning district.

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 one more person is classified as "recovering," reducing the number of active cases by one, to seven. The number of county residents in mandatory and precautionary quarantine remains the same--35 and 0 respectively--and the number currently hospitalized remains at one. For the seventy-ninth day in a row, there have been no new deaths from COVID-19 in Columbia County.

Compromise Is Not an Option

That seemed to be the message that emerged from last night's Common Council Legal Committee meeting. 

On Tuesday, the latest draft of the legislation to regulate short term rentals (STRs) in Hudson was posted on the City of Hudson website. Reaction from various sources seemed to indicate that the new version was something that was generally acceptable to most people. At the beginning of last night's committee meeting, committee chair John Rosenthal optimistically opined, "I'm pretty sure we're about at the last draft."

The meeting began with a PowerPoint presentation meant to provide the data that justified the committee's sense of urgency in adopting the STR legislation. The presentation can be found here. It begins with a quote from Hudson's Strategic Housing Action Plan, which was adopted by the Common Council in 2018.
Another issue associated with Airbnb is the pressure it puts on the long-term rental market. A property owner may find that renting their property or part of their property to numerous short-term visitors through Airbnb is more profitable than renting to a single tenant with a traditional year-long lease. This is more likely to occur in popular tourist destinations where the property owner can charge a premium during popular times of the year and weekends. In some communities in the Hudson Valley, properties are being purchased for the express purpose of converting it for use as a short-term Airbnb rental. Taking property or rooms out of the long-term rental market reduces the housing stock for local residents and puts upward pressure on the price of the remaining long-term housing units. 
The PowerPoint presentation included information about properties now registered to operate as short term rentals (STRs) and an inventory of rooms currently available in hotels and bed and breakfasts in Hudson--accommodations that would not be affected by the law. Of interest among that information is that the Galvan Initiatives Foundation, which sees providing low- and moderate-income housing as part of its not-for-profit mission, "has registered, but may not be operating, 7 STRs with a total of 12 units." It was suggested by Council president Tom DePietro that the number of units registered by Galvan was closer to twenty. The remainder of the presentation was what Rosenthal described as "a raft of data from other communities" about the impact of STRs. The data related primarily to New York and Los Angeles, and it was all pre-pandemic.

When the discussion turned to the latest draft of the legislation, it focused on the amortization period, the time STRs that currently exist could continue to operate after they have deemed illegal by the proposed legislation. That would apply to all buildings operated as STRs that are not owner occupied. The latest draft of the legislation sets the amortization period at five years. The discussion began with committee member Rebecca Wolff declaring that she wanted the amortization period to be two years instead of five, arguing, "Five years is an extremely long time in the life of this city's housing issues." She described the situation as "very serious," spoke of an "urgent housing situation," and asserted "the character of the city is even more urgent." 

Committee member Tiffany Garriga introduced a more draconian amortization period: six months. When advised by city attorney Jeff Baker that six months was too short for constitutional review, Garriga conceded, "One year is as far as I'll go," warning that, if the law had an amortization period of longer than one year, she would not support it. Rosenthal talked about community buy-in, stressing, "Some of the people who will be affected by this law live in this community," but Garriga would have none of it. She declared, "My people get knocked around. Now we want to make concessions for the very people who did that to them?" Rosenthal responded, "I want to do something reasonable and not invite rancor." During the meeting, Rosenthal spoke, in vain, it seems, of wanting to avoid rancor. 

Responding to the claim of urgency, Rosenthal explained that a longer amortization period would not result in any new displacement attributable to STRs, because only STRs that were registered and operating before the moratorium, that is prior to February 2020, could continue to operate after the legislation was adopted. Wolff, however, insisted, "If we allow existing STRs to continue for five years, this town won't be recognizable," and declared, "I want properties [now operated as STRs] to be returned to long term rentals quicker."

When the meeting was opened to comments from the public, the number of people demanding the shortest amortization period possible seemed to be in the majority. There was also some exchange of judgment about the tenor of the meeting. Elizabeth Dickey told Rosenthal he needed "to move in the direction of respectfulness." Rosenthal responded, "We have to get to a point of compromise rather than going back to rehash something already settled." He added, "We are trying to weigh the effects if we get challenged"--that is, if the law faces a legal challenge.                

Zia Anger asserted that "Airbnb is entirely antithetical to community," and someone identified only as Alex complained of people "taking housing stock off the market to use for personal profit." Monica Byrne called for a respectful discussion, saying it was not right demonize people and criticizing "yelling between and yelling at elected officials." Someone identified only as Anya, who had earlier revealed that she was afraid she would lose her apartment, objected to with she called Byrne's "tone policing," because "for some people this is a roof over their heads."

Some interesting points were made during the discussion. Peter Meyer argued that with this legislation the Legal Committee was "chasing after an illusive and wrong problem." He identified the real problems as landlords who own multiple properties, many of them vacant, and property taxes, which are so high that many people need to monetize their property in any way they can to afford to pay the taxes. He insisted, "There is no evidence that this legislation will do anything to lower rent in Hudson." The only basis for this is the notion that more available rental units would force landlords to be competitive in their pricing. Gossips recently learned of a one and a half bedroom apartment somewhere on Warren Street renting for $2,000 a month because presumably that's what the market will bear. If having more rental units available would change what the market will bear remains to be seen.

Steve Dunn advised an amortization period "that gets us past the next election"--that is, the next local election in November 2021. He also expressed the opinion that "the shorter the amortization period, the more vulnerable the law will be for repeal."

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health has released its numbers for today. After five days of reporting just one new case a day, the CCDOH is today reporting four new cases. Since yesterday, there is one more person recovering, so the number of active cases has increased to eight. There are four fewer people in mandatory quarantine, which suggests that those four people may be the four new confirmed cases. There is, same as yesterday, one person hospitalized with the virus, and, for the seventy-eighth day, there are no new deaths from COVID-19 in the county.

What Happened in Kinderhook

What happened in the wee hours of the morning on July 5 at the home of Alex and Kelly Rosenstrach is the subject of an ongoing investigation by the New York State Police, but Enid Futterman has been doing her own investigation. The first part of her report was published yesterday on A revised version of the report appeared this morning: "The Party's Over (Part 1): What really happened CORRECTED."

Albany Bound

On July 5, the USS Slater, the World War II destroyer escort that is now a National Historic Landmark and a floating museum moored in Albany, passed Hudson on its way down the river to Staten Island for some needed repairs.

This morning, the USS Slater passed Hudson again, on its way back to Albany. 

Photo: Keith Kanaga

Hudson resident Richard Wallace, who serves as a tour guide on the USS Slater, was on board for the journey back to Albany.

Photo: Richard Wallace|Facebook
When in Albany, the USS Slater is docked at 1 Quay Street. Click here to learn more about the ship, plan an in-person visit, or take a virtual tour.

Flying Over Promenade Hill

Yesterday, artist David Hammons' African-American Flag (1990) was raised on the flagpole on Promenade Hill. 

The exhibition of the flag is part of The Hudson Eye, the public art program that begins on Friday, August 28, and runs through Monday, September 7. An article about the flag appears today in the Register-Star: "Flag art to be symbol of unity at festival."

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

You Can't Come Here from There: Update

This week, five states have been removed from New York's travel advisory list: Alaska, Arizona, Delaware, Maryland, and Montana. There is also new addition to the list: Guam. Travelers coming to New York from any of the following twenty-eight states and three territories must quarantine for fourteen days upon arriving here.
  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Guam
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Oklahoma
  • Puerto Rico
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Virginia
  • Virgin Islands
  • Wisconsin

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 no new recoveries, increasing the number of active cases by one, to five. There is one more county resident in mandatory quarantine but none in precautionary quarantine. There is one fewer person hospitalized with the virus, and, for the seventy-seventh day in a row, there have been no new deaths.

News of Police Reform and Assessment

Gossips anticipated that last night's Common Council Police Committee meeting might yield some information about Hudson's efforts to comply with Governor Andrew Cuomo's mandated police reforms, and that is indeed what happened. Police commissioner Peter Volkmann reported that the Police Reconciliation and Advisory Commission, appointed by Mayor Kamal Johnson early last month, is in fact the group who will be, as per the governor's mandate, developing "a plan that reinvents and modernizes police strategies and programs" in Hudson. Volkmann told the committee, "The Common Council has to accept the results that come from the commission." When committee chair Dewan Sarowar questioned that statement, Volkmann reiterated it. The police reform workbook, issued this month by the State of New York, describes a somewhat different process.

In his foreword to the workbook, Cuomo outlines this collaborative process:
  • Review the needs of the community served by its police agency, and evaluate the department's current policies and practices;
  • Establish policies that allow police to effectively and safely perform their duties;
  • Involve the entire community in the discussion;
  • Develop policy recommendations resulting from this review;
  • Offer a plan for public comment;
  • Present the plan to the local legislative body to ratify or adopt it, and;
  • Certify adoption of the plan to the State Budget Director on or before April 1, 2021.
The process laid out by the governor sounds a little different from, "The Common Council has to accept the results that come from the commission."

Volkmann also reported on Mayor Kamal Johnson's executive order that the police budget be cut by 10 percent. Last night, Volkmann told the committee that 90 percent of the police budget is salaries, so it would be impossible to cut the budget by 10 percent without laying off officers, and the mayor had insisted that budget cuts not involve layoffs. Volkmann indicated that a 5 percent cut was possible this year because, owing to COVID-19, there were no festivals requiring police overtime.

At the beginning of the year, when Volkmann was appointed police commissioner, he was asked by the mayor to do an assessment of the Hudson Police Department. He told the committee last night that his assessment had been completed and delivered to the mayor. In his report, he made twenty-four recommendations, which he shared with the Police Committee last night:
  1. Have officers work twelve-hour shifts instead of eight-hour shifts
  2. Implement the Hudson Cares initiative, which involves Community Angels, and create a civilian position for a liaison with the Angels
  3. Create a spiritual care team led by Rev. Richard Washburn, the police chaplain
  4. Adopt a more efficient procedure for handling complaints about officers and concerns about officer conduct
  5. Review the salary of the police chief--Volkmann pointed out that Chief Ed Moore is the lowest paid police chief in the State of New York and the lowest paid officer in the HPD
  6. Make improvements to the building--Volkmann maintained that the building is "unfinished," saying, "It went over budget so they had to make some cuts."
  7. Re-evaluate the software used by the police department
  8. Adopt electronic policies
  9. Create initiatives for interactions following the "Take Five" concept--Volkmann suggested "Ice Pop with a Cop," where a police officer spends five minutes having a popsicle with a child
  10. Identify training needs, as recommended by the Police Reconciliation and Advisory Commission
  11. Inventory the equipment
  12. Implement crisis intervention training
  13. Establish an emergency notification system for elected officials
  14. Create a wellness program for officers, "for mind, body, and spirit"
  15. Introduce a Comfort Canine program--a "therapy dog for children and festivals"
  16. Conduct an in-depth analysis of the Parking Bureau
  17. Provide officers with EpiPens
  18. Develop a strategic plan for replacing police vehicles
  19. Equip all police vehicles with cameras that are always on
  20. Partner with many groups to decrease calls for service and arrests
  21. Purchase a defibrillator
  22. Publish all statistics and do a better job with PR
  23. Partner with Ring to use information from residential security cameras  
  24. Come up with a strategic plan to curb violence in the city
During the course of the meeting, Volkmann also shared this information. There are only three full-time police agencies in Columbia County: the New York State Police, the Columbia County Sheriff's Office, and the Hudson Police Department. The HPD represents only 17 percent of the officers in the county, but HPD makes half the criminal arrests. He also pointed out that "Columbia Memorial Health calls the HPD when they have someone who is out of control."

Sold! . . . to the Higher Bidder

The sealed bids received for 228 Mill Street were opened today at the monthly board meeting of the Hudson Development Corporation. There were two.

The first bid was for $40,000; the second for $48,010. The minimum bid had been set at $32,500. The board voted unanimously to accept the higher bid.

Addendum to the Meeting List

This afternoon at 3 o'clock, the HDC Emergency Cultural Task Force holds its weekly Zoom meeting. Click here to access the meeting. The meeting ID is 972 7312 5560; the passcode is 009933. 

A major topic of discussion will be the upcoming Hudson Eye, the annual ten-day, artist-driven public program which is now in its second year. Aaron Levi Garvey, curator of The Hudson Eye, will present an overview of the program, which includes "dance, music, performance, film, visual art, and "Hot Topic" panel discussions covering topics of concern to the creative community of Hudson and beyond." The program runs from Friday, August 28, through Monday, September 7, online and at physical locations throughout the city. Several artists whose work is featured in The Hudson Eye will also be part of the Zoom meeting.

Seen Around Town

If you've missed seeing the sign protesting the gravel trucks and calling for environmental justice which stood for most of the summer in front of Alderman Shershah Mizan's house at the corner of Green Street and Fairview Avenue, it was not disappeared altogether.

It is now to be found at the intersection of Routes 66 and 23B, near the replica Statue of Liberty.


The Evolution of a Law

The latest draft of the proposed legislation to regulate short term rentals has been posted on the City of Hudson website. It can be accessed here. The draft law is expected to be the topic of discussion at the Legal Committee meeting which takes place tomorrow, Wednesday, August 26, at 6:15 p.m. The information to access the meeting will be posted on the City of Hudson website prior to the meeting. Scroll down to the calendar. 

Monday, August 24, 2020

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 three more classified as "recovering," reducing the number of active cases by two, to four. There are five more county residents in mandatory quarantine, but no one in precautionary quarantine. The number hospitalized with the virus remains the same, at two, and, for the seventy-sixth day, there have been no new deaths.

Virtual and Actual Meetings in the Week Ahead

Here's what's happening in Hudson in the last days of August.
  • On Monday, August 24, the Common Council Fire Committee meets at 5:30 p.m. and the Police Committee meets at 6:00 p.m. Information for accessing the meetings will be provided on the City of Hudson website prior to each meeting. Scroll down to the calendar. It's possible the Police Committee meeting may provide some insight into the work of the Police Reconciliation and Advisory Commission appointed by Mayor Kamal Johnson at the beginning of July and the City's plan to comply with Governor Andrew Cuomo's New York State Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative initiative. When he issued the executive order two months ago, one June 24, Cuomo described the process as "starting with a blank piece of paper and creating the police force the community wants." Communities that fail to create such a plan by April 2021 risk losing state funding for their police departments.  
  • On Tuesday, August 25, the board of the Hudson Development Corporation (HDC) holds its monthly meeting at noon. Click here to access the meeting. The meeting ID is 859 2911 8764; the passcode is 503246. Heading up the agenda is receiving and opening the sealed bids for 228 Mill Street. Almost 24 hours remain to submit a bid. For information contact
  • From 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday, August 25, Arterial and Street Plans, the consultants working on the Hudson Connects project, and Starr Whitehouse, the landscape architects working on the improvement to Promenade Hill, will share preliminary design concepts and gather input from community members. The event takes place at the entrance to Promenade Hill. Attendees must wear masks and observe social distancing.

  • On Wednesday, August 26, at 10:00 a.m., the board of Hudson Community Development and Planning Agency (HCDPA) holds a special meeting to discuss the project proposed by the Galvan Foundation for 75 North Seventh Street. Click here to access the meeting. The meeting ID is 830 5124 1080; the passcode is Urgent!321.  
As Gossips has already reported, the Galvan Foundation, believing the proposed PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) did not have the support needed to pass in the Common Council, announced last Tuesday that they were "withdrawing from proceeding further with the 75 North 7th Street Project." Nevertheless, Charles Gottlieb, land use attorney representing the project, appeared before the Zoning Board of Appeals on Wednesday to appeal an interpretation of the zoning code made by code enforcement officer Craig Haigh regarding the lot and the proposed structure. Gottlieb told the ZBA that Galvan was "now in discussion to see what [the project] looks like without a PILOT, what no PILOT means for the project, and what can be developed on the site." He also indicated that the Planning Board's review of the project continued. 
Gossips has learned that the special meeting of the HCDPA board was called by Mayor Kamal Johnson, and Dan Kent of the Galvan Foundation is expected to make a presentation. The board of HCDPA is made up entirely of members who serve ex officio. In addition to the mayor, the five members include: Council majority leader, Tiffany Garriga; Council minority leader, Rebecca Wolff; Planning Board chair, Betsy Gramkow; and Hudson Housing Authority Board of Commissioners chair, Randall Martin. 
Update: Gossips just got word that the mayor has canceled the emergency meeting of HCDPA for this week. There is no word on if or when the meeting will be rescheduled. 
  • Also on Wednesday, August 26, the Common Council Public Works and Parks Committee meets at 5:00 p.m. and the Legal Committee meets at 6:15 p.m. The proposed legislation to regulate short term rentals is expected to be discussed at the Legal Committee meeting. It is very likely that the draft of the proposed law has seen significant changes since mid-July when a draft of the legislation, not the latest version even at that time, was made available for public comment. Information for accessing each committee meeting will be available on the City of Hudson website shortly before the meetings begin. Scroll down to the calendar.
  • On Friday, August 28, the Historic Preservation Commission meets at 10:00 a.m. The meeting can be viewed on YouTube at Hudson City Zoom Meetings.     
  • On Saturday, August 29, Indivisible CD19 NY hosts Power of the People, Reclaim Our Criminal Justice System, a "bi-partisan ZOOM forum calling for transparency, accountability, and reform of our criminal justice system and legislative representation." For more information, click here  

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Following Up with the Tourism Grants

Last Sunday, Gossips reported on the grants recommended by the Tourism Board for approval by the Common Council. Today, we return to the topic to report on the outcome. 

Because the Council had determined at its informal meeting to vote on each grant separately, the resolution for only one grant had already been introduced: Open Studio Hudson. When that resolution came up for a vote, Rebecca Wolff told her colleagues in the Council that a constituent had pointed out to her that the amount being requested was much higher than the event's budget last year. The budget presented to the Finance Committee in 2019 was $3,350. The amount granted by the Finance Committee, which was doling out the $20,000 appropriated by the Tourism Board, was $1,675. This year, the Tourism Board is recommending providing $12,840 for the event.

Sidney Long, a member of the Tourism Board, attempted to defend the recommendation but was told by Council president Tom DePietro that public comment was not permitted at that time. The resolution failed, with six votes against--(Tiffany Garriga, Dominic Merante, John Rosenthal, Dewan Sarowar, Jane Trombley, and Wolff), four in favor (Eileen Halloran, Malachi Walker, DePietro, and Calvin Lewis), and one abstention (Shershah Mizan).

Later, when the resolutions for the other grants were introduced, there was opportunity for members of the Tourism Board to defend their recommendations. Regarding the DePace Family Music project ($3,100), the question had been raised of what the City was going to do with a used upright piano, which is one of the things to be purchased with the $3,100. Tourism Board member Tamar Adler suggested there were three places the piano could go: the Youth Department, the Harmony Project at Hudson Hall, or the Hudson City School District. Given the regulations about disposing of City property, only the Youth Department is a possible recipient. Wolff opined, "One of the things that is hardest [during the pandemic] is not having access to live music." Jane Trombley commented, "It's a piano on a truck. Couldn't this be used more often?" Dominic Merante wondered, "They are renting the truck. Is there a way to rent a piano?" In the end, the resolution was approved with everyone voting in favor except for John Rosenthal, who abstained.

The grant for the Hudson Milliner Art Studio project ($4,905) was unanimously approved. The grant to Hudson Cruises ($1,200) was also approved, with dissenting votes from Rosenthal and Merante.    

The grant for Rolling Grocer ($14,707) was probably the most discussed. DePietro defended the integrity of the Tourism Board and its choices for funding. (Some background: DePietro does a radio show on WGXC with Selha Graham, one of the three co-managers of Rolling Grocer, who is also a member of the Tourism Board.) Adler pointed out that from March to August 50 percent of the customers at Rolling Grocer were not registered in a tier. (More background: There are three different prices on all items depending on customers' income; customers are asked to register for their tier the first time they shop at Rolling Grocer.) From this, Adler concluded that 50 percent of the customers during that period were tourists. Michelle Hughes, another of the co-managers, argued that Rolling Grocer "makes Hudson a more livable space to come and weather the storm." Wolff maintained that Rolling Grocer made Hudson "a good place to visit as well as to live." Although when the resolution came up for a vote Eileen Halloran was still "looking to find a connection to tourism," the resolution passed unanimously. Before casting his vote, DePietro said he volunteered at Rolling Grocer.

In the discussion preceding the vote on the grant to Bindlestiff Family Cirkus ($15,000), it was clarified that the money was only for Phase 2 of the "Phoenix Rising" project, an event which will not take place until next spring. It was decided to postpone considering the grant until it was "closer to the date when it will actually happen."

When the Council had finished voting on the resolutions, Calvin Lewis, who chairs the Tourism Board, said he wanted Open Studio Hudson to have a "fairer hearing." Long defended the $9,500 increase in the budget from last year by saying, "The goal this year is to include marginalized artists." She maintained, "The electricity in Hudson comes from people working in their studios and making art." She also pointed out that Open Studio Hudson 2020, which will be entirely virtual, will go on for six months. When Trombley expressed the opinion that a virtual event "doesn't have the buzz of going to studios," Long responded, "We're talking about the fifth dimension here."

DePietro advised that the Council could not re-vote on the resolution for Open Studio Hudson, but they could re-introduce it, which is expected to happen at the Council's September meeting. He also responded to unspecified criticism of the Tourism Board by saying, "They have rigorously gone over applications, and the ones that make it to the Council are about half what they receive." He went on to assert, "They understand their mandate to support tourism."

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 more is classified as "recovering," so the number of active cases remains at six. One fewer county resident is in mandatory quarantine, and there are none in precautionary quarantine. There are still two people hospitalized with the virus, but, for the seventy-fifth day, there have been no new deaths.

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Of Interest

Roger Hannigan Gilson in the The Other Hudson Valley reported on Eric Galloway's lawsuit against the City of Hudson over the assessment on his house on Allen Street and the carriage house behind it: "Galvan Trustee Sues Hudson to Get His Property Values Lowered."

The article doesn't contain much information that hasn't already been reported by Gossips, but Gilson did, after some persistence, manage to get a quote from Galloway himself.

What Lies Beneath

Earlier this year, the Preservation League of New York State named the Hudson-Athens Lighthouse one of its Seven to Save for 2020-2021

Yesterday, the League published an article explaining something the average fan of the lighthouse may not know about the structure: "Shoring Up the Lighthouse's Future." The article reveals why and how the lighthouse was constructed where it stands on the river and what preserving it will entail. It is recommended reading.

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 more recovery, so the the number of active cases remains that same. There are five fewer county residents in mandatory quarantine, and the number in precautionary quarantine remains the same. There has been no change in the number hospitalized with the virus, and, for the seventy-fourth day, there have been no new deaths.

Friday, August 21, 2020

It Happened This Morning

Bill Williams reports in the Register-Star on Hudson police coming to the aid of a UPS driver who suffered a apparent drug overdose while making deliveries in Hudson: "Police: UPS driver revived with Narcan."

A "Bespoke Experience" at Third and Warren

In case you missed it, Hudson's newest hotel, The Maker, was reviewed in Forbes Magazine earlier this week: "Meet The Maker, a New Boutique Hotel in New York." 

Photo: Francine Zaslow|Forbes