Sunday, August 16, 2020

Also on the Agenda for Tuesday

The Common Council holds its regular monthly meeting on Tuesday, August 18. The subject of greatest interest on the agenda is the resolution regarding the PILOT agreement for 75 North Seventh Street, but the Council will also be asked to approve $51,752 worth of grants recommended by the Tourism Board. On July 1, the Council approved grants totaling $63,625, and on July 13, the Council approved a second round of grants total $66,800. In each case, the Council was asked to approve or deny the grants as a package. This time, however, the Council will consider the grants individually.

The grant that seems to have inspired the change is one for $14,707 to Rolling Grocer. The grant would fund an additional staff person to handle the preorder and curbside pickup and delivery service initiated earlier in the pandemic and refitting the trailer, used in the early days when RG19 was literally a "rolling grocer," to make it a cold storage unit to be used as a staging area for orders. According to the application, the funds would enable Rolling Grocer to continue its preorder service through August 2021. The application makes the case for the project's relevance to tourism in this way: "This is an invaluable service that provides safe access to Hudson residents and visitors alike, prioritizes the most vulnerable members of our community, and makes Hudson a more attractive place to live and visit."

Alderman Jane Trombley (First Ward) was skeptical. "What does this have to do with the mission of the Tourism Board?" she asked, going on to say that she saw it "more as a service to locals not tourists." There was some discussion of other grant recommendations as well, and so it was decided that each grant proposed by the Tourism Board would be considered separately. In addition to the grant for Rolling Grocer, the following grants have been proposed:
The Common Council meeting begins at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, August 18.


  1. I like the idea that each grant proposal is voted on individually. So - If it were me? RG19 has NOTHING to do with tourism. This sets a precedence for any other business looking to hire someone new to submit a proposal for grant money. JT is right - well done! BSFC is a local attraction and should be funded as such. If Open Studio is online, how is that attracting visitors to COME to Hudson? Pass. Isn't the Hudson Millner (Art Salon or not) a lodging space too? So how are we to know where the money is going? DFM - pass. Hudson doesn't need a piano, thanks. And HC has nerve asking the city to give them money to pay the city for a "boat" (bring your lifejackets!) that is a bone of contention already. I'm usually not a fan of the CC decisions, but this one - to discuss and vote on each item individually - seems like a good approach.

  2. Hudson Cruises has been ripping off the City since 2003, though always with the tacit assent of crooked city officials. I say tacit because for years the company operated from the waterfront park without a lease, only a handshake - with crooks! (For more on the
    illegality associated with these handshakes, ask how the city defrauded the NYS Dormitory Authority in 2009 for the unacknowledged benefit of Hudson Cruises.)

    In New York, the pivotal case concerning the leasing of municipally-owned waterfront properties was the Matter of Lake George Steamboat Co. v. Blais (1972). Absent a clear public benefit, and in the absence of legislative alienation, the court forbid the leasing of docks otherwise held in trust for the public to "a privately owned corporation [which] operates sight-seeing boats which transport persons purchasing tickets on a tour of the [local] waters."

    While the "Little Spirit" arguably performs a public benefit the larger tour boats did not, for too long this company has profited at the expense of city aand state residents.

    Hudson Cruises doesn't deserve a dime of our money, it deserves the boot!

    1. Perfectly said, thank you. Not one dime!

    2. A business acting in the best interest of that business is to be expected. The public officials who enabled such action are the ones deserving to be under scrutiny. I don't see the boats out at the dock anymore (though I admit I haven't been looking for them when I visit the waterfront.)

      How much is Schooner Appolonia paying?

  3. In 2019, Open Studio requested $2500 from the City of Hudson for "website design and development."

    If it's now requesting $12,840 for an online only version of itself, how proficient was the website design and development the last time around?

    The proposed 6-month budget doesn't acknowledge it openly, but going by the description it looks like more website building to me.

    So is this request really a re-do which nobody will scrutinize because of the given virtue of art?

    The Aldermen ought to ask, is the City buying the same thing twice?

    And what assurances are there that this year's web work will anticipate next year's web needs?

    Due to the given virtue of art-in-our-times, should residents come to expect an annual bleeding from Open Studio?

  4. It's difficult to take the Rolling Grocer seriously. Their hours, at least pre-covid, were laughable. It was as if they were trying to be open as little as possible. How is that a "service to the community?" And they always seem to be asking for money. How about they act like a true business, instead of another charity, and try to turn a profit? You know, like a coop or a true grocery store, which is what downtown Hudson needs. I applaud them for the effort, but their approach seems unsustainable.

  5. The DePace project sounds like a grift -- it's not a business, but it's applying as one; it will follow social-distancing guidelines while encouraging an entourage to follow it around town -- so it can drive a piano in the back of a pickup truck to play (increasingly out of tune) 30 minute concerts. Sounds like there might be a bit of nascent insurance fraud factored in if I'm reading the application correctly (though I don't think the applicant is intending to screw his other (only?) business's insurance carrier, it may just be written that way). This is precisely the kind of meaningless undertaking that the Council is almost guaranteed to approve. Along with the funds provided to Lil Deb's con, it's an exacta.

  6. I am strongly in support of Rolling Grocer. Cece and her team do a wonderful job of providing affordable healthy meal options to residents of Hudson. And by providing this essential service in walking distance to Hudson residents, they help reduce the need for cars and car ownership in a city overburdened with parking spots. They play a critical role in making Hudson a better place to live.

    Having framed what I'm about to say in that context, the Council should reject this funding proposal. Encouraging visitors to purchase grocery items (that do not provide tax revenue for the City) as opposed to encouraging dining out (which supports our small businesses, provides sales tax revenue, and helps local workers who rely on tips) is bad for the City right on the face of it, and communicates that the Common Council is fine rubber stamping any proposals that come out of the Tourism Board's patronage parade.

    There are a number of businesses and residents who supported and paid into the Lodging Tax when it was passed with the written guarantee that a portion of those funds would be used to promote tourism. As a body, the current iteration of the Tourism Board has not risen to this challenge at a time when tourism and tourism-adjacent businesses are in a state of existential crisis.

    Rolling Grocer is an amazing organization and well-deserving of community support. Please shop there whenever you can. I want them to be properly funded to survive and thrive through the Covid crisis and beyond, but other funding and grant opportunities need to be identified to get them the tools they need to make adjustments to their business plan.