The letter from Dan Kent announcing this decision cited lack of support from the Council, spoke of the "significant changes and concessions" made to satisfy the Council, and made this claim: "Despite this transparent process, the City's criteria for supporting affordable housing continues to change and remains unclear. We have participated in extended conversations both at Council meetings and with individual Council members and shown a willingness to respond to all questions and address concerns. Unfortunately, this effort has not been sufficient to secure Council support."
The letter was received, along with several other communications, at the beginning of last night's Council meeting, but before the Council voted to receive the communications, Alderman Tiffany Garriga (Second Ward), who had logged into the meeting from a car en route to Hudson from Albany, asked permission to address one of the communications. Council president Tom DePietro asked her to hold off a bit. After the Council had voted to accept the communications and pay the bills, DePietro announced that he wanted to make a short statement "in lieu of a number of things we've learned in the past twenty-four hours." DePietro had just defined the topic of his statement--the Galvan proposal to build a large apartment building on its property on North Seventh Street--when Garriga interrupted, saying, "May I ask that you read the communication, so that it is on the record?" DePietro responded, "You may not right now. I am making a statement. Please hold and wait. We will get to it. I don't interrupt you. Please don't interrupt me."
Continuing with his statement, DePietro defended the Council's record in supporting affordable housing, citing its approval of financing for rehabbing units at Bliss Towers. Speaking of the project proposed by Galvan, Pietro said, "Despite widespread support for affordable housing, we were not getting the basic information we needed to make a reasoned decision." DePietro referenced the changes in the project: "an entirely different building on an entirely different site designed by an entirely different architectural firm." He claimed Galvan had never provided a "cohesive and complete presentation of the finances and the design of the project."
DePietro then segued into speaking about Eric Galloway, one of the two principals in the Galvan Foundation. He mentioned that Galvan owns more than eighty properties in Hudson, a number of them vacant, and concluded that Galvan was not an ideal developer for a huge affordable housing project "given Galloway's checkered history as a developer in New York City." In speaking of Galloway, DePietro disclosed that Galloway was suing the City over the assessments on his home in the 300 block of Allen Street and the carriage house also on the property.
Gossips' investigations discovered that on July 17, 2020, Galloway filed an Article 7 lawsuit against the City of Hudson with the Columbia County clerk's office. In last year's reval, his house on Allen Street was assessed at $1.4 million and the carriage house at $500,000. This detail from the petition, which can be viewed online, shows what Galloway is claiming the properties are worth: $695,000 for the main house; $175,000 for the carriage house.
At the end of his statement, DePietro took issue with Kent's letter which blamed the City for lack of clear criteria for supporting affordable housing and accused Galvan of refusing "to acknowledge their complicity in the demise of this project." He recognized the need for a clear protocol to ensure proper public engagement and transparency and expressed hope that the consultant to be hired by the mayor to develop an affordable housing plan would "lead the way forward." The video recording of the Council Zoom meeting can be viewed on YouTube. DePietro's statement begins at 8:12.
Reacting to DePietro's statement, Mayor Kamal Johnson said he remained committed to affordable housing but he can't do it alone. "We can't just rely on what my office is doing." He went on to say, "We'll take this as a lesson that we'll learn from." It seems the lesson that a large, neighborhood altering development cannot be done by fiat is something that should have been learned long ago.
When the Council began its consideration of the resolutions before them, Garriga reentered the meeting and castigated DePietro for his earlier words to her. "Don't you ever scold me and talk to me like that." Later, she told him, "I am not your child. I speak for the people."
When Garriga was given the opportunity to speak, she read aloud the letter from Kent and then told her colleagues, "I am disgusted and disappointed with the entire Council." She went on to say, "You find every little way to find an excuse not to support this project. . . . You're stuck on parking, and you're stuck on saying, 'We want to see a better deal for the City.'" She demanded to know, "What is your plan for the housing project? What is your plan to give the people the housing that is needed?" She called out her colleagues by name--Malachi Walker, John Rosenthal, Rebecca Wolff. When Eileen Halloran (Fifth Ward) called a point of order, because they were now being subjected to the same scolding Garriga had accused DePietro of directing against her, Garriga attacked. "Why don't you have another glass of wine on camera? Because you don't support the people."
Later in the meeting, when the public was permitted to comment, Vern Cross took up Garriga's harangue, demanding to know what the alternative plan for affordable housing was and directing his question specifically at Malachi Walker (Fourth Ward) and John Rosenthal (Fourth Ward). Rosenthal responded by talking about the legislation to regulate short term rentals, inclusionary zoning and other changes to the zoning code, and looking for other development partners. He revealed that the Council had wanted to table the resolution supporting the PILOT agreement, but it was Galvan's decision to withdraw. Walker told Cross he was "willing to sit and figure out where we can go from here" and to "go back to the drawing board and figure out the next step." Cross challenged, "Did you know when you ran on housing that it was hard?"
DePietro then told Cross that, on Monday, "after things seemed to blow up with this," he had called Randall Martin, chair of the Hudson Housing Authority Board of Commissioners, and learned that "they hope very soon to have a project on State Street." Cross responded scornfully, "Keep all the black people downtown."
The entire Council meeting, which went on for slightly more than two hours, can be viewed on YouTube.
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