Wednesday, March 31, 2021

COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health has released its numbers for today. Since yesterday, there have been ten new cases of COVID-19. The number of active cases being reported today is nine fewer than yesterday, from which it can be inferred that nineteen more county residents are now considered to be recovering from the virus. The number of county residents in mandatory quarantine is four fewer today than yesterday, but the number hospitalized and in the ICU remains the same. There has not been a death from COVID-19 in Columbia County since yesterday.  

The New York Forward dashboard is reporting a positivity rate for Columbia County yesterday of 3.8 percent and a seven-day average of 2.4 percent. By comparison, the daily positivity rate for the Capital Region is 3.0 percent and the seven-day average is 2.4 percent.

A Preview of This Year's Local Elections

The deadline for submitting designating petitions for this year's election of local officials was last Thursday. Here is a preview of who will appear on the ballot for the primary in June and the general election in November. At this point, it seems the only contests, aside from the challenge to city treasurer Heather Campbell, are in the Second and Fifth wards. 

Mayor  
Kamal Johnson--Democrat, WFP (incumbent)

Common Council President  
Tom DePietro--Democrat (incumbent)

City Treasurer 
Heather Campbell--Democrat (incumbent)
Michael Hofmann--Democrat, WFP

FIRST WARD
Supervisor
Claire Cousin--Democrat, WFP
Alderman
Arthur Frick--Democrat
Gary Purnhagen--Democrat

SECOND WARD
Supervisor
Abdus Miah--Democrat, Conservative (incumbent)
Tiffany Garriga--Democrat, WFP
Alderman
Dewan Sarowar--Democrat, Conservative (incumbent)
Mohammed Rony--Democrat
Willette Jones--Democrat
Lee Bradshaw--Republican

THIRD WARD
Supervisor  
Michael Chameides--Democrat, WFP (incumbent)
Alderman
Calvin Lewis--Democrat, WFP (incumbent)
Ryan Wallace--Democrat

FOURTH WARD
Supervisor
Linda Mussmann--Democrat (incumbent)
Alderman
Malachi Walker--Democrat (incumbent)
Theo Anthony--Democrat

FIFTH WARD
Supervisor
Richard Scalera--Democrat (incumbent)
Alderman
Dominic Merante--Democrat, Conservative (incumbent)
Rebecca Borrer--Democrat, WFP
Vasiliki Daskloudi--Democrat
Mark Bodnar--Democrat

Given the apparent lack of interest in running for office--particularly for the offices of supervisor and alderman--it seems it may be time to consider reducing the number of supervisors representing Hudson to one and the number of aldermen representing each ward to one. It would save the taxpayers some money.
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A Long View

This morning, Walter Chatham sent me this photograph, taken through the quatrefoil window at the top of the tower at 59 Allen Street, the Charles Alger house. I share it because it is a view that few of us will have the opportunity to see for ourselves.


Today, what can be seen through the window is the side of 201 Allen Street, but when the Alger house was built the view would have been quite different. Back then, what lay to the east and southeast of the house were orchards and Universal Hill, a section of the city that is remembered in this letter of the editor, which appeared in the Hudson Daily Register on October 7, 1881.  
[Universal Hill] was a broad, beautiful green, fronting the bay, extending from the old church edifice on Third street, which was the only building upon it, nearly to Second street, Allen street, between these points was then little more than a rough road, known as Federal or Church street. . . .
Universal Hill was the great resort for circuses and shows of every description, with an occasional militia "training." By affording as it did a beautiful outlook upon the broad bay and river, it was especially popular as a play ground for boys, an after tea resort for mothers and children, and as a summer evening resort for scores who seated upon the green grass until a late hour drank in the pure, cool breezes wafted from the bay, with no fear of malaria to molest or make afraid. It was a point, too, which was always crowded to watch the incoming and outgoing whale ships. There was a movement at one time made to preserve this as a city park, but it encountered great discouragement from each end of the city as a central project and never got beyond the period of "talk." Third Street was not yet extended when this hill is remembered as in its best condition. Only a cow path led down to the South bay road.
Henry Ary (1802-1859), View of South Bay and Mt. Merino
The "old church edifice on Third street" referenced in the letter may have been the meeting house of the first society of Univeralists (Universal Hill was sometimes called Universalist Hill), which was erected in 1817 at the southwest corner of Third and Allen streets. 

Rowles Studio Collection|Hudson Area Library
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Tuesday, March 30, 2021

COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Development of Health has released its numbers for today. The sad news is, as more and more of us are getting vaccinated, that there has been another death from COVID-19, bringing the total in the county to ninety. Since yesterday, there have been fourteen new cases of COVID-19. The number of active cases being reported today is four fewer than yesterday, from which it can be inferred that seventeen more county residents are now considered to be recovering from the virus. The number of county residents in mandatory quarantine remains the same as yesterday. There are five fewer county residents hospitalized with the virus today than yesterday, but one more of those hospitalized is now in the ICU.    

The New York Forward dashboard is reporting a positivity rate for Columbia County yesterday of 2.6 percent and a seven-day average of 2.1 percent. By comparison, the daily positivity rate for the Capital Region is 4.2 percent and the seven-day average is 2.4 percent.

Monday, March 29, 2021

COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health has released its numbers for today. Since Saturday, there have been 22 new cases of COVID-19. The number of active cases being reported today is fifteen fewer than Saturday, from which it can be inferred that 37 more county residents are now considered to be recovering from the virus. There are 127 fewer county residents in mandatory quarantine today than there were on Saturday, and there is one fewer hospitalized with the virus. However, of those hospitalized, one more is now in the ICU. There has not been a death from COVID-19 in Columbia County since March 15.  

The New York Forward dashboard is reporting a positivity rate for Columbia County yesterday of 4.0 percent and a seven-day average of 2.5 percent. By comparison, the daily positivity rate for the Capital Region is 2.5 percent and the seven-day average is 2.4 percent.

Who Was John L. Edwards?

The building known as John L. Edwards School is to be sold to Adirondack Community Development to be repurposed as affordable housing. Last Tuesday, the Hudson City School District School of Education voted unanimously to approve the deal. What remains is for the developer to get the City of Hudson to amend its zoning to allow more stories to be added to the building, to complete the SEQRA review, and to secure tax credits to fund the project, and for voters in the Hudson City School District to approve the sale of the property for $3 million in a referendum. As the process of transforming a school building into an apartment buildings moves forward, what of the man for whom the school was named?

We can deduce from the fact a school was named for him that John L. Edwards, a medical doctor, was a prominent Hudsonian. A few years ago, Gossips shared the story of how in 1959, when Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands visited Hudson for the 350th anniversary of Henry Hudson's discovery of the Hudson River, there was a reception for her at Dr. Edwards' home at Prospect and Rossman avenues. Today, a historic marker commemorates that event.

In recent days, Ken Sheffer has researched and written a biographical sketch of Dr. John L. Edwards, which Gossips has the honor of publishing. The biography can be found here. One of the great takeaways from Sheffer's biography of Edwards is that Hudson fifty years ago seems to have been quite a different place.  
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Breaking News

It was just announced that a special meeting of the Common Council has been called for Monday, April 5, at 5:00 p.m., "to consider a resolution to accept a bid and a major contribution to cover the overage on the bid related to the Promenade Hill Park Project."





Gossips has learned that the "major contribution" is $600,000 from the Galvan Foundation. The bid to be accepted is undoubtedly the lowest bid for the project, which was submitted by A. Colarusso and Sons. Click here to join the Zoom meeting.

Correction and Update: I have been informed that the contribution to be considered is from the H. Van Ameringen Foundation not the Galvan Foundation. The contribution is to honor the late Henry van Ameringen. The amount of the contribution is $650,000. My source also told me, "Once awarded the contract Paul Colarusso has indicated they could contribute the shortfall which is around 100 thousand dollars."
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Meetings of Interest in the Week Ahead

In Christian tradition, this week is known as Holy Week. In Jewish tradition, it's Passover. It's probably just a coincidence that there is not much happening in terms of city meetings this week. 
  • On Monday, March 29, the Tourism Board holds a special meeting at 5:00 p.m. Click here to join the Zoom meeting.
  • On Wednesday, March 31, a subcommittee of the Hudson Housing Authority Board of Commissioners meets at 6:00 p.m. The city calendar says it is the Tenant Relations subcommittee that is meeting; Gossips notes, however, indicate it is the Affordable Housing and Development subcommittee. Click here to join the meeting and find out which is right.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health released these numbers yesterday, and Gossips is just getting around to sharing them. Between Friday and Saturday, there were twelve new cases of COVID-19. Strangely, the number of active cases reported on Saturday was thirteen more than were reported on Friday. On Saturday, there were 42 fewer county residents in mandatory quarantine than there were on Friday, but there was one more hospitalized with the virus. As had been the case on Friday, one of those hospitalized was in the ICU. As of Saturday, there had been no deaths from COVID-19 in Columbia County since March 15. 

The New York Forward dashboard is reporting a positivity rate for Columbia County yesterday of 3.7 percent and a seven-day average of 2.4 percent. By comparison, the daily positivity rate for the Capital Region is 2.0 percent and the seven-day average is 2.4 percent. 

News from the HPC

Gossips already reported the biggest news from Friday's meeting of the Historic Preservation Commission--the "scaled back" plans for the entrance to Promenade Hill--but there were two other projects before the HPC on Friday that merit mention. The first is 59 Allen Street, the Charles Alger House.

Photo: Matt McGhee
Walter Chatham, representing the Galvan Foundation, began by saying that they were withdrawing the request to introduce windows in the tower on the east side of the house and to add a window perceived to be missing on the north side of the house. Chatham presented these revised elevation drawings for those two sides of the house.



Chatham also said that physical evidence had been discovered to indicate that there had been a tripartite window in the smaller gable on the south side of the house, similar to the one that appears on the east side of the house in the 1858 engraving, and Chatham is proposing reinstating that window. 

Chip Bohl, architect member of the HPC, commented, "Following physical evidence should be primary," and recommended, "When there questions, pause, take a deep breath, and look for more." Chatham suggested that they have an "agreement in principle" that, as they move forward, they keep the HPC informed "every step of the way." 

Phil Forman, chair of the HPC, said he would draft a certificate of appropriateness that would focus on the fenestration and would include nothing "that is in contention." Chatham reported the work on the roof would begin in earnest this week. The building is to have a new slate roof, which was approved by the HPC several months ago. 

Photo: Matt McGhee



Also of interest is 107 Union Street. The house is one of six houses that started out being identical--examples of late 19th-century infill housing. There is a trio of houses on either side of a much older house, 101 Union Street. 




The center house in the trio of houses east of 101 Union, 107 is the only house whose facade has been significantly altered. That was a project done during Urban Renewal in the early 1970s. The people who bought the house then have lived there ever since--up until a few months ago, when they sold the house. 

The house first came before the Historic Preservation Commission in November 2020. Its new owner has seeking a certificate of appropriateness to restore the house to its original appearance. Chip Bohl, the architect member of the HPC, hailed the proposed changes as "honorable and considerable" and added, "Hallelujah!" 

There were some questions about the width of the windows in the bay, and it was agreed the width would be the same as that found on the houses on either side, and the trim around the windows would match that found on the adjacent houses as well. The question that brought the applicant back to the HPC several times was that of the siding. The house had vinyl siding, and the HPC encouraged the applicant to discover if the original siding could still be found beneath it. That turned out not to be the case, and the resolution reached at Friday's HPC meeting was that the siding the applicant wants to use will to installed at the back of the house; the HPC will check it out and decide if it is appropriate for the front of the house.

The reason for giving attention to this house, the restoration of which is not controversial or problematic in any way, is that the house was the subject of the Facebook post by Alderman Rebecca Wolff, warning about "flippers on the loose in Hudson." The post appeared on March 14.

The purpose of Wolff's post is to encourage homeowners "struggling to hold on to your house or to find funds to do necessary repair" to contact her for information and resources. In the process of providing this information, however, Wolff states that the house "was sold for less than its asking price . . . then gutted--not renovated but gutted--and put on the market for more than 3 times what the new owners paid in February." I don't know what the original asking price was. In the 2019 reval, the full market was set at $434,000. Information available online indicates the house sold for $260,000. 

It is true that the current owner intends to sell the house and the new asking price is three times what it was purchased for, but it is not true that it is to be sold in its current gutted state. As the repeated appearances before the HPC indicate, investment is being made in the house. This information, which appears in the property listing on Trulia, provides insight into why the house is being marketed before the restoration/renovation is complete:
Are you ready to make your upstate NY dream a reality? 107 Union St. will have it all. It's currently undergoing a renovation inside and out and we want YOU to be a part of it. We are keeping beautiful original details like the plaster arch over the front bay  of windows and the stunning fireplace that anchors the dining/living space and goes into the bedroom above and updating the space for modern living. We are working with the Historical Committee to bring the exterior back to its former glory, too! If you're interested in picking your finishes and making this spectacular home on coveted Union St. yours, then please reach out. . . . If you want to create a unique, historical space without the headache of getting bids, permits, etc. this is the home for you!
It appears that the house is being marketed in a manner that, in my experience, is typical for newly constructed condos.  
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Friday, March 26, 2021

COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health has released its numbers for today. Since yesterday, there have been fourteen new cases of COVID-19. The number of active cases being reported today is three fewer than yesterday, from which it can be inferred that since yesterday seventeen more county residents are now considered to be recovering from the virus. There are 28 fewer county residents in mandatory quarantine today than yesterday, but the number hospitalized with the virus and in the ICU remains the same. There has not been a death from COVID-19 in Columbia County since Monday, March 15.

The New York Forward dashboard is reporting a positivity rate for Columbia County yesterday of 1.4 percent and a seven-day average of 2.2 percent. By comparison, the daily positivity rate for the Capital Region is 2.2 percent and the seven-day average is 2.2 percent.

"Not Really a Big Deal"

Stephen Whitehouse and Chris Anderson of Starr Whitehouse Landscape Architects presented the "scaled back" plans for Promenade Hill to the Historic Preservation Commission this morning. They told the HPC that the "geometrics have remained the same," but the stone materials have been "significantly reduced." Gone are the granite setts, the boulder seating, the limestone pavers, the stone slab seating, the bluestone entry stones. The only stone that remains are the bluestone steps leading up to the historic Promenade. The rest, if to be replaced at all, will be replaced with concrete--cement. A little city that two decades ago beat back the construction of a massive cement plant on its border is now to have the entrance to its finest historic public space paved with cement. 

In the first image below, the red annotations indicate what has been removed from the design. In the second image, the green annotations indicate the changes. (Click on the images below to enlarge.)

Although it is not called out in the annotations, comparing the two plans reveals that the "scaled back" plan calls for planting fewer new trees. Also (and this is noted), some of the tacky asphalt paving leading to the playground is to remain.

Whitehouse explained the reason why bids were much higher than anticipated: "People are now bidding downstate prices on concrete"the concrete needed for the foundation of the stonework. On the bright side, Anderson pointed out, that, since the primary goal, as established by Mayor Kamal Johnson, is to have the project completed by Winter Walk 2021, reducing the amount of "fine masonry work" will reduce the time needed to complete the project. 

Whitehouse and Anderson pointed out that the average bid on the project was $1.8 million. The changes in materials are estimated to reduce the cost of materials by $754,139 and the overall cost by $987,181 (since none of that fine masonry work will be needed), bringing the cost of the project down to less than $1 million. There are some "Add Alternate Options," should some wealthy individual or entity feel generous: $150,000 could bring back the granite sett plaza, instead of the scored concrete now being proposed; $150,000 could being back the stone block benches, now completely eliminated from the plan; $20,000 could bring back the bluestone paver bands; $50,000 could bring back the limestone plaza border; $20,000 could bring back the spray loop, instead of the less expensive ground spray now being proposed for the splash pad in the playground.

After the presentation, Phil Forman, who chairs the HPC, said, "Obviously, this is not where any of us wanted to be," recalling the HPC's delight with the original plans. After asking if there was anything the HPC could do to assist in securing additional funding, Forman said, "The best way to help you right now is to approve what you have presented." It was agreed that a certificate of appropriateness would be prepared to approval at the commission's next meeting on Friday, April 9.
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Thursday, March 25, 2021

Ear to the Ground

Promenade Hill is on the agenda for tomorrow morning's Historic Preservation Commission meeting. Since the HPC reviewed the original plans for the plaza at Promenade Hill earlier this year, it is expected that what the commission will be reviewing tomorrow are the "scaled back" plans--scaled back to cut half a million dollars from the budget. Last week, Mayor Kamal Johnson predicted the cuts would be achieved by using less expensive materials: "Instead of using a certain stone we'll use a different version to scale some stuff down, but it's not really a big deal." Tomorrow, we may find out if it's a big deal or not.

The Historic Preservation Commission meeting begins at 10:00 a.m. Click here to join the Zoom meeting.
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Discontinuing a Street

Sometime this afternoon, a notice appeared on the City of Hudson website that the City was planning to "discontinue the use of approximately ninety (90) feet of the northern end of Montgomery Street in the City of Hudson." "Northern end" is a tad puzzling, since Montgomery Street, such as it is, runs east to west. Nevertheless, the stretch of Montgomery Street in question is shown on this aerial image.


The Council Common will decide about discontinuing the street at its regular monthly meeting on Tuesday, April 20. The notice goes on: "If the Common Council discontinues the street it is the intention of the City to sell the discontinued street to the adjoining property owner at fair market value." That adjoining property owner is no doubt South Front Street Holding LLC, that is, Ben Fain et al, who own Kitty's, are soon to open a restaurant at that location, and are rebuilding the red barns to be shops and event space. The notice indicates: "The Common Council will hear verbal comments at the informal Council Meeting on April 12, 2021, and will accept written comments until April 16, 2021." Written comments should be addressed to Tracy Delaney, the city clerk: cityclerk@cityofhudson.org.

Once upon a time, or at least according to the 1873 Beers Atlas map of Hudson, Montgomery Street ran parallel to Cross Street and Allen Street all the way from South Third Street to South Front Street. 

Today, Montgomery Street runs for less than a block west from Third Street before coming to a dead end; then it runs along the back of The Wick Hotel before tapering off into a trail. 

Since Hudson Development Corporation (HDC) went to some pains to acquire a parcel of land from CSX to give the Kaz site access to South Front Street, I was curious to know where this bit of Montgomery Street is in relation to the land acquired from CSX. The answer is: the CSX parcel now owned by HDC is on south side of the CSX crew shack; the ninety-foot stretch of Montgomery Street is on the north side of the crew shack. The map below shows the parcel now owned by HDC.

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COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health released its numbers earlier today. Since yesterday, there have been seven new cases of COVID-19. The number of active cases reported today is three fewer than yesterday, from which it can be inferred that ten more county residents are now considered to be recovering from the virus. There are 58 more county residents in mandatory quarantine today than there were yesterday, and two more are hospitalized with the virus. Only one of those hospitalized is in the ICU. There has not been a death from COVID-19 in Columbia County since Monday, March 15. 

The New York Forward dashboard is reporting a positivity rate for Columbia County yesterday of 1.6 percent and a seven-day average of 2.5 percent. By comparison, the daily positivity rate for the Capital Region is 1.9 percent and the seven-day average is 2.2 percent.

Another Truck Route Survey

The results of the truck route survey done at the end of last year, which was part of a larger truck study, were published more than a month ago. Those results can be found here. What the survey showed was something most Hudsonians knew: The residents of Hudson believe that trucks coming through our city, bound for someplace else, impact the city in a negative way. 

Photo: Bill Huston
Subsequent to the survey, twelve alternate truck routes that bypass the City of Hudson were considered, and of the twelve, five have been chosen for further consideration. 


Descriptions of those five routes can be found at www.research.net/r/HudsonTruckStudy. A survey to gather public input on the alternate truck route options is found at the end of the document.
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Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Explaining the COVID Spike

So far this week, the Columbia County Department of Health has reported 53 new cases of COVID-19. An explanation for these increased numbers came today in a press release from Matt Murell, chair of the Columbia County Board of Supervisors.
Director Mabb said Wednesday that the recent rise in the county's infection rate can be primarily attributed to a pair of family clusters and an outbreak at the Brookwood Secure Center in Claverack. "This is not the result of a wide community spread," he said.

COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health has released its numbers for today. Since yesterday, there have been eleven new cases of COVID-19. The number of active cases being reported today is one more than yesterday, from which it can be inferred that ten more county residents are now considered to be recovering from the virus. There are 76 more county residents in mandatory quarantine today than yesterday, but there are two fewer hospitalized. As yesterday, two of those hospitalized are in the ICU. There has not been a death from COVID-19 in Columbia County since Monday, March 15.

The New York Forward dashboard is reporting a positivity rate for Columbia County yesterday of 1.9 percent and a seven-day average of 2.6 percent. By comparison, the daily positivity rate for the Capital Region is 3.2 percent and the seven-day average is 2.1 percent.

The Council President and the HDC

In his opening remarks at yesterday's meeting of the Hudson Development Corporation Board of Directors, board president Bob Rasner recounted the year past, touching on HDC's response to the pandemic and the challenges that the City faced as a consequence of the pandemic. Rasner concluded with this statement:
. . . the City is seeking solutions to the [fiscal] crisis by exploring sales of its real estate holdings. At the first meeting of the Council’s ad hoc committee for this purpose, Chairman DiPietro suggested a sale of One North Front Street as one of the options. The Committee’s discussions noted that the entire building is encumbered by two leases, to our organization and the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce. 
As you are aware, one project ahead of the HDC this year is a completion of the review and updating of our by-laws by our committee Paul Barrett and Martha Lane. 
Today you will be asked to discuss one topic being considered by this committee, Conflict of Interest . . . to wit:
• Is it a conflict of interest for elected officials to serve as voting members of our Board? 
• Is it a conflict of interest for our lessor to serve as a voting member of our Board? 
• AND is it a conflict of interest for a voting member of our Board to seek ways to terminate the lease we hold with the City by searching for violations on the part of HDC over the entire term of the lease? 
This will not be an easy discussion, but it needs to be undertaken. 

Rasner's statement was prompted by a request for records made by Council president Tom DePietro, who made it known in an ad hoc committee meeting last month that 1 North Front Street was first on his first of properties he thought the City should sell to build back the fund balance, depleted in the last year making up for revenue shortfalls. HDC and the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce now occupy the building, and both have long-term leases: twelve-year leases with two more years to go and the option to renew for two more six-year terms. DePietro has referred to those leases as "sweetheart deals in which they pay no rent." In fact, the Chamber of Commerce pays $850 a month in rent. HDC's first twelve years are rent free, because HDC contributed $150,000 to the restoration of the building in 2010. At the ad hoc committee meeting, DePietro alleged that "HDC has not lived up to their part of the bargain."

DePietro has requested the following information from HDC:
  • HDC's financials for 2010 and 2011
  • Minutes for 2016 (they appear to be missing from the website)
  • How much did the HDC spend on improvements to Washington Hose?
  • What exactly were the improvements?
  • How does HDC currently account for these improvements on its balance sheet, and at what value?
  • Over the past ten years, has the HDC used their office for any job training, and if so, what are the details?
  • Does the HDC carry the insurance required by paragraph 13(a) of the lease ($1,000,000/general commercial liability insurance for claims of injury or property damage and naming the city as an additional insured)?
Believing that in making the request DePietro was "looking for a reason to evict [HDC] based on breach of lease," Rasner asked for a FOIL request. He explained yesterday that he had done so "to force public discussion." 

Phil Forman, who serves as treasurer of the HDC board, asked, "Is there a legal definition of 'sweetheart deal'"? He noted that HDC had invested in the restoration of the building. He also asked, "When someone asks for ten years of insurance records, what are they looking for?" He then answered his own question: "It looks like a transparent attempt to break the lease."

In the end, it was decided, by a vote of the board, that HDC would give DePietro the information he sought without a FOIL request. It was also revealed that DePietro is no longer pursuing the sale of 1 North Front Street--something he told the Chamber of Commerce president before mentioning it to anyone at HDC. According to DePietro, because of the American Rescue Plan and an AIM (Aid and Incentives for Municipalities) payment being partially reinstated, "The urgency is not as strong." There is, however, a plan for selling 429 Warren Street, the location of the Code Enforcement Office. That plan will no doubt be revealed at the ad hoc committee meeting scheduled for 5:00 p.m. today. Click here to join that meeting.


There was no actual discussion about changing HDC bylaws to exclude the two ex officio members of the board--the mayor and the Common Council president. Jeff Baker, counsel to the Council, however, reminded the board that "as an LDC [local development corporation], it is expected that you have a close relationship with the municipality." At one time, there were four elected officials serving ex officio on the HDC board: the mayor, the Common Council president, and the majority and minority leaders of the Common Council. At the end of 2015, the board voted to amend its bylaws to limit the elected officials on the board to just two: the mayor and the Council president. 

Regarding 1 North Front Street, Gossips wrote about it often in the years when its future was being determined. In fact, the post that inaugurated The Gossips of Rivertown in January 2010 was about the building, then known as Washington Hose: "A New Plan for Washington Hose." Additional posts about the building and its restoration and adaptive reuse can be found here, here, here, and here. The second of the additional posts is particularly interesting since it reports that Peter Markou, then the executive director of HDC and HCDPA, "has given up on the notion of HDC owning the property for the unusual reason that the deed which transferred the land on which the building sits from the Proprietors to the City of Hudson in 1795 cannot be found." That could well remain an impediment to selling the building today.
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Of Interest

There's not much here that hasn't already been reported by Gossips, except that the deal was unanimously approved by the Hudson City School District Board of Education yesterday: "Affordable housing developer eyes John L. Edwards site."

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health has released its numbers for today. Since yesterday, there have been eleven new cases of COVID-19. The number of active cases being reported today is two more than yesterday, from which it can be inferred that nine more county residents are now considered to be recovering from the virus. There are 42 more county residents in mandatory quarantine today than yesterday. One more county resident is hospitalized with the virus today than yesterday, and one more of those hospitalized is in the ICU. There has not been a death from COVID-19 in Columbia County since Monday, March 15.

The New York Forward dashboard is reporting a positivity rate for Columbia County yesterday of 5.8 percent and a seven-day average of 2.6 percent. By comparison, the daily positivity rate for the Capital Region is 4.9 percent and the seven-day average is 2.0 percent.

Ear to the Ground

The proposed purchase agreement for the former John L. Edwards school building, which can now be viewed on the Hudson City School District website, discloses the purchase price as being $3 million.
Photo: Jonathan Simons

Hiring a Project Manager

Last night, the Common Council voted to approve the resolution to authorize the Tourism Board to hire a project manager for this year's iteration of Shared Streets. The action came at the end of nearly ninety minutes of discussion and only after slashing the budget for the position from "not more than $30,000" to "approximately $15,000." All the members of the Council voted in favor except Tiffany Garriga (Second Ward), who abstained because she wanted assurance "in writing" that businesses without a brick and mortar presence could participate, and Jane Trombley (First Ward), who was not present at the meeting.

Council president Tom DePietro introduced the topic to the aldermen by saying, "If the larger project is to move forward, we need this managerial position." He assured them that the money was coming from the Tourism Board, and $30,000 was a maximum amount. He advised the aldermen, "This meeting is not a referendum on last year's program. What's on the table is a significantly different program." Exactly what the "significantly different" program proposed for this year is has never been made clear publicly. All that is known is that, according to an edict from DePietro and Mayor Kamal Johnson, the streets will not be closed.

The first aldermen to comment on the proposed resolution was Rebecca Wolff (First Ward), who quoted from the Tourism Board's newly crafted "mission statement," a two-page document that can be read here. She then said she didn't support spending taxpayer money in this way, opined the expense of a project manager should be paid by businesses, and suggested that Tourism Board money should be spend on shared public spaces, mentioning in particular making up the shortfall on the Promenade Hill project. (The lowest bid on construction for the Promenade Hill project came in $500,000 over budget. Last year, the Tourism Board started out with $435,000 in revenue from the City's lodging tax.)

John Rosenthal (Fourth Ward) expressed the opinion that the major responsibility of the job was dealing with the permitting process, which he suggested at one point could be done in house. He said what is planned for this year is "nowhere near the scope of last year" and suggested the job description was "incredibly overwrought." It was Rosenthal who suggested that the budget for paying a project manager should be reduced to "$15,000, no more than $20,000." Tiffany Garriga (Second Ward) opined it should be no more than $15,000. 

In her comments, Garriga insisted the resolution be tabled until the Council's April meeting. "I don't understand what's the rush," she declared, adding that she wanted time to speak to members of the Tourism Board and to business owners. She also expressed concern about minority businesses without a brick and mortar presence on Warren Street, saying the program was "supporting businesses but not necessarily local businesses." In response to her asking how Shared Streets survived last year without a project manager, DePietro told her, "Last year, department heads were very concerned with safety issues, and this addresses it." She also asked why Calvin Lewis (Third Ward), who chairs the Tourism Board, couldn't be the project manager. Lewis responded, "I appreciate volunteerism, but this needs someone who is paid."

Now that the resolution has been approved by the Council, the next step is for the Tourism Board to develop an RFP for the position which, according to the Tourism Board, will involve working a total of 620 hours over a period of six months. At $15,000, this works out to about $24 an hour.
COPYRIGHT 2021 CAROLE OSTERINK

Monday, March 22, 2021

Ear to the Ground

The agenda for tomorrow night's Hudson City School District Board of Education meeting was now been published, and Gossips can reveal the name of the developer seeking to acquire the former John L. Edwards school building for the purpose of developing affordable housing: Adirondack Community Development, LLC. 
When you Google Adirondack Community Development, LLC, the first thing that pops up is not the website but the group's LinkedIn profile, which offers this description:
Adirondack is focused on working together with local community partners to help solve our nation's affordable housing crisis and specializes in the development of high-quality affordable and workforce housing on a nationwide basis.
The partners of Adirondack understand that only through an investment in its staff, residents, partners and communities can it ultimately achieve its goals to create a first class organization and a lasting development platform for success.
Through a focus on innovation, training, education, career development and empowerment programs, Adirondack promotes the advancement of people throughout its organizations and neighborhoods--because only by precipitating achievement for everyone will we all experience prosperity together.
Despite its name, Adirondack Community Development is headquartered in New York City, on the 33rd floor of 15oo Broadway, and it is registered as an LLC in Delaware.
COPYRIGHT 2021 CAROLE OSTERINK

What They Said

The results of the online survey put out a couple of weekends ago by the Tourism Board to gather information for Shared Streets 2021 are now available. (This is the survey that got so much attention after the fact because hundreds of responses had come from the same IP address.) The results were published on the City of Hudson website this morning. You can find the results for both residents and businesses here.

This morning, too, Peter Spear sent Gossips the results in a much easier to grasp format. I share the results as presented by Spear below.

RESIDENTS






There were a total of 259 responses to the survey from residents, which includes only one of the 323 responses submitted by one 15-year-old.

BUSINESS OWNERS





A total of 70 business owners responded to the survey.

COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health has released its numbers for today. Since Saturday, there have been 31 new cases of COVID-19. The number of active cases being reported today is six fewer than Saturday. If the number of active cases is accurate, it can be deduced that 37 more people are now considered to be recovering from the virus. The number of county residents now in mandatory quarantine is 24 fewer than Saturday, but the number hospitalized with the virus and in the ICU remains the same. There has not been a death from COVID-19 for a week now, since Monday, March 15.

The New York Forward dashboard is reporting a positivity rate for Columbia County on Saturday of 1.9 percent and a seven-day average of 2.1 percent. By comparison, the daily positivity rate for the Capital Region is 1.6 percent and the seven-day average is 2.0 percent.