Wednesday, April 14, 2021

COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health has released its numbers for today. Since yesterday, there have been four new cases of COVID-19. The number of active cases being reported today is the same as yesterday, from which it can be inferred that four more county residents are now considered to be recovering from the virus. There are 41 more county residents in mandatory quarantine 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 Monday, April 5. 

The New York Forward dashboard information has not been updated since yesterday.

A year ago today, 4 cases of COVID-19 were reported. The total number of cases was 97, and the number of active cases was 57. There were 101 county residents in mandatory quarantine, 10 were hospitalized, and 4 were in the ICU. The total number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 at this time a year ago was 9. 

Coming to a Main Street Near You

This year, the safety of people dining in the street, in close proximity to moving cars, will be assured by the installation of concrete barriers. At Monday's informal Common Council meeting, a resolution was introduced authorizing the Tourism Board to spend $10,000 to purchase the concrete barriers and another $10,000 to repair the wood planters used at the intersections last year. 

Photo: JD Urban|Hudson Hall

Before the resolutions were introduced, Rob Perry, superintendent of Public Works, provided a preview of what the concrete barriers will look like.

He explained that they are two feet by two feet by four feet and weigh about 2,500 pounds each. They have to be transported to Warren Street from Stickles in Livingston. The only DPW vehicle capable of carrying the barriers can only hold three at a time, and there are 120 of them. Perry told the Council, "We are working with County Highway as well as other municipalities to assist with the massive logistical challenges associated with moving 120 blocks efficiently." He spoke of "a caravan" of municipal trucks bearing the giant cement blocks from Livingston to Warren Street.
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Pattern for Progress at HCDPA

Yesterday, at its regular monthly meeting the board of Hudson Community Development and Planning Agency (HCDPA) heard from Joe Czajka of Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress, the group that will be working on Hudson's Affordable Housing Development Plan. Czajka, who explained that they had just started the process, told the board they would be assessing and analyzing properties owned by the City, HCDPA, Hudson Housing Authority (HHA), "and even some private owned parcels," to come up with a strategy for building housing, primarily affordable housing, in Hudson. So far, Czajka said, they have, working with Mayor Kamal Johnson, identified a local advisory committee, made up of the following people:
  • Theresa Joyner, currently on the Planning Board
  • Revonda Smith, chair of the HHA Board of Commissioners
  • Mike Tucker, from Columbia Economic Development Corporation (CEDC)
  • Rebecca Wolff, currently a First Ward alderman
  • Darren Scott, from NYS Homes and Community Renewal
  • Michael Chameides, mayor's aide
  • Peter Bujanow, commissioner of Public Works    
Czajka advised that the Affordable Housing Development Plan, which is expected to be ready for adoption in November, will be a "living document" and not everything suggested in the plan will be developed. He noted that the plan would need to be reevaluated periodically "as markets change" and stressed, "It is important for the community to understand there is no one solution to the problem."

Betsy Gramkow, who chairs the Planning Board and is a member of the HCDPA board, asked about the proposals for the Depot District and JLE and how they will impact the work of developing an Affordable Housing Development Plan. Czajka said those projects were "in the pipeline" and noted, "Their timeline figures into our process." He went on to predict that it would be "no less than 36 months" before either project is completed, concluding, "Those projects will not solve the current problem." He said they would be "building those [projects] into our planning" but advised, "Often the solution is small development."
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Tuesday, April 13, 2021

COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health released its numbers earlier today, but Gossips is just now getting around to sharing them. Since yesterday, there have been eleven new cases of COVID-19. The number of active cases reported today is twelve fewer than yesterday, in which it can be inferred that 23 more county residents are now considered to be recovering from the virus. The number of county residents in mandatory quarantine is three fewer than yesterday. The number hospitalized remains the same as yesterday, but today one more of those hospitalized is in the ICU. There has not been a death from COVID-19 in Columbia County since Monday, April 5.  

The New York Forward dashboard is reporting a positivity rate for Columbia County yesterday of 2.5 percent and a seven-day average of 2.1 percent. By comparison, the daily positivity rate for the Capital Region is 3.8 percent and the seven-day average is 2.3 percent.

A year ago today, 4 new cases of COVID-19 were reported. The total number of cases was 93, and the number of active cases was 55. There were 84 county residents in mandatory quarantine, 8 were hospitalized, and 2 were in the ICU. One death was reported a year ago today, bringing the number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 at that time to 9.

The Many Faces of Galvan

Last night's informal meeting of the Common Council went on for three and a half hours and attracted, at its high point, forty-nine attendees. Predictably, the topic that inspired the most and most heated discussion was the resolution relating to the requests before the IDA (Industrial Development Agency) for PILOTs (payments in lieu of taxes) for the two buildings the Galvan Foundation wants to construct on North Seventh Street, in the "Depot District." 

One of the buildings being proposed--75 North Seventh Street--will have "permanently affordable" apartments for low- and moderate-income households. The other--708 State Street--will be all market rate apartments. Galvan is seeking a PILOT for each of the buildings.

At last night's informal Council meeting we learned that the resolution had been drafted by aldermen John Rosenthal (Fourth Ward) and Jane Trombley (First Ward). The resolution makes these two recommendations:
  1. The Common Council encourages the IDA to decline the application for a PILOT tax abatement for the market rate rental housing development proposed for 708 State Street, Hudson, NY.
  2. The Common Council agrees with the PILOT tax abatement for the mixed-used rental housing development and encourages the IDA to stipulate that there will be NO involvement from Galvan Partners LLC, or any other for-profit subsidiary associated with any member of the Galvan Foundation, for any building management or construction management of either of the proposed building properties.
The involvement of Galvan Partners LLC has been an issue Rosenthal has mentioned more than once. At the IDA meeting last Tuesday, he called for a commitment that Galvan Partners would have no involvement in the "Depot District" project. When Rosenthal made this request, Dan Kent of the Galvan Foundation said the project was "a lot bigger than the crew we have for Galvan Partners." Instead, Baxter Construction from Poughkeepsie would be the general contractor. Rosenthal's reasons for not wanting Galvan Partners involved are important to understand.

Everyone is probably familiar with the crew of Galvan Partners, often seen around town in T-shirts or hoodies with the Galvan Foundation logo or driving trucks with the Galvan logo on the door.



 
Last night, Rosenthal observed that Galvan was slow to rehab its inventory of properties--many of which have stood vacant for more than ten years--and make them habitable "because they only use Galvan Partners LLC to do the work." Aside from the contribution these vacant properties make to the city's housing shortage, there seem to be other questions surrounding Galvan Partners LLC, among them its relationship to Galvan Initiatives Foundation and other Galvan entities.

In October 2019, Galvan Initiatives Foundation sought and received a Rural Community Investment award of up to $1.15 million from New York State Homes and Community Renewal to renovate the basement at the Galvan Armory for use by the COARC daycare center, Starting Place. The documentation of the award (the relevant information begins on page 80) identifies the following "Project Team":

("Galvin" in the name of the Management Company is undoubted a typo.)

The document found on the Homes and Community Renewal website provides this description of Galvan Partners LLC, the general contractor for the daycare center project:

T. Eric Galloway, the Gal of Galvan, is identified as the principal of Galvan Partners LLC, but strangely, his role as as co-founder and president of the Galvan Initiatives Foundation is not in the description of the developer found in the same document:

Financing projects that have a public benefit with public money is a complicated process, one that seems to require the skill and expertise of lawyers to orchestrate. To the nonlawyer, though, it appears that, by hiring his own for-profit construction company to do work funded all or in part with public funds, Galloway may be funneling public money into his own coffers. That may not be the case, but, as Rosenthal stated at the Council meeting last night, "transparency about [the Galvan] operation has to be addressed."

The resolution introduced to the Council last night begins with this unequivocal statement:
WHEREAS, the Common Council fully and without reservation supports the development of Affordable and Workforce housing within the City of Hudson.
At the outset of the discussion of the resolution, Trombley stressed, "I want to underscore that the Council fully supports affordable housing." Still, the resolution brought criticism from some members of the Common Council, in particular Tiffany Garriga (Second Ward), who as majority leader chairs the IDA. Garriga protested, "People need housing," apparently ignoring the fact that separate PILOTs are being requested for the two buildings and the resolution was only recommending that the IDA deny a PILOT to the market rate building. When Rebecca Wolff read aloud portions of the resolution to illustrate that it was not recommending denying a PILOT to the building proposed for 75 North Seventh Street--the one with low- and moderate-income apartments--Garriga sniped she was capable of reading for herself. 

Later, when public comment was invited, David Marston, who served as a First Ward alderman from 2012 to 2015, noted there were "dozens of vacant buildings in the First Ward" that are owned by Galvan and spoke of "dozens and dozens of families who were thrown out of affordable housing" as a consequence of Galvan acquisition. He concluded, "Now we are asked to give PILOTs to a developer to solve a problem he has created." Garriga countered by saying, "All I hear are attacks on Galvan," claiming she "didn't hear anything when [Phil] Gellert" was a major owner of rental property in Hudson. Responding to a comment made earlier by Trombley that the PILOTs Galvan was requesting were too long (the PILOT requested for 75 North Seventh Street is 30 years; the PILOT requested for 708 State Street is 25 years), Garriga stated, "Thirty years is the amount of time people live in their homes." Garriga went on to say, "The proposal is there now, and we cannot wait any longer." 

As Council president Tom DePietro pointed out, the resolution is only a recommendation to the IDA; it is not binding. The resolution, which was introduced last night, will be voted on at the Council's regular monthly meeting on Tuesday, April 20, at 7:00 p.m.
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A Cause for Congratulations

The Columbia County Recovery Kitchen is celebrating its one year anniversary today!


On its Facebook page today, the Columbia County Recovery Kitchen shares this message:
It's been 365 days filled with fear of COVID, joy at the distances we have covered together, and appreciation of everyone who helps to feed those in need. Recovery Kitchen started with serving 200 free meals and now feeds up to 1,000 people each week. Please donate today in honor of our 1st birthday so that we can continue to help our neighbors in need or join us as a volunteer.

Visit columbiacountyreceoverykitchen.org to learn more about the group's work and to congratulate them on their achievement by making a donation or volunteering to help.

Monday, April 12, 2021

On Tonight's Council Agenda

Gossips just discovered that on the agenda for tonight's informal Common Council meeting is a resolution "calling for IDA restrictions placed on Galvan Foundation proposed housing projects at 75 N. 7th Street and 708 State Street." 

The resolution proposes these two recommendations:
  1. The Common Council encourages the IDA to decline the application for a PILOT tax abatement for the market rate rental housing development proposed for 708 State Street, Hudson, NY.
  2. The Common Council agrees with the PILOT tax abatement for the mixed-use rental housing development and encourages the IDA to stipulate that there will be NO involvement from Galvan Partners LLC, or any other for-profit subsidiary associated with any member of the Galvan Foundation, for any building management or construction management of either of the proposed building properties.
The second item above should probably make reference to "mixed-income rental housing" rather than "mixed-use," since both proposed buildings will be mixed-use, that is, residential and commercial. Only the building proposed for 75 North Seventh Street is to offer affordable housing based on certain percentages of the AMI (area median income).

The resolution will be introduced tonight, to be voted on next Tuesday, at the Council's regular monthly meeting.
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COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health has released its numbers for today. Since Saturday, there have been fifteen new cases of COVID-19. The number of active cases being reported today is three fewer than Saturday, from which it can be inferred that eighteen more county residents are now considered to be recovering from the virus. Thirteen fewer county residents are in mandatory quarantine today than on Saturday, and one more is hospitalized but of those hospitalized two fewer are in the ICU. It has now been a week since there has been a death from COVID-19 in Columbia County.

The New York Forward dashboard is reporting a positivity rate for Columbia County yesterday of 1.4 percent and a seven-day average of 2.0 percent. By comparison, the daily positivity rate for the Capital Region is 2.1 percent and the seven-day average is 2.4 percent.

A year ago today, 5 new cases of COVID-19 were reported. The total number of cases was 89, and the number of active cases was 53. There were 85 county residents in mandatory quarantine, 8 were hospitalized, and 2 were in the ICU. One death was reported a year ago today, bringing the number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 at that time to 8.

Meetings of Interest in the Week Ahead

This is the week of the marathon meetings--the informal Common Council meeting today, and the Planning Board meeting tomorrow.
  • On Monday, April 12, the Tourism Board holds a special meeting at 5:00 p.m. The purpose of the meeting may be to approve a resolution to be forwarded to the Common Council to spend $20,000 on concrete barriers to be used for Warren Street Seasonal Usage 2021 or to reallocate $15,000 set aside last year for "Phoenix Rising," a program proposed by the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus, to a new Bindlestiff program called "Flatbed Follies," rolling stages with circus acts. Click here to join the Zoom meeting. 
Update: The agenda for today's special meeting of the Tourism Board includes none of the things Gossips thought it might. Instead the board with entertain the Waterfront Wednesday 2021 Proposal and deal with the Hudson Business Coalition's applications for reimbursement.
  •  Also on Monday, April 12, the Common Council holds its informal meeting at 6:00 p.m. So far, there are only three items on the published agenda, but that is sure to change. Click here to join the Zoom meeting.
Update: Resolutions to approve the $15,000 grant for Bindlestiff Family Cirkus for "Flatbed Follies" and the grant of $20,000 to purchase concrete barriers and repair the planters from last year's Shared Summer Streets are on the agenda to be introduced at tonight's informal meeting.
  • On Tuesday, April 13, Hudson Community Development and Planning Agency (HCDPA) holds its monthly meeting at 10:30 a.m. No agenda for the meeting has so far been published, but, since Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress began its work on the city's Affordable Housing Development Plan at the beginning of the month, some information about that project may emerge from the meeting. Click here to join the Zoom meeting.
  • At 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 13, the Planning Board will hold a workshop meeting with Verizon regarding the latter's site plan application to install communications equipment on the roof of Providence Hall, 119 Columbia Street. The workshop meeting will be open to the public, but no public comment will be accepted. Click here to join the Zoom meeting.
  • At 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 13, the Tourism Board holds the first of two brainstorming sessions to discuss how the pocket parks along Warren Street will be "activated" during Warren Street Seasonal Usage 2021. Click here to join the brainstorming session on Zoom. 
  • Also at 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 13, the Planning Board has its regular monthly meeting. On the agenda are public hearings on the Verizon application for a special use permit to install communications equipment on 119 Columbia Street, the Galvan Foundation site plan application to construct two apartment buildings on North Seventh Street, and the special exception use application from Columbia Memorial Health to demolish a mid-century building at 30 Prospect Avenue to create a parking lot. Each public hearing will be limited to 45 minutes. Click here to join the Zoom meeting.    
  • On Wednesday, April 14, the Hudson Housing Authority Board of Commissioners meets at 6:00 p.m. For the link to the Zoom meeting, go to the HHA website and scroll down to "HHA Board Meeting Times."
  • On Thursday, April 15, the Common Council ad hoc committee focused on alternate side of the street parking meets at 6:00 p.m. At its last meeting, it seemed the committee had come to the conclusion that there was method to what seemed to be the madness of alternate side of the street parking rules, and it was not capricious after all. It was decided that the committee would focus on improving the signage. Alderman Jane Trombley (First Ward) suggested committee members do an "inventory of actual signs" and make recommendations of "how they can be improved." It is expected that the results of this inventory may be presented and discussed this month. The link to the Zoom meeting should be published on the City of Hudson website sometime on Thursday. Scroll down to the calendar. 
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Saturday, April 10, 2021

Weigh In on the Truck Route

There is a survey needing everyone's attention. This one requires a little more work than most surveys. You are being asked to state your preference for an alternative route to get through truck traffic out of the City of Hudson, and that involves reading and imagining or even going out and driving the routes if you're not familiar with the roadways involved. 

MJ Engineering & Land Surveying, the consultants who are doing the truck study, looked at twelve possible routes and narrowed the options down to five. They are now asking for the input of residents on the five options. The descriptions of the five routes can be found at www.research.net/r/HudsonTruckStudy. A survey asking you to state your preferences comes at the end of the document.

On its Facebook page, the group Our Hudson Waterfront came out in favor of Option 12, and after careful consideration, Gossips does, too. Here's what Our Hudson Waterfront had to say:
Of the five options given, we greatly prefer #12, which avoids all residential areas, costs the least, and completely detours big trucks around the city. All the other options impact residential areas and in some cases cost a bundle. In our view Option 6 is a complete no-go, as it has the most residential impacts and will create dangerous crossing at Rte 9 involving a clash of through-trucks and gravel trucks.
If you need something to motivate you to do the work and complete the survey, try this. This past Wednesday, a truck that entered Hudson from the south on Third Street missed the signs indicating that trucks needed to turn right onto Columbia Street. Instead, the errant truck continued on to State Street, where it turned right, then made a right turn into Fifth Street, and finally got back onto Columbia Street. The incident was witnessed and documented by Bill Huston, who reported it to Gossips and provided these pictures. 














Huston's comment: "Why the heck are tractor trailers at lengths of up to 53 feet and more in our city? There is obviously no room for them here on our narrow roads in our little city."

Do your part to help get the trucks out of Hudson. Complete the survey: www.research.net/r/HudsonTruckStudy.
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COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health has released its numbers for today. Since yesterday, there have been eight new cases of COVID-19. The number of active cases reported today is six more than yesterday, from which it can be inferred that two more county residents are now considered to be recovering from the virus. There are 21 fewer county residents in mandatory quarantine today than there were 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 Monday, April 5.  

The New York Forward dashboard is reporting a positivity rate for Columbia County yesterday of 3.7 percent and a seven-day average of 2.1 percent. By comparison, the daily positivity rate for the Capital Region is 2.8 percent and the seven-day average is 2.4 percent.

A year ago today, one new case of COVID-19 was reported, the total number of cases was 84, and the number of active cases was 52. There were 92 county residents in mandatory quarantine, 8  hospitalized, 2 in the ICU, and the total number of deaths from COVID-19 was 7.

Who Let the Dogs Out?

Today, Trixie's List, the Arts and Leisure complement to The Gossips of Rivertown when it comes to what's happening in our little city, has a feature about a favorite destination in Hudson for residents and visitors alike, the Hudson Dog Park: "Dog Park in the City of Hudson, NY." 


The picture above is the cover photo from the Hudson Dog Park Facebook page. You can check it out by clicking here. If you already know the dog park and would like to contribute to its continued maintenance and planned improvements, you can do so by clicking here.

Friday, April 9, 2021

Local Law Intro No. H of 2020 Revisited

Last November, the Common Council enacted Local Law Intro H of 2020, which is now § 325-28.3
 of the city code, to regulate short term rentals (STRs) in the City of Hudson. The law gave owners operating STRs rendered illegal by the law one year to convert the units to long term rentals or sell the property. Five months after the law went into effect, I was curious how many owners of properties operated as STRs in a manner prohibited by the new law had chosen to sell their property. With the help of a realtor friend, I was able to put together a list of houses, which evidence suggests were operated as STRs, that are currently on the market or have been sold since the law went into effect.
    • 72 North Sixth Street
    • 323 State Street 
    • 60 Worth Avenue
    • 63 Short Street
    • 326 Union Street
    • 22-24 South Seventh Street
    • 427 Carroll Street
    • 109 Union Street
The list is strictly a matter of post hoc ergo propter hoc. I have not contacted the owners of any of the buildings to inquire about their motivation for selling. It seems relevant, however, to note, for those who imagined regulating STRs would somehow have a positive impact on Hudson's affordable housing situation, that the lowest asking price among the houses on this list is $465,000, the highest is $925,000, and the average is $675,750.
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COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health has released its numbers for today. Since yesterday, there have been eighteen new cases of COVID-19. In a press release today from Matt Murell, chair of the Columbia County Board of Supervisors, CCDOH director Jack Mabb is quoted as saying, "Community spread is responsible for the way new infections seem to be going." The number of active cases being reported today is seven more than yesterday, from which it can be inferred that eleven more county residents are now considered to be recovering from the virus. There is one fewer county resident in mandatory quarantine today than yesterday, and 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, April 5.

The New York Forward dashboard is reporting a positivity rate for Columbia County yesterday of 1.2 percent and a seven-day average of 1.8 percent. By comparison, the daily positivity rate for the Capital Region is 1.7 percent and the seven-day average is 2.2 percent.

A year ago today, the number of new cases reported was 7, the total number of cases was 83, and the number of active cases was 51. There were 80 county residents in mandatory quarantine, 9 hospitalized, 1 in the ICU, and the total number of deaths from COVID-19 was 5.

Of Interest

Earlier this week, the Travel section of the Times Union featured an article about Hudson beyond Warren Street: "Exploring the other side of Hudson, NY." Among the photographs accompanying the article is this one of the Furgary Boat Club, a.k.a. the Shacks or Shantytown, by Lisa Durfee.

Photo: Lisa Durfee

Getting Vaccinated

Late this morning, Gossips got word that there were more than one hundred appointments available TOMORROW, April 10, to get a first shot of Moderna vaccine, administered by the Columbia County Department of Health at Columbia-Greene Community College. The appointments are between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. To sign up for one, click here.

Thursday, April 8, 2021

COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health has released its numbers for today. Since yesterday, there have been six new cases of COVID-19. The number of active cases being reported today is the same as yesterday, from which it can be inferred that six more county residents are now considered to be recovering from the virus. There are ten fewer county residents in mandatory quarantine today than there were yesterday, but the two more are hospitalized and one more of those hospitalized is in the ICU. There has not been a death from COVID-19 in Columbia County since Monday, April 5.

The New York Forward dashboard is reporting a positivity rate for Columbia County yesterday of 1.4 percent and a seven-day average of 1.8 percent. By comparison, the daily positivity rate for the Capital Region is 2.1 percent and the seven-day average is 2.3 percent. 

A year ago today, the number of new cases reported was 4, the total number of cases was 76, the number of active cases was 45, there were 80 in mandatory quarantine, 6 hospitalized, 2 in the ICU, and there had been 4 deaths.

Of Whales in New York

Back in October, Governor Andrew Cuomo's daily NYS Coronavirus Update, in its regular feature "Deep Breath Moment," shared this information: 
According to Gotham Whale, a NY-based whale research organization, young humpback whales appear to be coming to New York to chow down on Atlantic menhaden--one of the most important fish in the sea. Researchers believe that cleaner waters and increased conservation efforts have led to an increase in the fish population and hungry whales are following. 
Image credit: Roosevelt Island Historical Society
Today, the Roosevelt Island Historical Society, in its blog which focuses on the history of the five boroughs of New York City, features a post by Stephen Blank inspired by the same news from Gotham Whale: "Return of the Whales." In addition to reporting on the increase in the number of whales of different species spotted in the waters around New York City, the post explores the history of whales and whaling in New York and, of course, gives attention to Hudson and its whaling history.
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Gratitude to David Voorhees for bringing this to our attention

Wednesday, April 7, 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. There are five fewer active cases today than yesterday, from which it can be inferred that fifteen more county residents are now considered to be recovering from the virus. There are twelve more people in mandatory quarantine today than yesterday. The number of county residents hospitalized with the virus is the same as yesterday, but today two more of those hospitalized are in the ICU. There has not been a death from COVID-19 reported in Columbia County since Monday, April 5.

The New York Forward dashboard is reporting a positivity rate for Columbia County yesterday of 2.8 percent and a seven-day average of 1.6 percent. By comparison, the daily positivity rate for the Capital Region is 2.8 percent and the seven-day average is 2.3 percent.

Sharing the Street in 2021

This year, Hudson Summer Shared Streets is being called Warren Street Seasonal Usage 2021. With the decision not to close Warren Street to vehicles and the realization that a 5 mph speed limit is neither enforceable or easily doable, safety is a major concern. The Tourism Board, which has taken charge of the program this year, is spending $7,500 on concrete barriers to be placed around parking spaces into which restaurants and shops will expand in the warmer months. Aliya Schneider has that story in the Register-Star: "Concrete barriers required for Shared Streets."

Photo: JD Urban|Hudson Hall
The Tourism Board also plans to hire a project manager to oversee the program this year. They sought approval from the Common Council to pay the person they hired up to $30,000 for the temporary gig, but the Council reduced that by half, to $15,000. The hiring notice appeared on the City of Hudson website yesterday, with this job description:
The Warren Street Seasonal Usage 2021 Program entails helping businesses on Warren Street expand into parking spaces in front of their businesses to increase dining and retail opportunities during the COVID-19 pandemic, and guiding the activation of Warren Street pocket parks for businesses and organizations without Warren Street brick and mortar locations, with the goal of expanding equity and inclusion.
There is a link to the responsibilities of the job, which doesn't work. Here are the responsibilities as they were presented to the Tourism Board on March 29 by board member Kate Treacy.
The Project Manager will:
Report to the Mayor and serve as the single point person for the public and for all city departments, liaising among them, answering questions, communicating clearly and managing enforcement.
In collaboration with the Hudson Police Department (HPD), Hudson Fire Department (HFD), Hudson Department of Public Works (DPW), the City Code Enforcement Office, and the Hudson Tourism Board, develop and finalize the Warren Street Seasonal Usage 2021 Program. The Program will be subject to final approval by the Mayor and include the following:
  • Create a uniform safety standard for the build-out of parking spaces and pocket parks, including barriers, other safety and design requirements.
  • Communicate the details of the uniform safety standard for the build-out of parking spots and pocket parks, including barriers, other safety and design requirements to permit holders.
  • Oversee implementation of the uniform safety standard for the build-out of parking spaces and pocket parks, including barriers, other safety and design requirements by permit holders.
  • Communicate any updated safety standards or regulations to permit holders.
  • Assist with the administration of the permit system for parking space usage with HPD and City Hall.
  • Assess the need for and organize rentals for hand sanitizing stations, portable toilets and maintenance for same.
  • Assist the Mayor's office and HPD and Code Enforcement Officer with enforcement of the guidelines for the Program and enforcement of the permit system.
  • Create and manage the budget for the aforementioned including reporting and actualizing all expenses, changes of scope and necessary approvals therein.

 The Project Manager may:

    • Oversee outreach to non-Warren Street brick and mortar-businesses, promoting diversity and inclusion.
    • Oversee the production of any necessary signage, street banners, planter banners, maps of participating businesses, and any other signage determined necessary in consultation with the Tourism Board and City departments.
    • Work to help execute a marketing plan which follows the one completed last year including publication to local publications including but not limited to relevant blogs, newsletters and mailing lists.
    • Work to find an underwriter to mitigate the lost revenue for the use of the parking spaces with the Mayor's office, Tourism Board, and other interested entities.
    • Work to find additional underwriting opportunities.
Applications for the project manager job must be submitted by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, April 16. Click here for details on how to submit an application.

On the subject of the "activation of Warren Street pocket parks," the Tourism Board plans to hold two virtual brainstorming sessions, led by Tourism Board member Chris McManus. The first will take place on Tuesday, April 13, at 6 p.m.; the second on Thursday, April 22, at 6 p.m. McManus described the proposed brainstorms as "controlled forums" in which "there are no bad ideas." 
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Tuesday, April 6, 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 eight more than yesterday, from which it can be inferred that three more county residents are now considered to be recovering from the virus. There are four more county residents in mandatory quarantine today than yesterday, but there are two fewer hospitalized. Of those hospitalized, the number 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 2.7 percent and a seven-day average of 1.9 percent. By comparison, the daily positivity rate for the Capital Region is 4.1 percent and the seven-day average is 2.4 percent.

What Lies Beneath

At some point in the middle of the 20th century, the collective taste of Hudson seemed to spurn the decorative corbeled cornices of the previous century in favor of a sleeker look. Many buildings were "modernized" by covering the cornices with sheets of plywood or some other material. That the cornices usually survived beneath the covering was demonstrated last year, when the sheets of plywood that covered the cornice at 212 Allen Street were removed to reveal that building's cornice, intact and apparently in fairly good shape.


Raccoon kits that tumbled from a nest behind the plywood panels were the reason the panels were removed from this house. Now there's a house on Union Street, which was similarly modernized by covering the cornice with a panel of wood or aluminum slats. 

Recently, a couple of those slats fell away to offer a glimpse of what lies beneath: a bracketed cornice.

Perhaps the missing slats will prompt the complete removal of this 20th-century feature to expose the 19th-century cornice behind it. The house is currently owned by Galvan Partners, LLC.
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How Old Was It?

Last month, Gossips reported on the demise of the ancient locust tree in Washington Park. 


Back in 2011, this locust had been one of the heritage trees featured in Gossips' series "Showcasing Hudson's Great Trees." At the time, I called it "gnarled and venerable."


The day the tree came down, Brian McDonald, the Director of Facilities for Columbia County, explained that a large branch of the tree had been found to be completely dead, and there was too much decay in the tree to save it. It was determined to be a danger to pedestrians in the park as well as people visiting the post office across the street, and so it had to be taken down. 

The stump remains, and yesterday Peter Jung decided to count the rings to find out how old the tree actually was. 

Photo: Peter Jung
Jung reported that he had counted 180 rings, "which would date the tree to around 1840." That date would mean the tree was planted around the time that the first Columbia County Courthouse on that site was constructed. 

The first courthouse, shown in the photograph above, was built around 1837, which suggests that the locust tree may have been one of the original trees planted when Washington Park, also known as Courthouse Square, was created.

During the time the tree had stood in the park there have been three courthouses on the site. The first was destroyed by fire around the turn of the last century and was replaced by a courthouse designed by local architect Henry S. Moul. 

The Moul courthouse, shown above. was completed in 1900, but seven years later, in 1907, it too was destroyed by fire. Our current courthouse, designed by the celebrated architects Whitney Warren and Charles Wetmore, was completed in 1908. The building was constructed entirely of stone and metal, as were all its original furnishings. After two courthouses had gone up in flames within a decade, it was resolved that the new courthouse would be made of nothing flammable.

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Monday, April 5, 2021

A Timely Inquiry or Coincidence?

There is a lot of talk and planning going on around affordable housing: the buildings proposed for North Seventh Street, the plan to convert the former John L. Edwards School into affordable apartments, the Hudson Housing Authority's development plans, proposing inclusionary zoning throughout the city--all this going on before the city has its Affordable Housing Development Plan in place. Back in October 2020, the Common Council passed a resolution authorizing the mayor to enter into a contract with Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress to develop the plan, and today it occurred to me to wonder what was happening with that project. Shortly after 2:00 p.m., I sent an email to mayor's aide Michael Chameides asking about the status. When would the work begin or had it already begun? At approximately 2:30 p.m., this notice appeared on the mayor's Facebook page, directing people to a new announcement on the City of Hudson website: "Hudson Pursues Affordable Housing Development Plan." 

The announcement doesn't actually say that Pattern For Progress has started work on the project, but since we already knew they had been chosen to develop the plan, and we already knew funds from the anti-displacement grant would help fund the project, it can perhaps be assumed that the commencement of the work is what prompted the announcement at this time.

Update: Gossips just got clarification from Michael Chameides that Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress began its work on April 1.
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COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health has released its numbers for today. Although more and more people are getting vaccinated, the pandemic is definitely not over. Since Friday, there has been another death from COVID-19 in Columbia County, and there have been 28 new cases of the virus. The number of active cases being reported today is one fewer than Friday, from which it can be inferred that 28 more county residents are now considered to be recovering from the virus. There are 36 fewer county residents in mandatory quarantine today than there were on Friday, and the number hospitalized and in the ICU remains the same.

The New York Forward dashboard is reporting a positivity rate for Columbia County yesterday of 1.7 percent and a seven-day average of 1.9 percent. By comparison, the daily positivity rate for the Capital Region is 1.8 percent and the seven-day average is 2.3 percent.

Building Soon to Be for Sale

At its meeting on March 24, the Common Council ad hoc committee tasked with selling City-owned properties, the focus shifted from 1 North Front Street and 10-12 Warren Street, both properties encumbered by leases, to 429 Warren Street, the former location of the City Court  clerk's office, where the Code Enforcement Office is now located. 


Ever since the City Court moved with the Hudson Police Department to their new location on Union Street, it has been the plan to sell the building. The question has been what to do with the Code Enforcement Office. At the last meeting of the ad hoc committee, Council president Tom DePietro told the committee that Code Enforcement would be temporarily relocated to modular unit set up in the vacant lot across Washington Street from the Central Fire Station, the same lot the Galvan Foundation asked for in its initial proposal to give 400 State Street to the City for use as City Hall. 

Now it seems, according to an article that appeared today in the Register-Star, DePietro has another plan for accommodating the Code Enforcement Office, but one he will not be ready to share for two or three months: "City considers selling code enforcement office."
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Meetings of Interest in the Week Ahead

A reaction to my second COVID shot (Moderna) and a general dearth of news this holiday weekend has kept Gossips fairly silent for the past few days, but now we're back--with a pretty full schedule of meetings ahead and the promise of lots of stuff to write about.
  • On Monday, April 5, the Common Council holds a special meeting at 5:00 p.m. to accept a bid from A. Colarusso & Sons for the construction of the redesigned entrance to Promenade Hill and the gift of $650,000 from the H. Van Ameringen Foundation, which will enable the City of afford to implement the redesign as planned. Click here to access the Zoom meeting.
  • Also on Monday, April 5, the Tourism Board meets at 7:00 p.m. Click here to join the Zoom meeting.
  • On Tuesday, April 6, the Hudson Industrial Development Agency (IDA) meets at 1:00 p.m. The IDA has been considering the PILOT request for the two apartment buildings proposed by the Galvan Initiatives Foundation for the "Depot District." That consideration is expected to continue at this meeting. Click here to access the Zoom meeting.
  • Also on Tuesday, April 6, the Conservation Advisory Council meets at 6:00 p.m. The link to the Zoom meeting has not yet been made available.
  • On Wednesday, April 7, the subcommittee of the Hudson Housing Authority meets at 6:00 p.m. It is not clear if they will be discussing policy, tenant outreach, or development. Click here to join the meeting.
  • Also on Wednesday, April 7, at 6:00 p.m., the Common Council ad hoc committee pursuing inclusionary zoning in Hudson holds its first meeting. Aldermen Rebecca Wolff (First Ward) and John Rosenthal (Fourth Ward) have been working on researching this legislation. Inclusionary zoning would set aside a percentage of units in all apartment buildings over a specified size for affordable housing. Hudson already has inclusionary zoning in place for one section of the city--the Riverfront Gateway District, where Hudson Terrace is located. See Chapter 325-17.4 F of the city code. The link to the Zoom meeting should be posted on the City of Hudson website prior to the meeting. Scroll down to the calendar.
  • On Friday, April 9, the Historic Preservation Commission holds its first meeting of the month at 10:00 a.m. Click here to join the Zoom meeting. When it comes to meetings of interest, the HPC meetings never disappoint.
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