Saturday, May 29, 2021

COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health has released its numbers for today. Since yesterday, there have been no new cases of COVID-19. The number of active cases being reported today is one fewer than yesterday, from which it can be inferred that one more county resident is now considered to be recovering from the virus. There are four fewer county residents in mandatory quarantine today than yesterday, and one fewer hospitalized with the virus. No one is in the ICU, and there has not been a death from COVID-19 in Columbia County since May 4. 

The New York Forward dashboard is reporting a positivity rate for Columbia County yesterday of 1.2 percent and a seven-day average of 0.4 percent. By comparison, the daily positivity rate for the Capital Region is 0.8 percent and the seven-day average is 1.0 percent.

A year ago today, the CCDOH reported 4 new cases of COVID-19. The total number of cases was 385, and the number of active cases was 129. There were 53 county residents newly consigned to mandatory quarantine, 17 were hospitalized, and 1 was in the ICU. The total number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 at this time last year was 32.

Friday, May 28, 2021

COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health has released its numbers for today. Since yesterday, there has been one new case of COVID-19. There are two fewer active cases being reported today than yesterday, from which it can be inferred that three more county residents are now considered to be recovering from the virus. There are eleven fewer county residents in mandatory quarantine today than yesterday, but the number of hospitalized with the virus remains the same. Today, none of those hospitalized is in the ICU. There has not been a death from COVID-19 in Columbia County since May 4. 

The New York Forward dashboard is reporting a positivity rate for Columbia County yesterday of 0.0 percent and a seven-day average of 0.5 percent. By comparison, the daily positivity rate for the Capital Region is 0.6 percent and the seven-day average is 1.0 percent.

A year ago today, the CCDOH reported 2 new cases of COVID-19. The total number of cases was 381, and the number of active cases was 137. There were 76 county residents newly consigned to mandatory quarantine. There were 17 hospitalized, one of whom was in the ICU. The total number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 at this time last year was 32.

Thursday, May 27, 2021

COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health released its numbers hours ago, and Gossips is now able to share them. Since yesterday, there have been three new cases of COVID-19. The number of active cases reported today is three fewer than yesterday, from which it can be inferred that six more county residents are now considered to be recovering from the virus. There are five fewer county residents in mandatory quarantine today than yesterday, and one fewer hospitalized with the virus. As was the case yesterday, one of those hospitalized is in the ICU. There has not been a death from COVID-19 in Columbia County since May 4.

The New York Forward dashboard is reporting a positivity rate for Columbia County yesterday of 0.6 percent and a seven-day average of 0.5 percent. By comparison, the daily positivity rate for the Capital Region is 0.7 percent and the seven-day average is 1.1 percent.

A year ago today, the CCDOH reduced the total number of cases by two, explaining that two cases had been reported twice. The total number of cases was 379, and the number of active cases was 140. There were 76 county residents newly consigned to mandatory quarantine. There were 17 hospitalized, one of whom was in the ICU. The total number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 at this time last year was 32.

News from the Ad Hoc Committees: Part 1

Two Common Council ad hoc committees met last night: the one discussing City-owned property and the other pursuing the idea of creating a solar farm. Gossips will report on the committee meetings in two parts, beginning with the committee dealing with City-owned property. 

Council president Tom DePietro reported that the City would be renting office space for the Code Enforcement Office, but he did not reveal where the space was. Since the Code Enforcement Office is the only occupant of the building, the City is now free to sell it. DePietro told the other members of the committee present--Rebecca Wolff (First Ward) and Jane Trombley (First Ward)--that they would be undertaking the "fun project" of "designing the future" of 429 Warren Street.


The rest of the meeting has taken up discussing the two houses the City owns in or near the cemetery. The committee is exploring the possibility of selling both houses. The houses are relics of an earlier time in Hudson. They started out as the residences of the Commissioner of Public Works and the Commissioner of Cemeteries.

The first house, which is located off Ten Broeck Lane, in the older part of the cemetery and near the water treatment plant, was originally the home of the Commissioner of Public Works. It was adjacent to the City's water supply, then retained in an open reservoir, and part of the reason for having the commissioner live in close proximity was to prevent interference with the city's water.  

At sometime during the 20th century, the house became part of the compensation package for the Superintendent of Public Works, and it remained so until Charlie Butterworth, who had held the position since 1969, retired in 2006. The house is now empty. A few years ago, it suffered interior damage, especially in the kitchen, when frozen pipes burst.

The other house is located near the entrance to the Cedar Park section of the cemetery. A couple of years ago, Gossips discovered that, in 1983, the house had been nominated for individual listing in the National Register of Historic Places. The post published at that time about the house can be found here. Shirley Dunn's research for the nomination revealed that the house and the land around it, now Cedar Park Cemetery, once belonged to William Brocksbank, who was a florist and nurseryman and raised plants and flowers on the site.

It is not known exactly when the house was built, but it was probably sometime in the 1850s. The house appears on the 1873 Beers Altas map, identified as "Brocksbank Nursery." At that time, the house was outside the city limits in Greenport, but 1897, after the City of Hudson had purchased the property to expand the cemetery, the boundary was moved to bring the house and the land that is the cemetery into the City of Hudson.

For many years, the house was the residence of the Commissioner of Cemeteries. Memorial Day parades, which started at Front Street and marched all the way to the cemetery, concluded with speeches from the porch of the house. The image below, which is a still from one of Josef Cipkowski's home movies, shows people gathered in front of the house at the end of the Memorial Day parade in 1939.

When Dunn was writing about it in 1983, the house was used as a funeral chapel, a residence, probably still for the Commissioner of Cemeteries, and an office for the administrator of the cemetery. In 1996, the Cemetery Department was merged with the Department of Public Works, and the position of Commissioner of Cemeteries was abolished. Today, the office of the clerk of the cemetery is located in the house. The rest of the house is divided into two apartments which are rented to a former employee of DPW and her mother-in-law.
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News from the Ad Hoc Committees: Part 2

You may wonder where Part 1 is. It is written and ready to go, but Blogger, for reasons unknown, is preventing me from inserting photographs. Because this post is not as dependent on photographs, it is being published first.

The second Common Council ad hoc committee to meet last night was the one pursuing the idea of creating a solar farm on City-owned land. The original plan was to use a parcel of land on North Second Street, owned by the City, just north of Charles Williams Park. At the last meeting of this ad hoc committee, Hilary Hillman and David Konigsberg of the Conservation Advisory Council presented the idea of making the solar farm pollinator friendly, and the committee seemed open to that idea. Council president Tom DePietro said he would pass the information on to Peter Bujanow, Commissioner of Public Works, who will be preparing the RFP (request for proposal).

Last night, the scope of the proposed project had expanded to include a second parcel: the capped landfill at the end of North Second Street. The landfill, although located in the City of Hudson, was actually a county dump, and if the City wanted to take ownership of the capped landfill for use as a solar farm, it would have to assume all liability for the former landfill. For at least thirty years, no mayor or Common Council has been willing to do that, but it seems things have changed. DePietro questioned the reluctance of former mayors, saying, "What was that about?"

Putting solar panels on the landfill is not a new idea. In 2016, Ron Knott, who then was and still is Stuyvesant town supervisor and chair of the county Public Works Committee, proposed renting the landfill to Monolith Solar to create a community solar array estimated to serve thirty-five households. That proposal was not enthusiastically received by Hudson supervisors Don Moore (Third Ward) and Sarah Sterling (First Ward) or by Peter Paden, then executive director of the Columbia Land Conservancy. The lede in an article about the proposal that appeared in the Register-Star on April 28, 2016, read: "A proposal to erect solar power panels on Hudson's capped North Bay landfill appeared to die in committee  after facing opposition from two Hudson supervisors and the Columbia Land Conservancy." The following is quoted from that article:
At meeting's end, Peter Paden, executive director of the Columbia Land Conservancy, asked to address the committee. He said the CLC has been working with the city and county for years, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to test the concept of whether the North Bay could work as recreation and natural area.
"It's an extraordinarily beautiful place," he said. It provides Hudson with close connection to thousands of acres of woods and trails and a walk to beautiful areas of Stockport.
"The grassland on that landfill could be an important grassland bird habitat," he said, "which is important and rare."
Bujanow, who said he had met with Knott and gotten surveys of the property, reported, "Since five years ago, you don't have to penetrate the cap" to install solar arrays. There are, it seems, a lot of other considerations regarding using the landfill for a solar farm that haven't gone away "since five years ago."

Bujanow told the committee he would have a rough draft of the RFP for installing solar panels on both parcels--the area north of Charles Williams Park and the landfill--for the committee's next meeting. When reminded of the CAC's request that the solar farm be pollinator friendly, Bujanow said, "That's something to consider. I will explore that a little."
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Apologies from Gossips

Blogger, the platform used for The Gossips of Rivertown, is having some technical difficulties today, which are preventing me from inserting pictures and images into the posts. For this reason, publication of new posts for which pictures are important must be suspended until the issue is resolved. I hope that will happen soon.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health has released its numbers for today. Since yesterday, there have been two new cases of COVID-19. The number of active cases being reported today is two fewer than yesterday, from which it can be inferred that four more county residents are now considered to be recovering from the virus. There are thirteen more county residents in mandatory quarantine today than there were yesterday. There is one more hospitalized with the virus, and one of those hospitalized is in the ICU. There has not been a death from COVID-19 in Columbia County since May 4. 

The New York Forward dashboard is reporting a positivity rate for Columbia County yesterday of 0.0 percent (even though the CCDOH reported two new cases yesterday and two today) and a seven-day average of 0.6 percent. By comparison, the daily positivity rate for the Capital Region is 0.8 percent and the seven-day average is 1.1 percent. 

A year ago today, the CCDOH reported no new cases of COVID-19. The total number of cases was 381, and the number of active cases was 145. There were 393 residents in mandatory quarantine, 16 were hospitalized, and 1 was in the ICU. The total number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 at this time last year was 32.

Struggling Back After a Pandemic

Here's a hopeful sign that things are getting back to normal after more than a year of being in pandemic mode: Hudson Hall is reopening its performance hall this weekend.

The opening performers for the post-pandemic season are Camille Thurman and the Darrell Green Trio, who will be performing Saturday, May 29, at 7 p.m., and Sunday, May 30, at 5 p.m.



Jazz phenom Camille Thurman's prowess includes a 4-octave range earning her comparisons to legends Sarah Vaughan, Betty Carter, and Ella Fitzgerald. Also a gifted saxophonist, Thurman has been likened to tenor greats Joe Henderson and Dexter Gordon, and is also applauded for her chops as a composer. 
The Darrell Green Trio, featuring Anthony Wonsey on piano, Tom DiCarlo on bass, and Darrell Green on drums, accompanies Thurman. Her recent albums feature songs by Sarah Vaughan, Wayne Shorter, Wes Montgomery, Jimmy McHugh, Milton Nascimento, Hoagy Carmichael, Cole Porter, and others. "You're hard pressed to find rising talents more exciting than Camille Thurman whose sound is as commodious and strong as Hank Mobley's," says The New York Times.
Channeling the vibe of an intimate jazz club with the grand stage and sound of a world class theater, Hudson Hall invites guests to purchase a socially distanced table for 2 or 4 and revel (again) in the magic of live jazz.
For more information and to purchase tickets, click here.

After Eleven Years

Hudson Development Corporation (HDC) has owned the property variously known as the Kaz warehouses, the Kaz site, and the Montgomery Street property for eleven years now, and during that time Gossips has been monitoring and reporting on HDC's several but unsuccessful attempts to develop the property and get it back on the tax rolls. In 2017, the lack of access to the site from Front Street seems to have jettisoned a plan would have had Sustainable Community Associates construct mixed-use buildings on the site. In 2018, three developers submitted proposals for the property, but complaints about lack of transparency and community engagement brought that effort to a halt. Since then, HDC has acquired from CSX the parcel of land needed to give the site access to Front Street, and now, HDC is trying once again to sell the parcel, which HDC board president Bob Rasner said years ago "sucks enormous energy" and diverts HDC from its core mission of supporting economic development in Hudson.

In his opening remarks at yesterday's HDC board meeting, Rasner said, "The byword for today's meeting is decision." He offered this definition of decision: "A conclusion reached after consideration." He went on to say, "The result of our decision is going to change the role of this corporation dramatically," and then announced the formation of a Program Committee, to be made up of board members and community members, and mentioned preliminary contact with the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park about creating a training program for jobs in the hospitality industry.

The major decision Rasner was alluding was the decision to sell the Montgomery Street property. The board had set a minimum price for the property at $2 million. Rasner reported the property had recently been appraised at $2.3 million. He explained that they now had "two serious offers," one that had come in "less than 24 hours ago." He said the two offers were "very, very similar": both exceeded the minimum price; both were cash offers; both had no contingencies; both came from "business people in this city." Rasner told the board he wanted to "sit down with both bidders and bring the offers to the board in a week."

Board member Steve Dunn questioned why HDC was pursuing a negotiated sale rather than going through a bid process, suggesting they needed something is writing from the NYS Authorities Budget Office (ABO) approving their course of action. Branda Maholtz, HDC executive director, explained, "Once the board decides they have an accepted offer on the table, it must go to ABO for approval."

Board member Seth Rogovoy asked if Regenesis and Mpact had expressed interest in the site. Rasner said he and Maholtz had met with representatives of the groups and reported they had no interest in the purchasing the property. He explained, "They are consultants who help the seller get community buy-in," and added, "Their strength is taking property that is worth nothing and making it valued." Rasner noted the property in question already had value. Rogovoy suggested the board needed "a really good consultant to help us."

Board member Nick Haddad assured his colleagues and the public that, throughout the entire process, HDC has been sensitive and forward thinking. He said the potential buyers are "doing more than just paying lip service to our concerns." He concluded, "We don't want to sell to some soulless developer."

Rasner told the board that they had received "very detailed presentations from the two potential buyers," which presumably will be presented to the HDC board in a week's time. The public will have to wait longer to learn who the potential buyers are and what is contained in those detailed presentations.
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Tuesday, May 25, 2021

More About Those Concrete Barriers

A week ago, Council president Tom DePietro suggested that the cement blocks being used as barriers on Warren Street could be painted, to make them more like these barriers in use in the New York City.

Since then it was decided, by whom or why is not known, that the blocks cannot be painted. On Saturday, Gary Purnhagen, the project manager for Warren Street Seasonal Usage 2021, advised in a post on Facebook:
I will be painting 3 parallel lines of reflective paint on the blocks in the way of oncoming traffic. I will be doing that this weekend. If you have issues or concerns, please contact me. Otherwise, the blocks are not allowed to be painted.
Driving down Warren Street, I haven't noticed any lines of reflective paint on the blocks, but the lines are probably only visible at night in a car's headlights. Last night at the Tourism Board meeting, Purnhagen said that reflective cones will be placed atop the concrete blocks "to prevent cars from not noticing the barriers." Several of these cones are already in place.

Yesterday, I received this statement about the concrete barriers from Albert Roberts, who wanted to share his thoughts when seeing the barriers for the first time.
The ‘Maginot Line’ Comes to Hudson.
Those of us who are old enough to remember World War 2, are probably aware, or at least have heard, of the Maginot Line. These were structures of cement and stone built by the French between the two World Wars. They were not known for their architectural beauty but rather were meant to intimidate. Each installation was heavily fortified. 
Imagine my surprise a few mornings ago, when I took my daily drive up Warren Street. For a split second, I thought the ‘Maginot Line’ had been re-created and I wondered why we were being protected by our own Maginot Line of cement. Where was the threat coming from? Did the City Fathers and Mothers fear an invasion from Chatham, or perhaps Kinderhook? Soon, I learned that the purpose had to do with making a safe place for restaurants for their outdoor diners. Today I noticed that these battlements were not being used by the intended recipients, that is the merchants, particularly restaurant owners on Warren Street. At least 40 parking places, likely more, were sacrificed to this ill-conceived exercise. Delivery trucks could no longer get to the curb and had no choice but to park in the middle of Warren Street, worsening the traffic, and guaranteeing traffic jams in the summer and fall. I would like to know more about the planning and execution of these structures. I noticed that one of the blocks had already been dislodged by a car running into it. I eagerly await further information.
At last night's Tourism Board meeting, Purnhagen also reported that twenty-three of the blocks will be moved early next week. Some retail shops decided they didn't want the barriers after all, so they will be given to businesses that did not make the deadline for requesting them and were put on a waiting list.
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Update on the Docks

The resolution passed by the Common Council last night, authorizing the mayor to enter into a license agreement with the Hudson Sloop Club for the docks in Henry Hudson Riverfront Park, contained the following statements: "The in-kind management services shall include, but not be limited to, making the dock available for two boats operated by Hudson Cruises (pontoon boat Lil Spirit and Spirit of Hudson). The Sloop Club shall work with Hudson Cruises to make the dock available for the vessel Marika to the extent practicable consistent with the Sloop Club's use of the dock for community purposes."

About an hour ago, this message appeared on one of the Facebook community boards:
Guy and I wish to thank you all for your tremendous effort to ensure the bidding process was fairly conducted and that our story was accurately shared with the citizens of The City of Hudson and our region. This country runs on the voice of the Minority and the will of the Majority.
We are sorry that our 17 years of service was insufficient to find in our favor and, quite frankly, it stings a bit.
Having said that, we wish all of you a very happy and healthy 2021.
A Noor Rahaman
Co-Owner
Hudson Cruises

COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health has released its numbers for today. Since yesterday, there have been two new cases of COVID-19. In his press release today, Matt Murell, chair of the Columbia County Board of Supervisors, reported:
[CCDOH] Director [Jack] Mabb said the low infection rate in the county can be attributed to the county vaccination rate, which stands at 64.4 percent among those who have received at least [one] dose of the vaccine, and the better weather. This constitutes the lowest infection rate in the county in a year, he pointed out.
The number of active cases being reported today is one fewer than yesterday, from which it can inferred that three more county residents are now considered to be recovering from the virus. There are five more county residents in mandatory quarantine today than yesterday, and there is one more hospitalized with the virus. No one is in the ICU, and there has not been a death from COVID-19 in Columbia County since May 4.

The New York Forward dashboard is reporting a positivity rate for Columbia County yesterday of 1.4 percent and a seven-day average of 1.0 percent. By comparison, the daily positivity rate for the Capital Region is 2.1 percent and the seven-day average is 1.1 percent.

A year ago today, the CCDOH reported 10 new cases of COVID-19. The total number of cases was 381, and the number of active cases was 188. There were 322 county residents in mandatory quarantine, 16 were hospitalized, and 1 was in the ICU. The total number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 at this time last year was 32.

Happening on Thursday

Regenerative is a term we're likely to be hearing a lot in the future. What it means as it applies to tourism will be the subject of a presentation this Thursday, May 27, by Bill Reed, an ecological architect, community planner, writer, educator, and principal of Regenesis Group, based on Massachusetts and New Mexico. The event, which is hosted by the Hudson Tourism Board and the Hudson Business Coalition, takes place at 5:00 p.m. on Zoom.      

The following paragraphs are from the announcement for the event distributed by the Hudson Business Coalition:
Hudson is a beautiful, diverse city of environmental and social complexity, and its essence includes its diversity. The Hudson Tourism Board's 2021 Mission Statement asserts that "tourism should support and benefit all Hudson residents and business owners." The Tourism Board is "committed to supporting the rich diversity that makes Hudson an attractive destination to visit and live," and aims "to facilitate approaches that are equitable, environmentally responsible, and create opportunities for all communities." These important commitments bring the Tourism Board into alignment with a concept that is developing globally called Regenerative Tourism. A recent New York Times article describes that Regenerative Tourism "addresses impacts holistically, from destination and community perspectives as well as environmental."
Regenerative tourism proposes that as an industry, tourism can bring positive change to a community in the form of visitors who arrive with an appreciation of cultural difference and bioregional specificity--what makes that place special. Tourism can be oriented toward a deep understanding and appreciation of what is culturally, ecologically, and socially existing in a place. Bill Reed is a writer and educator who has for more than thirty years been working to circulate and develop practices in communities that bring an "economy of meaning" along with raw economic benefit and job creation. These meanings are located in patterns of social and ecological use and relationship which can be harmonized to bring the greatest benefit to all.
The New York Times article referenced above can be found here. Click here to join the Zoom meeting.

Monday, May 24, 2021

Deciding About the Docks

The Common Council held a special meeting tonight at 7:00 p.m. to resolve the issue of who would be the licensee of the docks at Henry Hudson Riverfront Park. 

The meeting began with Peter Bujanow, Commissioner of Public Works, reporting that his attempts to come to a compromise agreement with Hudson Cruises and the Hudson Sloop Club had broken down late today. The Council then went into executive session to discuss the contract agreement--an executive session that went on for close to an hour. 

When the Council came out of executive session at 8:03 p.m., Council president Tom DePietro commended Bujanow for doing "an extraordinary job trying to negotiate a compromise" but added, "One party did not want to accommodate the other." The Council then voted on the following resolution:
NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that based upon a review of the responses to the RFP and the potential services that will be in the best interests of the City, the Mayor is authorized to sign a License Agreement with Hudson Sloop Club Inc., in the amount of $6,400.00 of which $2,000 shall be a cash payment upon signing the contract; $1,700 shall be an in-kind contribution for the installation and removal of city docks. The balance of $2,700.00 shall be in-kind services of managing the dock. The in-kind management services shall include, but not be limited to, making the dock available for two boats operated by Hudson Cruises (pontoon boat Lil Spirit and Spirit of Hudson). The Sloop Club shall work with Hudson Cruises to make the dock available for the vessel Marika to the extent practicable consistent with the Sloop Club's use of the dock for community purposes. The City shall establish the fees that will be charged to vessels other than those operated by the Sloop Club with the first $3,700 of revenue to be split 90/10 between the Sloop Club and the City; with the next $2,700 of revenue split 70/30 between the Sloop Club and the City and any revenue above $6,400 to be split equally between the Sloop Club and the City.

The resolution passed with all the members of the Council voting in favor except for Dominic Merante (Fifth Ward) and Shershah Mizan (Third Ward), both of whom abstained. There apparently is no assurance that Hudson Cruises will agree to continue to operate Spirit of Hudson and Lil Spirit from the Hudson dock.

Seventeen communications on the issue had been received by the Council--seven in support of the Hudson Sloop Club and seven in support of Hudson Cruises. Three letters--from the Clearwater, the historic fireboat John J. Harvey, and the catamaran Impossible Dream--did not specifically support either entity but appealed for greater access to docking in Hudson. Among those advocating for Hudson Cruises were the Hudson-Athens Lighthouse Preservation Society, the Athens Community Garden Club, and CEDC (Columbia Economic Development Corporation). All the communications can be found here.
COPYRIGHT 2021 CAROLE OSTERINK

COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health has released its numbers for today. Since Saturday, there has been one new case of COVID-19. The number of active cases being reported today is ten fewer than on Saturday, from which it can be inferred that eleven more county residents are now considered to be recovering from the virus. There are thirty fewer county residents in mandatory quarantine today than on Saturday, but the number hospitalized with the virus remains the same. No one is in the ICU, and there has not been a death from COVID-19 in Columbia County since May 4.

The New York Forward dashboard is reporting a positivity rate for Columbia County yesterday of 0.0 percent and a seven-day average of 1.0 percent. By comparison, the daily positivity rate for the Capital Region is 1.8 percent and the seven-day average is 1.1 percent.

A year ago today, the CCDOH reported 11 new cases of COVID-19. The total number of cases was 371, and the number of active cases was 181. There were 261 county residents in mandatory quarantine, 16 were hospitalized, and none was in the ICU. The total number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 at this time last year was 32.

Meetings and Events in the Week Ahead

In the week leading up of Memorial Day, here's what's happening in Hudson.
  • Today, Monday, May 24, the Tourism Board holds a special meeting at 5:00 p.m. It is not clear what is on the agenda, but the storm of discontent over the concrete barriers on Warren Street may be part of the discussion. Click here to join the Zoom meeting.
  • Also today, Monday, May 24, the Common Council holds a special meeting at 7:00 p.m. to settle the issue of the dock license for 2021. Click here to join the Zoom meeting.
  • On Tuesday, May 25, the Hudson Development Corporation (HDC) Board of Directors meets at noon. No agenda for the meeting has yet been made available, but there is always the chance there will be an update on the disposition of the Kaz site, a.k.a. the Montgomery Street property. Click here to join the Zoom meeting.
  • On Wednesday, May 26, the Upstreet Farmers Market begins its season in Seventh Street Park. The market is open from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. every Wednesday through October.
  • Also on Wednesday, May 26, the Common Council ad hoc committee formerly tasked with selling City-owned properties and now re-imagined as the "Real Estate Committee" meets at 5:00 p.m. The link to join the Zoom meeting should be posted on the City of Hudson website prior to the meeting. Scroll down to the calendar.
  • At 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, May 26, the tenant relations subcommittee of the Hudson Housing Authority Board of Commissioners will hold a meeting for tenants to discuss the redevelopment of HHA properties. The meeting, which is for tenants of Bliss Towers, will take place in the Community Room at Bliss Towers. A Zoom link has been provided. Click here.
  • Also on Wednesday, May 26, the Common Council ad hoc committee pursuing the development of a pollinator friendly solar farm on City-owned property on north of Charles Williams Park meets at 6:15 p.m. The link to join the Zoom meeting should be posted on the City of Hudson website prior to the meeting. Scroll down to the calendar. 
Photo: Cypress Creek Renewables
  • Thursday, May 27, is property assessment Grievance Day. Here is the information that appears on the city calendar.
Notice is hereby given that the Board of Assessment Review for the City of Hudson will meet to hear and examine all property filed complaints in relation to assessments of Real Property by ZOOM during the hours of 3:30PM-8PM on May 27, 2021. A publication containing procedures for contesting an assessment is available at Columbia County Real Property Tax Office as well as online at: http:// www.tax.ny.gov/pdf/publications/orpts/grievancebooklet.pdf
Although the notice says the BAR will be hearing complaints in a Zoom meeting, no Zoom link has been provided. 

  • On Friday, May 28, the Historic Preservation Commission meets at 10:00 a.m. It is not known what will be on the agenda. Click here to join the Zoom meeting.
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Saturday, May 22, 2021

COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health has released its numbers for today. For the first time in a long time, the CCDOH is reporting no new cases of COVID-19. Bizarrely, although there have been no new cases, the number of active cases being reported today is five more than yesterday. The number of country residents in mandatory quarantine today is the same as yesterday, as is the number hospitalized with the virus. No one is in the ICU, and there has not been a death from COVID-19 in Columbia County since Tuesday, May 4. 

The New York Forward dashboard is reporting a positivity rate for Columbia County yesterday of 1.4 percent and a seven-day average of 1.3 percent. By comparison, the daily positivity rate for the Capital Region is 0.9 percent and the seven-day average is 1.1 percent.

A year ago today, the CCDOH reported two new cases of COVID-19 and two more deaths from the virus. The total number of cases was 360, and the number of active cases was 172. There were 194 county residents in mandatory quarantine, 17 were hospitalized, and 1 was in the ICU. The total number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 at this time last year was 31.

Tenant Engagement Continues

The Hudson Housing Authority is planning to do something with its properties, but it is not clear what that will be. On Wednesday, Farzana Moshi of the Hudson/Catskill Housing Coalition presented the results of a survey conducted among current HHA tenants. There were 108 survey responses, and they indicated that the majority of respondents wanted a full rehab of Bliss Towers. 

The majority of the respondents also indicated that they would prefer staying in Hudson to relocating to another community.

Alderman Rebecca Wolff (First Ward), who sits on the HHA Board of Commissioners, questioned the survey results, saying the survey did not make it clear that there was the option of "taking down the tower and building new buildings." HHA commissioner Claire Cousin suggested there needed to be a face-to-face meeting with tenants "to find out if they really want a rehab and not demolition and new construction." She said a tenant had told her it wasn't clear what would happen if the building gets knocked down and asked rhetorically, "When you re-create an entire neighborhood, what's the process for the tenants?" 

Smith commented, "We're back to square one. The survey was supposed to tell us what the people want." Wolff similarly observed, "The major question that the survey was to give us the answer to is not here."

In the end, it was decided to have a facilitated meeting, patterned on the World Cafe model, during which, as Cousin described it, "We discuss how this could actually happen, and we tell people what we know." That meeting is to take place on Wednesday, May 26, at 6:00 p.m. in the community room at Bliss Towers.
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Friday, May 21, 2021

COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health has released its numbers for today. Since yesterday, there have been five new cases of COVID-19. The number of active cases being reported today is two fewer than yesterday, from which it can be inferred that seven more county residents are now considered to be recovering from the virus. There are eleven fewer county residents in mandatory quarantine today than yesterday, but the number hospitalized with the virus remains the same. No one is in the ICU, and there has not been a death from COVID-19 in Columbia County since Tuesday, May 4.

The New York Forward dashboard is reporting a positivity rate for Columbia County yesterday of 0.3 percent and a seven-day average of 1.3 percent. By comparison, the daily positivity rate for the Capital Region is 1.1 percent and the seven-day average is 1.1 percent.

A year ago today, the CCDOH reported 5 new cases of COVID-19--the same number as reported today. The total number of cases was 358, and the number of active cases was 176. There were 133 county residents in mandatory quarantine, 17 were hospitalized, and 1 was in the ICU. The total number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 at this time last year was 29.

Tomorrow Is the Day

Tomorrow, Saturday, May 22, the Columbia-Greene Humane Society/SPCA, in partnership with Message in a Bottle Can and Bottle Redemption Center, is holding a bottle and can drive to benefit pets in need. 


From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., redeemable NY 5¢ bottles and cans will be collected at 9 Healy Boulevard, Suite 3, and the proceeds will go to the Columbia-Greene Humane Society. Items dropped off must not be crushed, cut, missing labels, or containing liquid. Glass bottles should be separated from other items.

If you miss bringing in your redeemable bottles and cans tomorrow, Message in a Bottle will keep an open account for the Columbia-Greene Humane Society so that bottles and cans can be dropped off all year round and the funds will go to support the shelter's programs and services.

If you have questions, please call the Columbia-Greene Humane Society at (518) 828-6044 or Message in a Bottle at (518) 929-9418.

The Annual Parking Reprieve

Returning from the dog park this morning, I wondered if this year, as in so many previous years, alternate side of the street parking would be suspended for the summer. I didn't have to wonder long. Mayor Kamal Johnson made this announcement on Facebook this morning.


Overnight from Friday to Saturday and from Saturday to Sunday alternate side of the street parking rules have been suspended, and you can park your car overnight on either side of the street.

Thursday, May 20, 2021

COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health has released its numbers for today. Since yesterday, there have been three 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 seven more county residents are now considered to be recovering from the virus. There are six fewer county residents in mandatory quarantine today than yesterday, but the number hospitalized with the virus remains the same. No one is in the ICU, and there has not been a death from COVID-19 in Columbia County since Tuesday, May 4.

The New York Forward dashboard is reporting a positivity rate for Columbia County yesterday of 1.1 percent and a seven-day average of 1.7 percent. By comparison, the daily positivity rate for the Capital Region is 0.9 percent and the seven-day average is 1.1 percent.

A year ago today, the CCDOH reported no new cases of COVID-19 but one death from the virus. The total number of cases was 353, and the number of active cases was 188. There were 156 county residents in mandatory quarantine, 18 were hospitalized, and 1 was in the ICU. The total number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 at this time last year was 29.

A Night at the Council: Part 3

In his last report to the Common Council at the informal meeting on May 10, Nick Zachos asked the Council to reinstate the money that had been cut from the 2021 Youth Department budget because of COVID. He said he wanted the Council to do this, because he didn't want the new youth director, as her first encounter with the Council, to have to ask for more money. As it turned out, the new youth director, Liz Yorck, had to endure something worse at the Council meeting on Tuesday than having to ask the Council to restore money that had been cut from the department budget. She had listen to the aldermen quibbling over whether or not she deserved a 16 percent raise when she had been in the job for only about a week.

On Tuesday, a resolution was introduced to increase the salary for the youth director from $50,000 to $58,000, effective on the day the new director assumed the position. The resolution explains: "During the course of the interview process the Commissioner determined that the salary for Director of the Hudson Department of Youth was insufficient to attract a qualified individual." The resolution also asserts: "The funds for the increased salary are available within the Department of Youth's existing personal services budget and does not require a reallocation from general city funds."

In arguing for the salary increase, Maija Reed, youth commissioner, said that, like the Department of Public Works and the Hudson Police Department, the Youth Department was "responsible for our citizens" and maintained that the job of director was an "on-call job." She claimed that, even at $58,000, the youth director's salary would be "the lowest department head salary in the city."

Alderman Eileen Halloran (Fifth Ward) said she wanted to "understand what the salaries for the other department heads are, and how many years have they worked toward getting that." In response, Council president Tom DePietro said, "We know that [the head of] DPW earns well over $100,000 a year." 

Gossips decided to try to answer Halloran's question by consulting SeeThroughNY. Here's what I found for 2020 regarding the salaries. Information about the tenure of each department head comes from my own memory banks.
  • Rob Perry, head of the Department of Public Works, was paid $108,541 in 2020. Perry was been superintendent of Public Works since 2009.
  • Heather Campbell, head of the Treasurer's Office, was paid $76,803 in 2020. Her position is unique in that the treasurer, who is a department head, is an elected official. Campbell has been the treasurer since 2014.
  • Tracy Delaney, head of the Clerk's Office, was paid $80,201 in 2020. Delaney has been the city clerk since 2009. Prior to that, she was the assistant city clerk. Delaney has worked for the City of Hudson since 1990.
  • Craig Haigh, head of the Code Enforcement Office, was paid $58,191 in 2020. Haigh has been the code enforcement officer since 2013.
I could not find the salary for Chief Ed Moore, head of the Hudson Police Department, at SeeThroughNY, but in 2018, Roger Hannigan Gilson reported that his salary was $30,000 a year, and in August 2020 Peter Volkmann, then the police commissioner, told the Police Reconciliation and Advisory Commission that Moore was "the lowest paid police chief in the State of New York and the lowest paid officer in the HPD." Moore has been chief of the HPD since 2013.

Responding to Reed's statement that the position of youth director was an "on-call job," Alderman Tiffany Garriga (Second Ward) stated, "We are all on call for our constituents." She went on to say, "You cannot compare this position to DPW." 

Alderman Dominic Merante (Fifth Ward) opined that the issue of the salary should have come before the Council earlier and suggested, "If there is extra money now, it should go to the kids." Garriga concurred that the money should go back to programming. 

When a vote on the resolution was finally taken, six members of the Council voted in favor (Calvin Lewis, John Rosenthal, Jane Trombley, Malachi Walker, Rebecca Wolff, DePietro); five members voted against (Garriga, Halloran, Merante, Shershah Mizan, Dewan Sarowar). After the vote, Alderman Jane Trombley (First Ward), who had earlier in the meeting expressed her disappointment that the Council had halved the salary for the Warren Street Seasonal Usage project manager, called what had preceded the vote "an unfortunate discussion" and asked rhetorically, "When did the Council decide it was the HR Department?"

Later, a resolution to amend the 2021 budget to restore $57,351.62 which had been cut from the Youth Department budget, passed with the support of everyone on the Council except Merante, who abstained.
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Change of Plans

The meeting of the Common Council ad hoc committee formed to study alternate side of the street parking scheduled for today at 6:00 p.m. has been canceled. For those who find it hard to get through the day without a Zoom meeting fix, here's an alternative. At 4:00 p.m. today, the Preservation League of NYS is holding a webinar titled "Land Banks, Preservation & Affordable Housing." 

Many vacant, abandoned, and tax delinquent properties that will be acquired by municipal land banks may also be historic structures--and historic status should be recognized as an asset, not an obstacle, in successful and sustainable efforts to return blighted properties and neighborhoods to productive use. By utilizing incentives like the Historic Commercial Properties Tax Credit and the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit, these historic structures can not only come back to active use, but also provide much-needed affordable housing. In this webinar, three panelists will each give a presentation about their work at the intersection of affordable housing, land banks, and historic preservation, followed a a group discussion.
One of the panelists is someone increasingly familiar to us here in Hudson: Darren Scott, Upstate East Director of Development for NYS Homes and Community Renewal. Creating a land bank is one of the goals of the anti-displacement initiative in Hudson. Click here to register for the webinar.

The Depot District and the IDA: A Status Report

On Tuesday, the Hudson IDA (Industrial Development Agency) passed two resolutions: one accepting the PILOT application for 75 North Seventh Street; the other accepting the PILOT application for 708 State Street. The resolutions reflected the amendments the Galvan Foundation has made to the applications since they were initially submitted.

Of interest in the resolution for 75 North Seventh Street are these paragraphs:
WHEREAS, the Application proposes that 34 units would be leased with rents affordable for households earning up to 50% of the Columbia County HUD Area Median Income (AMI), 20 units would be leased with rents affordable for households earning up to 80% of the Columbia County HUD Area Median Income (AMI), 21 units would be leased with rents affordable for households earning up to 130% of the Columbia County HUD Area Median Income (AMI), preference would be available for applicants who occupy a unit as their sole residence, and the 4 commercial spaces would include a preference for minority and/or women owned businesses, and the Project is to be developed in conjunction with an adjacent project proposed to be developed by a related party to the Sponsor as part of a “Depot District” which would share a 40 space parking facility at 602 Washington Street not subject to the proposed PILOT Agreement; and
WHEREAS, the Application requests a 30 year PILOT equal to the greater of 10% of the Shelter Rent, defined as total net rental income less utility expenses in a given year, or $54,285 per year; . . .
The comparable paragraphs in the resolution for 708 State Street are these: 
WHEREAS, the Application proposes that 12 units would [be] leased with rents affordable for households earning up to 80% of the Columbia County HUD Area Median Income (AMI) and 51 units would [be] leased with rents affordable for households earning up to 130% of the Columbia County HUD Area Median Income, and preference would be available for applicants who occupy a unit as their sole residence, the Project is to be developed in conjunction with another project proposed to be developed by a related party to the Sponsor as part of a “Depot District” which would share a 40 space parking facility at 602 Washington Street; and
WHEREAS, the Application requests a 25 year PILOT with a 75% exemption in years 1 through 10, with the exemption decreasing 5% each year thereafter for the term of the PILOT; . . . 
Now that the applications have been accepted, the next step is to do the financial analysis, which will compare the cost of the project in foregone taxes to the benefits it offers the community. That analysis will be done by BJH Advisors LLC. One of the partners of that firm is Kei Hayashi, who was formerly the executive director of the New York City IDA. The financial analysis needs to be completed before the IDA can schedule a public hearing on the project.  
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Wednesday, May 19, 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 four 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 eleven fewer county residents in mandatory quarantine today than yesterday, and one fewer is hospitalized with the virus. No one is in the ICU, and there has not been a death from COVID-19 in Columbia County since Tuesday, May 4. 

The New York Forward dashboard is reporting a positivity rate for Columbia County yesterday of 2.9 percent and a seven-day average of 1.7 percent. By comparison, the daily positivity rate for the Capital Region is 1.4 percent and the seven-day average is 1.2 percent.

A year ago today, the CCDOH reported nine new cases of COVID-19 and one death from the virus. The total number of cases was 354 and the number of active cases was 190. There were 153 county residents in mandatory quarantine, 19 were hospitalized, and 1 was in the ICU. The total number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 at this time last year was 28.

A Night at the Council: Part 2

At the informal Council meeting on Monday, May 10, Jeff Baker, counsel to the Council, offered this advice regarding the resolution to accept $100,000 from the Galvan Foundation to study the feasibility of moving City Hall to 400 State Street and the resolution to issue bonds for alterations to 520 Warren Street to achieve ADA compliance: "Get both introduced and then decide which to proceed with." Last night, Council president Tom DePietro told the Council, "We don't have to choose between the two resolutions." Peter Bujanow, commissioner for public works, elaborated, saying that improvements to 520 Warren Street "would enhance the value if the building should go for sale in the future." DePietro added, "Doing both projects will make the DOJ [Department of Justice] happy." The City of Hudson has a settlement agreement with the Department of Justice over its ADA compliance shortcomings.

The Council first voted on the bond resolution, which was unanimously approved. One of the most troubling things about the proposed improvements to 520 Warren Street are the alterations to the facade of the building. 


When the proposed alterations were presented to the Historic Preservation Commission in November 2020, it was explained that the marble steps of the building will be removed, and the doorway will be dropped down to street level. Once inside the door, visitors can either climb of set of stairs to the lobby of the building or use a lift, which will be located just to the right of the door. It's debatable if altering the facade of the building in this manner will enhance its value or not.


The vote on accepting the $100,000 from the Galvan Foundation for a feasibility study on relocating City Hall to 400 State Street was not unanimous, but the resolution was passed. Six Council members voted in favor (Tiffany Garriga, Eileen Halloran, Jane Trombley, Malachi Walker, Rebecca Wolff, and DePietro), and four voted against (Dominic Merante, Shershah Mizan, John Rosenthal, and Dewan Sarowar). In casting his vote, Rosenthal said, "No, no, and no!" Calvin Lewis, who is employed by the Galvan Foundation, recused himself from the vote.

An hour or so later, at the end of the meeting, Jane Trombley (First Ward) said she was having a crisis of conscience over her vote on this issue and wanted to change it. She had voted for the resolution, and she now wanted to vote against it. Trombley's vote would not have changed the outcome. Baker advised that for her to change her vote, the full Council would have to vote to rescind the original vote and redo it. 

Tiffany Garriga (Second Ward) groused, "People complain about gravel trucks, but we take a donation from Colarusso. I want to know why it's a problem to accept money from Galvan." She alleged that John Rosenthal (Fourth Ward) "is against everything Galvan."

DePietro expressed frustration, saying, "This is another vote that we're trying to turn back," and Rosenthal responded, "I think there's a lack of leadership here." Before Trombley's issue was resolved, Garriga made a motion to adjourn the meeting, and DePietro called for a roll call vote on adjournment. Eight members voted in favor of adjournment (Garriga, Halloran, Lewis, Sarowar, Walker, Wolff, and DePietro), and three voted against (Merante, Rosenthal, and Trombley). The meeting, which started at 7:00 p.m., was adjourned at 9:34 p.m.
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A Night at the Council: Part 1

Gossips has been observing the Common Council for many years now, and last night something happened that I don't think has ever happened before. At the end of a meeting that lasted for more than two and a half hours, a roll call vote was taken to decide whether or not to adjourn. Eight voted in favor of adjournment; three were opposed. 

Because it was such a full evening, Gossips will report on what happened one issue at a time, beginning with the license agreement for the docks at Henry Hudson Riverfront Park. 

We are well into May. The floating docks have not yet been installed in the park, and the question of who will use and manage the docks has not been resolved. At a special meeting on Monday, May 10, the Common Council voted six to five to authorize Mayor Kamal Johnson to enter into a licensing agreement with Hudson Cruises, which has been operating from the river-facing commercial dock for the past seventeen years. 

Last night, the Council voted six to five to rescind the resolution it had passed the previous week. Before voting not to rescind the resolution, Alderman Eileen Halloran (Fifth Ward) said, "This is very confusing, and it sets a bad precedent." In voting to rescind, Alderman John Rosenthal spoke of the "commercial monopoly of the dock."

Before the vote on rescinding the resolution was taken, the Council heard from Noor Rahaman and Sam Merrett, representing respectively Hudson Cruises and the Hudson Sloop Club, the two entities vying for the license to use and manage the docks. Rahaman told the Council that in the past Hudson Cruises had worked harmoniously with the Hudson Sloop Club. He said Merrett was a former employee of Hudson Cruises and noted that Merrett had used the dock this past weekend to load his boat, Apollonia, with barley for delivery to breweries in New York City. Rahaman cited the late issuance of the RPF, which didn't happen until March, as "the reason we are having this dispute." He invited Merrett to engage in a dialogue over dock access.

For his part, Merrett said the process "has been strange and dividing." He said the Sloop Club was "trying to expand community public programming on the commercial dock" and "create connections with other vessels on the river." Rahaman responded that in the past, the boats Merrett mentioned, among them the Clearwater, had never been turned away. He argued that the three boats Hudson Cruises docks in Hudson "are our revenue stream" and told the Council they had already lost $10,000 in cruises that had to be canceled because of the delay. 

After the Council voted to rescind the resolution, Council president Tom DePietro said, "Let's just hash this out at a special meeting." That special meeting has been scheduled for Monday, May 24, at 7:00 p.m. Later DePietro commented, "Maybe we'll resolve it offline before Monday."
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