Tuesday, May 11, 2021

COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health was released its numbers for today. Since yesterday, there have been seven new cases of COVID-19. There are ten fewer active cases being reported today than yesterday, from which it can be inferred that seventeen more county residents are now considered to be recovering from the virus. There are four more 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, strangely, of 0.0 percent and a seven-day average of 2.3 percent. By comparison, the daily positivity rate for the Capital Region is 2.4 percent and the seven-day average is 1.4 percent.

A year ago today, the CCDOH reported no new cases of COVID-19 but two deaths. The total number of cases was 326, and the number of active cases was 193. There were 180 county residents in mandatory quarantine, 4 were hospitalized, and 1 was in the ICU. The total number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 at this time last year was 22.

Dissent Over the Docks

Last night, the Common Council held a special meeting the sole purpose of which was to authorize Mayor Kamal Johnson to enter into a license agreement with Hudson Cruises for the use of the docks at Henry Hudson Riverfront Park. Council president Tom DePietro scheduled the meeting to take place just fifteen minutes before the informal meeting of the Council was to begin because, as he said a good twenty-five minutes into the meeting, he thought it would be a "pro forma meeting." It was no such thing.

In introducing the resolution, mayor's aide Michael Chameides said Hudson Cruises was offering a higher amount of funding for the City--$3,400--and would assist in installing and removing the seasonal docks. He also said they were offering a reduced cost for programming and free rides to the lighthouse during Waterfront Wednesdays. 

Alderman John Rosenthal (Fourth Ward) commented, "We've had problems with this operator before," mentioning that Hudson Cruises "caused trouble" and "used the dock as if it were their private dock." He then asked Chameides, "Why this [proposal] and not one submitted by the Sloop Club?"

In responding, Chameides cited the highest cash amount, the most programming, the option of providing lower cost programming, and a different set of programming and a variety of programming (Hudson Cruises has three different boats). By comparison, the Hudson Sloop Club offered $2,000 in cash and offered to function as an "events coordinator."

Alderman Dominic Merante (Fifth Ward) pointed out that last year Hudson Cruises had received a $1,200 grant from the Tourism Board to pay its docking fee to the City. Alderman Rebecca Wolff (First Ward) observed, "It sounds like the Sloop Club is offering more community programming." Alderman Malachi Walker (Fourth Ward) expressed the desire for a plan that incorporated both Hudson Cruises and the Sloop Club." Chameides responded, "Sounds like a good idea, but I wasn't able to make it work in the time allowed."

After the meeting had run almost twice as long as intended, Alderman Tiffany Garriga moved to go forward with the vote. There were five votes against approving the resolution (Garriga, Rosenthal, Jane Trombley, Wolff, DePietro) and six votes in favor (Eileen Halloran, Calvin Lewis, Merante, Dewan Sarowar, Malachi Walker, Shershah Mizan). The resolution was approved, but that was not the end of it.

Three hours later, at the end of the informal meeting, Wolff brought up the issue again, arguing that the Council didn't have adequate time, and the Council not the mayor's office should have made the decision about who would use the docks. She also said she wanted to revisit the concept of a shared dock. Peter Bujanow, commissioner of Public Works, explained that the selection had been made in a formal RFP (request for proposal) process, and "anything you do has to be in the context of the RPF." Collaboration, he said, was not in the RFP. Jeff Baker, counsel to the Council, noted that this was a license agreement not a lease agreement, so the Council did not have to be the body making the decision. 

Chameides advised, "If the Council wants to take longer and look at the two proposals, it will just be longer before the docks are in the water." 

DePietro asked a couple of times, "Who would change their vote?" Merante seemed to intimate he might when he complained about the "time crunch" and suggested, "Hudson Cruises can offer more money because they got Tourism Board money last year."

In the end, it was decided that Wolff would lead a study to reassess the proposals submitted.
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The Council's Choice

Two resolutions were introduced at the informal Common Council meeting last night. The first resolution would accept $100,000 from the Galvan Foundation for a feasibility study on relocating City Hall to 400 State Street. The second resolution would authorize the issuance of bonds not to exceed $475,000 for alterations to 520 Warren Street, the current City Hall, to achieve universal access. Both resolutions were motivated by the City's need to demonstrate progress in satisfying the terms of its settlement agreement with the Department of Justice.

It will be remembered that the Galvan Foundation has offered to give 400 State Street to the City for use as City Hall. Along with the gift of the building itself, Galvan offered $100,000 for the feasibility study and another $1.4 million toward the renovation of the building. The resolution now before the Council would accept the $100,000 for the feasibility study but would not obligate the City to pursue the project.


Regarding the second resolution, in October 2019, the architectural firm of Lacey Thaler Reilly Wilson presented four plans to make 520 Warren Street ADA compliant. The plan the City has chosen to pursue is Plan 3, the least expensive one, which Lacey Thaler Reilly Wilson estimated would cost $131,000. Sadly, the City is not considering pursuing the most expensive and most desirable of the four plans for 520 Warren Street--the one that would expose the building's glorious stained glass laylight. The estimated cost of that plan is less than what it would cost to renovate 400 State Street for use as City Hall.

   
In the discussion about the two resolutions, Alderman John Rosenthal (Fourth Ward) expressed the opinion that, given the need to move quickly, "the $475,000 bonding seems like a no-brainer." He said he had been told that the Galvan Foundation had received New Markets Tax Credits for 400 State Street, and the NMTC program mandates that they do renovations to the building before it is transferred to anyone. He opined that 400 State Street would be a "massive undertaking and incredibly expensive for the City to do." This picture, which Gossips took yesterday of the back of the building suggests how massive an undertaking it might be.

Rosenthal suggested that Galvan use the $100,000 to provide rent relief for people who are rent distressed or use it for Galvan Housing Resources "rather than wasting it on a study for us about a building that we won't be able to afford to move into."

Both resolutions were introduced. It will be decided which one the Council will proceed with at its meeting next Tuesday.
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Addendum: Since this post was published, Dan Kent, of the Galvan Foundation, contacted me to provide this information: "Your post today regarding 400 State Street contained a factually incorrect statement from John Rosenthal. Galvan has not received any financing from the New Market Tax Credit program, or any other development financing, for 400 State Street."

Monday, May 10, 2021

COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health has released its numbers for today. Since Saturday, there have been eight new cases of COVID-19. The number of active cases being reported today is fourteen fewer than on Saturday, from which it can be inferred that since Saturday, 22 more county residents are now considered to be recovering from the virus. There are fifteen fewer county residents in mandatory quarantine today, but there are three more hospitalized with the virus. None of those hospitalized is in the ICU. 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 2.7 percent and a seven-day average of 2.7 percent. By comparison, the daily positivity rate for the Capital Region is 2.0 percent and the seven-day average is 1.5 percent.

A year ago today, the CCDOH reported 6 new cases of COVID-19. The total number of cases was 326, and the number of active cases was 199. There were 182 county residents in mandatory quarantine, 6 were hospitalized, and 1 was in the ICU. The total number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 at this time last year was 20.

Meetings of Interest in the Week Ahead

As we learned last week, this week sees the commencement of work on the renovation of the entrance to Promenade Hill. 


Here's what else is happening this week in city government.
  • On Monday, May 10, the Tourism Board holds a special meeting at 5:00 p.m. At the board's last meeting, it was announced that Ivy Dane, the board's newest member, would be making a report on the board's financial situation--that is, how much money is left for them to dispense. Click here to join the Zoom meeting.
  • At 5:45 p.m. on Monday, May 10, the Common Council holds a special meeting to consider a resolution to authorize a contract for the docks at Henry Hudson Riverfront Park. The resolution is not yet available on the City of Hudson website, so the entity named in the contract is not as yet known. Click here to join the Zoom meeting.
  • Also on Monday, May 10, the Common Council holds its monthly informal meeting at 6:00 p.m. No agenda for the meeting has yet been published, but the link to the Zoom meeting has. Click here to access the meeting.
  • On Tuesday, May 11, Hudson Community Development and Planning Agency (HCDPA) meets at noon. No agenda for the meeting has been published. Click here to join the Zoom meeting. 
  • At 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, May 11, the Planning Board holds its regular monthly meeting. On the agenda is the continuation of the public hearings on Verizon's proposal to site communications antennas on 119 Columbia Street and the Galvan Foundation's proposal to construct two apartment buildings on North Seventh Street. There will also be a public hearing on the proposal to subdivide the property at 522 Union Street, separating the accessory building on Cherry Alley from the rest of the parcel. New on the agenda is a proposal from PBF Hudson LLC (PBF stands for Pocketbook Factory) for a "mixed-use redevelopment project including a 40-room hotel, retail, office, and gallery spaces." Click here to join the Zoom meeting.
  • On Wednesday, May 12, the Hudson Housing Authority Board of Commissioners meets at 6:00 p.m. An update on the board's progress in drafting an RFQ (request for qualifications) for new development HHA plans to undertake is expected at this meeting, as well as a report on the results from a tenants' survey about redevelopment conducted in collaboration with the Hudson/Catskill Housing Coalition. For the link to the meeting, go to the HHA website and scroll down to "HHA Board Meeting Times."
  • On Thursday, May 13, there are no meetings, and the weather forecast predicts the day will be "mostly sunny." Take advantage of the night off and the good weather, and dine out.
  • On Friday, May 14, the Historic Preservation Commission meets at 10:00 a.m. Before the HPC is the proposal from the Galvan Foundation to replace the windows at 400 State Street, a subject Gossips posted about most recently here. To join the Zoom meeting, click here.
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Sunday, May 9, 2021

Considering Historic House Museums

Next Monday, May 17, the Hendrick Hudson Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution presents a talk by Patricia West McKay, eminent historian, museum curator, and author, about house museums. What kinds of stories do they tell? What stories do they leave out?


Nineteenth-century museums were typically the creation of women. Those created in the early 20th century were more likely founded by male politicians, corporations, and museum professionals. All of these museum founders were establishing "monuments steeped in the issues of their times." McKay's book Domesticating History: The Political Origins of America's House Museums explored the role of gender and race in American house museums and became an "instant classic." McKay is well known for her groundbreaking work to bring to the fore the lives and labors of domestic servants in historic houses that are now house museums.

McKay is the recently retired curator/historian of the Martin Van Buren National Historic Site in Kinderhook. She is co-director of the University at Albany's Center for Applied Historical Research, which works to facilitate broad, democratic access to historical resources and knowledge.

The Zoom event takes place at 2:30 p.m. on Monday, March 17. For more information and to register for the event, click here.

Research Your Home from the Comfort of Home

In February, Gossips reported that the History Room at the Hudson Area Library was digitizing its collection of city directories. That process continues. In February, there were six directories available online. Now, there are nine. The even better news, which we share today, is that the directories are now not just browsable but searchable. The obvious benefit of that is you can find out who lived in your house in any given year in the past or find out what business was located in any building on Warren Street. 

To use the search function, go to the city directories, which can be found here. Select the directory. They are organized by decade. Use "Control" and "F" to open the search box, and then type in what you're looking for. 


If you are searching for addresses, remember that between 1888 and 1889 the addresses on all east-west streets changed to introduce 100 blocks. The best place to find out what a building's address was before 1888 is still the Water Tap Book, which records when every building was hooked up to the City water supply and notes its pre-1888 and post-1889 address. That invaluable resource, which was digitized several years ago and is available on the City of Hudson website, can be accessed here.
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Could Hudson Use a Writers' Room?

Charles and Alexander Karelis, both themselves writers, who in 2012 founded the writers' space in Washington, D.C., now known as DC Writers Room, are exploring opening a writers' space here in Hudson. They are currently seeking input from writers in Hudson and nearby communities to gauge the enthusiasm for "a comfortable, affordable, well-designed writers' space" right here. 

Alexander and Charles Karelis    Photo: The Rogovoy Report

To learn more about the amenities and benefits of what's being proposed and to share your thoughts, click here.

Splendor in the Streets

Yesterday saw the return to Hudson of the Mad Hatters' Parade. Lance Wheeler was there to capture the artful zaniness and graciously shared these images with Gossips. Wheeler's video of the event can be viewed here.





Saturday, May 8, 2021

COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health has released its numbers for today. Since yesterday, there have been fifteen new cases of COVID-19. The number of active cases reported today is fourteen more than yesterday, from which it can be inferred that only one more county resident is considered to be recovering from the virus. There are twenty more county residents in mandatory quarantine today than yesterday, and there is one 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 1.6 percent and a seven-day average of 2.2 percent. By comparison, the daily positivity rate for the Capital Region is 1.1 percent and the seven-day average is 1.3 percent.

A year ago today, the CCDOH reported no new cases of COVID-19 but there was one death from the virus. The total number of cases was 317, and the number of active cases was 195. There were 189 county residents in mandatory quarantine, 10 were hospitalized, and 3 were in the ICU. The total number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 at this time last year was 18.

More About the Almshouse Windows

One of the benefits of having a blog like The Gossips of Rivertown is that I have a bully pulpit, and I have no qualms about using it when the cause is one I'm passionate about. Preserving the historic integrity of 400 State Street, a building that has survived for more than two centuries seemingly against all odds, is such a cause.

The building was originally constructed in 1818 as the Hudson Almshouse. The term almshouse sounds charitable and kind, but Wikipedia has this to say about almshouses: "Throughout the 19th century almshouses were a last resort for those who were poor, disabled, and elderly. Residents experienced mistreatment, destitution, and inhumanity."

Except for a period of sixteen years, from 1865 to 1881, when the building was the home of George H. Power, one of the wealthiest men in Hudson in his time, the building always had an institutional use--an almshouse, a lunatic asylum, an academy for young women, an orphanage, a public library. The building, which is individually listed in the National Register of Historic Places, is now owned by the Galvan Foundation. Galvan seems to be a rather unwilling steward of the historic structure. In January, they offered to give the building to the City of Hudson for use as City Hall.

Last month, Walter Chatham, representing Galvan, appeared before the Historic Preservation Commission seeking a certificate of appropriateness to replace all the windows in the building with windows having a nine over nine configuration. In selecting that window figuration, Chatham rejected the evidence provided by an early engraving of the building, published in Rural Respository during the period that the building was the Hudson Lunatic Asylum (1830-1850). The engraving shows the window configuration to be twelve over twelve--twelve panes, or lights, in the upper sash, and twelve panes in the lower sash, arranged four across and three down, except for the windows on the third floor, which are shorter and each sash is four across and two down.

In presenting his case to the HPC, Chatham argued that windows as they appear in the engraving are not the original windows, theorizing that the original windows were replaced when the building became the lunatic asylum. He has also described the window configuration that appears in the engraving as "grim," "prisonlike," and "frighteningly institutional." Gossips has written two posts challenging Chatham's assumptions. Those posts can be found here and here. Since publishing the second post, I was reminded by a reader that the William Henry Ludlow House in Claverack, built in 1786, has twelve over twelve windows.

Photo: John S. Hirth|Wikipedia
Another reader sent me this photograph of a house currently for sale in Kinderhook. Not only does the original Colonial style clapboard house have twelve over twelve windows, but so does the 1995 fieldstone addition.

Photo: Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Blake, Realtors

So much for the argument that the twelve over twelve windows are "grim," "prisonlike," and "frighteningly institutional." 

Since my last post about the windows proposed for 400 State Street, I had a conversation by email with a very knowledgeable architectural historian who told me that nine over nine windows, the configuration being proposed, are "not typical at all for New York State." What is typical for New York are twelve over twelve or six over six. Nine over nine windows are typical in the south, in particular, in Charleston. (It will be remembered that one of Chatham's examples of nine over nine windows was a house in West Virginia.)

My architectural historian source acknowledged that, because of the Charleston-Hudson Steamship Line, some nine over nine windows, manufactured in the Charleston area, made their way to our area. One example is 7 Union Street, which has nine over nine windows and "major connections to Charleston."

Although it is not completely outside the realm of possibility that the original windows at 400 State Street might have been nine over nine, it seems very unlikely. The opinion of my architectural historian source is: "I buy the evidence of the engraving. They did not just make it up, the 12/12."
 
This morning, while driving from the dog park to the farmers' market, I saw something I must admit I had never noticed before. In the west gable of the central part of the building there is an attic window, very likely the only window in the building that has never been replaced in the two centuries the building has stood there. The configuration of the window, which is shorter than most of the windows in the building, is eight over eight--each sash is four panes across and two down, just like the third story windows seen in the engraving. 

The building is offering its own evidence that the original window configuration was twelve over twelve.
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Friday, May 7, 2021

Happening on Warren Street Tomorrow

The first of the concrete barriers purchased by the Tourism Board for Warren Street Seasonal Usage 2021 made their appearance today in front of the Park Theater, 723 Warren Street, which is celebrating its centennial and rebirth tomorrow, Saturday, May 8.

Tomorrow at 7:00 p.m., the Park Theater returns as an entertainment venue in Hudson, hosting its inaugural "Second Saturday Sessions" live music series. 


To learn more about tomorrow night's event, visit Trixie's List. To learn the amazing story of the Park Theater's rescue and restoration, go to VisitHudsonNY.com.

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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 being reported today is five 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 five fewer county residents in mandatory quarantine today than yesterday, and no county residents are hospitalized with the virus or in the ICU. There has not been a death from COVID-19 reported in Columbia County since Tuesday, May 4. 

The New York Forward dashboard is reporting a positivity rate for Columbia County yesterday of 2.3 percent and a seven-day average of 2.0 percent. By comparison, the daily positivity rate for the Capital Region is 1.5 percent and the seven-day average is 1.4 percent.

A year ago today, the CCDOH reported 12 new cases of COVID-19 and one death from the virus. The total number of cases was 317, and the number of active cases was 200. There were 177 county residents in mandatory quarantine, 8 were hospitalized, and 4 were in the ICU. The total number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 at this time last year was 17.

Plans for a Memorial Garden

Chief Ed Moore of the Hudson Police Department announced yesterday an initiative to create a memorial garden at the police and court building at Union and Seventh streets. His message, which appeared on Facebook, appears below, after the rendering of the proposed garden.
I have joined a group of retired police officers and local citizens who are interested in beautifying the police and court building. It is our intent to raise money through donations and construct a 40' x 40' memorial park in front of the building. The park will include an engraved marble slab, flagpole, several benches, landscaping (to include flowering trees, flowers, and ground cover) and stairs from Union Street. The park will be dedicated to all police officers and employees of the department who have served this city.
The beginning of our department traces back to the original nightwatch more than 200 years ago, long before the term "police" become popular. Unfortunately, the city has very few historical records, artifacts, or memorials that acknowledge this long history. It only seems right to create a tribute. At the same time, as our city restores many of its old buildings, we can also make our building more attractive and inviting.
To some, it may seem counterintuitive or provocative to acknowledge police officers while our nation explores ways to reform and improve law enforcement. I don't see it that way. This is the perfect time to honor public service, commemorate those who have served with bravery and integrity, and to reinforce those values to our current officers.
The park, with its marble monument stone, will serve as a constant visual reminder to our police officers that dedication to public service will be recognized and memorialized.
We will also have to decide on a proper engraving for our memorial. One quote to consider comes from Dr. George F. Chandler in his book The Policeman's Art. It reads:
"The police shall give the maximum protection with the minimum interference with the lawful rights of our citizens."
Or perhaps the one we all learned at the police academy, Sir Robert Peel's:
"The Police are the Public; the Public are the Police."
I think everyone can get on board with a timely reminder about the true nature and desired standard for police work: bravery, service, integrity.

To learn more about the initiative, visit the Facebook page dedicated to the Memorial Garden: facebook.com/HPDMemorialGarden/. To make an online contribution to the initiative, click here.

Pursuing Inclusionary Zoning

The Common Council ad hoc committee dedicated to crafting an inclusionary zoning law for Hudson met on Wednesday. The work of the committee is still in its early stages, but what is currently being contemplated is requiring any building of four units or more, which is new construction on a vacant lot or the redevelopment of a derelict building, to make 25 percent of its units affordable. What is meant by affordable has not yet been defined, nor has the inducement that would be offered to developers to meet this requirement. A 25 percent reduction in the assessed value of the building was suggested as a possibility. It was noted that the meeting that real property tax law allows an assessment to be altered based on income loss from apartments set aside for affordable units.

Jeff Baker, counsel to the Council, advised, "You need an understanding from the industry about what kind of set-aside they can live with and what kind of incentive they would need." Defining what he meant by "the industry" Baker explained, "These are not people who are developing affordable housing; these are people who are developing market rate housing." Alderman Rebecca Wolff (First Ward), who is one of the moving forces behind this legislative initiative, reported during the meeting on a conversation she had had with Bruce Levine, the developer who built Crosswinds, which is considered workforce housing. 

Now that Galvan has decided to rethink its proposal for 708 State Street to make it workforce housing instead of market rate, the only proposal for market rate housing Hudson has seen in the past thirty years is the very preliminary proposal made by the Galvan Foundation, in the partnership with Benchmark Development, to build a mixed used, market rate building at 11 Warren Street, the site of the failed 1970s strip mall.

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Work Begins at Promenade Hill

Mayor Kamal Johnson made the following announcement on Facebook today.
Construction begins next week on Promenade Hill Park
Extensive renovations include:
    1. Accessible plaza, seating areas, water fountain, play area, parking lot, and upper promenade
    2. Redesigned open plaza, with open and flexible lawn areas
    3. Amphitheater stone seating blocks
    4. Spray shower and play area improvements
    5. Added seating
    6. Shade trees and native understory plantings.
The park will be closed starting next week during construction.
This project is made possible by funds from the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, H. van Ameringen Foundation, and Colarusso Family.
For over 10 years, people have been advocating and planning for park improvements. Thank you to everyone who contributed. 

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Make Way for Pollinators

Last month, the Conservation Advisory Council provided counsel on the design for the new parking Columbia Memorial Health plans to create on the site of the former Eden Park Nursing Home, and the CAC's intervention resulted in some significant improvements. 



Last week, the CAC weighed in on the City's plans to build a solar farm on vacant land north of Charles Williams Park. At the April 28 meeting of the Common Council ad hoc committee pursuing the creation of the solar farm, David Konigsberg of the CAC spoke of the destruction of ecosystems and loss of habitat for pollinators caused by solar arrays and argued for creating a solar farm that was also pollinator friendly. He told the committee that combining a solar farm with a pollinator friendly habitat was no longer an experimental thing; it is increasingly seen as best practice in solar farm development. He said there were operational advantages: less maintenance, less mowing. He also suggested that creating a pollinator habitat could add value to the project with a beekeeping business. He argued it would be the right thing to do and it would be great PR for the Hudson.

Council president Tom DePietro, whose idea it was to site a solar farm on this parcel of City-owned land, told Konigsberg he would pass the information on to Peter Bujanow, commissioner of Public Works, who will be writing the RFP (request for proposal) for a solar developer to partner with the City on the project.
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COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health has released its numbers for today. Since yesterday, there have been thirteen 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 fifteen more county residents are now considered to be recovering from the virus. There are nineteen fewer county residents in mandatory quarantine today than yesterday, and none is hospitalized or in the ICU. There has not been a death from COVID-19 reported in Columbia County since Tuesday, May 4. 

The New York Forward dashboard is reporting a positivity rate for Columbia County yesterday of 1.8 percent and a seven-day average of 1.9 percent. By comparison, the daily positivity rate for the Capital Region of 0.8 percent and the seven-day average is 1.3 percent.

A year ago today, the CCDOH reported 45 new cases of COVID-19. The total number of cases was 305, and the number of active cases was 192. There were 189 county residents in mandatory quarantine, 11 were hospitalized, and 4 were in the ICU. The total number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 at this time last year was 16.

Preservation Training in Action

The Columbia County Historical Society (CCHS) has entered into a partnership with the new Preservation Carpentry Certification course at Columbia-Greene Community College (C-GCC) to complete a restoration project at the James Vanderpoel House in Kinderhook.

Photo: Columbia County Historical Society
Under the direction of Associate Professor John Lombardi of the Construction Technology Center, Preservation Carpentry coursework emphasizes historic restoration techniques and a range of construction methods, including stabilizing endangered buildings and preserving and recovering architectural details. For the project, students are learning about the methods and materials used to preserve sixteen wooden shutters from the Federal-era house.

“With access to the antique shutters from the James Vanderpoel 'House of History,' the preservation carpentry students have a rare opportunity to enhance their hands-on preservation training while directly helping CCHS maintain and care for an historic landmark structure,” said CCHS Executive Director Lori Yarotsky.

The shutter restoration is part of a multistage exterior weatherization project at the Vanderpoel House. The first phase, which focused on replacing the roof, was completed in the fall of 2019. Because of the pandemic, the start of phase two was delayed until late 2020. Currently underway, the repairs will reinforce the historic integrity of the building's windows and provide improved weatherproofing.

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health has released its numbers for today--on Facebook as well as on its own website. Since yesterday, there have been ten 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 since yesterday two more county residents are considered to be recovering from the virus. There is one more county resident in mandatory quarantine today than yesterday, but no one is hospitalized with the virus. There has not been another death from COVID-19 reported in Columbia County since yesterday.  

The New York Forward dashboard is reporting a positivity rate for Columbia County yesterday of 3.9 percent and a seven-day average of 1.5 percent. By comparison, the daily positivity rate for the Capital Region is 2.0 percent and the seven-day average is 1.5 percent.

A year ago today, the CCDOH reported 34 new cases of COVID-19. The majority of the new cases were residents and staff of The Grand at Barnwell. The total number of cases was 260, and the number of active cases was 153. There were 180 county residents in mandatory quarantine, 9 were hospitalized, and 3 were in the ICU. The total number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 at this time last year was 16.

Speaking Truth to Lawyers

The special meeting of the Planning Board last night went on for more than three hours, as the members of Planning Board reviewed and corrected Colarusso's responses to Part 1 for the Full Environmental Assessment Form (FEAF). But before that review began, Planning Board member Stephen Steim asked permission to speak about letters received from John Privitera, attorney for A. Colarusso and Sons. 

Steim said Privitera's tactic in his letters was to imply that the SEQR (State Environmental Quality Review) process being followed by the Planning Board was mismanaged. He alleged that Privitera "wants to create a false record" and "attempts to frame our review in a dishonest way." He made specific reference to a lengthy letter from Privitera sent to the board on February 8, 2021, which makes these arguments:
  1. Since the dock is an ongoing operation, the impact of which is known and fully mitigated by the Code requirements with which we comply, the scope of review of the Dock Application is limited to the impact of the Bulkhead Repair on the recreating public;
  2. the scope of the review of the Haul Road Application is limited to the impact of the proposed improvements;
  3. SEQRA review on the Dock Application should be limited to the impact of the Bulkhead Repair and the additional conditions imposed by the Planning Board pursuant to the City Code; and
  4. no further SEQRA review by the Planning Board on the Haul Road Application is required or permitted.
Steim also cited a letter from Ken Dow, former city attorney, received on February 18, in response to Privitera's letter. He read aloud a portion of the letter in which Dow calls Privitera's letter "ten pages of shockingly dishonest misrepresentations of matters that have been addressed over and over, and which are the subject of final and definitive Court rulings that are the exact opposite of what Mr. Privitera claims. These points have been definitively settled." Steim further quoted Dow's letter: 
a) As of 2011, commercial dock operations could continue as a nonconforming use; b) the right to operate as a non-conforming use terminated when they did the "triggering" act of working on the bulkhead; c) now that the right to operate as a nonconforming use has been terminated by the triggering act, they need to get a special use permit for the entire operation in order to continue to operate; d) the Court said that "SEQRA review for continued commercial dock operations is necessary." 
Steim's comments take up a little more than five minutes at the beginning of the meeting, which can be viewed in its entirety here.

A bit later in the meeting Privitera told the board, "We are here to conform to the order to remedy. We are not here for the entire revisitation of the entire dock operation." Victoria Polidoro, counsel to the Planning Board, corrected him saying, "The permit is for the continued use of the dock. It's the whole enchilada."
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We Love a Parade!

Hudson loves parades. As evidence, there are two happening in Hudson this Saturday, May 8.

In the early afternoon on Saturday, the Mad Hatters' Parade, which made its debut in 2019, returns to Hudson. 

Photo: Paul Abitabile|Hudson Area Library
The parade of local folk, marvelously masked and dressed in wearable art, steps off at 2 p.m. from in front of the Hudson Area Library at 51 North Fifth Street. From there the parade proceeds to Warren Street and then continues to Third Street, where it turns right and heads for Columbia Street. It proceeds west on Columbia Street to Front Street and follows Front Street all the way to Basilica Hudson, where it ends with a Grand Riverside Sashay.

There is still time to be part of the fun. Bring your "mad hats, puppets, and homemade instruments and assemblages in any form" to the library gates to line up by 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, or join the parade at any point along the way. For more information, go to www.madhattersparade.org

In the late afternoon, there is a parade of more serious intent: the John Lewis Voting Rights Motorcade.

A local motorcade supporting voting rights drives through Hudson on Saturday afternoon. As part of a national event, the John Lewis Voting Rights "Votercade" brings Columbia County residents together to bring attention to the  efforts to curb the right to vote and to call for passage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. The announcement for the event explains:
The Brennan Center for Justice reports that 361 bills and provisions to make it harder to vote, five of which have already become law, have been introduced in 47 states since the end of the 2020 election. . . . The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act is the first step in combating the sweeping voter suppression laws being proposed and passed across the country that disproportionally prevent minorities, the elderly and the youth from voting.
The votercade will assemble in the parking lot at 325 Columbia Street (Columbia County Department of Health) at 3:30 p.m. Participants are encouraged to decorate their cars, bring signs in support of voting rights and ending voter suppression. The votercade will kick off at 4:00 p.m., traveling west on Columbia Street to Front Street, then south on Front Street to Warren Street, and then up Warren Street to Seventh Street Park. For more information and to register to be part of the votercade, click here.

For more information about the National John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Action Day, visit johnlewisdayofaction.org. To learn more about voter suppression efforts, visit votingrightsalliance.org.

Where to Find Those COVID Numbers

Thanks to Columbia County Morning News, the question of reporting COVID numbers by the Columbia County Department of Health has been answered. The CCDOH is no longer posting its numbers on Facebook, but they are still being reported on weekdays on the CCDOH's own website. On Monday, May 3, the CCDOH reported sixteen new cases since the previous Friday; on Tuesday, May 4, eleven new cases were reported. Yesterday, the CCDOH also reported another death from COVID-19, bringing the total number of deaths in the county from the virus to 94. The total number of active cases reported yesterday was 48.

As Gossips noted yesterday, it isn't over until it's over.
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Tuesday, May 4, 2021

COVID-19 Update

Is the pandemic over? The Columbia County Department of Health appears to have stopped reporting the number of new cases of COVID-19, the number county residents in mandatory quarantine, hospitalized, or in the ICU, and the number of deaths from COVID-19. The New York State Department of Health COVID-19 Tracker, however, is reporting that on Saturday, May 1, there were 9 new cases of COVID-19, for a positivity rate of 4.8 percent; on Sunday, May 2, there were 4 new cases, for a positivity rate of 1 percent; and on Monday, May 3, there were 6 new cases, for a positivity rate of 1.8 percent. 

It isn't over until it's over.

Update: A press release just received from Matt Murell, chair of the Columbia County Board of Supervisors, shares this information:
As of midday Tuesday, the Columbia County Department of Health had recorded nine new positive cases of COVID-19. There were two new cases on Saturday, and 14 cases combined between Sunday and Monday. County DOH Director Jack Mabb said the infection rate in the county remains “very constant.” 
One death attributed to COVID-19 on Monday brings to 94 the number of virus deaths in the county since the pandemic’s beginning. There are currently no county residents hospitalized as a result of the virus.

News from the IDA Meeting

At today's meeting of the Hudson IDA (Industrial Development Agency), Dan Kent, vice president of initiatives for the Galvan Foundation, announced a change to the building proposed for 708 State Street. Originally described market rate apartments, the building is now being called "workforce housing," affordable to households with moderate and middle incomes. The changes, Kent explained, were made as a result of conversations with Tiffany Garriga and Rebecca Wolff, majority leader and minority leader respectively of the Common Council, both members of the IDA.

Kent told the IDA that 20 percent of the apartments at 708 State Street would now be affordable to households earning 80 percent of AMI (area median income) and rents would be capped at 130 percent of AMI for the rest of the apartments. He also outlined the beginning rents for the building: 
Moderate Income (20 percent of AMI)
    • One bedroom  $1,120
    • Two bedroom  $1,360
    • Three bedroom  $1,560
Middle Income (not more than 130 percent of AMI)
    • One bedroom  $1,350
    • Two bedroom  $1,525
    • Three bedroom  $1,725
Kent also assured the IDA that when leasing the apartments preference would be given to people for whom the apartment would be their sole residence not a pied-à-terre in Hudson. Leasing support, he indicated later in the meeting, would be provided by Galvan Asset Management.
  
When asked about the rents in the the building across the street--75 North Seventh Street--which has always been described as affordable housing, Dan Hubbell, attorney for Galvan, shared the following chart:






Kent told the IDA that the NYS Homes and Community Renewal funding application was expected to be released sometime this month, with a six to eight week deadline for submitting applications, and a PILOT agreement was needed to meet the threshold requirements. The next opportunity to apply for HCR funding would be in January 2022. It is not clear if, with the changes to the plan for 708 State Street, the financing for that building, as well as 75 North Seventh Street, would involve HCR funding.

Mike Tucker reported that a financial consultant who is the former executive director of the New York City IDA will be engaged to review the projects. Chris Chale, legal counsel to the IDA, suggested that a public hearing take place sometime in June. The IDA agreed to have a special meeting on Tuesday, May 18, at which time Galvan is expected to present its application with all the modifications that have been made since the application was initially submitted, and a public hearing on the project will be scheduled.
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