Thursday, September 30, 2021

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 eight fewer than yesterday, from which it can be inferred that, since yesterday, 21 county residents have recovered from the virus. There are 24 fewer county residents in mandatory quarantine today than yesterday, but the number hospitalized remains the same. None of those hospitalized is in the ICU. There has not been a death from COVID-19 in Columbia County since Monday, September 27.

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

A year ago today, the CCDOH reported 1 new case of COVID-19. The total number of cases was 565, and the number of active cases was 10. There were 21 county residents in mandatory quarantine, 1 was hospitalized, and none was in the ICU. The number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 at this time last year was 37.

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

COVID-19 and Our Schools

The Times Union reported this afternoon that the state COVID-19 Report Card is now live. It can be found by clicking here

Of course, I decided to check out the Hudson City School District. The numbers for HCSD are pretty encouraging. According to the information provided on the COVID-19 Report Card, since September 13, 4 students and 1 teacher have tested positive at Montgomery C. Smith Elementary School, 2 students and no teachers have tested positive at Hudson Junior High School, and 1 student and no teachers have tested positive at Hudson High School.




Also of interest in the data provided at COVID-19 Report Card, since this information is hard to find anywhere else, is the number of students enrolled in each of the three HCSD schools: 714 at Montgomery C. Smith; 381 at Hudson Junior High; 462 at Hudson High. That's a total of 1,557 students. The school budget for 2021-2022 is more than $52 million--$52,224,404 to be exact. You can do the math.  
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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 seven fewer than yesterday, from which it can be inferred that, since yesterday, fifteen county residents have recovered from the virus. There are 47 more county residents in mandatory quarantine today than there were yesterday, and one more county resident is hospitalized. None of those hospitalized is in the ICU, and there has not been a death from COVID-19 in Columbia County since Monday.  

The New York Forward dashboard is reporting a positivity rate in Columbia County yesterday of 6.6 percent and a seven-day average of 4.0 percent. By comparison, the daily positivity rate for the Capital Region was 3.8 percent and the seven-day average was 3.7 percent.

A year ago today, the CCDOH reported no new cases of COVID-19. The total number of cases was 564, and the number of active cases was 10. There were 24 county residents in mandatory quarantine, 1 was hospitalized and in the ICU. The total number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 at this time last year was 37.

HDC Reimagining Itself

There has still not been a closing on the sale of the Montgomery Street parcel, the former Kaz site. At yesterday's meeting of the board of Hudson Development Corporation (HDC), it was reported that the contract of sale was now in the hands of the buyer, and "the buyer's investors wanted to see additional paperwork." That announcement sent the board into executive session to discuss the matter.

Before that happened, Bob Rasner, HDC president, addressed the board, noting that it was the board's first fall meeting, "which tells me that change is in the air." The change he alluded to specifically was the change HDC is about to undergo, "from real estate sales agency to community activist organization." He asserted, "Developing efficient ways to introduce and implement change can ease the stresses we all feel when change is introduced." He then outlined nine principles for effectively implementing change.
  1. Plan Carefully  Elaborating, Rasner spoke of the need "to document the tasks needed to get to where we want to be and craft an implementation timeline.
  2. Be as Transparent as Possible  Rasner stressed the need to share information with the community "even if we can't give them all of the details." 
  3. Tell the Truth  Rasner warned that "presenting things in an overly optimistic way and promising unrealistic outcomes will create suspicions."
  4. Communicate  Rasner related this principle to communication among members of the board as well as between the board and the community.
  5. Create a Roadmap  Elaborating on this, Rasner spoke of understanding "where the organization is, where it's been, and where it's going."
  6. Don't Expect to Implement Change Overnight  Rasner advocated for a "strategic rollout . . . rather than a hasty shift in direction."
  7. Monitor and Measure  Rasner spoke of the need to "watch for potential problems and address any issues in a timely manner."
  8. Demonstrate Strong Leadership  Rasner advised that strong leadership "will help all of us weather the challenges of change with confidence and clear-sightedness."
  9. Change Will Happen Anyway  Rasner advised, "It's better to embrace the course of change and make it your own along the way."
It was then announced that Martha Lane, who is the Business Development Director at CEDC (Columbia Economic Development Corporation), will be the new chair of HDC's Nominating Committee. Rasner hinted at the goal of recruiting new board members when he recalled this comment made by a member of the community at an HDC meeting, "I can't deal with you. You're just a bunch of old white men." 

There was some discussion of how the board would proceed in developing its strategic plan. Rasner asked rhetorically, "Does this group have the skills and energy to go through this process unguided?" Board member John Friedman suggested that the board identify their goals on their own and engage a consultant to help them structure a plan to implement the goals.
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More Meetings Tomorrow

Two Common Council ad hoc committees meet tomorrow, September 30: the committee dealing with City-owned properties and the committee pursuing a solar farm to bring revenue to the City. The links to the Zoom meetings have now been published. 
  • To join the properties committee meeting at 5:30 p.m., click here
  • To join the solar farm committee meeting at 6:15 p.m., click here.
Also tomorrow, Thursday, September 30, the Board of Estimate and Apportionment (BEA) begins its series of budget workshops leading to drafting the 2022 city budget. The BEA is made up of the mayor, the Council president, and the city treasurer. As in the past, the workshops will be open to the public. 
  • At 2:30 p.m., the BEA will be considering the Police Department budget. Click here to join that Zoom meeting. 
  • At 3:30 p.m., they will be considering the Youth Department budget. Click here to join that Zoom meeting.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

The Blessing of the Animals

This Saturday, October 2, Christ Church Episcopal commemorates the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi with its annual Blessing of the Animals.


The blessing will take place at 10:00 a.m., rain or shine, outdoors at 431 Union Street. "All furry, feathery, and creepy crawly animal friends" are welcome, but they should be on a leash or in a carrier or crate. For pets who don't do well outside or in crowds, you can bring a photograph of your pet to receive a blessing.

COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health has released its numbers for today. Since yesterday, there have been 22 new cases of COVID-19. The number of active cases being reported today is three more than yesterday, from which it can be inferred that, since yesterday, nineteen county residents have recovered from the virus. There are 33 more county residents in mandatory quarantine today than yesterday, but the number hospitalized with the virus and in the ICU remains the same. There has not been a death from COVID-19 in Columbia County since yesterday.   

The New York Forward dashboard is reporting a positivity rate from Sunday to Monday in Columbia County of 4.4 percent and a seven-day average of 4.8 percent. By comparison, the daily positivity rate for the same period for the Capital Region was 4.2 percent and the seven-day average was 3.7 percent.

A year ago today, the CCDOH reported 1 new case of COVID-19. The total number of cases was 563, and the number of active cases was 9. There were 26 county residents in mandatory quarantine, 1 was hospitalized with the virus, and none was in the ICU. The total number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 at this time last year was 37.

Arbor Day in Hudson

If you Google "Arbor Day," you will find it is typically observed on the last Friday in April. Here in Hudson, however, Saturday, October 16, has been declared Arbor Day in 2021. On that day, the Hudson Conservation Advisory Council (CAC) is partnering with the not-for-profit Hudson Parks Conservancy to celebrate Arbor Day by planting five street trees in Hudson--one in each of the fives wards. 

In order to purchase the trees--trees of some maturity, which will have a better chance of survival--and other materials needed for the project, the Hudson Parks Conservancy is contributing $1,000, and the CAC has launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise the remainder. The GoFundMe page can be found here. The Hudson Development Corporation is serving as the fiscal sponsor for the project, so all contributions are tax deductible. 

If you would like to contribute but prefer not to do so online, checks can be sent to Hudson Development Corporation, 1 North Front Street, Hudson, NY 12534. Make the check out to HDC and write "Arbor Day" in the memo field.

Are You Registered to Vote?

Today, September 28, is National Voter Registration Day. If you are not sure if you are registered or where you are registered, you can check your status here: voterlookup.elections.ny.gov

If you are not registered, you can download a registration form here. In order to vote on November 2, the completed registration form must be submitted to the Board of Elections, 401 State Street, Hudson, by October 8. If you are mailing in the form, it must be postmarked by October 8 and received at the Board of Elections no later than October 13.

Today is also National Drink Beer Day. So, if you are already registered, you can head over to your favorite brewery or pub and celebrate your status.

The Planning Board Needs a Clerk

In July, Gossips reported that Rebecca Borrer, who was then serving as secretary to the Planning Board, had delivered an ultimatum: she would quit unless she was paid at least $20 an hour. In addition to the regular duties of the clerks serving Common Council committees and regulatory boards--keeping the minutes and posting notices and documents--Borrer had accepted the responsibility of handling escrow payments for the Planning Board, and for that reason, she argued that she should be paid more and have the title of "administrative assistant." Discussing the situation at its meeting on June 22, the Planning Board opined that Borrer should be paid $30 an hour. Planning Board member Laura Margolis commented, "We all work for free, so the least we can do is have a fairly paid employee."

It seems things didn't work out as Borrer and the Planning Board had hoped. For both its meetings in September, the Planning Board without a secretary, and the responsibility of handling escrow payments has been taken over by Planning Board member Theresa Joyner. Yesterday, the following notice appeared on the City of Hudson website: "City Seeks Planning Board Clerk." The responsibilities of the job are defined as follows:
  • Attend standing monthly Planning Board meetings (typically the second Tuesday of the month at 6 p.m.) and any scheduled special meetings.
  • Take minutes at each meeting, circulate draft minutes to the Board chair for review, and post final minutes on the City of Hudson website.
  • Post Planning Board documents and applications on the City of Hudson website in a timely fashion.
  • Post notices for public hearings in The Register Star at least two weeks prior to meetings.
  • Filing resolutions, minutes and other documents with the City Clerk.
Compensation for the job is $15 an hour. 

Anyone interested in the position can apply by filling in an online form found here or by sending a letter of interest, along with a current resume, by email to mayoralaide@cityofhudson.org or by regular mail to Michael Hofmann, City Hall, 520 Warren Street, Hudson, NY 12534.
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Monday, September 27, 2021

There's a Small Hotel . . .

A movie I recall fondly is Bedazzled, the original 1967 film with Peter Cook and Dudley Moore. (I've never seen the 2000 remake.) In the film, the protagonist, Stanley Moon (Dudley Moore), sells his soul to the Devil (Peter Cook) in exchange for seven wishes. With each and every wish, Stanley is foiled by the Devil, who gives him exactly what he wished for but not what he wanted. Observing city government, I am often reminded of this movie.

In a recent article in the Times Union, Roger Hannigan Gilson points out a couple of things that could make the "good cause" eviction law less than what those pressing for its passage had hoped for: "Tenants could be evicted if the property is being sold with the condition that property will be delivered to the new owner tenant-free. Landlords could also evict all tenants in properties with up to five units if they wanted to live in the buildings themselves." Those two situations have eliminated countless rental units in Hudson in the past and could continue to do so in the future.

An application now before the Planning Board makes one wonder about the efficacy of the short-term rental law enacted last year. The early house at 26 Warren Street, once the home of artist Edward Avedisian, has for several years now been operated as a legal bed and breakfast--five guest rooms in a house occupied by its owner. 

Last April, the house was sold, and the current owner--Inns of Hudson LLC--continues to operate it as a B&B. But now the owner wants to convert the house into a ten-room hotel. The hotel would be a "self check-in and check-out operation," overseen only by the manager of some other unnamed lodging establishment in the city. That manager, wherever s/he may be,  will "be able to see what is happening in the public spaces" at 26 Warren Street. The Planning Board was told at its meeting this past Thursday that "Planning Board approval is needed for the change of use only."

The public hearing on the application began on Thursday and will be continued in October. The only person to speak during the public hearing on Thursday was Phil Forman, who lives in the house next door. In his comments, he defined a micro concern--"being a neighbor to an untended hotel"--and a macro concern--"that we run the risk of being a city of strangers." Those same concerns were expressed both by aldermen and by members of the public during the year-long process of drafting the legislation regulating the development of short-term rentals in Hudson. One wonders why the legislation we now have is powerless to halt what is being proposed for 26 Warren Street.
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COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health has released its numbers for today. Three days after the county exceeded 100 deaths from COVID-19, there has been another death from the virus. Since Saturday, there have been 21 new cases of COVID-19. The number of active cases being reported today is 23 fewer than on Saturday, from which it can be inferred that, since Saturday, 43 county residents have recovered from the virus. There are 108 fewer county residents in mandatory quarantine today than on Saturday, and there are three fewer hospitalized with the virus. None of those hospitalized is in the ICU.

The New York Forward dashboard is reporting a positivity rate from Saturday to Sunday in Columbia County of 3.7 percent and a seven-day average of 4.8 percent. By comparison, the daily positivity rate for the same period for the Capital Region was 3.4 percent and the seven-day average was 3.7 percent.

A year ago today, the CCDOH reported no new cases of COVID-19. The total number of cases was 562, and the number of active cases was 10. There were 34 county residents in mandatory quarantine, 1 was hospitalized with the virus, and none was in the ICU. The total number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 at this time last year was 37.

Meetings of Interest in the Week Ahead

In the last days of September, there is not much happening meetingwise.
  • On Tuesday, September 28, the board of Hudson Development Corporation meets at noon. Agenda items of interest include "Disposition of Montgomery Street Property" and "Strategic Plan for the Future of HDC." The meeting will take place on Zoom. Click here to join the meeting.
  • On Thursday, September 30, two Common Council ad hoc committees hold their meetings: Properties at 5:30 p.m. and Solar Farm at 6:15 p.m. Both meetings will take place on Zoom, but the links to the meetings have not yet been published.

Sunday, September 26, 2021

COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health released its daily numbers at 6:00 p.m. on yesterday. Since Friday, there had been fourteen new cases of COVID-19. The total number of cases in Columbia County since the beginning of the pandemic now exceeds 5,000 by eleven. The number of active cases reported yesterday was six more than on Friday, from which it can be inferred that, between Friday and Saturday, eight county residents have recovered from the virus. There were 58 fewer county residents in mandatory quarantine on Saturday than on Friday, but the number hospitalized with the virus and in the ICU remained the same. There has not been a death from COVID-19 reported in Columbia County since Friday, September 24.

The New York Forward dashboard is reporting a positivity rate from Friday to Saturday in Columbia County of 6.0 percent and a seven-day average of 5.2 percent. By comparison, the daily positivity rate for the same period for the Capital region was 3.4 percent and the seven-day average was 3.7 percent.

A year ago today, the CCDOH reported 1 new case of COVID-19. The total number of cases was 562, and the number of active cases was 10. There were 34 county residents in mandatory quarantine, 1 was hospitalized with the virus, and none was in the ICU. The total number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 at this time last year was 37.

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Colarusso and the Planning Board

On August 18, the Times Union published an article by Roger Hannigan Gilson
 about the Hudson Planning Board's ongoing review of Colarusso's applications for conditional use permits to continue its operations on Hudson's waterfront. The lede to that article declared: "A seven-year battle over the future of Hudson's waterfront is coming to a head." Coming to a head it may be, but, in the words of Yogi Berra, "It ain't over 'til it's over."

On Thursday, the Planning Board held a special meeting, the original purpose of which was to continue its review of the Colarusso applications. At its previous meeting on the Colarusso issue, the Planning Board finished working its way through Part 2 of the Full Environmental Assessment Form, and some believed that, at Thursday's meeting, the board might make a positive or negative declaration in the SEQRA (State Environmental Quality Review Act) process. That didn't happen. Instead on Thursday, the board went into attorney/client session "for the advice of counsel," that counsel being assistant city attorney Victoria Polidoro. Interestingly, former Planning Board chair Betsy Gramkow was part of the Zoom meeting and presumably was part of the attorney/client session as well. When the public was readmitted to the meeting an hour and nine minutes later, Planning Board chair Stephen Steim announced that the Planning Board was not ready to take further action. Soon after he made that statement, the meeting was adjourned. 

The Planning Board is expected to take up the Colarusso issue again at its next scheduled meeting, which, according to the city calendar, will take place on Thursday, October 14.
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More About Staff Shortages

Governor Kathy Hochul's plans to address staffing issues in the state's hospitals was reported today in the Times Union, "Hochul may seek out-of-state, military pros to ease health care staff shortage,"  and on WAMC, "Hochul Announces Plan to Address Anticipated Shortage of Healthcare Workers." We know that Columbia Memorial Hospital is already short staffed. According to the subhead on the Times Union article, "Thousand of medical workers face termination Monday if they are not vaccinated." (I think the subject of that sentence is meant to be plural.)

Of related interest, Gossips has learned that the CVS Pharmacy on Warren Street will be closed until Monday because of a staffing shortage. Presumably the CVS on Fairview Avenue is open, but yesterday the drive-thru pharmacy window there was closed. A sign on the window indicated it was because a staffing shortage.

Friday, September 24, 2021

More About the Situation at CMH

News 10, our local ABC affiliate, did a feature today titled "Vaccine mandates could compound staff shortage at local hospitals." The title uses the word hospitals plural, but the report is mostly about one hospital--our hospital, Columbia Memorial. Here's a disturbing statistic revealed in the piece: "83 percent of hospital workers in Columbia County have completed their vaccine series. That's a number much lower compared to nearby counties." 

COVID-19 Update

On Monday, Columbia County reached a grim milestone: 100 deaths from COVID-19. Today, the Columbia County Department of Health is reporting another death, bringing the total to 101. The county is about to reach another staggering milestone. With today's 25 new cases, we are just three cases away from 5,000 cases of COVID-19 since the first case was reported on March 20, 2020. That's more than 8 percent of the population. 

The number of active cases being reported today is three more than yesterday, from which it can be inferred that, since yesterday, 21 county residents have recovered from the virus. There are 54 more county residents in mandatory quarantine today than yesterday. The number hospitalized is two fewer than yesterday, and the number in the ICU is one fewer.   

The New York Forward dashboard has not updated its numbers since Wednesday.

A year ago today, the CCDOH reported 1 new case of COVID-19. The total number of cases was 556, and the number of active cases was 5. There were 21 county residents in mandatory quarantine, 1 was hospitalized, and none was in the ICU. The total number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 at this time last year was 37.

The Streets of Hudson

It is quite remarkable that significant changes are to be made to the streetscape of Hudson--changes that for now are limited to the area of the city below Second Street but are intended to be replicated throughout the city--and so few people seem interested in the process or the outcome. 

On Wednesday night, Arterial held a public workshop on the plans for the Hudson Connects project. In spite of the fact that the highly infectious Delta variant has driven all city meetings back to Zoom, this workshop was held in person. That might have discouraged attendance, but the workshop took place in the auditorium at Hudson Hall, which has a state-of-the-art HVAC system equipped with MERV 13 filters and plenty of room for social distancing. When I arrived, five minutes late, there were just five people present, in addition to the presenter, David Lustberg of Arterial: Mayor Kamal Johnson, former mayor's aide Michael Chameides, Hilary Hillman from the Conservation Advisory Council, First Ward alderman Rebecca Wolff, and Sue Bellinger. After I had arrived, four more people drifted in, one of whom was current mayor's aide Michael Hofmann, who had been checking people in at the door.

In the presentation, there was some evidence that input from the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) and the Conservation Advisory Council (CAC) has had some impact. Historic images of Hudson streets were sprinkled throughout the slide presentation, and there were many pictures of streets and sidewalks in historic districts in New York City and elsewhere. The image immediately below, which was part of a presentation made to the HPC by Britt Zuckerman of the CAC, was also part of Lustberg's presentation and apparently helped define the materials palette being proposed (shown in the second image): granite curbs, stone pavers, granite setts, and concrete tinted "landmarks gray."

In her presentation, Zuckerman had made the point that crosswalks could be signaled with changes in material. Nevertheless, one of the most objectionable features of the proposed Arterial design, the "continental crosswalks," persists. Below are the revised designs for some of the intersections in the district, showing the calmer, darker materials palette, in stark contrast to the white striping of the continental crosswalks.

Second and State
Warren and Second
Warren and First
The only intersection to be spared the aggressive striping is Warren and Front streets, where Arterial is still proposing a "tabled intersection," where the height of the street rises to the height of the sidewalk.

Warren and Front
Bellinger raised an interesting point about the tabled intersection when she suggested it might confuse drivers unfamiliar with Hudson. She observed, "It looks like all of a sudden you're on a plaza." That raises another concern in the city that seems to prove the truth of Murphy's Law every day. Might not that same confused driver continue on from the raised intersection into the actual plaza that is the entrance to Promenade Hill? 

It is still possible that the requirements of snowplowing may spare us the tabled intersection at the end of Warren Street. Snowplowing also figures into the plans for the bumpouts proposed for the corners. Lustberg explained that the Department of Public Works will be taking the snowplow out soon, even though there is no snow on the ground, to demonstrate the line they can plow--an exercise to help determine the size and shape of the bumpouts.

Disappointingly, Arterial's suggestion for a furniture palette has not changed. They are still proposing the same "modern" wood and metal benches they proposed back in December 2020, a design that seems more suitable for a suburban shopping mall than for the streets of a historic city. 


Arterial has repeatedly indicated that they are working with Starr Whitehouse, the landscape architects who designed the re-imagined entrance to Promenade Hill, and are using what is being done there to inform their plans. For example, the plan for Promenade Hill involves some stone seating, so Arterial is proposing boulders as a landscape element to mark where the tabled intersection ends and the sidewalk and the actual plaza begin. When last we heard, Starr Whitehouse was using Central Park style benches for the entrance to Promenade Hill. One wonders why that design cannot also be the design for street furniture.


Although the Hudson Connects project involves only the area of the city west of Second Street, the palette of materials established in this district is expected to be carried out eventually throughout the city. It will be disappointing to many who live in historic districts and cherish their bluestone sidewalks that, instead of concrete tinted "landmarks gray," Arterial is recommending this lighter gray concrete, which is seen around town in recently replaced sidewalks, for use on residential streets. The first example below, which is the stretch of sidewalk Lustberg cited in his presentation, is on South Second Street, along the side of 201 Union Street. The second is in the middle of the 200 block of Union Street.


The Historic Preservation Commission will get a chance to weigh in on both the materials palette and the furniture palette. Arterial is expected to make another presentation to the HPC in October. Arterial anticipates presenting their final plans to the Common Council in December. The goal is for construction to begin in Spring 2022. Interestingly, the website meant to keep people informed about the project, HudsonConnects.com, is still only a landing page, with the promise, "Full Website Coming Soon!"
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Thursday, September 23, 2021

New Life for a Neglected Building

For close to thirty years, this house--actually two houses--on Allen Street, covered with vinyl siding and studded with satellite dishes, was part of Phil Gellert's "Northern Empire." 

In early May 2020, there was a fire in the building. 



Photo: Julie Metz
The fire left the building's six apartments uninhabitable, and the building was put up for sale. 

In January 2021, the new owners presented their plans for the restoration of the building to the Historic Preservation Commission, providing two possible color schemes for paint even though the HPC does not opine on paint colors.


They also did their research about the two houses. Today, while walking Joey, I noticed these signs.


The houses, constructed in 1850, are now listed in the NYS & National Registers of Historic Places, and their restoration is being supported by state and federal historic rehabilitation tax credits.
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COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health has released its numbers for today. Since yesterday, there have been thirty new cases of COVID-19. The number of active cases being reported today is thirteen more than yesterday, from which it can be inferred that, since yesterday, seventeen county residents have recovered from the virus. There are sixteen more county residents in mandatory quarantine today than yesterday, and one more is hospitalized with the virus. The number of those hospitalized who are in the ICU remains the same. There has not been a death from COVID-19 reported in Columbia County since Monday, September 20.

The New York Forward dashboard is reporting a positivity rate for Columbia County on Wednesday, when there were fourteen new cases, of 1.4 percent and a seven-day average of 4.6 percent. By comparison, the daily positivity rate on Wednesday for the Capital Region was 2.8 percent and the seven-day average was 3.8 percent.

A year ago today, the CCDOH reported 1 new case of COVID-19. The total number of cases was 555, and the number of active cases was 4. There were 22 county residents in mandatory quarantine, 1 was hospitalized with the virus, and none was in the ICU. The total number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 at this time last year was 37.

The Solar Initiative and the CAC

On Tuesday, the Common Council voted unanimously to issue the request for expressions of interest (RFEI) in developing a solar farm on City-owned land located along North Second Street. Although Council president Tom DePietro announced he was accepting public comment on the document for a few days prior to the vote, there is no indication that any changes were made to the document as a result. It will be remembered that the document includes a 21-page report done by the EPA in June 2017 which identifies the capped landfill as being, in the words of Peter Bujanow, Commissioner of Public Works, "ripe for development," even though the capped landfill is not actually the area being offered for development.

After the vote, Alderman Ryan Wallace (Third Ward) thanked the Conservation Advisory Council (CAC) for "all their input." DePietro thanked Bujanow for his work in the writing the RFEI. He then said of the RFEI, "It does not set out firm dimensions of the project," and offered assurances that the CAC and the Columbia Land Conservancy, which developed a master concept plan for the North Bay Recreation and Natural Area in 2014, would "be involved when the developers respond."

On the day the Council voted to release the RFEI, the CAC sent a statement to members of the Common Council expressing their position on a draft RFEI. That statement reads in part:
While we support deployment of solar energy in our urban environment, we hope the process will be thoughtful and the use of open land limited. As a general rule, we believe that built environment, hardscape, parking lots and rooftops across the city are far more appropriate for this purpose than a rare and irreplaceable stretch of public land—particularly one with as much conservation and future recreational value as this one.
We recommend that the capped landfill and surrounding grassland be excluded from any industrialization, including solar arrays, and that, as planned in prior deliberation, these areas continue to heal and gradually be developed as open recreational space in a city that has very little.
At the same time, we propose that the CAC, working with the Common Council, undertake a comprehensive survey of renewables opportunities across the city. The issues presented here—renewable energy and open space—are both important and, in a dense urban area, should not be antithetical. Our strong belief is that in the decades ahead, the city will need both.
The statement included a map on which the parcels the CAC considered suitable locations for solar arrays were marked in fuchsia.

Those parcels are located (1) along the west side of North Second Street, starting about 200 feet beyond the driveway leading to the Hudson Dog Park; (2) on the plateau north of Charles Williams Park; (3) in an area to the east of the building where Harney & Sons is located.
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Update: The final RFEI that was released on Wednesday can now be viewed on the City of Hudson website. The 21-page EPA report on the viability of the capped landfill as a site for a solar array is no longer part of the document. Click here to view the final document.

The Situation at CMH

At the Common Council meeting on Tuesday, Alderman Dominic Merante (Fifth Ward) brought up a problem occurring at Columbia Memorial Hospital: ambulances coming to the hospital having to wait to discharge their patients or being sent to other hospitals. He attributed this to a shortage of staff and urged, "The City needs to figure out how to support CMH." For reasons not entirely clear, Alderman Tiffany Garriga (Second Ward) mentioned the Clean Slate Initiative. Alderman Malachi Walker suggested that the vaccine "mandation" was the reason people were leaving. Merante expressed the opinion that the situation might require bringing in the National Guard Medical Unit.

Yesterday, the Register-Star ran an article about the situation at the hospital: "CMH diverts ER patients." The article quotes a statement from CMH Chief Medical Officer Dr. Clifford Belden:
"Numerous factors impacting the entire nation are creating unprecedented challenges for health care providers. . . . Top among these factors are the continued resurgence of COVID-19 cases and a critical shortage of clinical staff. Unfortunately, our region is not immune from these challenges."
Many hospitals, including CMH, are seeing a record number of patients with flu or COVID-like symptoms, Belden said.
"While at the same time, pre-existing shortages of clinical staff, combination with normal attrition and government actions such as the vaccine mandate, have triggered an increase in hospital staff resignations across the nation, and here at home," Belden said.
On Tuesday night, Mayor Kamal Johnson asked the following question on the CMH Discussion Board Facebook page: "Anything I can do to help support with everything going on?" His question prompted many comments describing understaffing, an overburdened workforce, lack of retention incentives, and burnout. In a comment of his own, Johnson clarified, "The council tonight mentioned possibly reaching out to the Governor for support which I don't mind doing. I just need some details of what's needed. I know the mandate is causing issues across the nation." 

Update: Mayor Kamal Johnson reported on the CMH Discussion Board that he had sent the following email to "the Congressman, Senator, and Assembly":
I am reaching out because working conditions at Columbia Memorial Hospital have reached a critical point where the facility is not longer able to provide adequate and timely healthcare services for the community and region. The short-staffing issue extends to CMH's rapid care facilities: the center in Copake has dropped its hours to just 3 days per week, from 9 am to 3 pm.
Due to extreme short-staffing, CMH's Emergency Department was out on diversion both September 20 and 22. Our office has received reports that the patient to nurse ratio had been consistently reaching 7:1--while allowed by the state under emergency conditions, this is completely unsafe for hospital staff. Recently one aide was tasked with taking care of an entire unit; another reported handling five admissions in one night, with four of them discharged the following morning due to lack of patient space. One patient described having to wait a full 5 months to complete a critical surgery.
While a small percentage of recent staff departures have been accredited to the COVID-19 vaccine mandate, the vast majority cite pay and work environment as their main reason for leaving CMH. Per diem opportunities have been suspended, and morale among staff has plummeted. Staff are working without breaks and only a single 10-minute lunch due to the ratio issue and the need to put the patients before their own needs. Between 30-40 employees have left in the past couple of months. One current employee related that they are even considering leaving CMH for a position with less pay solely to escape the working conditions in Hudson.
As leaders in this region, restoring our local healthcare facilities to functioning capacity is an urgent and necessary task. I urge that we come together to find a solution to this ongoing crisis at Columbia Memorial Health.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health has released its numbers for today. Since yesterday, there have been fourteen new cases of COVID-19. The number of active cases being reported today is three fewer than yesterday, from which it can be inferred that, since yesterday, seventeen county residents have recovered from the virus. There are 99 more county residents in mandatory quarantine today than yesterday. The number of county residents hospitalized with the virus is one fewer today than yesterday, but of those hospitalized one more is in the ICU. There has not been a death from COVID-19 reported in Columbia County since Monday, September 20. 

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

A year ago today, the CCDOH reported 1 new case of COVID-19. The total number of cases was 554, and the number of active cases was 3. There were 19 county residents in mandatory quarantine, and none was hospitalized or in the ICU. The total number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 at this time last year was 37.

More About Last Night's Council Meeting

In reporting about last night's Common Council meeting, Gossips chose to write first about the issue of security at City Hall. When that post was ready to be published, the power and internet service went out for two hours here at Gossips Central.

Roger Hannigan Gilson chose the "good cause" eviction law as his topic to write about for the Times Union: "Hudson's Common Council passes groundbreaking anti-eviction law." Gossips may have more to say about the law and what transpired at the meeting, but, for now, read what Gilson reported about the law and the vote.

Quibbling about Security at City Hall

On August 20, Chief Ed Moore issued a press release about a man from Greenport who had become violent when being arrested for illegally trying to remove his car from an impound lot in Hudson. The press release indicated that the man had kicked several officers, injuring one officer's hand, tried to kick out the window of a patrol car, and caused damage to the passenger door of the vehicle. At the police station, he damaged the holding cell by repeatedly kicking the door. The press release ended with this statement from Chief Moore: “I wish for the speedy recovery of my officer. She and her fellow officers were kicked, spit on, and verbally abused but kept their composure and contained a violent situation."  

That same day, Gossips received information from a source wishing to remain anonymous that City Hall was in lockdown because someone had threatened the mayor, the chief, and employees in the city clerk's office. Chief Moore confirmed that this was the same person who had been arrested. He had threatened the chief and his officers, saying "I'm gonna kill a cop," and had threatened violence against the city clerk's staff. The report Gossips received alleged that the man had threatened to "knock out teeth and splatter brains."  

Last night, a resolution came before the Common Council to "solicit proposals from security firms to provide security services to City Hall"--not unreasonable given the incident that occurred in August. Apparently, there have been a number of incidents that have made the clerks feel insecure. The resolution was a new resolution, one that had not been introduced at the informal meeting, and, given that all the standing committees have been eliminated, it was not a resolution that had been discussed in committee before being introduced to the Council. Jeff Baker, counsel to the Council, explained that the resolution had come from the mayor's office.

Although the resolution was never discussed in a public meeting, it seems there had been some prior discussion among Council members. Alderman Tiffany Garriga (Second Ward) said she thought the police "would come by every hour." Alderman Rebecca Wolff made a motion to table the resolution. Baker explained, "This is just to go out and find out what it would cost." Wolff countered, "We haven't determined what the services would be." 

The motion to table the resolution was defeated, with four members (Garriga, Wolff, Shershah Mizan, and Malachi Walker) voting in favor of tabling the resolution, and five members (Dominic Merante, John Rosenthal, Dewan Sarowar, Ryan Wallace, and Council president Tom DePietro) voting against tabling the resolution.

At some point in the conversation that followed the vote on tabling, Garriga seemed to suggest that security for City Hall might be provided by volunteers. She asked Baker for his opinion about whether or not security was needed. Baker replied, "I don't work in the building." Alderman John Rosenthal (Fourth Ward) declared, "This is deeply embarrassing. Putting this off for a month shows a lack of understanding." He went on to say, "Anyone who has been in government for five minutes should know that hiring a private security guard would probably be less expensive than covering it with the police department."

Before calling for a vote on the resolution, Council president Tom DePietro reiterated, "It was the mayor's office that asked for this." The resolution passed with only Garriga voting no and Wolff abstaining. After the vote, Wolff asked if this would apply to the DMV as well, suggesting by her question that she was unaware there was already a security officer at 560 Warren Street and that Department of Motor Vehicles was part of county government not city government. 
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Of Interest

The Albany Business Review reported today that 537 Warren Street, the former location of Mexican Radio, was sold on September 14 for $881,500: "Former Mexican Radio building sold in Hudson."

Mexican Radio closed in August 2019, and the building went on the market in January 2020. According to the article in Albany Business Review, "The buyer was Hudson Merchants LLC with an address at an apartment in Manhattan's West Village."

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health has released its numbers for today. Since yesterday, there have been 31 new cases of COVID-19. The number of active cases being reported today is twelve more than yesterday, from which it can be inferred that, since yesterday, nineteen county residents have recovered from the virus. The number of county residents in mandatory quarantine today is 48 more than yesterday. There is one fewer county resident hospitalized with the virus, but the number in the ICU remains the same. 

The New York Forward dashboard is reporting a positivity rate for Columbia County of 7.2 percent and a seven-day average of 5.2 percent. By comparison, the daily positivity rate for the Capital Region is 5.6 percent and the seven-day average is 4.0 percent.
 
A year ago today, the CCDOH reported no new cases of COVID-19. The total number of cases was 553, and the number of active cases was 3. There were 13 county residents in mandatory quarantine, and none was hospitalized or in the ICU. The total number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 at this time last year was 37.

In its article yesterday reporting the 100th death from COVID-19 in Columbia County, the Register-Star shared this information provided by CCDOH director Jack Mabb: "Columbia County has also seen an increase in the number of breakthrough cases--positive cases found in people who are fully vaccinated. Previously, the county had been seeing 25% of its new positive cases are breakthrough cases. The number now is about 40% to 50% of the county's cases on any given day, Mabb said." 

Let's be careful out there.

Lowering the Speed Limit

A year ago, Alderman Dominic Merante (Fifth Ward) began his crusade to lower the speed limit in Hudson from 30 mph to 25 mph. Because during much of that time there was no Legal Committee, Council president Tom DePietro having abolished all standing committees at the beginning of 2021, it was difficult to follow the progress of this effort. At one point, it was hoped the lower speed limit could be imposed on all the streets of Hudson, including those that are used as truck routes, but that was not to be. 

Tonight, the Council will be voting to enact a law that imposes a 25 mph speed limit on just two streets in Hudson:  Glenwood Boulevard, from Fairview Avenue to the point at which it becomes Sixth Street; and Union Street, from Worth Avenue to South Front Street. The language of the law indicates: "Initially this law will apply only to Glenwood Boulevard and Union Street but can be amended from time to time by the Common Council to add additional streets."
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Monday, September 20, 2021

COVID-19 Update

Columbia County has reached a grim milestone in the pandemic: 100 deaths from COVID-19. In addition to the death, the Columbia County Department of Health is reporting twenty new cases of COVID-19 since Saturday. The number of active cases being reported today is sixteen fewer than on Saturday, from which it can be inferred that, since Saturday, 35 county residents have recovered from the virus. There are six fewer county residents in mandatory quarantine today than there were on Saturday. There are two fewer hospitalized, and one fewer in the ICU.   

The New York Forward dashboard is reporting a positivity rate for Columbia County yesterday of 3.3 percent and a seven-day average of 5.0 percent. By comparison, the daily positivity rate for the Capital Region is 4.4 percent and the seven-day average is 3.9 percent.

A year ago today, the CCDOH reported 1 new case of COVID-19. The total number of cases was 553, and the number of active cases was 4. There were 13 county residents in mandatory quarantine, 1 was hospitalized, and none was in the ICU. The total number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 at this time last year was 37.

Meetings of Interest in the Week Ahead

The autumnal equinox occurs this week--on Wednesday, September 22. During this week which brings us to the end of summer and the beginning of fall, here's what's happening.
  • On Tuesday, September 21, the Common Council holds its regular monthly meeting at 6:00 p.m. Given the ten-person limit on the audience in Council Chambers and the recent investment in "Owl" technology, it is assumed that this will be a hybrid Zoom meeting, however, the link to the meeting has not yet been published.
Update: The word is the meeting is to be conducted entirely on Zoom. Click here to join the meeting.
  • On Wednesday, September 22, Arterial, the group designing the DRI Hudson Connects project, is holding an in-person public workshop at Hudson Hall, 327 Warren Street. Since the last public workshop, which took place on July 27, Arterial made a presentation to the Historic Preservation Commission and received input from the Conservation Advisory Council and more than a dozen historic photographs of Hudson streets from The Gossips of Rivertown. It will be interesting to see if and how this information is reflected in the designs being proposed for the area of the city below Second Street.
  • At 8:00 p.m. on Wednesday, September 22, you can play Match Game with Trixie Starr at Poured Candle Bar, 711 Warren Street--but only if you are vaccinated. RSVP at pouredcandlebar@gmail.com.
  • On Thursday, September 23, the Planning Board holds a special meeting at 6:00 p.m. This meeting was originally scheduled to be the continuation of the board's consideration of Colarusso's application for conditional use permits, and it will be that, but three public hearings have been added to the agenda: (1) 716 and 718 Union Street, where yet another microbrewery is being proposed; (2) 427 Warren Street, the former police station now occupied by Finch, where the addition of a second story for retail use is proposed; (3) 26 Warren Street, for a change of use from a single-family residence used as a bed and breakfast to a hotel. Click here to access the Zoom meeting.
  • Also on Thursday, September 23, at 6:00 p.m., Alan Neumann, president of Historic Hudson, will make a presentation about the Dr. Oliver Bronson House and Estate, which was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2003. The event is part of the History Room's Local History Talk series. Neumann will discuss Historic Hudson's advocacy for the stabilization and restoration of the Bronson House, located on the grounds of the Hudson Correctional Facility, and its vision for Bronson Park, a proposed 123-acre public access park on underutilized land owned by the State of New York. 
The in-person event takes place in the Community Room of the Hudson Area Library, 51 North Fifth Street. Seating is limited, and you are encouraged to reserve a seat by emailing brenda.shufelt@hudsonarealibrary.org or calling 518 828-1792, extension 106. Masks and social distancing are required. For more information, click here

  • On Friday, September 24, the Historic Preservation Commission holds its second meeting of the month. Click here to join the Zoom meeting.  
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