Sunday, September 25, 2022

A Teaching Tale for a Sunday Night

Shortly before 7:00 this evening, I drove to City Hall to purchase trash bags from the machine. As I was parking, I witnessed a young couple swipe a card and enter their selection several times but leave disgruntled and bagless. Despite their experience, I was determined to try it for myself, but before I could fetch a card from my purse and exit the car, someone else stepped up the machine to try his luck. His experience was the same. He swiped his card and made his selection two or three times, but nothing happened. No pack of trash bags dropped into the tray. He too left unhappy, commenting to me as he left, "It's going to be a smelly week." 

Refusing to learn from the experience of others, I stepped up to the machine and swiped my card. I waited, and within a few seconds, the display indicated that my card had been approved and I should make my selection. I did as I was told, but nothing happened. After a bit, the display again indicated I should swipe my card, which I dutifully did, but again making my selection yielded nothing. 

I had an advantage over the people who had preceded me. I knew how to get in touch with DPW superintendent Rob Perry. With apologies for bothering him on a Sunday, I texted Perry, primarily to ask if there was a chance the machine would be fixed by morning, in time for me to get some trash bags before the garbage truck came by my house. After sending the text, I drove home.

Perry's house and mine are about equidistant from City Hall, albeit in opposite directions. To my surprise, by the time I got home, I had two texts from Perry. The first one, sent within seconds of my original text, suggested there was probably something already in the tray of the machine. The second one, received just as I entered my house, confirmed what he had suspected and provided a picture.


Perry speculated, "It looks like someone purchased a bag as a curiosity . . . opened it. Then, realizing they weren't going to use it, thought they'd be nice and put it back for the next customer." Unfortunately, what someone thought was a nice gesture prevented at least three Hudson residents from getting the trash bags they needed for the morning.

Lessons learned:
 
(1) Always check to make sure there is nothing in the tray before attempting to purchase trash bags. There is a sensor that does not allow a new purchase until the previous purchased has cleared, that is, until the bags have been removed from the machine.

(2) Don't wait until you are out of trash bags and it's the night before collection day to try to buy bags. 

I must admit that the second lesson is one I have yet to learn. I'll be at the trash bag vending machine first thing in the morning.

Restaurant News

Photo: Trixie's List
Cafe Mutton
, located a bit off the beaten path at 757 Columbia Street, is definitely the restaurant in Hudson getting the most attention and accolades these days. Earlier this month, it was included in Bon Appetit's 50 Best New Restaurants 2022. Last week, it made the New York Times list of America's Best Restaurants 2022--"50 places in America we're most excited about right now." 

On October 27, you can hear Shaina Loew-Banayan, chef and owner of Cafe Mutton, in conversation with food writer Tamar Adler, talking about Loew-Banayan's book, Elergy for an Appetite, a short, poetic memoir that "follows the author's journey from voracious childhood to starving teen years and then to challenging early adulthood." The event takes place at Hudson Hall. Click here for more information.

Considering Trucks

Photo: NYS GIS
At the Hudson Development Corporation (HDC) meeting this past Tuesday, Mary Susan Knauss, who joined the HDC board in 2019, announced her resignation from the board. Her reason for leaving is that she is soon to become president of the not-for-profit NYS GIS Association, and time does not permit her to continue on the HDC board. GIS stands for Geographical Information Science. Knauss, who now works as a consultant, was for thirteen years Senior Transportation Analyst for the NYS Department of Transportation.

As a parting gift to HDC and Hudson, Knauss presented a document called "Truck Route FAQ," which she said was "meant to distill all I might have contributed to the board" regarding the perennial issue of truck routes through Hudson. She told her HDC colleagues that she has offered her assistance to the Common Council ad hoc committee pursuing the issue of truck routes.

In her comments at the HDC meeting, Knauss said she cannot see any benefit the truck route has brought to Hudson. She recommended that people "stop talking about the truck route as if it is something you can just ban altogether." She warned that no effort will be successful unless the City addresses the problem in pieces. Because there are alternative ways to get to destinations outside the city without passing through the city, she advised that Hudson needed to make it harder and take longer to drive through the city than to go around it.

In the FAQ and in her presentation to HDC, Knauss pointed out that permitting can be used to discourage trucks from passing through Hudson. The default for a tractor trailer in 48 feet. A 53-foot tractor trailer is considered a Special Dimension Vehicle (SDV) requiring a permit. Most trucks entering Hudson are 53 feet, which means that "any street in Hudson is where they should not be." A truck's registration indicates the length of the truck, so enforcing length restrictions would not require an involved truck inspection. 

Krauss's FAQ makes this point, which is frequently brought up in discussions of trucks in Hudson:
In the age of GPS, accurate and efficient navigation of trucks on the proper routes occurs when a "truck route" designation is programmed into the system. With today's technology, a change to a truck route is basically a simple "flick of a switch" at the state level. 
Knauss's FAQ makes one point that will not be well received by many in Hudson. 
Can we at least get rid of the gravel trucks?
Yes, by giving them another way to go. The gravel trucks are local, and for where they go and what they do, they have permits. Hudson City Planning Board approval of access to the Haul Road from 9G/23B would rid the city of all the gravel trucks once and for all.
Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that such action by the Planning Board would "rid the city of all gravel trucks once and for all." Representatives for Colarusso have stated in Planning Board meetings that they will continue to use city streets to get from the quarry to the waterfront in cases of emergency and when weather conditions prohibit use of their private road.

The next meeting of the ad hoc Truck Route Committee is scheduled to take place on Thursday, October 6, at 6:00 p.m.
COPYRIGHT 2022 CAROLE OSTERINK

Saturday, September 24, 2022

Of Interest

Word is that the lecture at the library on Thursday about urban renewal in Hudson was very well attended. For those who missed it, the urban renewal photographs that make up the Arthur Koweek Collection can be viewed online by clicking here.

Northwest corner of Warren and Front streets. The only building that survives today is 1 North Front Street, which now houses the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce.

Friday, September 23, 2022

Information Behind Today's COVID Numbers

The following is quoted from the press release issued today by Matt Murell, chair of the Columbia County Board of Supervisors:
COVID-related hospitalizations have hit their lowest level in the county this year, Columbia County Department of Health Director Jack Mabb said today. Four individuals are currently in area hospitals, with three of the four seriously ill enough to be in the ICU. One person is on a ventilator.
COVID-19 new positive cases, which hit their highest weekly totals this summer with last week’s 152, have dropped back slightly to 129. Director Mabb added that the recent outbreak at The Grand Rehabilitation & Nursing/Barnwell facility in Valatie is still partially fueling the jump in new cases. As of this morning, 47 residents had tested positive, in addition to 13 staff.
“I think it’s reasonable to say at this point that the higher-than-expected positive cases we’ve had over the summer months will continue on into the fall and likely increase with all of us moving inside more,” added Director Mabb. “I just hope this downward trend in hospitalizations continues. Perhaps this is confirmation of what we have been told by the CDC and others that the variants we’re seeing now may be more contagious but less virulent.”
County DOH reported that 57 individuals came to A.B. Shaw fire department on Thursday for COVID-19 booster vaccines. Director Mabb called this a good number, since the county currently can offer only the Pfizer bivalent vaccine. The department was able to order Moderna vaccines this week, after the company had experienced a backlog in vaccines in recent weeks.
As of Monday, per the CDC, Columbia County’s rate of new COVID-19 cases remained in the low risk category. On Thursday, the CDC-reported current average of new daily cases per 100,000 of population stood at 17.4. The positive test rate is 14.7 percent.
Although New York State has lifted the mandate for mask wearing while inside a business, local health care officials continue to encourage the wearing of masks while indoors, particularly for those with health problems.

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 6 more than yesterday, from which it can be inferred that, since yesterday, 16 county residents have recovered from the virus. There is 1 more county resident hospitalized today than yesterday, and the number in the ICU remains the same. There has not been a death from COVID-19 reported in Columbia County since September 12.

A year ago today, the CCDOH reported 30 new cases of COVID-19. The total number of cases was 4,972, and the number of active cases was 125. There were 357 county residents in mandatory quarantine, 8 were hospitalized, and 2 were in the ICU. The total number of deaths in Columbia County attributed to COVID-19 at this time last year was 100.

Ear to the Ground

In January, Gossips reported that Rebecca Wolff, then an alderman representing the First Ward and a vocal opponent of short-term rentals, had listed an apartment in a house she owns on Union Street as a short-term rental for $3,000 a month or $200 a day. Given that precedent, it seems only fair to report that Councilmember Ryan Wallace (Third Ward), who is now making decisions about constructing more income restricted housing in Hudson, because of Hudson's affordable housing crisis, is currently offering his condo at Mt. Ray Estates as a long-term rental for $6,000 a month. The listing appears on
 Zillow.

Thursday, September 22, 2022

COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health has released its numbers for today. Since yesterday, there have been 36 new cases of COVID-19. The number of active cases being reported today is 5 more than yesterday, from which it can be inferred that, since yesterday, 31 county residents have recovered from the virus. The number of county residents hospitalized with COVID-19 today is 7 fewer than yesterday, but the number in the ICU remains the same. There has not been a death from COVID-19 reported in Columbia County since September 12.  

A year ago today, the CCDOH reported 14 new cases of COVID-19. The total number of cases was 4,942, and the number of active cases was 112. There were 361 county residents in mandatory quarantine, 7 were hospitalized, and 2 were in the ICU. The total number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 in Columbia County at this time last year was 100.

More About the Housing Proposal

Roger Hannigan Gilson has an article in the Times Union today about the proposal for affordable housing presented to the Common Council on Tuesday by Hudson's chosen development partners, Kearney Realty & Development Group and Hudson River Housing: "Hudson hopes to ease housing crisis with scores of affordable apartments." 




Gilson posted the link to his article on Facebook, on the Hudson, N.Y - Public Community Board, which generated a number of comments, including some from Mayor Kamal Johnson. There is also an announcement about the project on the City of Hudson website, which provides links to Tuesday's PowerPoint presentation and to a statement from the mayor's office about the project.

Update on Arbor Day 2022

Earlier this month, Gossips reported on a grand plan to plant twelve trees on Arbor Day in Hudson this year, on Fifth Street and Sixth Street. As it turns out, there are "underground conflicts" preventing trees from being planted in the chosen locations, so the Conservation Advisory Council (CAC) is back to planting only the five trees that have been donated, a donation that was facilitated by Hudson Development Corporation.

Hilary Hillman of the CAC reported at the HDC meeting on Tuesday that they were still seeking locations for planting the trees. She mentioned that one would be planted somewhere on Union Street, another on North Fifth Street, and another in the 200 block of Columbia Street. That leaves a two more sites still to be identified.

Arbor Day in Hudson takes place this year on Sunday, October 2. The CAC is recruiting volunteers to help plant the trees. Those interested in helping with the tree planting are asked to gather at 10:00 a.m. on Sunday, October 2, in Seventh Street Park.

New Executive Director for HDC

Hudson Development Corporation (HDC) has been without an executive director since the end of June, when Branda Maholtz resigned. At its regular monthly meeting on Tuesday, the HDC board ratified Misty McGee as the agency's new executive director. 

Photo: Jason Marlow 
In introducing McGee, Chris Jones, HDC board president, said that the search committee had reviewed fourteen candidates before making its recommendation. The job description identified helping to define HDC's long-range mission as a major responsibility and stressed the ability to think strategically and translate goals into actions as critical skills. Jones told the board, "Knowledge of Hudson was key to assessing the applicants."

McGee, who lives on Union Street, had a long and successful career in women's merchandising for Ralph Lauren. Most recently, she was Business Development Director for the architectural firm Spacesmith here in Hudson. She is also an adjunct professor in the fashion program in the School of Communications & the Arts at Marist College. 

McGee officially takes on the role of executive director of HDC on October 3.

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health has released its numbers for today. Since yesterday, there have been 17 new cases of COVID-19. The number of active cases being reported today is 3 fewer than yesterday, from which it can be inferred that, since yesterday, 20 county residents have recovered from the virus. There is 1 fewer county resident hospitalized today than yesterday, but the number in the ICU remains the same. There has not been a death from COVID-19 reported in Columbia County since September 12.

A year ago today, the CCDOH reported 31 new cases of COVID-19. The total number of cases was 4,928, and the number of active cases was 115. There were 262 county residents in mandatory quarantine, 8 were hospitalized, and 1 was in the ICU. The total number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 in Columbia County at this time last year was 100.

More Housing for Hudson

In February, Gossips reported there had been eleven responses to the City's RFQ (request for qualifications) for a development partner to help implement the Affordable Housing Development Plan. At that time, a committee made up of Mayor Kamal Johnson, Council president Tom DePietro, Commissioner of Public Works Peter Bujanow, First Ward councilmember Art Frick, Mayor's Aide Michael Hofmann, and Housing Justice Director Michelle Tullo had narrowed the choices down to four: 
  • RUPCO
  • MPACT Collective and Pennrose
  • Home Leasing
  • Kearney Realty & Development Group and Hudson River Housing
Since the meeting that took place in February, at which it was decided they would hear presentations from the four groups, the committee has held no public meetings. Last night, at the Common Council meeting, Kearney Realty & Development Group and Hudson River Housing, obviously those chosen by the committee to be the City's development partner, presented their plans for constructing new housing in Hudson. The plans involve three projects on three different City-owned parcels.

Two houses, each with a rental unit, are proposed for City-owned property located on Rossman Avenue. These are intended for affordable homeownership.

A building providing mixed income rental units is proposed for what is now a playing field at Charles Williams Park. An audience member who asked was assured that repurposing this parkland for an apartment building with parking for residents did not interfere with any of the plans to upgrade the underused Charles Williams Park, which so far seem only to involve creating an outdoor Fitness Court.

A mixed use building with apartments and commercial space is proposed for the southwest corner of Fourth and State streets, the vacant lot owned by the City of Hudson (once the location of the Fourth Street School) which is now being used by the county as a parking lot.  

In talking about this building, which oddly appears in the rendering to be oriented toward Long Alley rather than either Fourth Street or State Street, the representative from Kearney talked about a workforce development plan and a daycare center. He also mentioned an internship program in real estate development. That a daycare center is part of the proposal for this site suggests that the Adirondack Community Development proposal for the John L. Edwards site across the street, which included a new building for the Hudson Daycare Center, may be off the table. Nothing has been heard of that project since last December.
COPYRIGHT 2022 CAROLE OSTERINK

Fifty Years Later

On Thursday, a lecture by Ted Hilscher at the Hudson Area Library commemorates urban renewal which, through massive demolition and reconstruction, transformed Hudson fifty years ago. Yesterday, Hudson Development and Planning Agency (HCDPA), an agency that is a legacy of the urban renewal era in Hudson, took action to, in the words of Quintin Cross, "right the wrongs" of urban renewal and, in the words of Councilmember Ryan Wallace, correct "the massive injustice done by urban renewal." Four of the five members of the HCDPA Board voted unanimously to enter into an option agreement with the Hudson Housing Authority (HHA) which would allow HHA to include three parcels of land currently owned by HCDPA in its RFQ (request for qualifications) for a development partner for new construction to replace HHA's current properties, Bliss Towers and Columbia Apartments. The members voting were Mayor Kamal Johnson, Planning Board chair Theresa Joyner, Common Council majority leader Dominic Merante, and Common Council minority leader Ryan Wallace. Revonda Smith, who serves on the HCDPA Board by virtue of being chair of the HHA Board of Commissioners, recused herself from the vote.

The three parcels involved in the agreement are (1) the vacant lot at the northeast corner of Warren and Front streets, now maintained as a park; (2) what remains of the community garden at the northeast corner of Columbia and Second streets; (3) the vacant land along the north side of State Street from Front Street eastward.


According to the agreement, HHA will offer these parcels to prospective development partners in the RFQ as possible sites for new development, and the developers will assess and select which they want to use. HCDPA will sell the sites chosen to HHA for half the fair market value of the property.

Before the HCDPA Board went into executive session to discuss the agreement and afterward vote, Brian Lawlor, attorney for HHA, asserted that acquiring these properties was a key part of HHA's development strategy. He explained that HHA's major goal was to demolish Bliss Towers, which he called an obsolete building and not worthy of further investment. Before they could raze the building, they had to find or create places to relocate the people now living there. He spoke of expanding the supply of affordable housing, creating housing options that do not now exist, providing choice, and deconcentrating poverty. Wallace clarified that what's being contemplated is "affordable, mixed income not market rate" dwellings, all of which would be income restricted.
COPYRIGHT 2022 CAROLE OSTERINK

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health released its numbers earlier today. Since yesterday, there have been 23 new cases of COVID-19. The number of active cases being reported today is 2 fewer than yesterday, from which it can be inferred that, since yesterday, 25 county residents have recovered from the virus. The number of county residents hospitalized with COVID-19 today is the same as yesterday, but 1 more of those hospitalized is in the ICU. There has not been a death from COVID-19 reported in Columbia County since Monday, September 12. 

A year ago today, the CCDOH reported the county's 100th death from COVID-19 and 20 new cases. The total number of cases was 4,897, and the number of active cases was 103. There were 214 county residents in mandatory quarantine, 9 were hospitalized, and 1 was in the ICU.

Another Meeting Preview

As usual, there is no agenda for tonight's Common Council meeting on the city website, only meeting documents, but the following appeared yesterday on Instagram, posted by "Hudson Housing Justice."


"Hudson Housing Justice" may be the Housing Trust Fund Advisory Committee, or it may just be Michelle Tullo, Hudson's Housing Justice Director. In any event, it will be interesting to learn what is being proposed. 

The Common Council meeting takes place at 6:00 p.m., in person at City Hall and on Zoom. Click here to join the meeting remotely.

Meeting Preview

It is expected that, at its meeting today at 4:00 p.m., Hudson Community Development and Planning Agency (HCDPA) will come to some decision about entering into an agreement with the Hudson Housing Authority (HHA) to allow four of its properties to be included in HHA's request for qualifications for new development. The idea is that the parcels will be presented to potential development partners as available sites for new construction, and the developers will decide which parcels would be most appropriate for new low-income housing. The four parcels are: the vacant lot at the northeast corner of Warren and Front streets, now a kind of Urban Renewal Era park; what remains of the community garden at the northeast corner of Columbia and Second streets; a vacant lot at 238 Columbia Street; the land along the north side of State Street from Front Street east to about the edge of HHA property.

At last night's HHA meeting, Jeffrey Dodson, executive director of HHA, urged commissioners and others present to show up for today's HCDPA meeting to show support for making these properties available to HHA. Five people make up the board of HCDPA, all holding the positions ex officio: Mayor Kamal Johnson, Planning Board chair Theresa Joyner, Common Council majority leader Dominic Merante, Common Council minority leader Ryan Wallace, and HHA Board of Commissioners chair Revonda Smith. Smith will have to recuse herself from any vote conveying the parcels to HHA. 

The HCDPA meeting takes place at 4:00 p.m. today--in person at City Hall and on Zoom. Click here to join the meeting remotely.
COPYRIGHT 2022 CAROLE OSTERINK

Monday, September 19, 2022

COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health has released its numbers for today. Since Friday, there have been 33 new cases of COVID-19. The number of active cases being reported today is 17 fewer than on Friday, from which it can be inferred that, since Friday, 50 county residents have recovered from the virus. The number of county residents hospitalized today is the same as on Friday, but 1 fewer is in the ICU. There has not been a death from COVID-19 reported in Columbia County since September 12.

A year ago, September 19 was a Sunday, and the CCDOH did not report COVID numbers. On Saturday, September 18, the CCDOH reported 22 new cases of COVID-19. The total number of cases was 4,877, and the number of active cases was 119. There were 220 county residents in mandatory quarantine, 11 were hospitalized, and 2 were in the ICU. The total number of deaths in Columbia County attributed to COVID-19 at this time last year was 99.

Prepare for a Signage Change

The Albany Business Review reports today that the association between our local hospital, Columbia Memorial Health, and Albany Medical Center is soon to become more apparent on the hospital's signage: "All four Albany Med hospitals to get updated branding." The following is quoted from the article:
All four of the hospitals that are part of the Albany Med Health System said today they are going through a name change to unify under a single brand.
The names of the hospitals–Albany Medical Center, Columbia Memorial Health, Glens Falls Hospital, Saratoga Hospital–will remain the same but will be shown alongside the Albany Med Health System name and logo. Signage will begin changing in 2023.

History Room Lecture on Thursday

On Thursday, September 22, the History Room at the Hudson Area Library presents a lecture about urban renewal in Hudson, fifty years after the initiative to eliminate "urban decay" demolished and reimagined Front Street and most of what was traditionally known as the Second Ward. The following is quoted from the press release announcing the event:
Urban renewal transformed Front Street and the blocks between Columbia and State Street, west of Second Street. Franklin Square, Chapel Street, Fleet Street and Market Place were erased from the network of city streets. Approximately 176 buildings in all were demolished, requiring the relocation of about 850 people. Demolition and the subsequent new construction took place between 1970 and 1972.
Ted Hilscher, Professor Emeritus of History at Columbia-Greene Community College, will show and discuss approximately fifty photographs of buildings no longer standing and streetscapes no longer existing. These photographs have been made available for the first time since they were taken through a collaborative effort by the late Arthur Koweek, longtime Hudson Planning Commission Chair, and the Columbia-Greene Community College Library.
Hilscher will then facilitate a discussion of the legacy of urban renewal in Hudson. Anyone with recollections of the impacted areas of the city prior to urban renewal is encouraged to attend, as well as those who wish to talk about how Hudson and its residents were impacted.
In addition to his professorship at Columbia-Greene Community College, Ted Hilscher is a graduate of Hudson High School, has a Bachelor's Degree in American Studies from Fordham, a Master's in US History from SUNY Albany, a Law Degree from Albany Law School, and a law practice with his wife in Catskill.
The image chosen to accompany the press release is this one, which shows the building that once stood on the southwest corner of Warren and First streets, as a crew prepares to demolish it.    


The following pictures were taken of the building in the 1930s by well-known photographer Walker Evans


Back in 1994, Art Koweek and his colleague in carrying out urban renewal in Hudson, Bill Loewenstein, were invited to speak at a meeting of the Vision Plan Task Force, the grassroots initiative that produced the 1996 Vision Plan. At that meeting, Koweek told a story about the demise of this building. I was present at the meeting, and I retell the story as I remember it. 

The Hudson Urban Renewal Agency was eager to demolish the building, but it was getting pushback from the Hudson River Valley Commission, an agency created by Governor Nelson Rockefeller in 1965 to study and conserve the scenic and cultural resources of the Hudson River Valley. The Hudson River Valley Commission wanted the building spared. Koweek and Loewenstein took a representative of the state agency on a tour of the building, and on that tour, their guest from the state had the misfortune of stepping on the unstable bit of floor and breaking his leg. After that, Koweek recounted, with a chuckle he shared with Loewenstein, there were no more objections to the demolition.
COPYRIGHT 2022 CAROLE OSTERINK

Sunday, September 18, 2022

Meetings of Interest in the Week Ahead

Now that the governor's executive order regarding public meetings has expired, city meetings have become a bit uncertain. Last week, the WiFi at City Hall wasn't working, so the informal Common Council meeting was not accessible on Zoom, and the great majority of the meeting was not broadcast on WGXC. The other two City meetings scheduled for last week were canceled. So far for this week, here's what in on the calendar.
  • On Monday, September 19, the Hudson Housing Authority holds its monthly meeting at 6:00 p.m. It's possible the meeting will provide an update on HHA's efforts to acquire vacant parcels owned by Hudson Community Development and Planning Agency to include in its RFP for new development. The meeting will be a hybrid, taking place in person in the Community Room at Bliss Towers, 41 North Second Street, and on Zoom. Click here to join remotely.
  • On Tuesday, September 20, at noon, Hudson Development Corporation (HDC) holds its regular monthly meeting. On the agenda for the meeting is ratifying the hiring of a new executive director. The meeting takes place in person in the conference room at 1 North Front Street.
  • On Tuesday, September 20, Hudson Community Development and Planning Agency (HCDPA) meets at 4:00 p.m. If the HHA meeting on Monday doesn't provide information about the fate of the four parcels that HCDPA owns and HHA wants, maybe this meeting will. The meeting will be a hybrid, taking place at City Hall and on Zoom. Click here to join remotely.  
  • At 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, September 20, the Common Council holds its regular monthly meeting. The meeting will be a hybrid, taking place at City Hall and on Zoom. Click here to join the meeting remotely. 
  • On Wednesday, September 21, the Hudson Industrial Development Agency (IDA) holds a public hearing at 9:30 a.m. on its revised guidelines for evaluating projects that apply for financial benefits. The hearing will be a hybrid, taking place at 1 City Centre, Suite 301, and on Zoom. Click here to join the meeting remotely.
  • At 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, September 21, the Hudson Industrial Development Agency (IDA) holds a special meeting to consider adopting the new guidelines for evaluating applications. The meeting will be a hybrid, taking place at 1 City Centre, Suite 301, and on Zoom. Click here to join the meeting remotely.
  • Also on Wednesday, September 21, the Zoning Board of Appeals is scheduled to meet at 6:00 p.m. ZBA meetings have been canceled for the past few months for lack of applications before them, so it is not known at this point if the meeting will actually happen or not. If it does, it will be in person only at City Hall.
Update: Lisa Kenneally, chair of the ZBA, has confirmed that an application has been received and the meeting will take place as scheduled in person at City Hall. 
  • On Friday, September 23, the Historic Preservation Commission is scheduled to hold its second meeting of the month at 10:00 a.m. It is not known if the meeting will be in person only or a hybrid, or even if it will take place at all.
COPYRIGHT 2022 CAROLE OSTERINK

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Latinx Festival in Hudson Today

The second annual Latinx Parade and Festival celebrating Hispanic heritage and culture is  happening today in Hudson. The parade down Warren Street begins at 1:00 p.m. The festival at riverfront park is from 2:00 to 6:00 p.m. The afterparty at Hudson Brewing Co. begins at 7:00 p.m. and continues until 11:00 p.m.

Friday, September 16, 2022

About This Week's COVID Spike

Since Monday, the Columbia County Department of Health has reported 152 new cases of COVID-19--a number that makes us all a little uneasy. A press release received today from Matt Murell, chair of the Columbia County Board of Supervisors, provides some insight into what's going on.
COUNTY DOH SEES UPTICK IN NEW CASES
An outbreak at The Grand Rehabilitation & Nursing/Barnwell facility in Valatie and also likely the Columbia County Fair has caused an uptick in new positive COVID-19 cases this week, Columbia County Department of Health Director Jack Mabb said today. 
“There have been 40 cases reported so far at Barnwell among the residents, along with 12 staff,” he said. “I think this is likely driven by the very contagious Omicron and BA.5 variants of the virus that have worked their way into the facility. Barnwell has been moving the positive cases into a separate wing and have been dealing with this in a positive fashion.” 
Positive COVID-19 cases overall rose this week, with 141 positive cases reported, bringing to 268 new cases thus far in September. The number of county residents in the hospital is now at 12, with two people in the ICU. There were 113 vaccinated at Thursday’s COVID-19 POD at the A.B. Shaw Firehouse in Claverack. Director Mabb said there is now a backlog of the Moderna vaccine, creating the likelihood that county DOH will be unable to make that vaccine available for the immediate future. 
To this point, Director Mabb said his department has vaccinated 179 with the monkeypox vaccine, counting first and second doses. 
As of Monday, per the CDC, Columbia County’s rate of new COVID-19 cases remained in the low risk category. On Thursday, the CDC-reported current average of new daily cases per 100,000 of population stood at 22. The positive test rate is 17.9 percent. 
Although New York State has lifted the mandate for mask wearing while inside a business, local health care officials continue to encourage the wearing of masks while indoors, particularly for those with health problems.

COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health has released its numbers for today. Since yesterday, there have been 24 new cases of COVID-19. The number of active cases being reported today is 1 fewer than yesterday, from which it can be inferred that, since yesterday, 25 county residents have recovered from the virus. There are 2 fewer county residents hospitalized today than yesterday, but 1 more of those hospitalized is in the ICU. There has not been a death from COVID-19 reported in Columbia County since Monday, September 12. 

A year ago today, the CCDOH reported 17 new cases of COVID-19. The total number of cases was 4,836, and the number of active cases was 94. There were 217 county residents in mandatory quarantine, 10 were hospitalized, and 3 were in the ICU. The total number of deaths in Columbia County attributed to COVID-19 at this time last year was 99.

Meanwhile, Over at 401 State Street

Long ago, Gossips made peace with the fact there wasn't enough bandwidth to deal with everything what was happening in county government. Once in a while, however, what goes on with the Columbia County Board of Supervisors demands attention. Such is the case with Wednesday's Board of Supervisors meeting. The following account of the meeting is a press release from the Columbia County Democratic Committee.

Democratic Supervisors seek solutions, Republicans play political games
More dirty tricks from Chairman Matt Murell
On September 14, 2022, the Columbia County Board of Supervisors (BOS) held a full board meeting. The differences between Democrats and Republicans were in stark relief. "Matt Murell, the Chairman of the BOS, worked with right-wing Republicans and pushed for the adoption of politically divisive resolutions without public comment or feedback from fellow Supervisors," said Sam Hodge, Chair of the Columbia County Democratic Committee.
Resolution 395-2022, addressing overtime for farm workers, and Resolution 396-2022, concerning commonsense gun reform, were brought to the full BOS without following the normal process for adopting Resolutions. Linda Mussmann, Hudson's 4th Ward Supervisor, stated, "They skipped normal procedures and we were asked to support these resolutions without committee input or public comments. We were simply given no time to consider and to time to comment on these Republican-supported resolutions. Citizens need to understand that I, for one, will not be blindsided. I want to have my eyes wide open and hear from the people that these resolutions affect. I will not vote for resolutions that have not been vetted properly, especially when it comes to gun permits and farm labor."
Claire Cousin, Hudson's 1st Ward Supervisor, similarly had problems with the process employed by Republicans on the BOS, saying, "Last night, I believe the Republicans made an attempt at passing last minute, oppositional, and empty legislation on issues that are far too important and deserve much more care and consideration. The BOS should be able to come together on more issues than not to create meaningful, solution-based actions for our County. There's real work to be done."
In stark contrast to the housing resolution that was unanimously passed at the meeting, which included a study, a public forum, and a special Supervisors meeting to discuss that resolution, Republicans insisted on rushing Resolutions 395 and 396 with little notice. As proposed by the Republicans, Resolution 396, opposing gun regulations, uses divisive and attacking language; and Resolution 395, addressing a complicated farming and farm workers issue, did not offer any solutions for our farmers.
During the BOS meeting, Republicans admitted that their Resolutions were politically motivated. The Resolutions were pushed by Republican Elise Stefanik, Assemblymember Chris Tague (R), and "someone in Greene County." Even more concerning, Chairman Murell chose to bury the proposed materials in a long document, featuring 46 other resolutions. The document was distributed to Supervisors on Friday, September 9th. Supervisors had little time to consider the resolutions. Republicans then called for two special meetings for this past Wednesday to pass the resolutions--all to be completed within 15 minutes.
In a show of strength and unity, Democratic Supervisors interrupted the rush to vote to advocate for community interests, insist on an opportunity for the public to speak, and clarify the motivations behind the resolution.
Democrats were able to amend Resolution 395-2022, removing divisive language, inserting a statement of principle to support all workers of Columbia County, establishing a process for community engagement, and committing to create local solutions for both farmworkers and farm owners. The Democrat version of the resolution passed with bipartisan support.
Supervisor Michael Chameides, representing Hudson's 3rd Ward, stated, "The County Board of Supervisors needs to create local solutions for our community. But on Wednesday, Republicans were more interested in passing divisive and misleading resolutions written by outside interests. I insisted we hear from the public and discuss these critical issues. Joining together, we made improvements, but we didn't have the votes to stop these antics. Columbia County deserves better."
Republican Supervisors repeatedly stated that the goal of the resolutions was to grandstand and to send a message, claiming the specifics of the resolutions--even if clumsy, false, and divisive--didn't matter. When Resolution 396-2022, which opposed commonsense gun regulations, was brought up, Chairman Murell closed the discussion, expressing concern that Democrats were likely to persuade Republicans to vote against his resolution. Even more troubling, 20 of 23 Supervisors admitted that they had never read the legislation referenced in Resolution 396-2022.
Tistrya Houghtling, New Lebanon Town Supervisor and Minority Leader of the BOS, stated, "It is unfortunate that these important issues were dealt with in a rushed, political way. I find it always better to be solution-oriented and bring all voices to the table to come up with the best outcome possible. I was glad my Republican colleagues joined us in amending the proposed farm resolution and making a commitment to action that will actually help our local farms and farm workers. I was disappointed that those same colleagues shut down our attempt at having a productive conversation on the proposed gun resolution, instead rushing to a vote to pass it as written, with all its divisive and attacking language."
Resolution 396-2022 passed with mostly Republican votes.
The September 14 Board of Supervisors meeting can be viewed here. Resolution 396-2022, the one regarding concealed carry gun permits, can be viewed here. Resolution 395-2022 is not currently available online.

News of Hudson Politics

It's been rumored for a while, but now it must be true. There's an article about it in the Register-Star: "Hudson mayor considers Assembly run in '24."

Didi Barrett and Kamal Johnson with former HCSD superintendent Maria Suttmeier at a Hudson Literacy Fund fundraiser in 2019     Photo: Jamie Larsen | Rural Intelligence


Thursday, September 15, 2022

COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health has released its numbers for today. Since yesterday, there have been 18 new cases of COVID-19. The number of active cases being reported today is 6 fewer than yesterday, from which it can be inferred that, since yesterday, 24 county residents have recovered from the virus. There are 2 more county residents hospitalized with COVID-19 today than yesterday, but the number in the ICU remains the same. There has not been a death from COVID-19 reported in Columbia County since Monday, September 12.

A year ago today, the CCDOH reported 21 new cases of COVID-19. The total number of cases was 4,819, and the number of active cases was 97. There were 160 county residents in mandatory quarantine, 9 were hospitalized, and 3 were in the ICU. The total number of deaths in Columbia County attributed to COVID-19 at this time last year was 99.

GE and EPA Reach Agreement

WAMC reported today that General Electric and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have reached an agreement to study PCB contamination in the lower Hudson River, between Troy and Manhattan. The entire report by Lucas Willard can be heard here.

Photo: Columbia County Tourism

Hudson Boat Launch Meeting Now Online

There was a virtual meeting back on August 11 about the plans to upgrade the Hudson State Boat Launch as part of the newly designated Hudson Eagles Recreation Area. The recording of that meeting is now available online. It can be viewed by clicking here.

Lecture This Sunday

This Sunday, September 18, Historic Hudson presents "Faith, Pain, and the Faraway in Sanford Gifford's Landscape Paintings," a lecture by Alexander Nemerov. The event takes place at 2:00 p.m. at Stair Galleries, 549 Warren Street. 


Hudson River School painter Sanford Robinson Gifford grew up in Hudson, in the house shown in the picture below, which once stood at the corner of Columbia and Sixth streets. At the time, this section of what is now Columbia Street was known as Gifford Place. The belvedere on the roof was constructed as Sanford's studio. 

The lecture will be available in person and on Zoom. Tickets are $15 for Historic Hudson members, $20 for nonmembers, and can be purchased online at historichudson.org or at the door. After the lecture, those who attend in person will have the opportunity to visit the Dr. Oliver Bronson House, Historic Hudson's long-term restoration project on the grounds of the Hudson Correctional Facility.

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Why Does the City Still Own This Building?

Once upon a time, 429 Warren Street housed the office of the city court, and the building next door, 427 Warren Street, was where the actual courtroom and the police department were located. 

It has been five years since the police department and the court moved to their new location at 701 Union Street. In the summer of 2019, 427 Warren Street was sold at auction, and today the building, wonderfully transformed and now the location of Finch, is getting a second story.



The code enforcement office was located at 429 Warren Street, and until that office could be relocated, the building could not be sold. Beginning in July 2021, however, the City began leasing space at 751 Warren Street for the code enforcement office. For more than a year now, there has been no obvious reason for the City to continue to own the building at 429 Warren Street, which, now abandoned, has become an eyesore on Warren Street, a magnet for handbills and litter.





In 2021, when the Common Council was worried about depleting the fund balance during the pandemic, there was an ad hoc committee called the Properties Committee tasked with selling surplus City-owned properties. There were five buildings on the committee's list of properties to be sold--429 Warren Street, the cemetery house, the house near the water treatment plant, 1 North Front Street, and 10-12 Warren Street; 429 Warren Street headed the list. In 2022, the ad hoc committee, which was made up of Council president Tom DePietro, councilmembers Jane Trombley and Rebecca Wolff, and Housing Justice Manager Michelle Tullo, ceased to exist. Now, more than a year after the Council was resolved to sell 429 Warren Street as soon as the code enforcement office was relocated, no apparent effort has been made to sell the building and get it back on the tax rolls.
COPYRIGHT 2022 CAROLE OSTERINK