Monday, May 23, 2022

COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health has released its numbers for today. Since Friday, there have been 65 new cases of COVID-19. The number of active cases being reported today is 48 fewer than on Friday, from which it can be inferred that, since Friday, 113 county residents have recovered from the virus. There is 1 more county resident hospitalized with COVID-19 today than on Friday, but the number in the ICU remains the same. There has not been a death from COVID-19 reported in Columbia County since Monday, May 16.

A year ago today was a Sunday, and the CCDOH did not report COVID numbers. On the previous day, Saturday, May 22, 2021, the CCDOH reported 0 new cases of COVID-19. The total number of cases was 4,235, and the number of active cases was 46. There were 69 county residents in mandatory quarantine, 4 were hospitalized, and 0 were in the ICU. The total number of deaths in Columbia County attributed to COVID-19 at this time last year was 94.

If at First You Don't Succeed . . .

Yesterday, MidHudson News shared the news that Ọṣun Zotique, who last week, running as a write-in candidate, failed to win a seat on the Hudson City School District Board of Education, is now seeking to represent the 19th District in Congress: "Transgender non-binary Democrat announces run for Congress."

A press release received by Gossips states: "Zotique aims to advance efforts regionally and nationally towards shattering glass ceilings and barriers to entry in political representation, particularly for young and queer leaders. . . . In seeking higher office, Zotique wishes to elevate the visibility of the city of Hudson, in addition to teaching our local queer youth that their leadership and their voices are essential."

Sunday, May 22, 2022

Meetings of Interest in the Week Ahead

In this week leading up to Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start of summer, here's what's happening.
  • On Tuesday, May 24, Hudson Development Corporation (HDC) holds its regular monthly meeting at noon. At the meeting, the board will continue to discuss the strategic plan for the future of HDC. The meeting takes place in person only at 1 North Front Street.
  • Also on Tuesday, May 24, the Planning Board holds a special meeting at 6:00 p.m. The purpose of the special meeting is to consider the phasing plan at 708 State Street that would allow the code enforcement officer to issue a certificate of occupancy for Hudson Upper Depot so that the brewery that is to occupy the building can begin operations. The meeting will take place virtually. Click here to join the meeting. 
  • On Wednesday, May 25, Hudson Community Development and Planning Agency (HCDPA) holds a special meeting at 4:00 p.m. The purpose of the special meeting has not been announced, but chances are it has to do with HCDPA properties that the Hudson Housing Authority wants to include in its RFP (request for proposals) for new construction to replace Bliss Towers. The meeting will take place virtually. Click here to join the meeting.
  • Also on Wednesday, May 25, the Common Council Technology Committee meets at 6:30 p.m. There is no agenda available for the meeting, which will be a hybrid--taking place in person at City Hall and on Zoom. Click here to join the meeting remotely.
  • On Thursday, May 26, the Board of Assessment Review--Matthew Parker, Philip Osattin, and Dorothy Heyl--will meet from 3:30 to 8:00 p.m. to hear and determine complaints in relation to assessments. Grievances will be heard on Zoom by appointment only. Contact the assessor at 518 929-3845 to schedule an appointment and presumably get the link to the Zoom meeting. A publication containing procedures for contesting an assessment can be found online at
  • On Friday, May 27, according to the city calendar, the Historic Preservation Commission holds its second regular meeting of the month at 10:00 a.m. At the HPC meeting on Friday, May 20, Victoria Polidoro, legal counsel for the HPC, indicated that the next meeting would be held on June 10. It was also indicated by HPC chair Phil Forman that, at the next meeting, there would be a public hearing on new construction proposed for First Street and Cherry Alley, as an accessory building to 102 Union Street. Gossips will confirm if HPC's next meeting and the public hearing take place on May 27 or June 10, and report it here.
Update: It has been confirmed. The Historic Preservation Commission will meet on Friday, May 27. The meeting will be held virtually. Click here to join remotely.

The HPC and the "Depot District"

The Register-Star published an article yesterday by Noah Eckstein about Friday's special Historic Preservation Commission meeting: "Panel weighs Depot District options." The article seems intent on portraying the concerns of the HPC as impediments to the noble goal of creating more low-income housing in Hudson. It repeats the claim made by Dan Kent, vice president of initiatives for the Galvan Foundation, that without the demolition of the house and outbuilding located at 65-67 North Seventh Street, both contributing structures in the National Register Hudson Historic District, the building planned for the west side of North Seventh Street could only be 35 units instead of the 75 units now being proposed.

Much that happened in the meeting was not touched on in Eckstein's report. First was the discussion of the alternatives analysis, which was submitted to the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) to justify the demolition of the two structures. Gossips recently read that document and found this rather extraordinary paragraph:
Galvan Foundation is currently rehabilitating the existing structures at 61 N. 7th Street and 622 State Street, which are currently vacant and derelict. The retention of the smaller structures along State Street, and parts of N. 7th Street will screen the larger proposed buildings, creating a screen along the urban streetscape, and providing a transition between the various sized buildings along these corridors. The landscape around the Upper Hudson Depot will be revitalized for community recreational and market use (i.e. farmers market, craft fair, etc.) further incorporating the varied elements of community into the overall project. The proposed height of the buildings is consistent with the historic elements in this portion of the city, and facilitates a visual transition to the urban street scape along State and Columbia Streets. 
For those for whom an address doesn't instantly conjure up the mental image of a building, this is 61 North Seventh Street:

It is not clear what is meant by 622 State Street. The now lost Hudson Orphan Asylum building, demolished by Galvan in 2019, had the address 620 State Street. 

Perhaps 622 State Street is meant to refer to this house, which Galvan acquired in 2017. The actual address of the house is 618 State Street.

Interestingly, the alternatives analysis speaks only of the house that is to be demolished and does not mention the accessory building on the parcel which is identified in the 1985 National Register inventory as an "ice house." At Friday's HPC meeting, Beth Selig of Hudson Valley Cultural Resources Consultants, who wrote the alternatives analysis for Galvan, presented Sanborn maps from 1895, 1903, and 1911 to demonstrate that the structure called the "ice house" did not exist in 1895. (In my post about the buildings to be demolished, I suggested it was likely this structure was already there when the property was owned by the Hudson Orphan Asylum. The 1895 Sanborn map shows that was not the case.)    

Selig questioned identification of the structure in the 1985 inventory as an "ice house," saying there was nothing in the Sanborn maps to suggest it was an ice house and commenting that ice houses were typically underground.

Since most of the members of the HPC attested to having never seen the alternatives analysis, the discussion of the document was postponed in favor of discussing the materials being proposed for the two buildings. That discussion was introduced by Walter Chatham, who asserted that the proposed site was "the only area in Hudson where this kind of building could occur" and assured the commission, "Our intention is to do no harm." He went on to say of the buildings, "This could be a big box with a flat roof, but hopefully it doesn't look like that to the average person." Responding to HPC architect member Chip Bohl's appeal at a previous meeting that the buildings be handsome, Chatham told the commission, "I have tried to make this handsome. . . . Our intention is to build some big buildings that don't look like they were built yesterday. We want to work with you all to create a charming neighborhood and provide much needed housing."

The materials for 76 North Seventh Street (the building proposed for the east side of the street, formerly identified as 708 State Street) include a black standing seam metal roof, black synthetic slate on the mansard roof, aluminum clad wood windows, and a cornice that appears to be wood but isn't. 

Most of the building's facades will be brick, a type of that is not perfectly rectangular and is meant to look old.

Because they are struggling to meet the energy requirements with brick, they are proposing to cover the less visible facades of the building, those that face the railroad tracks, with a synthetic stucco known as Exterior Insulating and Finish System (EIFS). (The acronym seems to be pronounced "e fuss.")

The building across the street--75 North Seventh Street--has gotten a $1 million NYSERDA award and is being planned to be an all-electric passive building. Because, as was explained by architect Jorge Chang, "full brick and thin brick are not approvable for a passive house," the lower floors of the building will be engineered brick called "NewBrick" and above that, where it is less visible from the street, "rigid insulation made and formed to look like brick" would be used. It is Gossips' understanding that, in the elevation drawing below, the darker pink represents where NewBrick would be used and the lighter pink where the insulation made to look like brick would be used.

Regarding the brick made from rigid insulation, Chang explained that the faux bricks are applied "pretty much like real brick, and then mortar is added in the grooves."

All of the proposed synthetic material gave the HPC pause. Phil Forman, who chairs the HPC, questioned the durability of the faux bricks made from insulation. Bohl said he had serious reservations about the product, expressing the opinion that freeze/thaw in our climate would be destructive. "There is an authenticity to buildings in Hudson," Bohl maintained and urged the architects to look at "an authentic material that has durability." He expressed the opinion that the siding solution didn't have to be brick.

Forman said he recognized the intention was not to disrupt but said he would accept disruption over lack of authenticity. He said in weighing compatibility and authenticity he valued authenticity the most.

Kent responded by saying, "We don't want 75 to stand out." (It will be remembered that 75 North Seventh Street is meant for households with incomes that are 40 to 80 percent of the area median income [AMI] and 76 North Seventh Street is meant for households with incomes that are 80 to 130 of the AMI.) He went on to say, "We are sensitive to the fact that we are creating a mixed income neighborhood where there is not an obvious difference between the two buildings." Kent promised to come back with more information about durability.

HPC member John Schobel asked rhetorically, "What's the case for this being appropriate? What is the alterative?" He then posited, "The ideal solution would be that we can be convinced this will work," adding, "You don't want to build something that everyone hates in fifteen years."

Chatham promised, "We will go back to the drawing board and find something better, or put a sample of [this] on City Hall so you can all see it." 

The discussion concluded with Forman telling the Galvan people, "You guys will get back to me when you want to meet again."   

When public comment was invited, only Mayor Kamal Johnson spoke, telling the HPC, "I hope we can make a decision soon."

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Watch Your Words . . .

At last Tuesday's Common Council meeting, the Council voted on a resolution declaring the month of June LGBTQ+ Pride Month in Hudson. It's a tradition. The Council has been passing such resolutions since at least 2010. This year, Councilmember Malachi Walker (Fourth Ward) felt compelled to make a statement before casting his vote, as he did in 2020 when he prefaced his vote by saying, "Morally I may not participate in it, but I don't want to offend anyone." This year, Walker's statement had to do with being offended. Below is Walker's statement as it was transcribed by Ọṣun Zotique and posted on Facebook yesterday. (Zotique is the executive director of OutHudson and is organizing this year's parade.)  
I feel that everybody should be able to express themselves and have fun. Everybody in the community just you know be mindful of you know just be respectful and I'm speaking just you know in the past you know certain indecencies you know with the parade if we could just be respectful and this is our community everybody is entitled to express themselves, but just keep that in mind. --Malachi Walker
You can hear Walker's statement for yourself here. It begins at 7:20.

Walker's statement prompted an open letter from John Schobel, president and a founder of OutHudson, which also appeared on Facebook. The text of that letter follows:
I have led OutHudson, the organization that puts on the OutHudson Pride Weekend, for seven years now. During that time, we have created a magnificent event that brings many thousancs of visitors a year and promotes Hudson as a welcoming bastion of diversity and tolerance.
We appreciate your "YES" vote on the resolution codifying June as Pride Month, but had some concern about your comments made at the May 17th Common Council Meeting that "there have been certain indecencies in the parade."
I have attended the entirety of every Hudson Pride Parade and witnessed every float and group. Indecency isn't anyone's opinion of what they think is proper; it has a legal definition in New York State. You are a public official and should be aware that there is none in our parade. Queer parades have a long history of creativity and freedom of expression dating back half a century. Hudson's is no different. We embrace it.
Hudson is a diverse and beautiful town and exemplifies so much that is good in our society. The OutHudson Pride Weekend is a huge source of pride for me and my fellow organizers, and I hope for our residents--whether here for five minutes or fifty years. Labeling the event or even an individual participating in that tradition of freedom of expression as "indecent" harkens back to earlier eras where our lives were invalidated. A time that the Hudson of today clearly stands against and exemplifies--through every type of inclusion and a definitive embrace of Queerness in every way--the best our society can be. . . .
Walker has defended his statement at the Council meeting in comments on Facebook--addressed to Zotique and to Schobel:
Meant no disrepect at all, just in the past parade there were some attire that exposed some body parts that some residents didn't feel was suitable for the occasion.
You can see that I was very hesitant, fumbling my words at times to even address it because I try not to offend anyone and would never intentionally do so, ever. I love my city with a passion and everyone in it. Indecent attire were words that were given to me by a parent who was concerned about certain revealing body parts while they attended the last parade. I was asked to address it, I brought it up in the meeting not to bully, humilitate [sic], or criticize but to share a concern from a few residents who resides in Hudson, with all due respect.
Photo: OutHudson | Instagram

New District Maps Finalized

Shortly after midnight this morning, Jon Campbell reported in Gothamist on the current status of redistricting in New York: "Court finalizes new NY congressional, state Senate maps." The report begins:
A state judge finalized New York's congressional and state Senate district maps early Saturday, putting them in place for the next decade barring any further lawsuits.
Regarding changes to the congressional map made since Monday, when the maps drawn by Jonathan R. Cervas, the court-appointed special master, were first released, Campbell explained:
In his final maps, Cervas made several changes urged by politicians and members of the public, including reuniting the Bed-Stuy neighborhood in Brooklyn in the new 8th District, instead of splitting it between two. . . . Cervas also made changes on Long Island, creating a district largely based on the South Shore in Nassau County.
On the congressional map, Columbia County remains excised from the Hudson Valley and the Capital Region and part of a congressional district that includes much of the Southern Tier.

Friday, May 20, 2022

COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health has released its numbers for today. Since yesterday, there have been 35 new cases of COVID-19. The number of active cases being reported today is 7 fewer than yesterday, from which it can be inferred that, since yesterday, 42 county residents have recovered from the virus. The number of county residents hospitalized with COVID-19 today is 1 fewer than yesterday, but the number in the ICU remains the same. There as not been a death from COVID-19 reported in Columbia County since Monday, May 16.

A year ago today, the CCDOH reported 3 new cases of COVID-19. The total number of cases was 4,230, and the number of active cases was 43. There were 80 county residents in mandatory quarantine, 4 were hospitalized, and 0 were in the ICU. The total number of deaths in Columbia County attributed to COVID-19 at this time last year was 94.

COVID and the County

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) updated its map yesterday. This week, for the third week, Columbia County is in the high risk category, along with much of the state.

Earlier today, Matt Murell, chair of the Columbia County Board of Supervisors, issued a press release containing this COVID-19 update:
As of Thursday, per the CDC, Columbia County’s rate of new COVID-19 cases remains in the high risk category.
Also as of Thursday, the CDC-reported current average of new daily cases per 100,000 of population stood at 45.9.
The positive test rate is 16.2 percent.
The number of positive cases in Columbia County rose once again this week, hitting a seven-day total that exceeds the positives for the entire month of March, Columbia County Department of Health Director Jack Mabb reported today. The week ending today saw 230 positive cases, with March totaling just 208. May’s total cases through 20 days is 690, exceeding the county’s second highest month, February, in which there were 533 cases.
“There’s no doubt that Covid is rumbling through our community but our nurses are also hearing from people they call who are positive that they tested, in part, because of the rising numbers of positives here and across the country,” said Director Mabb. “So people who may have thought the sniffles or sore throat they had were allergies for a couple of months are quicker to test for Covid. This ‘heightened awareness’ is having an upward effect on our numbers.”
The good news, said Director Mabb, is that while hospitalizations remain relatively high at 18 individuals, there is but one individual in the ICU today.
Director Mabb also reports that interest in the fourth booster remains high, with 62 people getting boosted at the department’s POD at Columbia-Greene Community College on Thursday.
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.

Shifting the Ward Boundaries

At the Common Council meeting on Tuesday, two local laws were introduced having to do adjusting ward boundaries in Hudson in response to population changes reported in the 2020 census. Those laws can be found here and here. In order to maintain five wards of equal population, the First Ward needs to lose some people and the Fourth Ward needs to gain some people. According to the proposed ward boundary adjustments, 75 people (not necessarily voters) move from the First Ward to the Third Ward, and 40 people (not necessarily voters) move from the Third Ward to the Fourth Ward.

Also presented at the Common Council meeting was a chart analyzing the racial and ethnic makeup of the wards and the impact the proposed changes would have, prepared by Councilmember Margaret Morris (First Ward), who chairs the Legal Committee. That chart appears below and can also be found here.

Council president Tom DePietro said he wanted to know the actual addresses that would shift from one ward to another, later commenting, "The map doesn't really tell you much." Verity Smith, who is the first vice chair of the Hudson City Democratic Committee, said she wanted to see the raw data from the census numbers in order to reproduce the calculations made by Morris.

The Council has scheduled a special meeting on Tuesday, May 31, to consider further the proposed changes. To meet the requirements of the City's own law, the deadline for amending the boundaries to achieve wards of equal population is July 1. Because ward changes also affect county supervisors, there is a mandatory referendum in November. The new ward boundaries would take effect on January 1, 2023.

Thursday, May 19, 2022

COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health released its numbers a little late today. Since yesterday, there have been 25 new cases of COVID-19. The number of active cases being reported today is 25 more than yesterday, from which it can be inferred that, since yesterday, no 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, May 16.

A year ago today, the CCDOH reported 6 new cases of COVID-19. The total number of cases was 4,227, and the number of active cases was 47. There were 86 county residents in mandatory quarantine, 4 were hospitalized, and 0 were in the ICU. The total number of deaths in Columbia County attributed to COVID-19 at this time last year was 94.

Considering What Will Be Lost

Tomorrow morning, the Historic Preservation Commission holds a special meeting at 10:00 a.m. The sole subject of the meeting will be the two buildings proposed by the Galvan Foundation for North Seventh Street, the area of the city that Galvan has dubbed "The Depot District." 

Although the location of the proposed buildings is not actually in a locally designated historic district, the construction of 75 North Seventh Street would involve the demolition of two buildings that are included in the National Register Hudson Historic District, which was created in 1985. It is for this reason the HPC is reviewing the project, and at tomorrow's meeting, the HPC will be considering the argument for demolition.

The following is the description to the two structures that appears in the 1985 National Register Inventory: 

These are recent images of the house and the ice house. 

County records show that 65-67 North Seventh Street was once owned by the Hudson Orphan Asylum, which until 1881 was located at the corner of State and North Seventh streets, in a building that Galvan owned and demolished in 2019. It is likely that the ice house on the property already existed when the orphan asylum owned and occupied the property.

In 1899, after the Hudson Orphan Asylum had moved to 400 State Street, 65-67 North Seventh Street was sold to Patrick Hoctor. The house was probably built soon after Hoctor acquired the parcel. The property remained in the Hoctor family until 1975.

One of the considerations for the HPC specified in the city's preservation ordinance is a building's identification with a historic personage. In Hudson history, Patrick Hoctor seems to qualify as a "historic personage." Columbia County at the End of the Century includes this biographical information about Hoctor:
Hoctor, Patrick, of Hudson, was born in Ireland, March 16, 1848, and came to the United States with his parents. His father, Timothy Hoctor, settled in East Dorset, Vt., where he was engaged in the marble trade. Patrick Hoctor was educated in private school, and, after completing his studies, learned marble-cutting with his father. In 1869 he came to Hudson and entered the employ of James M. Townsend, with whom he remained until 1873, when he went to Glens Falls, N.Y., and established business on his own account. Here he remained only three years and returned to Hudson, where he has since carried on marble-cutting and cemetery work, devoting his attention to the production of high-grade designs. He is an ex-member of the cemetery commission, and at present a member of the board of public works, wherein his experience and good judgment make him a useful member. Mr. Hoctor is an industrious, conscientious man, and an example of good citizenship, respected and esteemed throughout the city. In 1871 he was married to Jennie Barrett. They are the parents to two sons: Frank C. and Clarence E., and four daughters: Hattie J., Frances C., Gertrude and Isabelle H. 
Hoctor's business in Hudson was the Hudson Granite and and Marble Works, located at 48 North Sixth Street. Among the evidence of his good citizenship are donating, in 1883, "a fine slab of Vermont marble" for the foundation of the Venus fountain in the Public Square and, in 1892, donating the cornerstone for the original Firemen's Home. There are two stained glass windows dedicated to him in St. Mary's Church, which was constructed in 1930, two years after Hoctor's death. 

Hoctor is no doubt responsible for a number of monuments, both in the original Hudson City Cemetery and the newer Cedar Park Cemetery, which was developed in 1896. Hoctor's own monument in Cedar Park, marking the family plot where he and his wife and their children are buried, is impressive.

In addition to considering the demolition of what was the home of Patrick Hoctor and his family and of a rare surviving ice house, at its special meeting tomorrow, the HPC will be hearing from the Galvan people about the materials being proposed for the building they wish to construct on the east side of North Seventh Street, now being identified as 76 North Seventh Street. 

The meeting with take place virtually. Click here to join remotely.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

A Tale of Two Cities Revisited

Since 2018, Gossips has been comparing the development efforts for the Kaz site here in Hudson, a.k.a. the Montgomery Street parcel, and One Monument Square in Troy. Last year on September 8, Hudson Development Corporation approved the purchase/sale agreement for the Montgomery Street parcel, and on the same day, the proposed design for the building to be constructed at One Monument Square was released.  

Today, Albany Business Review reported that the Troy Planning Commission granted site plan approval for the building to be constructed at One Monument Square: "One Monument Square development approved in downtown Troy." The building is a project of Hoboken Brownstone Co. The following is quoted from the article:
The plans include 92 apartments with a total of 110 bedrooms; 19,890 square feet of commercial/retail space on the ground floor; two underground decks with 115 parking spaces; and a public plaza with seating, landscaping and views of the Hudson River.
Four distinct facades would represent the changing architectural styles of Troy's streetscape from the early 1800s to today.

Here in Hudson, the sale of the former Kaz site closed in March, but we still don't know what is being planned for the site.

Circling Back to the Dunn

The two climate adaptive designs proposed for the Hudson waterfront that were on display in riverfront park on Saturday both showed Water Street either rerouted or replaced by a reinstated Franklin Street to allow the site of the Dunn warehouse to be contiguous with Henry Hudson Riverfront Park.

That fact, and hearing a member of the design team explain they were anticipating the building being put to some public use, made me wonder what was happening with the Dunn warehouse. 

In 2017, the City received a $500,000 Restore NY grant for the Dunn building, and $1 million in DRI (Downtown Revitalization Initiative) funds has been earmarked for the Dunn building, with the contingency that the City have a development partner. In April 2020, a repair was made to the roof of the building, meant to stabilize the building until further restoration could take place.

The last information Gossips had about the Dunn building was reported this past January, when the Common Council passed a resolution authorizing an RFP (request for proposals) for the restoration and redevelopment of the building. There has been no word since about that RFP, so I decided find out what I could.

It turns out there were no responses to the RFP that was issued in January. According to the mayor's office, because there have been two unsuccessful RFPs, the City can now pursue a negotiated sale of the property. That doesn't seem quite right. There have not actually been two RFPs. 

In March 2020, the DRI Committee issued a request for expressions of interest (RFEI) for the redevelopment of the Dunn building. That appeal solicited one response, from Bonacio Construction in Saratoga Springs. At that time, Bonacio expressed interest in the Kaz site (which since then has been sold to South Front Street Holdings LLC) and the three parcels along Water Street north of the Dunn warehouse. Bonacio maintained that "the additional parcels would be needed to round out the Dunn redevelopment site and make a potential investment viable." 

In June 2020, the Common Council passed a resolution authorizing the mayor to issue a new RFEI that included the three City-owned parcels north of the Dunn building. It is not known, at least not by Gossips, if that new RFEI was ever drafted or released. The RFP (request for proposals) that was issued in January 2022 did not include the three adjacent parcels. That RFP stated that the city intends to "maintain long-term control/ownership of the site" but intends to "sell the building itself to the successful respondent." Now, apparently, it is believed that the City can pursue a negotiated sale of the building, which is one of the last surviving historic buildings on the waterfront. 

Selling the building, though, seems to run counter to what most people want for it. Recently, Councilmember Ryan Wallace (Third Ward) told Gossips, "Anything that we do with that building, I would love to see it made for public access. Riverfront concessions, bike rentals, kayak rentals, etc. It can serve as a gathering place." Add to Wallace's aspirations for the building a wine bar, a snack bar offering hot dogs and lobster rolls, and an all-season farmers' market, and you have what most people over the years have imagined for the Dunn warehouse. Somehow none of that seems likely if the building is sold to some for-profit enterprise.

COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health has released its numbers for today. Since yesterday, there have been 52 new cases of COVID-19. The number of active cases being reported today is the same as yesterday, from which it can be inferred that, since yesterday, 52 county residents have recovered from the virus. There are 6 fewer 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, May 16. 

A year ago today, the CCDOH reported 9 new cases of COVID-19. The total number of cases was 4,221, and the number of active cases was 43. There were 97 county residents in mandatory quarantine, 5 were hospitalized, and 0 were in the ICU. The total number of deaths in Columbia County attributed to COVID-19 at this time last year was 94.

On the Proposed New Congressional Districts

On Monday, the map showing the proposed new congressional districts was released, which showed a significantly reconfigured 19th Congressional District. Columbia County is still part of it, but now the district sprawls far to the west and includes much of the Southern Tier. The first image shows the 19th District as it is now. The second image shows the proposed redistricting.  

Today, the Columbia County Democratic Committee released the following statement, protesting the proposed redistricting. 
On Monday, May 16, Special Master Jonathan Cervas released his proposed congressional map. Cervas, an out-of-stater, with little to no connection to New York State, proposed a congressional map that would have disastrous consequences for Columbia County. If allowed to stand, Columbia County would be separated from both the Capital District and the Mid-Hudson Valley regions, as well as its county neighbors to the north and south. The proposed map groups Columbia County with Southern Tier and Finger Lakes counties, with which it has no commonality or relationship, in the newly constituted CD19. This is unprecedented and would result in a poor outcome for Columbia County when it comes to identity, representation, and allocation of resources.
“The redistricting process is taking place behind closed doors by a Republican judge and someone with little connection to our state,” said Sam Hodge, Chair of the Columbia County Democratic Committee (CCDC). “It’s an unconstitutional sham that will have long lasting consequences for our county and state. New Yorkers did not vote for an unelected guy from Pennsylvania to dictate our future. Columbia County appears to be an afterthought that was tacked on to a district that needed a few more people. We deserve better.”
Columbia County is located along the Hudson River in the Mid-Hudson Valley, and the Department of Economic Development has placed Columbia County in the Capital District. Under the proposed map, Columbia County would be isolated from both regions and be the only county in CD19 on the east side of the Hudson River. Columbia County should be part of a contiguous district of adjoining Mid-Hudson Valley counties. Based on current 2020 Census data, the combined populations of Columbia, Dutchess, Rensselaer, Ulster, and Greene Counties would be 748,393 people, which is within the range of +/-10 percent of the average congressional district.

To make matters worse, Columbia County has been excised from its peers and placed in the congressional district that shares little in common administratively. Our judicial, assembly, and senate districts have little, if any, overlap with other counties included in the proposed CD19. Effective government requires coordination and collaboration. The proposed map diminishes Columbia County's political power.

Columbia, Dutchess, Rensselaer, Ulster, and Greene Counties have a common history, developing major agricultural and industrial centers because of their proximity to the Hudson River. There is no such common history with counties located in the middle and western portions of New York State.

The five County Seat Cities of Hudson, Poughkeepsie, Troy, Kingston, and Catskill had a similar rise as major industrial cities that suffered steep economic declines in the first half of the 20th century but are now experiencing a great resurgence. These small to medium sized cities have diverse racial, ethnic, religious, cultural, socio-economic, and gender/sexual orientation populations. These cities have higher poverty levels than the surrounding countryside and have similar challenges to meet the need for infrastructure, broadband, workforce housing, and healthcare throughout the counties. Columbia County should be in a congressional district with its neighbors who face the same challenges and concerns.

Columbia County's proximity to New York City has created a rich, year-round arts community, with many artists, painters, dancers, musicians, actors, galleries, and antique stores that all create a destination for tourism. There is a significant and growing population of New York City dual homeowners. Newer residents are starting local small businesses, adding to the economic diversity in Columbia County. Columbia County is also home to many exurban communities of Albany, not Ithaca or Binghamton. Columbia County is tethered economically, culturally, and socially to its neighbors to the north and south. The proposed map ignores these connections, and in doing so, denies Columbia County of effective representation.  

Columbia County shares similar agricultural, historic, artistic, and economic challenges and opportunities with Dutchess, Ulster, Rensselaer, and Greene Counties as part of the Mid-Hudson Valley region. Dividing Columbia County, or separating it from the Mid-Hudson Valley region, would seriously impact the residents who want to build for the future and be fairly represented in Congress. 

“It would be a gross miscarriage of justice that will have long-term adverse consequences for our residents and our region if these district lines are allowed to stand,” said Hodge. “The new map is a disaster for our county and must be changed.”

Final Results from the HCSD Vote

Here are the results for the school board race as reported at the Board of Education meeting last night. 

Willette Jones                        413
Lakia Walker                          409
Kjirsten Gustavson                 384
Mark DePace                         404
Calvin Lewis                           251
Ọṣun Zotique                         148

The three candidates with the most votes--Willette Jones, Lakia Walker, Mark DePace--will serve a three-year term beginning July 1. The candidates with the fourth and fifth most votes--Kjirsten Gustavson and Calvin Lewis--will serve the remainder term beginning May 18, 2022, through June 30, 2023.

The budget for 2022-2023 was approved. The vote was 432 to 267.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Hudson Results in the School Vote

This is how the people of Hudson (those who showed up) voted in today's school district election. The votes cast in person and absentee ballots are included.

Board of Education

Willette Jones                 160
Lakia Walker                   152
Kjirsten Gustavson          146
Mark DePace                  144
Calvin Lewis                    136
Ọṣun Zotique                   112


Yes                         128
No                            87

These are the results only from Hudson, where it appears only 215 people voted, and not the other two voting districts.

COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health has released its numbers for today. Since yesterday, there have been 26 new cases of COVID-19. The number of active cases being reported today is 10 more than yesterday, from which it can be inferred that, since yesterday, 16 county residents have recovered from the virus. There are 3 more county residents hospitalized today than yesterday, but 1 fewer is in the ICU. There has not been a death from COVID-19 reported in Columbia County since yesterday.

A year ago today, the CCDOH reported 9 new cases of COVID-19.  The total number of cases was 4,212, and the number of active cases was 49. There were 67 county residents in mandatory quarantine, 5 were hospitalized, and 0 were in the ICU. The total number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 at this time last year was 94.

Today Is the Day

Don't forget to vote in today's school election. There are six candidates running for five open seats on the Board of Education: four on the ballot (Willette Jones, Lakia Walker, Kjirsten Gustavson, and Mark DePace) and two as write-ins (Ọṣun Zotique and Calvin Lewis). You are also asked to approve the proposed $54,125,024 budget for 2022-2023. 

The polling places are open now and will remain open until 8:00 p.m. Here is where you go to vote:
  • District 1 (City of Hudson)  Central Fire Station, 77 North Seventh Street
  • District 2 (Greenport, Stottville/Stockport, Ghent)  Greenpoint Community Center, 500 Town Hall Drive
  • District 3 (Claverack, Livingston, Taghkanic)  A. B. Shaw Firehouse, 67 Route 23, Claverack

Monday, May 16, 2022

Gossips Celebrated Too Soon

Last summer, Gossips reported twice about 258-260 State Street, once known as the "William F. Ball place" and more recently as 3rd State: in July and again in August. At the time, plans for the building were before the Planning Board. 

In July, Gossips reported:
Among the changes proposed for the building are replacing the original slate on the mansard roof with asphalt shingles; replacing the vinyl siding with something whose description sounded like Hardiplank; replacing the double hung windows with black casement windows; transforming the corner commercial entrance, discovered under the vinyl siding in 2018, into something described as a "Juliet balcony". . . .
Planning Board member Larry Bowne told the applicant, who was an engineer representing the owners, "Everything you are describing removes what is important." He went on to advise, "Tell your client they are doing a bad thing. . . . Following the parameters of historic preservation is the right thing to do." He identified what's proposed for the windows and the mansard roof as "most egregious." The applicant responded, "The owner wants something modern."
The next month, the owner himself appeared before the Planning Board. Here's what Gossips reported in August:
The good news for the William Ball Place, a major house located outside any local historic district, is that, at the last meeting of the Planning Board, the current owner of the building was present to correct and clarify what was planned for the building. The original slate on the mansard roof is to be repaired not replaced with asphalt shingles. The vinyl siding will be replaced with a composite product that is similar to Handiplank but is wood-based rather than cement-based. There was never a plan to replace the double hung windows with casement windows. The Planning Board had been told that in error. . . . 
The owner of the building told the Planning Board, "My vision is to make the building look very similar to The Maker. Anything that we can maintain we will."
Five months later, in January, Gossips reported about the strange new "ornaments" over the windows in the mansard roof, which at that point had been stripped of its original slate tiles.  

Today, a reader sent me this picture, showing that the mansard roof is now being covered with asphalt shingles.

Because historic preservation is not in the purview of the Planning Board, there is nothing to hold the owner to what he told the Planning Board about the manner in which the building would be rehabbed. This is what can happen to a historic building that is not within a locally designated historic district.