Tuesday, August 16, 2022

TVA Weighs in on the Colarusso Decision

Earlier today, The Valley Alliance sent the following memo, signed by codirectors Sam Pratt and Peter Jung, to the Planning Board, the Mayor, and the Common Council. The memo was also shared with The Gossips of Rivertown.

We’re writing regarding the recent and, frankly, bizarre ruling in the Colarusso matter. We trust that the City will fully and vigorously defend the Planning Board, as it would any of its agencies, from repeated nuisance suits from those with enough money to be exempt from local codes.
But just in case there is anyone wishing to encourage such manipulation of City laws and regulations, we offer these brief observations for your consideration:

  1. The Waterfront is potentially Hudson’s greatest asset for creating jobs and other economic, educational, housing and recreational opportunity for residents, especially those who may not have benefited from development of other areas such as Warren Street. We have argued this for more than 20 years, as have others before us. That opportunity must not be cast away hastily or lightly, due to legal harassment by one Greenport company.
  2. The ruling is very sloppily argued and needs to be appealed if only to correct many fundamental errors of fact and law. If these are left standing, it would prejudice the remaining review of this major project, which still has other outstanding components besides the so-called haul road. . . .
  3. No one will serve on local boards if the City does not have their backs. Those who volunteer to serve on the Planning Board, ZBA and other City agencies deserve to know the time and effort they devote will not be wasted if a wealthy applicant keeps filing nuisance suits. For example, we understand that at least one previous Planning chair only agreed to serve on the assurance the City would support their findings, whichever way it decided.
  4. It would encourage others with the money to file endless lawsuits if this inaccurate and illogically-argued ruling is allowed to stand. Doing so would effectively create a two-tiered class system, wherein the City’s laws and regulations only apply to those who lack the resources to pay lawyers to try, try again with the courts.
  5. Funds already spent defending past suits and on the review will be wasted if this easily overturned ruling is not challenged with an appeal. This situation is very rare, Colarusso being the only applicant we can think of which has sued the Planning Board not once, but twice. The minor added cost of an appeal is a manageable and essential expense in the context of all the City’s budgeting over a period of 10-20 years.
  6. Zwack’s decision ignores the plain instructions of the DEC Commissioner who empowered Hudson to do its own review. In his 2016 resolution of the dispute between Hudson and Greenport, NYSDEC Commissioner Basil Seggos specifically stated that though he granted Greenport lead agency status for the haul road portion of the project, “This decision in no way limits the jurisdiction or responsibilities of the other involved and interested agencies—particularly the City Planning Board.”
  7. Zwack’s decision ignores the clear intent of the Hudson LWRP, as explained by the Department of State’s lead attorney and the then-City attorney. Taking questions from Council members prior to voting on this new suite of laws, DOS attorney Bill Sharpe stated that if any changes were made to the road, dock, or other portion of these operations in Hudson, the owner would have to undergo a full review of the whole project. City Attorney Cheryl Roberts promised that the new zoning would be “very protective” of the waterfront and provide the Council the “handle on the port and the causeway” which they wanted. . . .
  8. Zwack’s decision could effectively force illegal segmentation of the review. If allowed to stand, the court ruling goes against established SEQRA precedent which requires agencies like the Planning Board to consider the entire, overall impact of a proposal. The dock has no purpose for Colarusso without the road, and vice-versa. Cumulative impacts arising from an approval of either must be assessed as a whole, not just approved one-by-one. The Board should not be forced to violate SEQRA just because a judge was impatient.
  9. Any harm which Colarusso claims has arisen from this review is 100% self-inflicted. The existence of the local laws which caused this review was known, or should have been known, to the company when it bought property from Holcim. It disregarded or failed to notice that when they made changes to the dock, it triggered a full review of the entire project. At least 2-4 years of delays have been caused by Colarusso either suing Hudson, or refusing to provide necessary data to the Board. As such, the only harms and delays it has suffered were caused by its own actions and disregard for local zoning codes.
  10. The Planning Board votes which Colarusso dislikes were unanimous. It’s notable that despite Colarusso’s allegations against just two members, the Board has voted unanimously. The recusal of two members would not have led to different outcomes, since the others all also voted for a Type I declaration (6-0 vote) and Positive Declaration (7-0). This strongly suggests that whatever the personal views of each member, as a group they all came to the same conclusion. Moreover, if one opens this can of worms, in a City the size of Hudson it will be impossible to find any members to serve who someone will not accuse of bias. There are many instances we could cite of bias against those challenging the project both within the Board and in City Hall; but we haven’t sued every time someone disagrees with us.
  11. The City can stop the truck traffic on lower Columbia Street today if it wishes. The current operation has no local permits governing truck traffic, gravel loading, barge activity, dust management, etc. Meanwhile, the project has lost its grandfathered status through Colarusso’s own actions, and is the subject to an Order to Remedy. The City thus can demand that the Code Enforcement Officer order work to be stopped at the dock unless the Order to Remedy is satisfied by the thorough Board review which Colarusso so fears. 
There are many other points which are tempting to make here, but we will leave it at that for now—and trust that common sense prevails in supporting a Planning Board with appeal, which is both sound legally and necessary to protect the City’s integrity. 

At its meeting tonight, the Common Council went into executive session, inviting the Mayor to join them. The stated purpose of the executive session was "to discuss litigation." It is not known what litigation was discussed.

Good News for Oakdale Lake

The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation announced today $3.1 million in Environmental Justice Community Impact Grant awards. Among the thirty-two recipients is the Columbia Land Conservancy, which was awarded a $100,000 grant to implement water quality improvements at Oakdale Lake and to collect data on the lake's water quality.

Commenting on the grant, Tamar Adler of Friends of Oakdale Lake noted this was the second consecutive cycle in which Oakdale has been awarded a grant. Adler continued, "The funds are already being used to implement the water improvement measures recommended during our last grant cycle. There has been mechanical submerged aquatic vegetation harvesting and removal of overhanging branches which drop nutrient heavy leaves, etc., into the lake. On the docket are solar-powered aeration to improve oxygenation of the lake, and more!"

COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health has released its numbers for today. Since yesterday, there have been 19 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, 14 county residents have recovered from the virus. The number of county residents hospitalized with COVID-19 and in the ICU remains the same today as yesterday. There has not been a death from COVID-19 reported in Columbia County since Wednesday, August 10. 

A year ago today, the CCDOH reported 21 new cases of COVID-19 after a two-day weekend. The total number of cases was 4,451, and the number of active cases was 46. There were 76 county residents in mandatory quarantine, 4 were hospitalized, and 1 was in the ICU. The total number of deaths in Columbia County attributed to COVID-19 at this time last year was 96.

There Could Be an Arbor Day After All

On August 3, Gossips reported that the Conservation Advisory Council might not do an Arbor Day this year for lack of funding. At the August meeting of the CAC, Britt Zuckerman reported that she had applied for a $10,000 grant from National Grid to fund this year's tree planting, but the application was still under review, and she considered it a "long shot." Without the grant, Zuckerman told her colleagues, there could be no Arbor Day.

Since that post, someone who wishes to remain anonymous has come forward to donate five trees to the CAC for this year's Arbor Day tree planting. The donor has asked Hudson Development Corporation to be the liaison to make this happen. To that end, HDC is coordinating with Zuckerman and members of the CAC who will select the tree sites and work with the Department of Public Works for the actual planting of the trees. HDC board president Chris Jones commented, "While our mission is focused on growing business and jobs in Hudson, we are happy, once again, to be able to connect Britt and the CAC with a generous donor who wants to help plant more trees in Hudson."


Last year, the CAC's Arbor Day observation was financed with $1,000 contributed by the Hudson Parks Conservancy and a GoFundMe campaign, for which HDC served as fiscal sponsor. HDC also introduced members of the CAC to a nursery that provided a discount on the cost of the five trees acquired and planted last year.

Photo: Hilary Hillman
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Benefactor Revealed

Last spring, it was announced that an anonymous donor would pay the back rent for all Hudson Housing Authority tenants who were in arrears. The source of the money, which totaled $60,000, was not identified, but the Hudson/Catskill Housing Coalition was mentioned often as having played a role in the philanthropic act.

Last night, at the meeting of the Hudson Housing Authority Board of Commissioners, Jeffrey Dodson, executive director of HHA, announced that the anonymous donor no longer wished to be anonymous. Dodson revealed that The Spark of Hudson, with its "sister organization" the Eutopia Foundation, had provided the funds to clear all the overdue rent for HHA tenants. The Eutopia Foundation also partnered with The Spark of Hudson to fund the second cohort of HudsonUP, the universal basic income program in Hudson.
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Monday, August 15, 2022

An Idea Whose Time Has Just Now Come

Last September, the Common Council passed a law lowering the speed limit on Glenwood Boulevard and Union Street to 25 miles an hour. The language of the law clarified that this was just the beginning: "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." Discussion prior to passing the law made it clear that the ultimate goal was to lower the speed limit throughout the city. 
Now it seems it can happen without doing it piecemeal, a street or two at a time.

On Friday, August 12, Governor Kathy Hochul signed into law S02021A/A01007A, a bill that "authorizes cities, villages and towns to reduce the speed limit to twenty-five miles per hour." The Common Council can now do what they wanted to do in the first place: reduce the speed limit in Hudson from 30 to 25 miles an hour in one fell swoop.
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COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health has released its numbers for today. Since Friday, there have been 30 new cases of COVID-19. The number of active cases being reported today is 1 fewer than on Friday, from which it can be inferred that, over the weekend, 31 county residents have recovered from the virus. There is 1 fewer county resident hospitalized with COVID-19 today than on Friday, and 1 fewer in the ICU. There has not been a death from COVID-19 in Columbia County since Wednesday, August 10.  

A year ago, August 15 was a Sunday, and the CCDOH did not report COVID numbers. On the previous Friday, August 13, the CCDOH reported 5 new cases of COVID-19. The total number of cases was 4,430, and the number of active cases was 40. There were 65 county residents in mandatory quarantine, 5 were hospitalized, and 1 was in the ICU. The total number of deaths in Columbia County attributed to COVID-19 at this time last year was 96.

Waterfront Wednesdays This Week

This week, Hudson Hall takes over Waterfront Wednesdays, not with music and dance performances but with an evening dedicated to "the art of upcycling and the stories behind what we leave behind." The featured activities in Hudson Hall's Waterfront Wednesdays takeover include:

From 5:00 p.m.  T-Shirt Waste Loom Demonstration with LikeMindedObjects
Created in collaboration among LikeMindedObjects, weaver Francesca Capone, and The Spark of Hudson, the T-Shirt Waste Loom Project empowers creative individuals to give new life and purpose to their discarded clothing. Each loom requires six T-shirts, so raid that bottom-drawer T-shirt tomb and bring them down to the waterfront to be woven into wonderful new objects.


From 5:00 p.m.  Silkscreen Upcycling by Wolfy Part II (Jef Scharf)
Wolfy Part II is a Hudson-based artist and DJ whose free silkscreened upcycled creations were a hit a Winter Walk last year. Wolfy returns to work his magic on old shirts, totes, or flags at Waterfront Wednesdays, this time bringing his mobile silkscreen press to print designs celebrating the Hudson River Valley using images from the Hudson Hall archives.

From 5:00 to 5:30 p.m.  City of Trash Puppet Making
Who needs new toys when there is infinite fun to be had right inside your recycling box. Join puppet theater makers Grand Pistachio for a fun puppet making workshop using discarded objects and household items. No experience or registration necessary. All materials are provided.


From 6:00 to 6:30 p.m.  City of Trash Work-in-Process Puppet Performance
Enjoy an excerpt from Grand Pistachio's upcoming production, City of Trash, all about the fascinating life of a New York City sanitation worker and the stories behind the items we hold dear and the objects we choose to toss. City of Trash is a series of theatrical experiences for young people that makes visible the invisible work of sanitation professionals who keep society healthy and safe. City of Trash is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature and support from Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation.
 
In addition to the activities and events produced by Hudson Hall, this week's Waterfront Wednesdays will include such regular features as a drum circle, fishing, and sails on the sloop Apollonia, as well as rides on the Solaris, the Hudson River Maritime Museum's 100 percent solar-powered tour boat and floating classroom.


As always, Waterfront Wednesdays runs from 5:00 p.m. until sunset. 

Sunday, August 14, 2022

Meetings and Events in the Week Ahead

The week ahead promises to be filled with lovely late summer days and these meetings and events.
  • On Monday, August 15, the Hudson Housing Authority Board of Commissioners meets at 6:00 p.m. It is possible that the meeting may yield some information about the agreement being proposed to acquire property owned by Hudson Community Development and Planning Agency for new HHA development. The meeting is a hybrid--taking place in person in the Community Room at Bliss Towers and on Zoom. Click here to join the meeting remotely.
  • On Tuesday, August 16, the Common Council holds its regular monthly meeting. So far, there is little of interest on the agenda, but at the informal meeting last month, Council president Tom DePietro promised, "We'll have a lot for next week." The meeting is a hybrid--taking place at City Hall and on Zoom. Click here to join remotely. 
  • On Wednesday, August 17, the Zoning Board of Appeals is scheduled to meet at 6:00 p.m. The ZBA meeting has been canceled for the past two months for lack of applications before the board. It is not known if there is there anything on the agenda this month. If the meeting does take place, it will take place in person only at City Hall.
Update: For the third month in a row, the ZBA meeting has been canceled.
  • Also on Wednesday, August 17, there is a preview screening of WindShipped, Jon Bowermaster's new film about the sloop Apollonia. Doors open at 7:00; the film will be shown at 8:00 p.m. Click here to RSVP and secure a ticket.

And that's it for the week.
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Another Comment on the Court Decision

On Friday, Gossips published a statement from the Mayor's Office about the decision handed down on Tuesday by Acting Supreme Court Justice Henry F. Zwack in the lawsuit A. Colarusso & Sons v. City of Hudson Planning Board. Today, Our Hudson Waterfront published the following statement on Facebook:
With little regard for precedent, or the impacts on Hudson and its future, a Supreme Court Judge has ordered our Planning Board to cease its review of the Colarusso "haul road" and approve the company's disastrous expansion plan ASAP. This will bring a deluge of gravel trucks to the waterfront, threaten the City's ONLY riverfront access, make road and rail crossings far more dangerous, and depress economic activity that would otherwise create real jobs for people of Hudson.
If you think this stinks--as we do--then contact your alder, the mayor's office and the Planning Board and demand the Board appeal this horrendous decision.
We have the power to stop this travesty, but we can only do it if you step up. Demand real environmental justice. Demand the waterfront Hudson deserves.
The Facebook post was accompanied by these pictures.




Friday, August 12, 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 3 more than yesterday, from which it can be inferred that, since yesterday, 15 county residents have recovered from the virus. There is 1 more 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 Wednesday, August 10.  

A year ago today, the CCDOH reported 9 new cases of COVID-19. The total number of cases was 4,425, and the number of active cases was 47. There were 66 county residents in mandatory quarantine, 2 were hospitalized, and 1 was in the ICU. The total number of deaths in Columbia County attributed to COVID-19 at this time last year was 96.

Regarding That Court Decision

Today, the following statement was issued by the Mayor's Office about the decision handed down on August 9 by Acting Supreme Court Justice Henry F. Zwack.
The Mayor is aware that, on August 9, 2022, the Columbia County Supreme Court issued a decision and order denying the Planning Board's motion to dismiss the case of A. Colarusso & Sons, Inc. et al. v City of Hudson Planning Board. We understand that the Planning Board is evaluating the decision, and all of its options, with its legal counsel. The Mayor will be speaking with all relevant parties within the City's administration to discuss the City's next steps with regard to this decision and order. 
Gossips is inspired to accompany this statement with these photographs, recently provided by a reader.



More About Formula Businesses

This morning, the Historic Preservation Commission approved signs for two new businesses in Hudson that Gossips mentioned a few weeks ago in the post "Preserving Community Character": Savona's Trattoria and Westerlind. The post was about Article XIV of the city code, which prohibits chain stores and formula retail uses in Hudson. The law defines a chain as having four or more other establishments in operation.

Savona's Trattoria, which is having its soft opening today, is the fourth restaurant of its kind, the others being in Red Hook, Kingston, and Poughkeepsie. With the restaurant in Hudson, Savona's reaches the threshold for being a chain, as defined by Hudson's law. Because the Hudson location is the fourth location, there is no problem. That is not the case with Westerlind.

Westerlind, an outdoor apparel and gear boutique, already has stores in Manhattan, Great Barrington, Millertown, and Kingston. The store in Hudson will be its fifth, and, as a consequence, it is in violation of Article XIV of Hudson's city code. Notwithstanding, the HPC approved its signs this morning, and the store is expected to open sometime this fall.

At the Common Council Legal Committee meeting on Wednesday, committee chair Margaret Morris (First Ward) brought up the issue of chain retail stores. Morris suggested that Local Law No. 3 of 2018, the law that created Article XIV, was not well written. "What if," she speculated, "a chain originates in Hudson?" She also questioned how the law was enforced. If a new business is a permitted use in the zoning district where it is located, and there is no change of use, site plan review by the Planning Board is not required. This is obviously what happened in the case of Westerlind.

Council president Tom DePietro, who was in the audience at City Hall for the meeting, observed that there was no way to identify potential violations of the law and cited Applestone, the company that sold organic, grass-fed meat from vending machines, as an example of a retail use that violated Article XIV. That was not an accurate example. 

Correction: DePietro cited Applestone to illustrate the potential problem of a business opening additional locations after establishing a business in Hudson. He asserted that, at the time the Hudson facility opened in 2019, Applestone had plans for "four or five more" locations. Exactly what DePietro said can be heard here, beginning at about 48:05. 
 
Because a retail establishment filled with vending machines dispensing meat was a change of use at the proposed location, Applestone was subject to site plan review by the Planning Board, which wasn't the case for Savona's or Westerlind. The minutes from the Planning Board meeting for October 11, 2018, at which the project was presented, indicate that it was made clear in the presentation that the Hudson location would be Applestone Meat Company's third location, below the threshold established in the law. This is confirmed by an article that appeared in lohud.com: "'Horn & Hardart' of butchers opens new location in Hudson; Westchester is next." Applestone, which ceased operations last summer, only ever had four locations: Stone Ridge, Accord, Hudson, and Eastchester. When the company went out of business in July 2021, there were three locations: Stone Ridge, Hudson, and Eastchester. 

The law and possible revisions to it will be a topic of discussion at the next Legal Committee meeting. Morris asked the members of the committee--Theo Anthony (Fourth Ward), Art Frick (First Ward), Mohammed Rony (Second Ward), Ryan Wallace (Third Ward)--to "think about the purpose of it" in preparation for the discussion.
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Thursday, August 11, 2022

COVID-19 Update

I drove home from Joey's vet appointment this afternoon listening to the report about the CDC's new guidance about COVID-19 on NPR's All Things Considered. That report can be heard here. The message seems to be that COVID-19 is now to be treated as if it were no worse than the flu.  

A couple of hours earlier, the Columbia County Department of Health released its numbers for today, which suggest that COVID is still not something to be taken lightly. Since yesterday, there have been 18 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, 12 county residents have recovered from the virus. There are 3 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 yesterday. 

A year ago today, the CCDOH reported 7 new cases of COVID-19. The total number of cases was 4,416, and the number of active cases was 37. There were 52 county residents in mandatory quarantine, 2 were hospitalized, and 1 was in the ICU. The total number of deaths in Columbia County attributed to COVID-19 at this time last year was 96.

A Decision in the Case

In November 2021, the Planning Board made a positive declaration in the SEQR (State Environmental Quality Review) process, requiring A. Colarusso & Sons to prepare a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS). Colarusso responded by filing a lawsuit against the Planning Board, seeking an annulment of the Planning Board's positive declaration. Earlier this week, on Tuesday, August 9, a decision in the case was handed down by Acting Supreme Court Judge Henry F. Zwack. The gist of the decision is this: "[T]he haul road project is not the subject of further SEQRA review by the City of Hudson, and site plan approval is directed to proceed."

The following are a couple of interesting passages from the decision:
Colarusso argues its repair of the waterfront bulkhead should be classified as a Type II action, reflecting the limited dock repair that it was, which does not require an SEIS. Colarusso also argues that the City failed to properly designate the Common Council as the lead agency as required under the plain language of SEQRA. The determination was therefore arbitrary and capricious, effected by error of law and made in excess of jurisdiction. Colarusso also asserts that the Planning Board is also bound by the Town of Greenport's Planning Board negative determination as to the haul road and must issue a final determination of the pending site plan application. Colarusso also asserts that the Planning Board's assessment that the dock repair constituted a Type I action was arbitrary and capricious, not supported by the record, and the result of bias against Colarusso in that two Planning Board members were conflicted because of their relationship with a group opposing the commercial dock and mining operation, known as "Our Hudson Waterfront." Colarusso further argues that the Mind [sic] Land Reclamation Law preempts the Planning Board's attempts to regulate Colarusso's operation, Colarusso has constitutionally vested rights, and the declaration is an unlawful restriction of interstate commerce. [Pages 8-9]

Information about the Mined (not Mind) Land Reclamation Law can be found here

Colarusso has yet to begin the approved improvements to the haul road, which includes portions within the City of Hudson, as it continues to be embroiled in City actions which make forward movement on the project nearly impossible. According to Colarusso's counsel, at a regular meeting of the City's Planning Board on July 14, 2020, the haul road improvements had not begun because the City has not approved their site plan for two way traffic on that portion of the haul road that enters the City. Counsel further stated that he would not advise his clients to complete improvements to the haul road if two way traffic could not continue into the City. Counsel further noted that the County Planning Board has approved the haul road, which will include two lane traffic. The City's Planning Board erred when it attempted to equate the haul road, an already SEQR approved project, with the conditional use permit sought by Colarusso for the dock. [Pages 12-13]
The entire decision can be found here.

This is not good news for the Hudson waterfront.

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Wednesday, August 10, 2022

COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health has released its numbers for today. Since yesterday, there has been another death from COVID-19 in the county and 14 new cases. The number of active cases being reported today is 3 more than yesterday, from which it can be inferred that, since yesterday, 11 county residents have recovered from the virus. The number of county residents hospitalized with COVID-19 and in the ICU remains the same today as yesterday. So far in the month of August, 3 deaths from COVID-19 have been reported. The previous two were on on August 2 and August 3.

A year ago today, the CCDOH reported 14 new cases of COVID-19, the same as today. The total number of cases was 4,409, and the number of active cases was 37. There were 32 county residents in mandatory quarantine, 1 was hospitalized, and 1 was in the ICU. The total number of deaths in Columbia County attributed to COVID-19 at this time last year was 96.

Coming to a Theater Near You

Jon Bowermaster, environmental filmmaker, writer, and activist, recently announced the completion of a new film called WindShipped, about a vessel familiar to most of us in Hudson, the schooner Apollonia. Bowermaster says of the film:
We've been following the exploits of the "Schooner Apollonia" the past three years, as it establishes itself as the only ship in the country making deliveries . . . of malt, corn, pumpkins, red oak, a printing press, various CBD products, hot peppers, organic pillows and more . . . by sail-power (i.e. no fossil fuels).
You've probably spied the "Apollonia" on the Hudson River at some point during the past three years; they've made 15 successful [round trips] from Hudson to NYC, delivering more than 100,000 pounds of goods that would have otherwise been driven by diesel-burning trucks. Sounds Quixotic, perhaps? But Captain Sam Merrett is the first to remind "this is not a gimmick. We want to see sail freight return to the Hudson Valley in a big way."
The film is being previewed this week and next in Rhinebeck and here in Hudson. Click on one of the links below to RSVP and secure tickets.
The screening at Upstate Films is at 7:30 p.m.; the screening at Basilica Hudson is at 8:00 p.m. At both screenings, the crew of the Apollonia will be on hand for questions and answers afterward.

Click here to watch the trailer.

Reminder

If you want to attend tomorrow's virtual public information meeting about improvements to the Hudson Boat Launch, you must be preregistered for the meeting. The deadline for preregistering is today. Do so at http://forms.office.com/g/d9jvAFrXv.

The meeting, which is being held by the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, takes place virtually beginning at 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, August 11.

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health has released its numbers for today. Since yesterday, there have been 13 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, 19 county residents have recovered from the virus. The number of county residents hospitalized with COVID-19 and in the ICU is the same today as it was yesterday. There has not been a death from COVID-19 reported in Columbia County since Wednesday, August 3.   

A year ago today, the CCDOH reported 15 new cases of COVID-19 after a two-day weekend. The total number of cases was 4,395, and the number of active cases was 27. There were 35 county residents in mandatory quarantine, 2 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 96.

The Planning Board Tonight

The agenda for tonight's Planning Board meeting has been published. It can be viewed here. On the agenda is the continuation of the public hearing on the hotel proposed by the Galvan Foundation for the corner of Warren and Fourth streets, as well as the continuation of the board's review of plans for the renovation of 508-510 State Street, the subdivision of 2 to 12 Hudson Avenue, and Galvan's plans for the renovation and repurposing of the former Community Theatre at Columbia and Seventh streets.



The meeting begins at 6:00 p.m. and will take place virtually. Click here to join the Zoom meeting.

Last Night at City Hall

When the practice of having an informal Common Council meeting was begun back in 2000, its purpose was to introduce resolutions so that members of the Council and members of the public would have a chance to study the documents before the Council voted on them. At the beginning of 2021, Council president Tom DePietro changed the nature of the informal meeting when he did away with standing committees and required department heads, who once reported to separate committees, to report to the full Council at the informal meeting. Since then the introduction of new resolutions has taken a backseat to department reports, and resolutions are regularly not presented for consideration until the regular meeting, immediately before they are voted on. Last night, only four resolutions were introduced, but DePietro promised, "We'll have a lot for next week." Nevertheless, the informal meeting was not without interest or incident. 

Typically the report from the Hudson Police Department is presented by Chief Ed Moore, but last night Police Commissioner Shane Bower presented the report. Bower reported that, in the month of July, there had been 46 arrests, 9 calls about emotionally disturbed people, 2 drug overdoses, 1 death from a drug overdose, and no incidents of use of force. When the public was invited to ask questions of Bower, Bill Huston wanted to know Bower's role in approving the elimination of parking spaces in front of The Maker. Bower reacted to the questions by telling Huston, "You are not an attorney, and I am not on trial." 

Huston then began questioning Bower about the shooting in the early hours of July 4, demanding to know why it had not been mentioned in Bower's report. At this point, DePietro told Huston he was "not following the rules," presumably referring to the Council's Rules of Order, and asked him to leave, calling Huston's behavior "disorderly conduct." Before Huston departed, shown the door by a Hudson police officer who was present at the meeting, Bower explained, "It's an open investigation. That's why we're not talking about it." 

Mayor Kamal Johnson made a brief Zoom appearance at the meeting to announce he has made Cheryl Roberts a city judge and Andy Howard would be replacing Roberts as city attorney. Howard served as counsel to the Council when Claudia DeStefano was Council president (2016-2017) and as city attorney during Mayor Rick Rector's administration (2018-2019). 

Perhaps the most interesting news was contained in a report from Department of Public Works superintendent Rob Perry, but unfortunately, owing to technical problems, he never got to that part in his oral presentation. The news is that the long awaited custom crafted railings, the absence of which has been preventing the completion and reopening of Promenade Hill, are starting to arrive. To quote Perry regarding the project, "The end is near."

Update: Rob Perry just provided Gossips with this photograph of the first delivery of the railings.

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Monday, August 8, 2022

Updated Meeting Link

The link for tonight's informal Common Council meeting provided on the city website and on Gossips is incorrect. Click here to join the meeting. 

COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health has released its numbers for today. Since Friday, there have been 22 new cases of COVID-19. The number of active cases being reported today is 4 more than on Friday, from which it can be inferred that, since Friday, 18 county residents have recovered from the virus. There are 2 more county residents hospitalized with COVID-19 today than on Friday, and 1 of those hospitalized is in the ICU. There has not been a death from COVID-19 reported in Columbia County since Wednesday, August 3.  

A year ago, August 8 was a Sunday, and the CCDOH did not report COVID numbers. On the previous Friday, August 6, the CCDOH reported 6 new cases of COVID-19. The total number of cases was 4,380, and the number of active cases was 39. There were 55 county residents in mandatory quarantine, 2 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 96.

An Explanation and a Recommendation

Recently several of you have contacted me to report that you are no longer receiving Gossips posts or notifications of Gossips posts by email. There are two reasons why this is happening.

You may have signed up to receive Gossips by email. Once a day, usually in the late afternoon, you would receive, in your inbox, all the posts published in the previous 24 hours. That was a service provided by Google Blogger, the platform used for The Gossips of Rivertown, and it has been discontinued. The last post delivered by that means was received on July 24.

Alternatively, you may have requested that you receive email notification whenever a new post appeared on Gossips. That was a service provided by me, and one that has been progressively hampered by restrictions imposed by email service providers trying to prohibit spam. Ever tightening restrictions on the number of notices and the number of recipients have significantly reduced the number of notices I send out. In addition to the restrictions, I find, once I have published a post, I am more interested in diving into the next topic than taking the time to send out notifications. As a consequence, notifications from me have become sporadic at best. 

Today I have added a new device to Gossips, one that is now being offered by Google Blogger. You will find it toward the bottom of the right column. I don't know exactly how it works. It appears you need to subscribe either to NetVibes or to Yahoo in order to use it. I am not recommending it; I am just making it available to readers should they choose to use it.  

My own recommendation is that once or twice a day you just go directly to The Gossips of Rivertown and check out what's new. The URL is easy to remember: gossipsofrivertown.com. If you do it often enough, the entire URL will appear as soon as you type g in your browser. Should you forget the URL, just type gossips (be certain it's plural) into your search engine. In all likelihood, The Gossips of Rivertown--this blog not the 1848 novel from which it takes its name--will be the first thing to pop up.

Thank you all, always and sincerely, for your loyalty and interest in The Gossips of Rivertown.
COPYRIGHT 2022 CAROLE OSTERINK

Sunday, August 7, 2022

Meetings and Events in the Week Ahead

As we move further into August and the heat wave continues, here's what's happening in Hudson.
  • On Monday, August 8, the Common Council holds a special meeting at 5:30 p.m. Four items will be considered at the meeting, among them authorizing the mayor to enter into a contract with the NYS Department of State for a $67,500 grant in the Smart Growth Comprehensive Planning Grant Program and approving a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Hudson Business Coalition for Warren Street Shared Usage 2022. The meeting is a hybrid--taking place in person at City Hall and on Zoom. Click here to join remotely.
  • At 6:00 p.m. on Monday, August 8, the Council holds its informal meeting for the month. So far, there is not much of interest on the agenda, but that will no doubt change. The meeting will be a hybrid--taking place in person at City Hall and on Zoom. Click here to join remotely.
  • On Tuesday, August 9, Hudson Community Development and Planning Agency (HCDPA) meets at noon. At the last meeting of HCDPA, attorney Christine Chale reported that an agreement had been drafted for the Hudson Housing Authority (HHA) to purchase property owned by HCDPA. That agreement is expected to be discussed at this meeting. The meeting will take place virtually. Click here to join.
  • At 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, August 9, the Planning Board holds its regular monthly meeting. No agenda for the meeting is yet available, but it is likely the board will once again take up its review of the hotel proposed by the Galvan Foundation for the corner of Warren and Fourth streets and begin its review of Galvan's plans for the former Community Theatre at Columbia and Seventh streets. The meeting will take place virtually. Click here to join the meeting.
  • On Wednesday, August 10, the Common Council Legal Committee meets at 6:00 p.m. It is expected that at this meeting the Legal Committee will consider a number of revisions to local laws suggested by Crystal Peck, counsel to the Council. The meeting is a hybrid--taking place in person at City Hall and on Zoom. Click here to join the meeting remotely.
  • Also on Wednesday, August 10, Waterfront Wednesdays takes place from 5:30 p.m. until sunset at Henry Hudson Riverfront Park. This week, in addition to such regular On Water offerings as the schooner Apollonia, fishing, and trips to the Hudson-Athens Lighthouse, the event features the Bindlestiff Family Circus, at 7:00 p.m., and the band Pocket Merchant, at 8:00 p.m. 
  • On Thursday, August 11, at 6:00 p.m., the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation holds a virtual public information meeting to discuss improvements to the Hudson Boat Launch. Participation in the meeting requires that you preregister at http://forms.office.com/g/d9jvAFrXv no later than Wednesday, August 10.
  • On Friday, August 12, the Historic Preservation Commission holds its first meeting of the month at 10:00 a.m. The meeting takes place virtually. Click here to join the meeting.
For those who like to plan ahead, it has been confirmed that the ad hoc Truck Committee will meet regularly on the first Thursday of the month, which means that the next meeting of the group will take place on Thursday, September 1.
COPYRIGHT 2022 CAROLE OSTERINK