Thursday, November 16, 2023

Suggesting the Unthinkable

At the informal Common Council meeting this past Monday, Councilmember Margaret Morris (First Ward) raised an issue relating to the Youth Department budget. Citing data that indicated one third of the children participating in programs at the Youth Center do not live in Hudson, she suggested that there should be a nonresident fee at the Youth Center for children who do not reside in Hudson. She noted that the Youth Department already charges a nonresident fee for its summer program at Oakdale Lake.

Mayor Kamal Johnson, attending the meeting on Zoom, urged the Council "to err on caution" when considering charging "kids who have been displaced." He spoke about kids who are going to the Youth Center "because their friends, who used to be their neighbors, are going there." He warned against making such a decision without public input and cautioned that such a meeting "could get out of hand" if people perceive that "services are being taken away from the youth." He made reference to a recent meeting of the Columbia County Board of Supervisors, attended by a large group of people there to appeal to the supervisors not to evict the Hudson Youth Clubhouse from 11 Warren Street. (Johnson might also have cited a BEA workshop on the Youth Department budget back in November 2018, when a bag of dog feces was hurled at Mayor Rick Rector.)

Annette Perry appealing to the Board of Supervisors on behalf of the Youth Clubhouse
As Gossips has reported, Columbia County is buying 11 Warren Street, Hudson's failed, 1970s era strip mall, from the Galvan Foundation, which has owned the building since 2014. It is Galvan not the County that is evicting the Clubhouse, expecting the program to be out of the building by the end of this month. Jammel Cutler reported on the situation last month in the Register-Star: "D-Day near for Hudson Youth Clubhouse." 

It was revealed at the meeting that the sale of the building has not yet closed, and the Board of Supervisors plans to hold a public meeting sometime in December to determine what county agencies will be going into the building once the County has taken ownership.


  1. A veiled threat from the mayor? Are things that bad between the branches of government in a town the size of a small neighborhood?

    On a different angle to the same issue: wouldn't it be novel if the mayor actually represented the interests of the entire city of Hudson instead of just some? The youth department is among the most well funded by both the City and its citizens (through a number of private charities). If a significant amount of public and charitable money is being essentially drained for those who don't live in the city limits, then perhaps the mayor should speak to the supervisor of the surrounding towns and they can pay. But the idea that the taxpayers of Hudson should fund programs for those who don't live here is frankly something only someone who doesn't pay taxes would think is equitable.

  2. Agree with Mr Friedman. My extremely high taxes are for Hudson expenses.

  3. No need for dramatics. Councilmember Morris is just exercising her fiduciary responsibility to her constituents - the residents and taxpayers of Hudson. It's in the best interest to the Youth Department to have a sustainable budget. It probably doesn't make sense to charge a fee to nonresidents like the summer program since that is a more defined program schedule and the after school programs probably is more drop-in attendance. But, it's not a bad idea to ask the county to pitch in since it serves the surrounding areas, much like the school district or the area library.

    I also find it very patronizing and exploitive to instigate groups of people to turn out to meetings by making allusions to bad intentions... the recent council meeting about the Ferry St. Bridge or School Board land thing comes to mind. I hope that's not what's happening here.

    As far as the Clubhouse goes, where was Hudson's delegation of supervisors when they decided to purchase the property from Galvan? Not only did they sleep on the wasted land use and tax revenue potential of an entire block of our main economic corridor, they completely missed out on the opportunity to consider where this youth organization would go. If I recall, some didn't even attend the vote.

    It seems that there are several organizations in Hudson dedicated to youth. There's a lot of passion out there, but it looks like some organizations are better funded than others - the future plans for Kite's Nest before the planning board is very ambitious and grand. Maybe these organizations can share space and resources.

  4. I have watched the Clubhouse grow over the year or so. It appears to me that they are delivering a very valuable service to the community. Hopefully, we can turn this into a positive for them and Hudson