This morning, Linda Mussmann, county supervisor representing the Fourth Ward, posted on Facebook this statement about the County's purchase of 11 Warren Street and its plan to use it as office space:
11 Warren Street is not destined to be a Columbia County building. This is a decision that can be reversed--please speak out on this issue if you are concerned about the misguided use of Hudson's main street. The Columbia County Board of Supervisors forgot to include Hudson in this discussion.
I for one am opposed to using our main street for offices for the County--we need residential and retail space not county office space at this site. This building (11 Warren Street) is a building that has long been discussed as a key to linking our main street to the waterfront. Hudson is an economic driver and a cash generator for not only Hudson but for the entire county. The days of dismissing Hudson should be over. We citizens of Hudson should have had a say in this discussion--no Hudson supervisors were involved with this potential sale except Rick Scalera. The rest of us were left out and the kids who were using the space for a "clubhouse" were kicked out. The clubhouse kids could have stayed in the building but were pushed out before they had a permanent place to go.
Hello residents of Hudson--speak out and stand up for our city--we already host a lot of county buildings in Hudson and a lot of parking lots for Columbia County cars--write the Board of Supervisors and state your concerns.
The two members of the Hudson Common Council who represent the First Ward, where 11 Warren Street is located, have expressed their opposition to the plan in letters to the Board of Supervisors. The following is the text of a letter from Gary Purnhagen:
I urge you to reconsider the current plans for 11 Warren Street. While I understand the County's decision to acquire the property for office space and storage, I have several issues would like to address.
a. 11 Warren Street, developed as a mix-use commercial/residential complex, would significantly contribute to the County's tax rolls.
b. At this time, the County could sell the building for a significant profit is it chooses to.
Feasibility of 11 Warren Street for the current County plans
a. The purchase and renovation resulted in a cost of $444/sq. ft. This is for office space and storage.
b. While your relocation plan includes expansion needs for each department, once the departments use up that space, we'll be looking for other locations.
"Downtown Hudson" is a County resource. Columbia residents enjoy the riverfront park and Promenade Hill as much as anybody, including visitors. Private development and State funds are going into the area, allowing for proper redevelopment of 11 Warren Street would significantly contribute to the economic uplift that part of the County is experiencing.
In conclusion, please reconsider the current plans for 11 Warren Street and explore other options that will benefit the County in the long run. . . .
The following is quoted from a letter submitted to the Board of Supervisors by Councilmember Margaret Morris. References to "the presentation" and "the meeting" are to the presentation made by county engineer Ray Jurkowski at the special public input meeting that took place on January 24.
I am opposed to the use of this location for County offices. I understand the pressing need for additional space for the Columbia County Board of Elections (BOE) for staff offices, early voting, and storage of election machines. The current space does not serve the needs of the County or its residents. That said, I think that the purchase and refurbishing of the building at 11 Warren Street is not a sound fiscal solution.
Cost to the County:
The total cost is in excess of 8 million dollars--I do not have the presentation, so I do not have the exact dollar amount. The square footage is over 18,000 square feet. Again, I do not have access to the exact square footage. Using these two figures, that comes to $444 per square foot. While it is necessary for the BOE to remain within the City limits, I am sure that less expensive solutions could be found. The presentation did not provide any information on alternate locations that had been considered and why this location was deemed to be the most suitable. The John L. Edwards school would have provided sufficient space to consolidate all County offices. I think that $444 per square foot is not a fiscally responsible solution. The location chosen is a prime real estate location on lower Warren that would be better suited to mixed use commercial and residential development.
Missed Opportunity for County Tax Revenue:
Moving County offices to this location is not consistent with the City's Downtown Revitalization Initiative. Utilization of this space for mixed use development would help in revitalizing lower Warren Street. This would result in increased tax revenue (property and sale) for the County as a whole, not just at this location but on lower Warren Street. By moving County offices to this location, rather than allowing revenue-generating development, both the County and the City are foregoing tax revenue. The City of Hudson's financial success is also the County's financial success.
I believe that the County should consider either re-selling the property or entering into an agreement with a developer to make more appropriate use of a prime real estate location. . . .
I am asking you to reconsider the use of this location for County offices from a financial perspective. I do not believe that it serves the best interest of Columbia County or its residents. . . .