Thursday, April 25, 2024

If at First You Don't Succeed . . .

schedule another meeting and vote again.

At the special meeting of the Common Council yesterday, the resolution supporting the Hudson Housing Authority's application for Restore New York funding came short of receiving the six votes needed to pass. Of the seven members present at the special meeting, five--Jennifer Belton (Fourth Ward), Gary Purnhagen (First Ward) Lola Roberts (Third Ward), Mohammed Rony (Second Ward), and Council president Tom DePietro--voted in support of the resolution, and two--Margaret Morris (First Ward) and Rich Volo (Fourth Ward)--voted against it. Four members of the Council were absent from the meeting: Dewan Sarowar (Second Ward), Shershah Mizan (Third Ward), Vicky Daskaloudi (Fifth Ward), and Dominic Merante (Fifth Ward).

Obviously hoping for better attendance and a different outcome, DePietro has called another special meeting of the Council to consider the issue again. That meeting will take place on Monday, April 29, at 6:00 p.m. The meeting is a hybrid, taking place in person at City Hall and on Microsoft Teams. Click here for the link to join the meeting remotely.

Although at yesterday's meeting DePietro insisted that the Council was only voting to support HHA's Restore NY grant application, some councilmembers saw it differently. Morris argued that "in voting to support this application, we are voting to support this project." She noted that this would be the Council's only opportunity to weigh in on the project except to approve or deny the proposal to alter the street configuration which is part of the project, explaining that the buildings will not have to come before either the Zoning Board of Appeals or the Planning Board. She and Volo, as well as Belton, expressed concerns about being asked to support a request for grant money "for a project we don't know that much about." They also argued, "We don't know what the costs to the city of this project will be." Volo pointed out that the project, which concentrates lower income households in one area of the city was counter to the recommendations of the city's Strategic Housing Action Plan.

Jeffrey Dodson, executive director of HHA, told the Council, "The current housing situation is not safe, and this project is the remedy." He went on to say, "What you are voting for is wanting to do better for the citizens of Hudson that live at Bliss." He argued that it made no sense not to try to access whatever money they can for the project. It should be noted that the maximum they could get in Restore NY funding is $2 million, for a project that is expected to cost $220 million, and that money would have to be spent on the demolition of Bliss Towers and Columbia Apartments. 

Rony, who admitted he had "very similar concerns about how the project will proceed" as those expressed by his colleagues on the Council, said he saw the vote as "more of a moral support," adding that he was "not satisfied with the proposal as it stands now."

So far, two members of the public--Tim Showinski and Britt Zuckerman--have contacted members of the Common Council to express opinions on this issue. Both have urged the Council not to support the application for Restore NY funding. Given that representatives of Mountco, HHA's development partner, have been claiming at HHA meetings that the project has the support of the City of Hudson when in fact they seem up until now only to have had the support of Mayor Kamal Johnson and DePietro, the fear seems to be that the Council's support for this application will be touted as support for the project.

Readers with opinions about the proposed project should not simply share their thoughts in comments on this blog. They should express their concerns to DePietro and all the members of the Common Council before the special meeting on Monday: 


  1. If the current housing situation is not safe, as Director Dodson says, why are people living there now? If it is unsafe the HHA should move the residents somewhere else now until the conditions are made safe.

    I agree with Alder Morris, 2 million towards a project of this size is a drop in the bucket and won't change the outcome one way or the other. A positive vote is an endorsement of the City that would certainly be used in future applications to the Zoning and Planning Board.

    1. There is nowhere else for the residents to move. At least an apartment provides shelter, which is better than living in the street homeless.

  2. My letter to the Council today:

    Good Afternoon Council Members

    If there is one lessons learned from my time in your position it is that when you are asked to make a quick decision, often due to a supposed funding deadline, the thing to do is stop and ask why. If a project is of such significant value, why is there so little information, data, to make a confident decision. — about the physical design and placement, the character of the community created by the design, the local benefit and most importantly the people who should be the beneficiaries.

    You are the City’s planners. The City has agreed to carry forward a comprehensive plan. You approved this laudable step. Yet you are being asked to give your stamp, and the entire City’s, to a project that could not have a greater impact on the City’s future development than the Bliss Tower proposal before you today.

    In matters of public good such as this, there is advocacy and then there is real evaluation and understanding the need. This proposal is a developer’s dream. Is it yours?

    Accompanying a longer view are better decisions for Hudson.

    Thank you


  3. 2.2M/220M = .009 (i.e. less than 1%) There's more to this than meets the eye. The CC needs to proceed very carefully or the City is going to be left with a HUGE problem. What happens if they get half way through building and run out of funding? Who gets caught holding the bag to the tune of $110M?

  4. The ill-conceived housing project has the potential to inflict long-term damage on the city of Hudson. The present situation reminds me of the battle to stop the cement plant nearly two decades ago, so I'm somewhat surprised that activists, including Sam Pratt, appear to have nothing whatsoever to say about this issue. Yet again, the city of Hudson’s future is at stake.