By JEANETTE WOLFBERG
HUDSON – The fate of the Hudson Youth Clubhouse dominated the Columbia County Board of Supervisors meeting November 8, where the supervisors also authorized a winter night warming center, an increase in recycling fees, and a police complaint form. Youths and adults filled the audience seats of the meeting chamber, many with signs calling for keeping the Clubhouse at 11 Warren Street in the building which the county is buying.
The Hudson Youth Clubhouse is a place for youths to gather for emotional support and organized activities free from alcohol and drugs. It currently rents its space at 11 Warren Street. Since its founding in 2017, it has had a variety of locations in Hudson. But after it moved to 11 Warren Street about a year and a half ago, people involved with it realized that that location was a “blessing,” because it is so close to where so many of the young people it serves live, an audience member at the meeting reported. Then this fall the County Board of Supervisors signed a contract to buy 11 Warren Street from the Galvan Foundation. The county plans to use the building for department offices and voting machine storage. The closing is expected for late November. And the clubhouse has been told to get out by November 30.
The board quickly approved the 47 resolutions on its list and came to the section for supervisors to bring “other business” before the board. At that, Supervisor Claire Cousin, whose district of Hudson’s 1st Ward includes 11 Warren Street, referred to the crowd and said, “I’m asking for the public to be heard tonight.”
“Anytime the public comes out in a large group, they should have a chance to be heard,” said Supervisor Tistrya Houghtling (New Lebanon).
Other supervisors pointed out that they would decide nothing about 11 Warren at that meeting. One said, “We don’t even own the building yet.” In fact, some real estate deals fall through. “Right now it’s fruitless” to make a decision about what goes in there.
Board Chairman Supervisor Matt Murell (Stockport) announced he would allow two youths and one adult to speak for two minutes each.
A senior at Hudson High School said the clubhouse has helped him through school issues and life issues. But if the clubhouse were located somewhere else, it would be harder to get to.
A High School sophomore called the clubhouse a “second home,” a place to eat and do other activities.
More than one adult ended up speaking.
One said that some kids are “scared to talk to their parents, so they talk to us.” In addition, she said, they get food, hygiene, and activities at the clubhouse.
“Don’t look at me,” she continued. “Look at our youth!” Furthermore, “you come to our door” campaigning and “we vote for you,” so “don’t take away something our youth need.”
“We know that you have a choice to tell Galvan to leave us as tenants,” said another adult. Another speaker pointed out that another tenant of the building (Bard Early College) will be allowed to stay there until May.
“The location is vital for us,” said Pamela Badila of Hudson. She mentioned the clubhouse’s activities such as dance, drama, and yoga. Moreover, she pointed out, “We were promised a hearing and didn’t get it.”
“I’ve been asking for a public hearing,” said Supervisor Michael Chameides (Hudson, 3rd Ward).
There will be a hearing, clarified Chairman Murell, but it will happen after the county takes title to the building, and the subject will be what county departments go in the building. Meanwhile, he reminded the meeting that the county is “working” to find the clubhouse a new location.
On November 14, County Social Services Director Robert Gibson reported that a new location for the clubhouse had not been found yet, but there were several options, and one was more likely than the others. “We’ll keep going until we find something,” he said.
Also at the meeting, the November 8 board:
•Authorized a contract with the First Reformed Church on Green Street in Hudson to provide a “warming shelter” and “safe spaces, for individuals experiencing homelessness, seeking support, or struggling during non-business hours.” Funds will come from the state’s Code Blue policy, for winter nights with the temperature below freezing
•Increased the cost of bringing recycling to county-owned waste sites. The new fees are $75 for county residents under 65-years-old, $50 for county residents over 65-years-old, and $125 for non-county residents. The stated reason for raising the prices is “increased tipping and transportation fees”
•Adopted forms for citizens to fill out if they wish to submit a complaint against the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office or the police agencies of Greenport, Philmont, or Stockport
•Authorized the director of Community Services to establish a petty cash account with $3,000 to help people impacted by opiate and other substance abuse. This is part of the Opioid Flex Funds project “designed to be able to respond to immediate needs with a rapid response,” since “needs can arise at any moment.” The money comes from the $283,000 Opioid Abatement funding the county recieved for 2022-23, explained Human Services Director Dan Almasi after the meeting.
The 2022-23 funding can also be used for the Wellness Hub, the Columbia Greene Addiction Coalition, and ReEntry Columbia. The county can expect more Opioid Abatement money in 2024 but does not know the amount, Mr. Almasi said
•Authorized moving forward with plans to prepare to move the county’s 911 call center from the Public Safety Center in Greenport to the Fire Training Center in Ghent, for “additional space and updated accommodations.” Several other specific county departments are also considering moving to that vicinity
•Appointed Bill Mancini of Kinderhook and Donna Weltam of Valatie to the Environmental Management Council, for up to two years
•Authorized the Office for the Aging to accept $40,000 to purchase a new transit vehicle; the Department of Human Services to purchase 30 laptops for up to $35,452.20; and the Highway, Facilities and Solid Waste Departments to purchase a variety of “handheld electric landscape equipment” for up to $15,000 combined.