County OKs motel to house homeless

HUDSON–September is the latest estimate for when the Galvan Civic Motel (GCM) will receive a certificate of occupancy allowing the motel to open and the county Department of Social Services (DSS) to use the motel to lodge clients who need homes.

Dan Kent, vice president of Initiatives for the non-profit Galvan Foundation, provided the latest timetable May 17. The foundation will operate the GCM, which it is building on the site of the defunct Sunset Motel in Greenport on Routes 9/23. The Columbia County Board of Supervisors approved a contract with the foundation May 9.

According to the contract, the DSS promises to offer “all eligible homeless persons” temporary lodging at the Galvan Civic Motel “before any other facility.” But it also says that registered sex offenders and “other violent felons” are not eligible to stay there. The DSS will pay the foundation $85 per night per room used by its clients in the first year.

In return, the motel will accept persons referred to it by the DSS “if there is a vacant room” and if the foundation does not determine that a person’s “needs cannot be safely and adequately met” there.

In addition, the Galvan Foundation will allocate 30% of the gross revenue from the motel rooms occupied by DSS clients to “on-site support services” for those persons. The contract also calls for rooms to be cleaned “at least every other day by motel staff,” bed linens are to be changed at least weekly, and clean towels provided daily.

All rooms and common areas will be smoke and tobacco free; smoking, with and tobacco use will be limited to “designated areas only.”

The contract lasts three years, with the option of renewing for an additional three years.

Supervisor Sarah Sterling (D-Hudson, First Ward) had reservations about the contract when it was first proposed. But she ended up voting for it because changes she wanted were included, she said by email May 16.

Supervisor Ryan Skoda (I-Taghkanic), one of the four supervisors who voted against the contract, said on May 10, “My only reservation on the project is the location. The whole area is surrounded by businesses. There’s a school across the street.”

Supervisor Kathleen Leck Eldridge (I-Greenport), whose town includes the motel, also voted against the contract. She did not return requests for comment prior to press deadline.

The Galvan Civic Motel is to have 25 rooms and lies about 6 miles from the DSS office in Hudson. In a census taken on a day in April this year, the DSS was lodging 53 households, over half of them in motels over 20 miles from its office. Access to the Galvan Civic Motel will increase the proportion of emergency housing that is closer to the DSS offices.

In order to get the certificate of occupancy, the motel needs to get its septic system approved by the Board of Health. Mr. Kent acknowledged last week that plan for the septic system are “still in development. As soon as they’re ready, we will submit them for review and approval. We hope to have them ready in a few weeks.”

Meanwhile, construction on the motel continues. Mr. Kent said the September opening date estimate was based on consultations with the construction manager.

With the contract signed, Ms. Sterling said, “The next step is for the [motel to receive all of their permits and open for business.”

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