At Bliss, aging security cameras are ‘ready to fail’

HUDSON–Security installations and the farmer’s market occupied the meeting of the Hudson Housing Authority (HHA) Board of Commissioners February 12.

The authority controls Hudson’s 135-unit income-restricted Bliss complex, which consists of Bliss Tower and the low-rise Columbia Apartments on the same grounds at Columbia Street near North Second Street. The security installations at the complex include about 50 motion-activated cameras throughout the site and a Door Access Control System for residents.

Now, the cameras’ “brains” are “ready to fail,” reported HHA Executive Director Tim Mattice. They do not have “enough memory to keep track of things,” so coverage is intermittent and the cameras, which are 20 years old, are “not providing the correct resolution.”

Still, Mr. Mattice said this equipment makes up “a vital part of our security system.” He also suggested there might be a way the HHA could lease a new system from Johnson Control for $14,139 or buy it for $19,628.

The Door Access Control System is also “antiquated,” Mr. Mattice continued. And he reported that if the HHA upgrades it together with the cameras, it will receive a price discount. The HHA is getting a grant for roof and elevator work, and that will free up money for the security upgrades.

The board is looking at the possibilities. Randall Martin, chairman of the board, said the cameras have undergone some upgrades in the past. In response to a question by a commissioner, Mr. Mattice said that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which regulates public housing like Bliss, does not regulate the security systems, adding, “HUD has nothing to do with the security of the building.”

And the housing project has been facing other challenges. “Everything is outliving its useful life. We just had a boiler break,” Mr. Mattice said.

“It got fixed,” said Mr. Martin.

Mr. Mattice agreed, saying the new boiler is more efficient.

On another matter, Virginia Ambrose, manager of the Hudson Farmers’ Market, came to the meeting to seek Bliss residents as customers. She acknowledged that two obstacles they face are “affordability” and an image that the Hudson Farmers’ market is “only for certain people.”

But there are programs at farmers markets for people with “modest incomes,” and Ms. Ambrose said she wants everybody in Bliss to get information about them. These programs include $4 vouchers usable at “participating farmers markets and farm stands,” for the federal WIC (Women, Infants and Children) program participants as well as assistance for and some senior citizens; and $2 “Fresh Connect Checks,” for every $5 a SNAP participant purchases with their EBT card at a participating farmers market. SNAP is the program formerly called food stamps.

“The farmers market is more expensive than supermarket, but produce tastes much better,” said Commissioner Rebecca Wolff.

Ms. Ambrose reiterated that the Hudson Farmers’ Market is not for “everybody.”

Also at the meeting, Mr. Martin said that Hudson’s Youth Center is looking for parents to serve on the Parent Planning Committee.

The next meeting of the Board of Commissioners of the Hudson Housing Authority will take place Wednesday, March 11, at 6 p.m., at the Bliss Tower Community room.

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