Senior housing offers no place to exercise

CHATHAM—The woes continue for residents at the High Pointe Senior Apartments in the village. According to self-appointed tenant advocate Gregory Pickens, the list of alleged deficiencies includes: an uneven and balky heating system, lack of onsite staff, an unreliable emergency telephone system, general unresponsiveness from management, and an exercise room that remains shuttered despite state guidelines issued in August 2020 that set safety standards for public and private gyms to re-open.

Mr. Pickens is frustrated by Galvan Asset Management’s limited corrective actions and the failure of state Department of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR) and the state and county departments of health (DOH) to be better advocates on behalf of High Pointe tenants.

According to Mr. Pickens, some areas of the complex are better heated than others and sometimes the heat in complex units malfunctions altogether. In an email sent to Mr. Pickens January 21, Kyle Luse, DHCR regional manager wrote, “tenants who may have complaints regarding unresolved habitability issues should contact me directly.” She added that the units without heat were repaired within 24 hours of the complaints being made.

Efforts to get the complex’s 20’ x 15’ gym reopened have been ongoing since April 2021. After 18 years of open access, management closed the room in late January of 2021—10 months after Covid 19 mandated lockdowns. Mr. Pickens shared an email from Galvan Compliance Manager Susan Petersen, dated April 9, 2021, that stated, “ . . .we are committed to continuing to allow our tenants to utilize this space for exercising . . . ”

Seven months earlier, then Governor Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order setting guidelines for gyms to reopen, including facilities in hotels and at residential complexes. The guidelines set standards for cleanliness, safety distancing and monitoring of usage. It also required an inspection by county health departments. The gym at High Pointe has various kinds of exercise equipment.

In an April 2021 email, Chloe Meltz, a county Department of Health (CCDOH) public health technician, informed Mr. Pickens, “We (CCDOH) have provided them (Galvan) with a list of what they must do before an inspection can be set up. They will contact us when/if they are ready for an inspection and until then it’s in their hands.” A December 28 query from the Columbia Paper to Ms. Meltz confirmed no progress toward reopening the gym.

The federal Centers for Disease Control’s website,, estimates annual healthcare costs, due to “low levels of activity” at $117 billion. The CDC attributes lack of physical activity in adults aged over 50 as contributing factors in several ailments including “type 2 diabetes, several cancers, obesity and heart disease.”

Mr. Pickens says that the matter is now urgent. “Tenants need to exercise and do yoga as travel in the community is more limited. Tenants are staying in there apartments and morale is very low; no other activities are available,” he said.

Despite the acknowledged value of exercise to good physical and mental health for older people, the majority of senior housing complexes in Columbia County lack exercise spaces. A receptionist at the county Office of the Aging confirmed that out of 12 apartment complexes, only one, High Pointe, “had an exercise room” but added, “It is closed.”

Both Ms. Petersen and Ms. Luse stress, in emails to Mr. Pickens, that Galvan “is under no requirement” to provide a gym/yoga studio or any other programs for residents residing in High Pointe Apartments, which is an independent senior living project.

Calls and emails to Ms. Petersen for comment were not returned. The Galvan Foundation is applying to federal and state agencies for grants to build more subsidized housing in Hudson.

Comments are closed.