Fans seek funds to save lighthouse footings

HUDSON—The Hudson Athens Light House, children of arrested parents, the visually impaired, Kite’s Nest, summer parking, and ward boundaries received attention at the Hudson Common Council meeting July 19.

The Common Council endorsed the application by the Hudson Athens Lighthouse Preservation Society (HALPS) for a grant from the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation for the purpose of making the light house shovel-ready for construction necessary to keep it standing.

Sue Senecah of HALPS explained later that the lighthouse was built in 1874 on 200 wooden pilings, packed with mud and protected by large boulders called rip rap. But since then, the wakes of large sailing vessels have “sucked” boulders away, threatening the pilings with oxidation.

To keep the lighthouse standing, the HALPS plan envisions protecting the pilings with new boulders, repacking them with mud and building a metal “protective curtain” around the lighthouse’s base. But before these steps can begin, possible issues with soil and asbestos need to be dealt with and permits must be obtained.

This preliminary work, Ms. Senecah estimated, will cost about $630,000. The grant that HALPS is requesting will cover $500,000 of that. If the grant comes soon, Ms. Senecah said, the project could become shovel-ready in 2023.

When that happens, HALPS will be able to seek support from “big funders” and seek bids for the main construction. That construction, Ms. Senecah said, could take a few years.

The Hudson Athens Light House is not simply history but a “living actor” that enriches the quality of people’s lives, she said, adding, “More and more people are discovering the joy” of spending time there. In addition to regular tours, people have used the light house for a variety of events, from milestone birthday parties to wedding receptions to part of an opera.

On another topic addressed at the same meeting, the Common Council authorized the mayor to give part of a $125,000 grant the city has received to the Greater Hudson Promise Neighborhood (GHPN) and the Osborne Association for the purpose of educating police officers and community organizations on safeguarding and supporting physically and emotionally the children of arrested parents. This includes at all stages of the process, from arrest through sentencing through incarceration through re-entry, Joan Hunt, GHPN’s executive director, explained.

The money is from the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.

According to the city resolution authorizing the agreement: GHPN is a nonprofit organization that “aims to break intergenerational cycles of poverty,” by focusing on “educational and community support strategies for local children and families.” GHPN has programs for children of incarcerated parents.

The Osborne Association is a Brooklyn-based nonprofit organization that says it “works to address the impact of the criminal justice system on people, families, and communities.”

“I have full faith in GHPN, but will all police officers receive the training?” asked Claire Cousin, supervisor of Hudson’s First Ward.

Ms. Hunt assured her that all Hudson Police Department officers would be trained. Hudson Police Seargeant Mishanda Franklin is working with GHPN on the training.

Later Ms. Hunt said there will be two training programs: one for law enforcement, one for community based organizations.

The one for law enforcement is 16 hours. The City of Albany already has such a program for its police officers, and Robert Sears—who was Albany’s police chief when it adopted the program—will come to Hudson and conduct the first training sessions, Ms. Hunt said. She expects this to take place this fall.

Once the Hudson Police Department masters the lessons, Ms. Hunt said she hopes Hudson police will train the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, as well as law enforcement from other municipalities. She said Hudson could become a “hub” for training law enforcement how to safeguard children of arrested parents.

The training program for community organizations will last two to four hours, depending on the organization’s needs and directions, Ms. Hunt added. Relevant county organizations could include Bindlestiff Family Cirkus and Hawthorne Valley.

Also at the July 19 meeting, the Common Council:

•Discussed the challenge of using videoconferencing for public meetings without discriminating against the visually impaired

•Endorsed Kite’s Nest application to the state Energy Research and Development Authority and to Empire State Development for a grant to construct an educational facility on its property on Front and Dock Streets in Hudson. Kite’s Nest runs educational programs for children and youths

•Declined to adopt a proposed agreement with the Hudson Business Coalition on parking for summer outdoor dining on Warren Street. Still under discussion is how much to reimburse the city for assumed lost parking revenue and how extra sales tax revenue might compensate for parking revenue. The agreement will affect 22 businesses

•Agreed to a proposal for changing Hudson’s ward boundaries to comply with the 2020 census. The next step was a public hearing on August 2, at Hudson City Hall. Then voters must approve the ward boundaries in the November election.

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