Community Solar Participation

Hudson Area Library

51 N. 5th Street – Community Room

Monday, August 5th – 6:30-8:30pm

Alderman Rich “Trixie” Volo leads a discussion on a potential new solar farm to power the City of Hudson’s municipal buildings and street lights.

The proposal would be save taxpayers approximately 10% on the City’s electric bills – or about $36,000/year!

The solar energy generated would also be available to residents.

Come and be part of the discussion and meet the representatives from East Light Partners.

There will be cookies!

Click here to see a copy of the East Light presentation to the City of Hudson.

Recycling in Hudson

Red Sticker from DPW

Many received the RED STICKER this past week from DPW in Hudson.

In the past, China used to buy much of the US’s recyclables – that is up until the new Chinese NATIONAL SWORD policy that started in January 2018. Stricter guidelines on the quality of recyclable materials – recyclables cannot be more than .5% contaminated –made sorting recyclables much more important, and nearly impossible to meet the new standards.

What does .5% contaminated mean? If it cannot be recycled, then it is contaminating the rest of the load. An oily pizza box or a jar of peanut butter, with too much peanut butter left, cannot be recycled. Styrofoam cannot be recycled. Composites – like a disposal razor that is both plastic and metal – cannot be recycled. Even the lid or cap on a bottle or container, if they are two different types of plastics, is considered a composite. Remove the lids.

Years ago, a glass baby food jar and its metal top – recyclable. Today, baby food in plastic squeeze pouches with different types of plastic and leftover food inside – garbage.

If there’s more than .5% GARBAGE – non-recyclable material in the load – then the entire shipment is discarded as GARBAGE.

Municipalities throughout the US, including the City of Hudson, used to be able to sort the materials, send them to China, and at least break even on the cost. This year, with stricter Chinese guidelines, the City is paying $40,000/year to deliver its recyclables to a sorter.

The City of Hudson’s DPW department enforces its sorting policy with red stickers. Here’s a copy of Columbia County’s Recycling Protocol below.

The best advice I can give you is to put these recyclable items into a container (with holes in the bottom to let the water drain) and leave them out for DPW. Since the City is using a single-stream sorter, all potential recyclable materials can be put in the same container.

SORTING? Do I need to separate my garbage?
In Columbia County, no. We use a single-stream MeRF (Material Recovery Facility). MeRFs separate recyclables by placing them on a magnetized conveyor belt. The magnets hold onto the steel cans while paper and plastics are separated. Anything that can TANGLE a conveyor belt – a hose, wires, cables – should NOT be put in with recyclables. Cardboard boxes should be broken down because the MeRFs identify paper products by seeing them as “two-dimensional” objects and separates them accordingly. It is debatable if a DUAL-stream sorting (where paper and plastic are separated by the consumer) is better, more efficient, or cost effective. Different communities have different answers.

If you want your food packaging to be recyclable, I recommend buying products in compostable materials first – or canned goods in steel cans – since steel has a high recyclable rate. You may buy a frozen, non-GMO, organic vegan dinner, but the microwavable plastic dish will stay on the Earth for another 400 years.

Glass is also very recyclable, however, glass breaks, and then sometimes contaminates the rest of the load. A state-wide dime deposit on wine and other glass bottles would help keep glass out of the garbage stream.

All communities throughout the US are dealing with these new National Sword guidelines and unfortunately, there’s no easy solution. Here’s some ideas:

  1. Companies switch to compostable materials from plastic. I recently switched my cookie bags from plastic to compostable wood pulp. What used to cost 4 cents/bag is now 29 cent/bag, but the compostable bag will not live on the Earth for the next 400 years like a plastic bag will. Other farmers at the market also switched, but there’s still a long way to go for other companies to follow.
  2. Buy less plastic. Easier said than done, but it’s something to think about. Maybe a safety razor and blades as opposed to a disposable one? Maybe buy your fruits and vegetables at the Farmer’s Market in a reusable bag instead of at the store, wrapped in plastic? There’s bamboo cutlery and toothbrushes as opposed to plastic, which work just as well.
  3. Composting – This is a plan that I would like to implement in the City of Hudson in my next term. This would not reduce the amount of plastic on the Earth, but it would take compostable materials out of the garbage stream. We pay per tonnage to either dispose of the garbage, or for the compostable materials to be carted away to a composting facility where it would then be used by local farms. It would be a financial wash for the City, since the costs are about the same. There is potential money from the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation for composting grants to help communities get started. A city-wide composting program will require a team of people. If you’re interested, please let me know.
  4. Ban certain materials – like styrofoam. I could propose a law in the City of Hudson to ban styrofoam. Unfortunately, the City has no resource to ENFORCE the law. A law like this would have to be on the county or state level (similar to tobacco/alcohol age restriction laws) with the appropriate enforcement agency. Neighboring counties such as Ulster and Albany have banned styrofoam – so it’s possible.

(I’ve been reluctant to write this post, because it’s not very hopeful for the future. Even IF China does purchase a shipping container of recyclables, we do not know if it’s even being recycled! Or, if it’s just being discarded into the oceans….sigh… There’s still a lot of work to do.)

I, myself, lobbied in Albany in the mid-80s to get the Bottle Bill passed and a 5 cent deposit added to soda and beer cans.

Thank you very much for reading, and I hope that this helps. I am running for a second term as Alderman and I’m on the ballot in November. If you would like to support my campaign, please contribute by clicking on this link.

City of Hudson EV Charger Stations

EV Charger Stations behind City Hall

On May 31st, good news to the City of Hudson! The City was awarded one of the two grants for Electric Vehicle (EV) Charger stations and ports. The grant from National Grid will pay for the digging and construction work to connect the charging stations to the grid.

I learned about these grants by attending various conferences throughout the state. As Chair of the Economic Development Committee, the committee has been working on this grant process for the past few months.

The $22K grant from National Grid and another similar grant from ChargeNY (to pay for the charging ports themselves) fund the project outside of City of Hudson taxpayer dollars. The City will then charge $1.75/hour for use of the ports and electric, adding the revenue into the City’s General Fund.

Both National Grid and the installation company, PlugIn Stations, surveyed various sites throughout the city and this site was chosen for the initial set of charging stations for a few reasons:

  • The distance from the electricity service to the parking island.
  • The charging stations, in order to accept credit card transactions, must be located near the City’s Wifi connection.
  • The location is in the middle of the City. For renters with electric vehicles, who may not be able to install chargers in their home, this location will be more accessible.
  • Travelers using the charging stations often stop to eat/shop, while their cars are being charged. This can take one to two hours. This location offered easy access to those amenities.
Three of these charging stations – or 6 ports total – are planned to be installed.

Grant processes generally take months – sometimes years – and we have one more grant to go for this project. However, this $22K grant from National Grid is a really big step for Hudson and the environment.

Easter Baskets at FASNY!

Myself, FASNY Activities Director Matthew Plew,
Peter Merante, and Salvation Army Director Ria Everts

The Friday before Easter Sunday, myself, Peter Merante and Ria Everts from the Salvation Army put together 75 baskets for the residents of the FASNY Firefighters Home. Everyone received baskets, candy, cards, and an oatmeal raisin cookie from Trixie’s Oven.

Happy Earth Day, Hudson!

City of Hudson takes the Pledge and becomes part of NYS Climate Smart Communities!

Over the past few months, I’ve been working on obtaining grant money for Electric Charging stations and making Hudson part of the NYS Climate Smart Communities. Two resolutions came before the Common Council last week – overshadowed by other business.

The Electric Vehicle Charger grants (totaling about $45K), available via ChargeNY   and National Grid enable local municipalities to install electric car charging stations. Similar to the Village of Lake George, the City of Hudson plans to charge $1.75/hour for vehicle charging. Grant money for these stations is offered for a limited time – there’s a pool of money, that is depleted as other municipalities apply. The charging stations, once installed, will be added into a charging “grid” and smartphone app. People driving through will know that they are there, and can stop and charge while having lunch, dinner, or walking on Warren Street. This will also be an added benefit for renters who have electric cars, who are unable to set up charging stations at home.

Last week, I parked next to an all-electric Chevy Bolt in the Aldi parking lot on Fairview. Within the next couple of years, we will see more and more all-electric vehicles on the road as car manufacturers roll out electric options.

The Hudson charging stations, to be paid for and installed with grant funds, will be installed behind City Hall at no cost to the city, and any funds collected, above a base yearly maintenance cost, will be added into the City’s General Fund.  I submitted all of the paperwork on behalf of the  City and hope that we qualify.

Additionally last week, and with a potentially larger impact, the City of Hudson took the Pledge – to become one of New York State’s Climate Smart Communities.

From the Climate Smart fact sheet: The Climate Smart Communities Grant Program is a competitive 50/50 matching grant program for municipalities. The program funds climate change adaptation and mitigation projects and includes support. Climate Smart Communities Grant Program is administered through the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation.

On Friday, April 19, I attended the Capital Region Climate Smart Workshop at the Guiderland Public Library to find out more about the program and grants available.

Me, talking with my hands, explaining to other Climate Smart Communities that the City of the Hudson just took the pledge!

In 2017, through the Climate Smart grants, the City of Kingston received $750,000 for the Design and Construction of Franklin Street Complete Streets Features. This funding enabled Kingston to design and construct new sidewalks, bicycle infrastructure, and crosswalks along the entire length of Franklin Street.

In 2017, Sullivan County received $77,500 for an Organics Waste Management Plan. This enabled Sullivan County to hire and contract with a consulting engineering firm to conduct an organics composting facility and feasibility study.

Taking the Climate Smart Communities Pledge last week was the first step for Hudson, in a long grant process. The Pledge starts a point-based system and gives us access to the database, where we can document and upload our accomplishments. The more points a municipality receives, the better its chances for receiving grants. The Department of Environmental Conservation gives about $10M/year in Climate Smart (matching) grants throughout the state.

I’ve been Fourth Ward Alderman for a little over a year now. Last year, I completed the remaining High Impact Action Items for the Clean Energies Communities (a subgroup of Climate Smart) and the City will be receiving a grant of $35K for solar panels (location TBD) and funding for a residential incandescent to LED lightbulb exchange.

Within the year, I’ve attended three workshops throughout the state on solar energy, recycling, and Climate Smart Communities, networking with other government professionals. I’ve met and talked with officials from Scarsdale, NY on their composting program and now understand the logistics – what works, what doesn’t. A full scale, city-wide composting program is my goal for next year. This program will require a team/task effort and if you’re interested in being part, please let me know.

(My own personal goal, in my role as Alderman, is to bring in more funds to the City than my salary of approximately $5K/year. 🙂 With these two grants – $35K and $45K – I will have achieved that.)

Networking with other state officials at conferences proved to be very helpful – this is how I learned about the ChargeNY/Electric Vehicle grant! Someone I met at a conference said to me, “Oh, you should apply for that EV grant” and then sent me the link. I took this grant application into the City’s Economic Development Committee, filled out the forms and then sent out an RFP. We compared and decided the vendor, meet with them, and last week, wrote out the resolution for the City to move forward with the grant application and contract.

In the past year, this folks, is how I’ve learned government works – or, at least, CAN work!

First Year Accomplishments

Hello Fourth Ward!

After a little over one year of being Alderman for the 4th Ward of the City of Hudson, I have decided to run again. I am currently walking around the Ward asking people to sign my petition to be placed on the ballot.

The Primary this year is early – June 25th!  

Please mark your calendars. Thank you.

I would like to outline the following accomplishments over the past year:

  • Chair of Economic Development Committee and Tourism Board
  • Member of DPW, Legal, and Finance Committees – 5 committees/boards total
  • Completed Clean Energies Communities Grant – City to receive $35K for solar panels to offset city lighting, and LED lightbulbs for residents
  • Passed a law to increase the fine to $250 for persons leaving their pet in a car in extreme weather conditions
  • Received Bike Fix-it Station grant for Bike Trail, $1,200
  • Currently working on electric car charger grants (3 units, 6 chargers) from NYSERDA/National Grid at no cost to City. To be installed, hopefully this spring.
  • Currently working on a plan for the City purchase its power from a solar farm in Greenport. Contract negotiations currently
  • Vetted and staffed Tourism Board members for Common Council
  • Negotiated Cable franchise agreement between Mid-Hudson Cable and City
  • Attended Solar and Recycling conferences and seminars in Hyde Park and Cooperstown. Liaised with other government officials outside of Hudson and have a much better understanding of issues, grant-writing processes with personal contacts and resources available.
  • Brought parties together to fine-tooth comb the Vacancy Law and made appropriate changes after discrepancies in law were found. Raised the vacancy fee to $1,000 the first year and an additional $1,000 every subsequent year until 5 years/$5,000 max. Raised the issue with media when only one property was listed on vacancy list after several months of law passed. Now, several units are listed, adding to city revenue.
  • Submitted monthly minutes for the year for both Economic Dev and Tourism Board (except one month of Tourism board in Aug).
  • Raised the issue regarding the demolition of 6 Lucille Dr. Emailed BOE to fund demolition. The demolition funding was taken out of the budget, however this building is a nuisance. The building will now be bought, demolished, and another structure built, adding to tax base – with no city funds for demolition.
  • Created Friends of the Cemetery Group to ultimately offset the costs of Cemetery maintenance.
  • Maintained website/blog
  • Liaison between Airbnb hosts and Operation Unite for toy drive during holidays. Over a dozen gifts, including a bunk bed, was donated to city youth by Airbnb hosts.
  • Project Manager for City’s first Polar Plunge, announcer for second Polar Plunge.

Other Community-related activities

  • Organized the first Flag Day/Pride cross-participation. Pride contingent marched in Flag Day and a Flag Day Contingent marched in Pride
  • Organized Pride Parade and various LGBT events, socials, throughout the year
  • Current cookie-sale contributions to Bernie Sanders campaign (raised the maximum contribution, $2700, in 2016)

What would I like to accomplish next term?

  • Composting Program
  • Continuation on the Climate Action Items for the City, to help the City apply for more funding
  • Continuation of Cemetery project – Historical designation status/ fix fence / events and fund raisers
  • Fourth Ward Block Party
  • Apply for more grants on behalf of the City of Hudson

Keeping Pets Safe!

Last August, there was an incident of a dog in a hot car, over 90 degrees heat, direct sunlight for over an hour until the police arrived.

As part of the City of Hudson’s Legal Committee, I asked our City attorney, what were the consequences. There is a state AG Markets law that would give the man a $50 fine. I felt that that was not sufficient. I wanted a stiffer penalty.

Over the next couple of months, we created a City law, similar to the state law, but the fine is now $250. I pushed this through the legal committee and council (there was no opposition). This was recently signed by the Mayor.

This is an editorial in the Register-Star. City needs a law to keep pets safe.

In January, in New Lebanon, a dog froze to death. “Scrappy” was kept in a metal cage, no food, water, or bedding, in sub-zero weather.

It’s not right. It’s inhumane and immoral.

Now, that the law is passed, there can be an educational campaign, at least in the City of Hudson, about pets in extreme conditions. Even if the state does not have a law to bring pets inside in cold conditions, we could pass something like that in the City.

Keeping pets safe is an issue, that I feel all of us – Democrat, Republican, Independent, whatever – can agree.