DePietro looking to sell Washington Hose, other city properties
Aliya Schneider is reporting for Columbia-Greene Media Common Council President Tom DePietro is urging the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce and the Hudson Development Corporation to end their leases for space at the former Washington Hose Firehouse on North Front Street thereby making the building more appealing to prospective buyers. DePietro argues the city is losing money under the existing arrangement. The Chamber pays $850 per month in rent and its lease expires in April 2023. HDC occupies the space rent-free until November 2022, when they have the option to renew for a little more than $1,000 a month. The development corporation agreed in 2010 to spend $150,000 on building renovation and a potential future rent amount was derived from that agreement. While DePietro sees the corporation as using city space rent-free, HDC President Robert Rasner says that assertion is "absolutely erroneous.” Superintendent of Public Works Robert Perry said the average annual operating cost to maintain the building is just over $8,400. DePietro points out that the corporation is not fulfilling the terms of the lease because it has failed to provide job training in Hudson. “My comment referred to HDC’s commitment in the lease to provide ‘a center for job counseling or training,’ which it has not done,” DePietro wrote in an email to Rasner. “...[G]iven HDC’s interest in helping the city in this time of financial crisis, it would seem to follow, that you might consider either allowing the city to buy out your lease, or, considering the sweetheart deal you have, to promise to move once we’ve sold the building,” DePietro wrote. On the question of selling the building, the city should be careful to whom the historic property is sold, 1st Ward Alderwoman and Minority Leader Rebecca Wolff said. The Common Council can put contingencies on the sale and the buyer will likely have to go through planning board review, DePietro said. He has not yet discussed a potential sale with the Chamber of Commerce, but plans to, he said. NOTE: DePietro is a volunteer on-air WGXC programmer. Read the full story at HudsonValley360 [dot] com.