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Columbia County shows interest in acquiring Edwards school

John L. Edwards Primary School. The Hudson City School District closed the school at the start of new school year and plans to sell the building. Columbia County is considering buying the building to consolidate several of its agencies under one roof. Discussions touched on the possibility of Hudson being included in the county’s plans.
September 6, 2018 10:17 pm

HUDSON — Columbia County is considering merging its offices under one roof at the former John L. Edwards Primary School.

The Columbia County Board of Supervisors Space Utilization Committee tabled a resolution at its meeting Wednesday to accept a contract to conduct a feasibility study of moving multiple county agencies to the primary school. The school is across the street from the Board of Supervisors building at 401 State St.

The elementary school, at 360 State St., closed its doors after the end of the 2017-18 school year. Students in kindergarten and first grade started school Wednesday in a new wing of the Montgomery C. Smith Intermediate School at 102 Harry Howard Ave.

The Hudson City School District is looking to sell the Edwards building, which is 89,500 square feet in size, for $4 million, Hudson 4th Ward Supervisor Linda Mussmann said Thursday.

Stuyvesant Town Supervisor Ron Knott, chairman of the committee, consulted with the firm Rhinebeck Architecture, which the school district has hired for past projects. If the committee votes to conduct the feasibility study, the firm would look at the available space in the school and determine how the county could utilize it. The work would cost about $35,000.

“I spoke with the Rhinebeck firm because the school district used them in the past and they know the building already,” Knott said. “This will help us decide what we are going to put in that building and what space will be left and what to do with it.”

The county has about 88,131 square feet of total, usable space across multiple buildings, according a letter Knott send to Rhinebeck Architecture.

County offices are located at several locations throughout the city of Hudson and one in Philmont, according to Knott’s letter:

• The building at 401 State St. has about 30,918 square feet and houses the board of supervisors, the board of elections, the Civil Service Department, the county attorney, county controller, human resources, veterans services and county planning.

• The building at 610 State St. has 18,095 square feet and houses the probation department, public defender’s office and the county historian.

• The building at 560 Warren St. has 15,000 square feet and houses the department of motor vehicles and the county clerk’s office.

• The building at 6 N. Fifth St. has 10,400 square feet and houses the treasurer’s office and the real property department.

• The Philmont Nutrition Center, at 93 Main St., Philmont, has 10,000 square feet. The county facilities department has 4,500 square feet between administration offices, shops and storage space.

“These buildings require so much excess costs and we are just surviving in these buildings,” said Mussmann, a member of the committee. “401 State St. has almost 31,000 square feet... do we really need all that space? There is a lot of wasted space.”

The amount the county spends to keep its buildings up and running increased to more than $3.75 million in 2016 from more than $3.62 million in 2015, according to the county’s 2016 Space Occupancy Analysis.

To keep the buildings up and running in 2016, the county spent $204,424 for 401 State St.; $157,809 for 610 State St.; $244,011 for 560 Warren St.; and $955,644 for the other locations.

The former primary school provides enough space for the county’s needs, but Hudson is looking to be included in the possible consolidation project.


Hudson Mayor Rick Rector and Common Council President Thomas DePietro were in attendance at Wednesday’s committee meeting.

Hudson’s Common Council passed a resolution Tuesday to join the county in a feasibility study for the possible acquisition and use of the school building for combined municipal offices.

Much of the meetings discussion was centered around incorporating the city into the county’s plans going forward — a possible project that would fall within the category of shared services.

The city needs about 15,000 square feet of space in the building, if that, city officials said, but that’s if the Youth Department is also moved into the school building.

“The youth department is critical,” Rector said. “15,000 feet would suffice for the city’s needs.”

Knott asked Rector and DePietro if the common council would support the city paying for a third of the cost of the school, if that is the space the city needs. Rector and DePietro replied yes, the city would.

Committee members debated whether or not to include the city in the county’s feasibility study, or bring the city in after enough space is identified to meet the city’s needs.

If the county chooses to buy the school building, the school district would have to put the sale up for voters’ approval in a public referendum.

Hudson 5th Ward Supervisor Rick Scalera asked if Hudson voters would approve such a referendum without the city included in the building’s final plans.

Mussmann argued the city and the county share needs, which the school building may solve.

“People in wheelchairs cannot get into a lot of these buildings, which is an issue for both the county and the city,” Mussmann said. “This is happening now. The time to make a decision is coming down the pike and it is getting down to the wire.”

Scalera argued the buildings at 560 Warren St. and 6 N. Fifth St. are in good shape and could be removed from the project if more space is needed to include the city in the former school. Doing this, he said, would also solve the issue of a lack of parking space at the school building.

The committee unanimously voted to table the resolution. Committee members asked Knott to discuss the project with the Columbia Economic Development Corporation about funding the feasibility study and finding a firm to conduct it.

The next committee meeting is scheduled for Sept. 6 at 401 State St.