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News From Town Hall

Dear Hillsdale,

As one seasonal poster happily proclaims, “August is like the Sunday of summer.” And so it is in Hillsdale, surrounded by natural beauty and the many cultural, culinary, and recreational opportunities throughout the Roe Jan area and beyond. Our local restaurants, shops, and farm markets are bustling, and I hope you are enjoying their many offerings.

Like you, I’ve been reflecting on the effects of climate change globally, in our nation, and in our local community. In recent weeks we have experienced poor air quality resulting from wild fires to our north, excessive rain, and heat. In contrast with extreme conditions in the West and South though, we have been largely spared in our neck of the woods, with the significant exception of the May freeze. Now we have verdant greenery, lots of sunshine, and pleasant breezes. This makes me feel fortunate to be living in Hillsdale.

During these summer months, your Town government has continued its important work of maintaining and improving our local roads, including the placement of our digital speed signs, and monitoring our Sewer District that is functioning well. We are addressing a number of urgent needs, including affordable and workforce housing, taking next steps with a condemned structure, and several local laws that will provide real property tax exemptions for low income seniors and disabled persons, as well as firefighters and ambulance drivers.

Our continuing quest to upgrade broadband services to underserved customers in Hillsdale has seen some progress. The State has just received $640 million in Federal funds to address this issue. The County’s Economic Development Corporation overseeing these efforts estimates that there are about 600 underserved and unserved addresses countywide, with 200 of these in Hillsdale. The current estimate is that funds will begin to flow to the County by mid 2024. I’m very appreciative of our Broadband Committee’s many efforts to continue to pushing this priority need in our community.

Finally, as highlighted in a page one Times Union article on July 15, we are making real progress in keeping CMH’s Rapid Care Clinic open, thanks in large measure to the advocacy of five Roe Jan area towns, as well as the understanding and caring of our health care needs by Columbia Memorial Hospital. Great thanks to all.

Best wishes to you, your family and friends during these glorious days of August.

Chris Kersten

Town Supervisor

[email protected]

August Town Board Meeting

The August Town Board meeting will be on Tuesday, August 8. The meeting will be held in person at Town Hall at 7 PM and will be available on Zoom. People participating via Zoom will be able to make comments during the designated Public Comment times at the beginning and end of the meeting.


Dial in: 646 558-8656 Meeting ID: 826 2336 5260

The August meeting will be preceded at 6:45 PM by a public hearing re Local Laws #1, 2, and 3. The laws increase the property tax exemption for volunteer firefighters, ambulance workers, and senior citizens and disabled persons with limited income. See article below for detail.

Documents that will be referred to at the town board meeting will be posted on the Agendas & Minutes page of the town website a few days before the meeting. Minutes of previous Town Board meetings are posted on the Town Board page and the Agendas & Minutes page. 

Town Website
Agendas & Minutes
Town Board

Property Tax Exemptions to Increase for

Volunteer Firefighters, Ambulance Workers,

 Senior Citizens and Disabled

Following up on laws passed by the State of New York and Columbia County, at the July meeting the Hillsdale Town Board approved Local Laws 1, 2, and 3 for 2023 that increase the percentage exemption from property taxes for volunteer firefighters and ambulance workers, and update the real property tax exemptions for senior citizens and disabled persons with limited income. A Public Hearing on these laws is being held at 6:45 PM before the August 8 Town Board Meeting. See the article above for the Zoom link.

Volunteer fighters and ambulance workers would be exempt from taxation on 10% of the assessed value of property in Hillsdale that is their primary residence. Volunteers with 20 or more years of service would qualify for the exemption as long as their primary residence is in Hillsdale. The un-remarried surviving spouses of volunteers killed in the line of duty would also qualify for the exemption as would the un-remarried surviving spouses of volunteers with at least twenty years of service.

Senior citizens and disabled persons with low income would qualify for exemptions ranging from 50% for those with incomes of $34,000 and under to 5% for those with income from $41,500.00 - $42,399.99. Currently the 50% exemption is for those making $29,000 or less and the top limit is $37,399.99.

The new exemption levels will take effect with the September 2024 school tax bill. They do not effect the January 2024 property tax bills. Once the laws are approved, questions re qualifying and applying for the exemptions can be directed to Hillsdale's assessor, Pam Cook, at 518 325-5073, ext. 8 or [email protected]. The assessor has office hours at Town Hall on Fridays, from 8:15 AM to 12:15 PM.

Local Law #1 - Firefighters & Ambulance Workers
Local Law #2 - Disabled
Local Law #3 -  Senior Citizens

Town Engineer Makes Recommendations

to Board re Log Cabin

At the request of the Town Board, George Schmidt, an engineer with CPL, the engineering firm for the town, conducted a visual assessment of the condemned log cabin at the Routes 22 & 23 intersection, along with Hillsdale code enforcement officer Lee Heim. The building was found to be in fair structural condition. In addition to the roof damage sustained in 2017, they found a rear door ajar, a broken window pane, and two holes in the rear roof, all of which appeared to be recent developments.

In order to secure the building and prevent further damage, Schmidt recommended that the town have wood panels installed over all windows and the three exterior doors, and a six-foot high metal chain link fence installed around the building.

Heim has recently determined that the owner of the building, whom he had been unable to contact for some time, died in the spring and it is not yet known who now owns the building. Town attorney Matt Cabral is searching court records for any estate action so that notice can be served on the estate and a hearing can be held to learn what plans the owner may have. The Town Board will then decide what actions the town will take re securing the building.

CMH Advertising for Physician Assistant

to Staff Copake Rapid Care

As promised in it's June 28 meeting with the five town coalition advocating for reopening Copake Rapid Care, Columbia Memorial Health is now advertising for a physician assistant to staff the Rapid Care facility. The ad was developed based on information the five towns, Copake, Hillsdale, Ancram, Taghkanic and Gallatin, supplied about the area. CMH has committed to reopening the facility once they can hire staff.

Enjoy Art, Music, and Food at ArtsWalk on the 12th

Artists and artisans will be exhibiting in the Hamlet under tents and in stores and galleries at Hillsdale ArtsWalk, on Saturday August 12 from 10 AM to 4 PM. A brochure/map with a full list of artists and their locations, as well as musicians, sponsors and volunteers, will be available at an information booth at the top of Anthony Street and in local businesses during the event. The ArtsWalk Facebook page (link below) is being regularly updated with photos of some of the art that will displayed, along with information re where it will be during ArtsWalk.

Artists will be displaying fine art, oil, acrylic, pastel and watercolor painting, ceramics and pottery, woodcraft, traditional and avant-garde photography, found object art, sculpture and mixed media.

Local musicians will be performing all during the event starting with Howard Lieberman playing jazz at 10 AM. He will be followed by Seth Fallon & Nick Koscielniak playing rock n roll and classics, bluegrass by Rob Bradley and Matt Lowe, Christina Dellea singing 60's-80's pop, country music by Rachel Cole, and Slinky Armadillo & Lady Lo-Animal and Bone with songs for kids.

Restaurants in the Hamlet will be open with eat-in and take-out menus. As a public convenience, a golf cart donated for the day by Copake Country Club will provide transportation to and from the public parking areas. ArtsWalk will be held rain or shine. 

Hillsdale ArtsWalk

Get a Sneak Peak at the Walking Tour

of the Hamlet Once Known as Turnpike!

You’ve heard about the wayfinding mural to be painted on the side of the Hillsdale Supermarket but did you know that below the map will be a kiosk where you can scan a QR code and download a delightful walking tour of the Hillsdale Hamlet to your smartphone? The tour will include a brief history of Hillsdale’s development and details about some of the town’s historic properties. The brainchild of the town’s Economic Development Committee, the walking tour will feature properties within the Hamlet’s designated Historic District, which was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2010 in recognition of its remarkable collection of Federal Period and Greek Revival style buildings. The street plan of the Hamlet has remained essentially unchanged since 1800.

The Hillsdale Historians were enlisted to write copy for the walking tour app, and obliged by creating thumbnail sketches of the properties in the Historic District, with links to other resources where people can learn more. Read this month’s blog post by the historians to learn more about the hamlet that was once known as Turnpike and some of the historic district buildings and the people who built and lived in them.

Historians of Hillsdale Blog

Of Note.....

While the Summer Recreation Program for kids is in session at Roe Jan Park, Monday through Friday 9 AM - 3 PM through August 18, the upper barn, playground equipment, and lower field are not open to the public. This is for the safety of campers and staff. The entire rest of the park and trails are open to the public.


The Bank of Greene County has agreed to raise the interest rate on the town's money market account from 2% to 3.6%. The account holds $1 million plus accumulated interest.


At the July meeting the Town Board approved giving Hillsdale VFW Post 7552, the Cadby-Shutts Post, $286.50 to help purchase flags to be placed on the graves of veterans in cemeteries in Hillsdale, Copake, and Ancram. The other towns are also contributing.


Columbia County is among seven upstate New York counties that have been included in a USDA declaration for crops damaged from May 2023 frost. Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of the July 21 disaster declaration to apply for emergency loans. The USDA's Farm Service Agency considers each emergency loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of production losses on the farm and the security and repayment ability of the operator.

For production losses, a 30% reduction in a primary crop in a designated or contiguous county is required for loan eligibility. Losses to quality, such as receiving a 30% reduced price for flood damaged crops may also be eligible for assistance. Link below for information.

Emergency Crop Damage Loans

Safe at Home:

Library Director to Speak at Coffee Hour,

Wednesday Walks Continue

Tammy Gaskell, Director of the Roeliff Jansen Community Library, will be the speaker at Safe at Home’s Tuesday, August 29 Coffee Hour at Hillsdale House. Tammy will share information about the state of the library and will focus on some of the excellent programming for seniors.

Tammy has led the library since 2018 and has had a profound influence on the library’s programming and overall operations. She has a significant educational background as a historian and editor and a varied work history. She holds a PhD in American History as well as a Masters of Library Science

As always, coffee and muffins will be served at the 10 – 11:30 AM event and robust conversation will be enjoyed. If you need further information or a ride please call Natalie at 518 265 2113.

Safe at Home’s Wednesday Walking on the Rail Trail which launched at the beginning of July, has become very popular. All are welcome. Walkers meet on Wednesday morning at 9:30 AM in the parking lot in front of Herrington’s. Everyone walks at their own pace and all enjoy the camaraderie of friends and neighbors.

Residents Asked to Complete

 Vulnerability Assessment Survey

Hillsdale achieved Bronze level certification early this year as a Climate Smart Community in the state sponsored program that helps local governments take actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the changing climate. Accomplishing the tasks for certification not only reduces the town's carbon footprint, but also makes the town eligible for grants to further progress toward these goals.

The Hillsdale Climate Smart Task Force is now working for the next level, silver certification. In this effort, Hillsdale residents are invited to complete a survey for a Vulnerability Assessment. The survey can be completed online and is available via the link below. This survey will help in identifying local concerns related to extreme weather and other climate hazards.

This survey was created by Cornell Cooperative Extension in coordination with the Hillsdale Climate Smart Task Force and other Columbia County communities. The results will contribute to a county-wide vulnerability assessment. The survey must be completed by Sept 4, 2023.

Vulnerability Assessment Survey


Community Picnic at Library to Include Magic Show

The Annual Community Picnic sponsored by the Roeliff Jansen Community Library returns with food, fun, entertainment, and games on Sunday, August 13, from 12 - 3 PM behind the library.

There will be a Magic Show at 1 PM as well as knock-hockey, lawn games, and fun crafts for the kids. Attendees can check out the library’s new nature walk to learn about plants and animals in the area. Hot dogs, a veggie option, chips, and cookies will be served. Every child in attendance can visit the Bookshop below the library to receive one free book courtesy of the Friends of Roe Jan Library.

This event is free and open to all. The library is at 9091 St. Rt. 22, about a mile south of the traffic light.

Historical Society Summer Exhibit

 Includes Rarely Seen Items

A large-scale and rarely seen landscape painting of the Copake Iron Works by Hillsdale's John Bunyan Bristol (1826-1909) is a highlight of the summer exhibition at the Roeliff Jansen Historical Society museum in Copake Falls. The painting is on loan from the Church of St. John in the Wilderness. Among the many other items on display are a century-old baggage cart from the old Harlem Line depot still standing in Copake Falls, and recently gifted tickets and Art Deco seat-ends rescued from the ruins of the Copake Theater that was destroyed by fire in 1990.

The exhibit, The First 40: A Celebration of Local History Preserved, commemorates the dedication of the restored Old Copake Falls Church; the home of the society since 1983. The exhibition also chronicles the preservation of significant sites and traditions that are central to the history of the five member towns. These include the Ancram's paper mill, Copake's Memorial clock, Gallatin's venerable Vedder Church, the Pulver family legacy in Hillsdale, and the legendary basket makers of Taghkanic.

The museum, open Saturdays and Sundays from 2 to 4 PM, is at 8 Miles Road in Copake Falls.

Library Golf Tournament Rescheduled

Because of heavy rain, the Roe Jan Library Benefit Golf Tournament hosted at Undermountain Golf Course has been rescheduled to Saturday, September 23. The two-person 18-hole scramble will have prizes for men's, women's, and mixed teams. Link below for information and to sign up.

RJCL Golf Tournament

Adult programs at the Roe Jan Community Library in August include:

  • Roe Jan Writers Series: Peter Matthiessen Wheelwright will discuss and read from his latest novel, The Door-Man
  • Lauren Lettelllier: reading from her play The Village Cidiot
  • Qigong & Tai Chi every Thursday
  • Octagon Club: conversation and camaraderie for those 80+
  • Art Exhibit: Landscapes and Escapes: Collages by Celia Kahn
  • Book Marks Book Club: reading South to America: A Journey Below the Mason-Dixon to Understand the Soul of a Nation by Imani Perry
  • Tea Time at the Library
  • Concert: The River Trio, playing classical music
  • Free English-language tutoring 6 - 7:30 PM on Thursdays, by appointment; this tutoring program is intended primarily for adults
  • Job search and resume help

Programs for Kids: Nutty Scientists Present "Build Your Own Solar Oven", Lego Thursdays, Playtime with Tia on Wednesdays, and Farm Market Kids on Saturdays at the Farmers Market

Adult Programs at the RJCL
Kid's Programs at the RJCL

The Friends of the Roe Jan Library need books to sell! Books will be accepted at the Friends Book Shop on the lower level of the library every Saturday from 10 AM - 1:30 PM. The Book Shop is now open every Saturday from 10 AM to 2 PM. The library is located at 9091 Rt. 22.

Upcoming Town Meetings

Neither the Zoning Board nor Planning Board will meet in August.

Economic Development Committee

Time: Wednesday, August 16, 11 AM


Passcode: 493817

Dial in: 646 558-8656 Meeting ID:  817 2836 3610

Safe at Home Committee

Time: Thursday, August 17, 3:30

Cook & Larder, in the Hillsdale General Store Building on Rt. 23

Conservation Advisory Council

Time: Thursday, August 24, 7 PM

Town Hall

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Newsletter Editor: Meg Wormley

[email protected]

2609 State Route 23/Main Street
Hillsdale NY 12529
518 325-5073