News from Town Hall

I hope you are all well and safe. Thank you for your patience and perseverance in helping us to keep our community’s COVID-19 exposure limited. I know what a strain it has been, and to a certain extent, will continue to be, even as we move from phase to phase in the re-opening of Columbia County. I also know that our collective efforts have paid off.

Several states have experienced negative results from re-opening too quickly. Not wearing masks and not social distancing places others at risk. Our good efforts to date have worked. Please make our investment pay off by holding the line on self-discipline and setting an example for our children. 

On Monday, July 6, we will re-open Hillsdale Town Hall officially to the public – by appointment only.

To support the process, we have instituted a variety of protocols that follow State guidelines. Masks continue to be mandatory in Town Hall and for the foreseeable future, our restrooms are closed to the public. We are taking small, cautious steps toward normalcy. Additional precautions will be implemented when Town Court can be scheduled.

Here are the latest numbers from the Health Department. As of 3:30 pm on July 1, 2020:

  • 37 Columbia County residents have passed away from COVID-19.
  • Columbia County has 445 confirmed positive cases.
  • There are 25 active cases of COVID-19 in Columbia County.
  • 383 of the 445 cases have recovered from COVID-19.
  • 7 of the positive cases are hospitalized, none of those hospitalized are in the ICU.

Please stay safe and healthy, and feel free to reach out to me at any time.

Happy Fourth!

Peter Cipkowski
Hillsdale Town Supervisor
518-325-5073 x6 (Town Hall)
646-373-5002 (cell)
Hillsdale Town employees are back at Town Hall during their normally scheduled hours. A link to the Town Hall directory with scheduled hours and employee contact information is provided below.
When working in or visiting Town Hall, please follow these rules and note the following conditions:

  1. Town Hall is open to the public by appointment only. Do not come to Town Hall without an appointment.
  2. Employees and visitors are required to wear a face covering. Masks are available if you arrive without one. If you are not able to wear a mask, please conduct your business virtually.
  3. When you arrive at Town Hall, the doors will be locked. Please call the person you are scheduled to see to announce your arrival or knock on the front door.
  4. Maintain the mandatory 6-foot physical distance from others.
  5. All employees and visitors to Town Hall will need to fill out a daily health- screening questionnaire. All visitors must also fill out a log in form with contact information for contact tracing. Questionnaires and log in forms are available at the entrance.
  6. If you think you have been exposed to someone with COVID 19 or have any possible symptoms – fever over 100.4, cough, chills, muscle pain, sore throat, loss of taste or smell, or shortness of breath – please stay home.
  7. Shared desks and equipment must be sanitized after each use by the previous user and before each use by the new user.
  8. Cleaning and sanitizing of common areas and restrooms will be completed regularly.
  9. Please use the hand sanitizer that is available in all common areas.
  10. The restroom is closed to the public.
  11. Plexiglass shields have been installed to protect staff.
  12. Town meetings will be held remotely through August 1.
Photo above: Deputy Town Clerk Veronique Fabio sits behind her desk at Town Hall, shielded by a large sheet of plexiglass suspended from the ceiling.
“As we approach the 4th of July holiday weekend, I would like to remind everyone that the use of illegal fireworks can not only bring on an arrest, but with the drought conditions we are experiencing, they may cause a fire,” said Columbia County Board of Supervisors Chairman Matt Murell on Wednesday in a press release. In Columbia County, it is illegal to buy or use any type of fireworks.

Currently, the northeast section of Columbia County is experiencing a D1 (short-term) drought, with the rest of the county designated as abnormally dry.
Hillsdale has dozens of properties available for short-term rental on Airbnb and Home Away. If you are a Hillsdale property owner and rent your property to short-term residents, please make sure you comply with the guidelines outlined in Hillsdale's Local Law #2 2019.

Among its provisions, the law requires operators to:

  • Obtain a Special Permit from the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA), and
  • Obtain a Certificate of Occupancy or Certificate of Compliance from the Town Building Inspector.
A public hearing for new local law, #1 2020 - Unsafe Buildings, was held prior to the June Town Board meeting. The proposed law will provide the town with a procedure for addressing unsafe buildings in the community–both occupied and unoccupied. The board will vote on the law in the July Town Board meeting on July 14, 2020. A draft can be found on the link below.
The Town of Hillsdale is accepting letters of interest and resumes for the position of Deputy Clerk and Planning Board Clerk. Both positions are part-time.

The Deputy Clerk will work several hours a week during regular business hours. The Planning Board Clerk must be available to attend all Planning Board meetings on the second Monday of the month. Both positions may be assigned to one person.

Letters of interest must be received by July 13, 12 pm.

Hillsdale Deputy Town Clerk
P.O. Box 305
Hillsdale NY 12529
(518) 325-5073 ext. 13
The Hillsdale Broadband Committee is continuing to assess broadband internet service in our town. If you haven’t participated, please take a moment to take the brief survey. If you have taken the survey in the past, and your service has changed, you can take the survey again and your older results will be discarded. You may also reach out to the committee with questions at any time.
The Hillsdale Economic and Community Development Corporation (HECDC) continues to offer one-time gifts of $250 to local families and individuals who are experiencing financial stress due to loss of income because of COVID-19.

Please do not hesitate to email or call 518-325-5073 extension 6 to learn if you qualify.
Story Walks are an innovative and delightful way for children — and adults! — to enjoy reading and the outdoors at the same time. Laminated pages from a children's book are attached to wooden stakes, which are installed along an outdoor path.

The Roeliff Jansen Community Library has installed Story Walks in the Roe Jan Park and along the Harlem Valley Rail Trail.

The first is located along the Picnic Grove and South trails at Roeliff Jansen Park, beginning near the upper barn on the north end of Picnic Grove Trail. It features Helaine Becker's children's book,  You Can Read.  The second Story Walk features Sophy Henn's  Lifesize  and is located at the Harlem Valley Rail Trail, beginning in Copake Falls and heading north to Orphan Farm Road.
Maggie (left) is retelling the story for Casey (right) on the Story Walk in the Roe Jan Park.
The Roeliff Jansen Community Library and the Hudson Area Library have partnered to offer FREE Job Search help during this time of health and economic crisis. This project is supported by a grant from the Fund for Columbia County of the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation. 

Certified Career Services Provider (and Hillsdale resident) Beth Gordon will work with you one-on-one via telephone, Skype, Zoom, or FaceTime to help you refresh your resume and brush up on your interview skills.

To schedule an appointment with Beth, Roe Jan area residents can email or call 518-325-4101. Hudson area residents can email or call 518-828-1792 x101.
After meeting with parents in June (photo below) and reviewing the current guidelines by the Health Department, we made the tough decision to cancel this summer’s youth program in the Roe Jan Park. The decision was not made lightly. With hundreds of acres, miles of trails, and two wide-open barns, the Hillsdale youth program is unlike any other in Columbia County. We held out hope that we could plan a fun-filled program and meet all the guidelines. Sadly, it was just too uncertain - and we can't put our campers and counselors at risk. Many thanks to Joe Raco, our summer program director, who really tried to make it work. We're looking forward to Summer 2021.
We are concerned by the low Census response rate in much of the Hudson Valley. The Town of Hillsdale has a census response rate of 43%, falling short of its 2010 response rate of 56.5%. The information collected by the Census helps inform the federal government on many key decisions, including the allocation of funding for schools, hospitals, community organizations and more, as well as legislative redistricting and congressional representation. Rural communities like ours stand to be the most negatively impacted by an undercount.

The good news is that Census workers have now been allowed to deliver information to the home addresses of citizens who receive their mail in P.O. boxes.
Also, because of the pandemic, the Census self-response deadline has been extended to October 31. You can fill out the Census form at the link below or you can call it in:

(844) 330-2020 for English
(844) 468-2020 for Spanish
Look for Hillsdale’s Conservation Advisory Council table at this Saturday’s Copake Hillsdale Farmers Market in the Roe Jan Park. They will exhibit the recently published Natural Resource Inventory (NRI) and provide a limited number of copies for purchase.

This 200-page booklet is the result of a year-long research project which identifies, maps, and describes many of the diverse natural resources that make our area so special. Some of the maps (like the one below) showing geology, streams, and topography will be displayed at the Farmers Market.
The State Department of Environmental Conservation has announced that it will continue online hunter education safety and certification courses through August 31. Since mid-April, more than 24,000 hunters have successfully completed the hunter safety course, about 20 percent more than typically take it each year. Of those completing the online course about 40 percent were women, compared to 27 percent female participants in the traditional in-person course.

All hunters must complete a mandatory hunter education course before purchasing a hunting license. Hunters who wish to hunt big game with a bow must complete a mandatory bowhunter education course, in addition to the required hunter education course.
The Roe Jan Community Library continues to sponsor a series of brief interviews with community leaders during this unique moment in our history. The next collection of conversations includes a bank manager, a flower farmer, and a partner in a plumbing business.
Jill Sims, Copake Branch Manager for the Bank of Greene County
and Hillsdale Deputy Supervisor
Jenny Elliott, Tiny Hearts Farm and Flower Shop
Rachel Bradway, Robert Bradway Plumbing & Heating Inc.