News from Town Hall

March, the third month of the year, is the first month that imagines us to contemplate spring. This glimmer of hope was wonderfully captured by Charles Dickens describing this changing time of year, and one we can all relate to: “It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light and winter in the shade.”

As we gradually turn toward spring, our committees are hard at work in planning another great season of concerts, events and services for the young and the young at heart. And over the past month, the Anthony, Coldwater and Maple Streetscape Project Advisory Committee has met several times with CPL engineers Tim Moot and Richard Waite to consider best sidewalk options. A public meeting, especially for Hamlet neighbors, is tentatively set for Thursday, March 24 at 6:00 p.m. Please stay tuned for further details. We have also received a traffic engineering report that recommends more effective signage leading to the Whippoorwill Road intersection with State Route 22. These recommendations will be discussed at the March 8th Town Board meeting.

In other news, the Board has adopted the eCODE 360 Local Law # 1 of 2022 that codifies our local laws, ordinances, and certain Resolutions of the Town into a Municipal Code to be designated to “Code of the Town of Hillsdale.” Congratulations to Tom Carty, Town Attorney Matt Cabral and the Board for bringing this two-and-a-half-year project to fruition.
We are gratified by the rapid decrease in the number of new COVID cases, and have just received an additional supply of free KN95 masks and rapid test kits at Town Hall for those who need them. Please make an appointment with the Town Clerk during office hours to pick up your supply.

And finally, the Roe Jan Housing Task Force met on February 22 to continue its work in addressing affordable workforce housing in the tri-town area of Hillsdale, Copake and Ancram. The committee recently heard a presentation by Pattern for Progress and is beginning to explore their recommendation of streamlining local approval processes.

With two weeks to go until Daylight Savings Time begins on March 13 (Spring Forward), and three weeks until Spring officially begins on March 20, I wish you good health, hope and joy.

Chris Kersten
Town Supervisor
March Town Board Meeting on Zoom
The March Town Board meeting will be held on Zoom. For the two Public Comment sessions during the meeting the Zoom moderator will ask attendees if they want to be unmuted in order to make a comment or ask a question. Zoom attendees will be muted at all other times.
Town of Hillsdale March Town Board Meeting
Time: Tuesday March 8, 7:00 PM
Dial in: 646 558-8656 Meeting ID: 869 2782 2741
COVID Update
COVID numbers in Columbia County continue to fall significantly. As of Thursday the 24th, there were 26 active cases, with 12 county residents hospitalized and one in the ICU. Since the start of the pandemic there have been 11,029 cases in the county and 138 deaths. As of the 25th the daily positive test rate was down to 2.7%.

Although New York State has lifted the mandate for mask wearing while in a business, local health department officials continue to encourage the wearing of masks while indoors, particularly for those with health problems.

According to the new CDC COVID-19 Community Level tool, Columbia County's level is "low". Levels can be low, medium, or high and are determined by looking at hospital beds being used, hospital admissions, and the total number of new COVID-19 cases in an area.
Highway Department to Move Speed Signs,
Has Concerns re Coldwater St. Parking
At the February Town Board meeting Hillsdale Highway Superintendent Richard Briggs asked for suggestions re where the town's two radar speed signs should be placed next. The signs, which have been on Mitchell Street and Collins Street Extension since December, display the speed of an oncoming car along with a message, such as "slow down" if the speed limit is being exceeded. Residents with concerns about speeders on any town road are welcome to send suggestions to The County Sheriff has agreed to put a speed sign on Rt. 23 in the spring.

Briggs also reported on the difficulty his crew has plowing Coldwater Street, even when using a plow on a pickup truck, because of the many cars parked along the street. Town law states that "With the exception of the northerly side of Coldwater Street, no motor vehicles shall be parked on or along any Town highway within the legal right-of-way of such highway, including the shoulders thereof, during the time period from November 1 of each year through April 15 of the following year." Illegally parked cars can be towed and the owner held responsible for expenses for towing and storage. In addition, the owner can be fined.

At the meeting the Board approved a bid for installing solar panels at the town highway garage. Most of the $$24,991 cost will be covered by a grant from NYSERDA.
Town Institutes Text Alert System
During the early February ice storm the town used its Instagram and Facebook pages as well as the town website and newsletter to let residents know that the firehouse was being opened as a warming and phone recharging station. In order to make it even easier for people to get such information, the town has activated a feature of the town website that sends texts whenever news or notices are posted on the website. This includes non-emergency as well as emergency notices.

To receive texts, use the sign up form on the website. The check-offs for getting news and notices text alerts have been pre-checked.
Revisiting Slavery in Columbia County
Since February was Black History Month, the Hillsdale Historians revisited and updated their 2021 post about slavery in the Hudson Valley. New sources helped them to better understand not just how widespread and tenacious the institution of slavery was in the Hudson Valley, but also to greater appreciate the magnitude of the struggle for freedom fought by those held in chattel slavery. This year's far more extensive blog post has added information from "In Defiance: Runaways from Slavery in New York’s Hudson River Valley 1735-1831" which collects 607 advertisements from newspapers across the Hudson Valley that offered rewards for fugitives fleeing enslavement. The book documents not only how established slavery was in the Hudson Valley, but also to what lengths the enslaved went to gain their freedom.
Town Seeks New Grant Writer
Hillsdale has issued an RFP for a new grant writer who will be charged with grant writing for a range of capital projects including the renovation of Hamlet Park, Streetscape enhancements, (sidewalks for Coldwater, Maple and Anthony Streets) broadband expansion and a salt shed at the highway garage. The current grant writer will be retained to write a grant proposal for rebuilding the West End Bridge as this proposal has to be submitted soon.

The RFP calls for a grant writer or firm with a proven track record in
  • Creating complex proposals from diverse funding sources
  • Skills in demographic data collection and analysis
  • An entrepreneurial approach
For application requirements email Town Clerk Kathi Doolan at or call 518 325-5073 ext. 5. Applications are due by March 7.
Of Note.....
As of February 26, the town has received $3,515,705.85 in 2022 tax payments. The total to be collected is $4,103,318.25. Most payments are made by mail but this year 166 payments were made online, the most ever. Hillsdale Tax Collector Joe Hanselman reports that about 13% of the total is dispersed through tax levies to the fire districts, Roeliff Jansen Community Library and special districts such as lighting. “Less than 25% of the total collected goes directly to the town,” said Hanselman. “The bulk of the payments are sent to the county on a monthly basis.”

All tax payments were due by January 31. Payments made in March must include a 2% late fee. As required by tax law, a second notice will be sent to all unpaid parcels on April 1. Payments made in April must include a 3% late fee plus a $2 second notice fee. Payments made on or after May 1 must include a 4% late fee plus the $2 second notice fee. Any payments received without the required penalty will be returned to the sender.


Over the last year the Town Board has been enhancing the budget process and working on improving internal controls. This has included switching to Quick Books accounting software, and approving new Procurement, Fund Balance, and Highway Department checking account policies as well as hiring Bob Patterson as accountant for the town. At a February 18 special budget meeting Patterson briefed the board on the town’s reporting process and lead a discussion of how vouchers for payment of invoices are handled and procedures that would improve the process. Patterson subsequently prepared a new “Claims Process”, the town’s policy for the processing and payment of invoices, which is now being followed.

From March 15 to 25 the shredding bins sponsored by the Columbia County Clerk's Office are back in Hillsdale Town Hall for use by appointment. Call 518 325-5073 ext 5. Papers deposited in these secure bins will be destroyed by Certified Document Security LLC of North Chatham.
Columbia Opportunities Offers
Weatherization Program
Hillsdale homeowners and renters may qualify for free home energy audits and energy saving materials through the Weatherization Assistance Program offered by Columbia Opportunities, a organization that helps solve poverty-related problems in Columbia County. The goal of the program is to help reduce home energy costs and improve the health and safety homes. The work can be done on all types of buildings including single-family houses, mobile homes, and apartment buildings. Eligibility for the program is based on household income.
Based on the energy audit, work done may include replacing or repairing a furnace or boiler, windows and doors, hot water heaters and refrigerators. Columbia Opportunities provides the materials and the work is done by their crew or local private contractors. Other possible work includes installing insulation, weather stripping and caulk, and providing new light fixtures and bulbs, carbon monoxide and smoke detectors, programmable thermostats and water saving shower heads

For more information or to see if you qualify, call (518) 672-7268 or visit the organization’s web site.
There's Still Time to Complete Broadband Survey
The Hillsdale Broadband Committee urges all residents to complete New York State's brief survey for consumers to report actual on-the-ground broadband availability and experience. Survey results may help the county leverage both federal and state grant funding. 

How to Participate
For more information and to participate in the NYS survey, please visit the New York State Broadband Assessment Project. To receive a paper survey in the mail, call toll-free 1-855-NYBBMAP (1-855-692-2627).

"The more surveys and experiences recorded," says Hillsdale Broadband Committee member Andy Dash, "the more information governmental decision makers, who control or will control significant broadband infrastructure development funds, will have about the gaps in access to high-speed internet in our community. We particularly encourage residents who do not have access to modern broadband internet to complete the survey."
Upcoming Events in the Area
Inspired by the 80th anniversary of Pearl Harbor, this summer’s exhibit at the Roe Jan Historical Society museum will be “From the Home Front to the Front Lines”. The exhibit will present WWII as told through personal correspondence, photographs, G.I. standard issue equipment, commendations, medals, official documents of individuals who served, etc. Residents from the Roe Jan area are invited to lend items from all branches of the Armed Forces - from service at home or overseas - that have been passed down through the generations.

The Society will be open on the following Friday and Saturday afternoons, March 18 and 19, March 25 and 26 and April 1 and 2, from 2 to 4 PM to receive WWII mementos for inclusion in this major exhibition. Alternatively, an appointment can be made by calling 518 329-3251 or emailing The museum is located at 8 Miles Road, Copake Falls.

March programs at the Roeliff Jansen Community Library include Tech Labs on Library E-Book Apps and on Facebook, a virtual celebration of Holi, the Hindu color celebration, a history webinar on the first Jewish Americans, and Balance and Strength classes for adults. For kids there will be story times and an origami program as well as Homeschool Wednesdays. The library is located at 9091 Route 22.
The Roe Jan Library Friends Bookshop will be open on Saturday, March 5 from 10 AM to 2 PM. Thousands of gently used books, CD’s and DVD’s will be for sale. Masks are required. The bookshop is located on the lower level of the library at 9091 Rt. 22.
Upcoming Meetings

The Zoning Board of Appeals will hold a public hearing on Tuesday March 1 at 7:30 PM at the Hillsdale Town Hall to consider two applications from Jim Wright: the annual renewal for the Roots Music Festival to be held July 28-31, and one for the Light Music Festival, to be held September 9-11. Both will be at Cool Whisper Farm, 1101 County Route 21.

Planning Board
Time: Monday March 14, 7:30 PM
The meeting will be in person.
  1. Five Birches, LLC, East side of Rt 71, Green River (former Daly property) Major subdivision to create four new building lots with frontage along Rt. 71 and a logging parcel at top of ridge
  2. Dan Levy, North Side of Route 23 in Hillsdale Hamlet. Ongoing review. Special use permit and site plan review for multi-family, mixed-use project. 
  3. Jonathan Schindler, 276 Oxbow Road, Lot line adjustment.
Agenda subject to change. Final agenda will be posted in the Events section on the home page of the Hillsdale website about a week before the meeting.

Hamlet Committee
Time: Monday March 14, 6 PM
Passcode: 913038
Dial in: 646 558-8656 Meeting ID: 850 2692 3644

Open Space Project
Time: Thursday March 10, 7 PM
Passcode: 904749
Dial in: 646 558-8656 Meeting ID: 811 2255 3790

Broadband Committee
Time: Tuesday March 15, 5 PM
Passcode: 688815
Dial in: 646 558-8656 Meeting ID: 881 1295 1089

Economic Development Committee
Time: Wednesday March 23, 11 AM
Passcode: 406968
Dial in: 646 558-8656 Meeting ID: 898 2625 1707

Conservation Advisory Committee
Time: Thursday March 24, 7 PM
Passcode: 776807
Dial in: 646 558-8656 Meeting ID: 879 3779 2367
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Newsletter Editor: Meg Wormley