News from Town Hall

One advantage of Zoom Town Board meetings is that it's so much easier for residents to "attend" and as a result so many more of you do. The board really appreciates your interest and input.

This month we have two budget meetings and the regular November Town Board meeting scheduled on Zoom. Everyone is welcome to attend

Topic: Hillsdale Final Budget Workshop
Time: Thursday, Nov 5, 6:00 PM
Join Zoom Meeting
Dial in: 646 558-8656
Meeting ID: 956 376 9395

Topic: Town of Hillsdale Public Budget meeting and Regular Town Board meeting
Time: Tuesday Nov 10, 6:00 PM (Board Meeting starts at 7:00 PM)
Join Zoom Meeting
Dial in: 646 558-8656
Meeting ID: 956 376 9395

Please stay safe, and do not hesitate to let me know if you have any questions.

Jill Sims
Deputy Supervisor
Election results are available from the
Columbia County Board of Elections.
Hamlet Park Survey Results Presented
Approximately 40 people attended the first public meeting about the Hamlet Park restoration project on October 24. At the meeting, a representative of The Chazen Companies, the company hired by the Town Board to develop a Master Plan for the park, took questions and presented the ideas and comments from the more than 200 survey responses submitted by the public in advance of the meeting.

Respondents reported on their current use of the park and expressed interest in a wide variety of both active and passive recreational activities as well as amenities. Click below to see the presentation including survey results.

The Hamlet Committee explained that it has been working with Chazen since August when the Town Board voted to hire the landscape architecture firm from among the seven firms that responded to the Town's public request for proposals to develop the Master Plan. No tax monies are being used for the master plan: Chazen is being paid using funds the Hamlet Committee raised through bake sales and other fundraising, supplemented by Hillsdale's Park & Recreation Fund, which is funded by municipal fees.

The project's goal is to design a park that will be attractive and useful and serve as a gathering space for Hillsdale residents of all ages and physical abilities. Guided by the committee, Chazen's design for Hamlet Park will complement, and not duplicate, the activities and amenities of Roe Jan Park, which is managed by Hillsdale on state owned land.

Chazen will now begin drafting a park design and will present its draft for comment at the next public meeting, on a date in late November or early December to be announced shortly.

Any questions may be emailed to
What Are Town Committees Working On?
At a meeting organized and sponsored by the Hillsdale Housing Committee, all of the Town committee chairs met on August 23 to discuss their missions, activities, and goals. One of the suggestions presented at the meeting was that the activities of the committees should be shared with the public. What follows is the first report of many that will be regularly published in this newsletter to help get the word out about the committees' current work, accomplishments and ideas for projects as they move forward. “As coordinator of the committees I will pull together a Town Committee progress report every couple of months,” says Town Board member Tom Carty. “Stay tuned; more to come.”

Town Committee notes are published monthly on the Town website: Click on Government and then Agendas and Minutes.
Broadband Committee

With the need for universal high-speed internet in clear focus as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Broadband Committee continues to advocate for Hillsdale residents. In September, through the work of committee member Tod Wohlfarth, the committee published its 2020 survey of Town residents regarding their access to broadband internet. The key results highlighted a deep digital divide: 

  • 71.6% of respondents report speeds below the minimum 25 Mbps required by the NYS Broadband Program.
  • 30% of respondents pay upwards of $100 to over $200 a month for proper or even substandard service.
  • 6% report absolutely "No Service Available”
  •  36% are using wireless technology which is unreliable, can have high-latency or lag, and is so prohibitively expensive only those with means can afford the service, if it is available at their homes at all. 

These issues — and the results of the 2020 Survey — were covered by The Wall Street Journal on October 22, 2020, in an article quoting Tod and committee-member Marcy Feld. The committee continues to coordinate with broadband advocates in other Columbia County communities and press our elected officials — including Congressman Antonio Delgado — regarding state and federal options for erasing this digital divide.

Conservation Advisory Council (CAC)

The CAC’s mission is to gather and disseminate information, conduct research, and advise other town agencies in matters related to the conservation of natural resources. In pursuance of its mission the CAC has recently completed a Natural Resource Inventory of Hillsdale (NRI) and disseminated it to the Town Board and, over the summer, to Hillsdale residents interested in learning about the natural resources of the town.

The CAC also continues its role of advising the Planning Board in its review of development proposals, having conducted site visits and provided reports on projects in September and October. The CAC hopes to be able to provide information to the Planning Board and the Zoning Board of Appeals on uses of the NRI this fall or early winter, as required by the grant which funded the NRI. In addition, it is beginning consideration of another substantial project, creating an open space inventory of the town, pursuant to the State’s enabling statute for CAC’s. 

Hamlet Committee

The Hamlet Committee has been busy with a variety of projects and community events this fall. In September, the Committee oversaw the funding and installation of signs on Rt. 23 and on Anthony St. directing visitors to the Harlem Valley Rail Trail. The signs were funded by proceeds from a committee bake sale. In October, the Hamlet Committee hosted the well-attended Pumpkin Festival, which included events throughout Hillsdale, including live music, a pumpkin pie-baking contest, community tables, State Police and Sheriff’s Department exhibits, and a “Gathering of Scarecrows,” a competition to create and decorate scarecrows honoring “essential workers and hometown heroes.”

Throughout the fall, the Committee has been working on the Hamlet Park Restoration Project, including hosting a public meeting in October, as described in the article above.
Housing Committee

Ellen Levy and Janis Smythe, committee co-chairs, appeared at the June Town Board meeting and reported on the need for affordable housing for Hillsdale residents. The report was based on a 2017 updated Housing Needs Study produced by the Housing Action Council, consultants. The report showed that over 25% of households in Hillsdale were paying more than 30% of their incomes for rent or home ownership costs (mortgage, insurance, taxes) and 10% were paying more than 50% of their incomes for housing. Because of COVID, an increase in the need for assistance is expected.

The committee continues to seek to secure a piece of land on which to build a for-sale Habitat house. A flyer was created to publicize the search and was circulated to various venues and publications for further outreach and other methods to try to secure land are underway.

The 2015 “Guide to Housing in the Hillsdale/Roe Jan Area” has been updated to reflect contacts and programs currently available and to include COVID-related support. The pamphlets were distributed at the Pumpkin Festival on October 10. They are available to pick up in the front entrance of Town Hall, and at the IGA, Post Office, Food Pantry and other local spots.
Safe at Home Committee

Hillsdale’s Safe at Home Committee is committed to ensuring that the seniors in Hillsdale are provided with updated information on resources and services available to them. A new “Hello from the Safe at Home Committee” announcement (which goes out in email and snail mail) will be sent to this community shortly. The announcement will include updates regarding preparing for winter and resources that can assist seniors.

In addition, as a follow up to a Senior Needs Assessment survey which demonstrated that Hillsdale seniors are most concerned with home repair and maintenance, the Committee has developed a resource guide. The suggestions in the resource guide include providers of home maintenance and repair services that committee members have used and are comfortable suggesting. In addition, this guide will include a list of tasks to help homeowners prepare their homes for all seasons. The guide will be sent to senior’s homes.

Due to COVID-19 the committee's successful monthly Coffee Hours are on hold until the safety of all seniors is ensured.
Funds Available For Local Residents
 Who Have Lost Income
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.

To learn if you qualify email or call 646-373-5002.

And, please pass this information on to anyone you know who might need assistance.
Farmers Market Open Three More Weeks
The Copake Hillsdale Farmers Market has extended its 2020 market season by three weeks, staying open through Saturday November. 21 to give area residents access to ultra-fresh, local produce and other goods right up until Thanksgiving. The market, held at the Roeliff Jansen Park, is open from 9 am to 1 pm.

Now is the time to stock up on staples and favorite products including frozen meats, charcuterie, storage vegetables, hard cheeses, honey, flour (many types available), maple syrup, pasta sauces, pesto, salt, and baked goods that can stay for months in your freezer.

The Farmers Market does ask that all patrons practice social distancing and wear masks. Hand sanitizer is available and patrons are advised to not linger.

As a reminder, the Copake Hillsdale Farmers Market accepts SNAP (food stamps). Stop at the Manager's table for information on how to get up to $20 worth of produce or fruit, for free every week.
Swipe Right If You Like Professor Herman S. Johnson
This month in their blog, the Hillsdale Historians take a look at another intriguing Hillsdale resident, Professor Herman S. Johnson, who in 1880 founded the Hillsdale Classical Institute. The Institute had a rigorous curriculum, offering classes in subjects including math, science, history and six foreign languages. Those interested in a vocational path could study telegraphy. Johnson was also the editor of Captain John Collin's History of Hillsdale. But none of this is what makes Johnson memorable. Read this month's blog entry and learn how he perhaps paved the way for online dating and swiping right!
Safe at Home Committee Recommends
Online Tool Re COVID Risk
Hillsdale's Safe at Home Committee recommends that all area residents, particularly older residents, try a new online tool from The New York State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA): CV19 CheckUp in New York State, a free, anonymous, personalized online tool that evaluates an individual’s risks associated with COVID-19 based on their life situation and individual behavior and provides recommendations and resources to reduce those risks.

Based on an individual’s behavior, the COVID-19 tool provides an analysis of the likelihood to contract, spread, be hospitalized and die from the virus.
It includes a mental health assessment to gauge depression and outcomes as a result of loneliness. The tool links people to local services should they have a need, i.e.) food, testing, paying bills, etc.

As the holidays approach and more indoor activities occur, it is particularly important that older individuals with chronic conditions take this test to protect themselves. It is equally important that young individuals, who are often asymptomatic, take this test to help prevent them from becoming super spreaders. The results will help you understand how the way we live and our day to day routines impact the chances of getting and spreading the virus.

The tool analyzes behavior, using scientific data that is being updated weekly. It only takes five minutes to complete and can be taken as many times as one wishes.

The app was developed in partnership with BellAge, Inc., and the Association on Aging in New York (AgingNY).
Pumpkin Festival Parade
Part of the Boy Scout Color Guard
State Troopers Bell and Amundson