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Committee told to beware of violent gang forming in city

Fri, March 15, 2013 3:32 PM | NYGIA (Administrator)

HUDSON undefined A Hudson resident brought a developing gang onto the radar of the Common Council’s Youth and Aging Committee Wednesday night. Committee members had discussed improvements to the Youth Center’s programming lineup before Sumayyah Shabazz stood up from the audience and voiced her fears.

“My heart is telling me the streets are going to be unsafe this summer,” Shabazz fretted. “You don’t see it yet, because it’s still cold, but wait until it’s 60 degrees.”

Employed at the Berkshire Farm Center undefined and in the corrections system undefined for almost 30 years, Shabazz said she has learned quite a lot from disadvantaged youths.

“Kids are your education,” Shabazz said. “You feed off of what they know, and then you take that to do better.”

Shabazz commented that the gang’s size keeps growing, because “they’re recruiting as fast as they possibly can.” Spring’s arrival, Shabazz said, would be heralded by a surge in gang activity. Committee members heard from Shabazz that newly-initiated gang members would be encouraged “to jump” city residents.

The city’s Youth Department, Shabazz suggested, could help curb the violence by putting together a nighttime, outdoor basketball league. If Hudson implemented an “under the lights” program for teens and young adults at Oakdale Park, Shabazz felt the community would at least “have them under the radar.”

“Troubled youth are the first on the basketball field,” Shabazz claimed.

Committee Chair Wanda Pertilla, a Second Ward alderman, welcomed Shabazz’s idea.

Meanwhile, Pertilla congratulated Youth Recreation Director George Bednar, the Youth Department’s interim director, for broadening the Youth Center’s range of offerings by including sewing and Spanish language education.

Stottville Fire Commissioner Jim Briscoe, Youth Commissioner Gerald Wood noted, would likely hold a CPR demonstration for the entire Youth Center staff. While Wood mentioned that Bednar had yet to set a date, he thought it should coincide with the Hudson City School District’s spring break that begins the week of April 1.

Committee members also heard from Bednar about his recent conversations with the Hudson Development Corp. and city grant writer John “Duke” Duchessi of TGW Consulting Group to acquire additional computers for the center. Videographer Dan Udell, Bednar added, had been participating in the discussion.

“We’re working to try to get three new computers,” Bednar said.

In response to Bednar’s announcement, Pertilla revealed she knew of negotiations that were already under way for three computers. However, Pertilla was not at liberty to reveal the other agency’s identity just yet.

Later on, committee members listened to audience concerns about why the city had not found another Youth Department director. Pertilla conceded that, because the Common Council had voted to rebid the city’s Senior Center project, city leaders were unsure if the Youth Center would still be the construction site.

“There’s no further information if we’re going to St. Mary’s or staying at the Youth Center,” Pertilla replied. “We don’t know if we’re going to have a building or not,”

If the city decides against joining the Senior Center and the Youth Center together, the alternative to install it at the former St. Mary’s Academy was described by Pertilla as “a dream come true.”

“It was so high, we couldn’t afford it,” Pertilla previously maintained.

Aldermen Nicholas Haddad and John Friedman of Hudson’s First and Third wards have encouraged city leaders to buy up the property from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany for about $1 million. Lead architect Jane Smith of Spacesmith LLP and engineer David Crawford of Crawford & Associates told the Common Council last month about their Senior Center redesign. It should reduce their projected budget of $1.3 million, so that it fits into their previously discussed budget of $1,080,000.

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