RosenRaps: Ken

RosenRaps: Ken H by Kathleen and Laura

May 22, 2024

K: Ken, there’s a lot we can talk about, but I actually find it really helpful and interesting to find out how you got here or what your history is here, well, whatever you want to share.

KH:I was born in Rosendale. My parents had a summer home up on Lucas Avenue throughout the 50s and then in the early 60s they moved up here permanently and that was my first home. If you go down Lucas Avenue, you know where Tyler’s junkyard is? the house to the left of Tyler’s junkyard, they do the big display at Christmas time. That used to be our property and that used to be an old cement block house. You walked into the basement and then you walked up a set of stairs and there was an apartment up over top of it. So that was my parents’ summer home that they got from, I don’t know where they got it, but yeah, and so that’s where I started out and eventually my parents bought a house over on Binnewater Road by the lake. So I kind of grew up in Binnewater and hung out in Rosendale, went to St. Peter’s School. As did that, then it seemed like everybody in town, whether you were Catholic or not, went to St. Peter’s School because we had non-Catholics going there too, but it was so affordable. If you were a parishioner, it was next to nothing to go to the Catholic School. There was a tuition of course, and there was a lot of people in town that weren’t Catholic, but they sent their kids there too because we had a great community. 

So then from there, I went on to St. Joseph’s in Kingston, because St. Peter’s was risked to close back in the early 1970s, mid-70s. So I went to St. Joseph’s and then after that I went to Coleman High School. So when I look back over my career, my academic career, I have no alma mater. St. Peter’s is closed, St. Joseph’s is closed, Coleman is closed, and every day I pick up the paper and say, please don’t close Ulster Community college still, I got left! 

So then when I was 18, I was asked to be a part of the youth commission here in Rosendale, so I was a youth commissioner. And I really enjoyed it. We were down on Main Street at the time, and we had quite a, at the time there was a lot of underprivileged children that lived in the Main Street area, and there wasn’t a lot to do. The rec center wasn’t up and running like it is right now.

K: When was this? Like what years?

KH: This would be, let’s go back, this would be the late 70s.

K: Got it.

KH:Late 70s. Yeah, I was 18 when I graduated ‘79. So yeah, it was ‘79, I was put on the youth commission, and I spent a number of years on that, and then I became police commissioner, and I was a police commissioner for four years. And then I ran for town board, and I was a town councilman for 17 years. And then my term ended in ’13. I lost an election. So I was done in ’13, and then Jeanne asked me be  deputy supervisor since 2013.

So I got a long history with the town, you know, working in various departments. And you know, I love it because so much has happened, and just go back 30 years, 30 years as this town has gone from kind of the joke of the county, like, “Rosendale, oh sure, yeah! that’s right like you guys got 39 bars all in a little spot, right?” And then I went to Main Street, there was, what, like, 16, 15 bars?

K: Oh, my God.

KH: Oh, yeah.

K: I knew there was a lot, but that’s-

KH: There was a lot. A lot. So that was kind of the brunt of the joke, you know, “from Rosendale, huh? Which bar you work at?” And then things started to change. People started to move in, especially after 9/11. You know, we got a big influx of people after 9/11 that came up, and I’m not going to say it was smooth, because a lot of times people came up and they didn’t – we didn’t have the services and the things that they expected, and, you know, so-

K: You mean in terms of, like, town infrastructure, or when you say services…

KH: Well, infrastructure, as far as, say, just take the Rec Center, you know, we had just acquired it, and it was a building, and it was an old pool, and we were putting patches on the pool, and there wasn’t a lot of other things to do down there, and people were saying, you know, it’s a beautiful place. Let’s do this, let’s do that. But money. During the 70s, and really what the 70s especially, there was that, you know, that the economy was down, and, you know, to go out to the people to say, we want to spend this much money on something. “No, I can’t afford my taxes, you want to? “So was that type of thing. It was frustrating, because you had a great idea, and then you saw the price tag, and presented it to the public, and some of it … And then, little by little, I think that changed.

Now, I think we got a really good mix of people, different ideas, sometimes you don’t agree, but I think we’ve matured over the years to be able to, uh, talk it out. We used to fight like dogs. You can remember. You said you remember when I was on the board, you know, we had some knock-down drag-out issues. Um, even before William’s Lake, and it got contentious, it really did. And politics played a role in it, but it was more how you felt right here, you know, because it’s our town. You know, when small town politics, when it comes to Republican – Democrat, there’s no Republican –  Democrat.

The roads have to be plowed, you know, the services have to go out, and we have to make ourselves available to our constituents, whether they’re that. You know, so, but sometimes it does cloud. It does come in in cloud, the, uh, process sometimes. But then everybody goes, well, and, you know, it’s the truth. Shake it off… Now that we’ve had our pissing contest, excuse my language, you know, that’s why what we like that.

K: We’ll go with that.

KH: Let’s get down to how we fix it. I would move forward. And we’ve been able to do that, especially with this lady, you know, we’ve been blessed with some good supervisors and some not so good, not to their fault, but they just sometimes didn’t have the time, or even the intelligence, not the intelligence, but the wherewithal to do the job.  And when I first came on, the supervisor’s job was a part-time job, you know. Somebody had a job somewhere else. They did. There was another profession. 

Now, And since Jeanne’s been around, you know, certainly for the past 12 or 15 years, it’s almost impossible to be a part-time supervisor, because there’s just so much involved with the job and requirements. And I know just about, you know, everything she does, but right now you can sit her down and she’ll tell you what we’ve got in every account, just so she’s that good, and it’s reflected. You know, it’s reflected. She’s also very good with building consensus, you know. Getting back to a contentious board, or, you know, she’ll sit and she’ll listen with them, say their piece. At the end of the day, they come up with a solution. Everybody seems to be happy with it. Maybe not everybody got everything, but, you know, she’s a very good leader. 

L: What do you think is your biggest contribution?

KH: Probably my time, my enthusiasm.

L: What are you most enthusiastic about?

KH: Just seeing the town grow –  The infrastructure, when it was huge, you know, the Rec Center was my, I was the liaison to the rec commission for all the years that I was on the board, so that was my baby. So every improvement that happened at the rec center from putting in geothermal to building  a new building first, and then putting in a geothermal, and having new playgrounds, and the recs, the youth center, you know, the youth center was, that was a community-driven project, one of our former councilmen, Otto Sherville. He adopted that as his project, and we had work parties, and a lot of time went into putting that building together and planning it all out, and now we’ve got, you know, a great facility for our kids, and, you know, having been on the youth commission years ago, you know, down on Main Street, literally, that our space down there was probably about as big as this to her desk, and there was a foosball table in there, and then we got a ping pong table, and there wasn’t much room for anything else. 

L: Where was the rec center downtown? 

KH: The youth center, it was, you know, where the old town hall was?

L: I don’t, actually. I remember that song. Harry’s pickles.

L: Oh, sure.

KH: Yeah, the buildings were sale right now. That used to be town hall. the buildings no longer there. That’s that empty lot. It was a storefront in there that we rented. And, yeah, the people would, the kids would be out there, and I’d get a lot of kids. It wasn’t a lot of places to go, so to hang out on the street, and, you know, sometimes you get to play the ball, and, you know, get a little push in, and the kid would end up, “geez, the car coming,” you know. So when that cut out of there, and we were able to put the youth center over at the rec center, that was huge. That was huge, because then they had a place to go. It was their own, you know.

And we had a really good youth director for many years, Kathy Wade, who did wonderful programs. She retired a few years ago, and then Matt took over. And he’s just, he followed suit with all of her programs and all. And I enjoy just going down, you know, seeing…

I’m the president of the Rosendale Food Pantry, too. I spend a lot of time at the pantry, so if we have any extras, we bring them up to the youth center. Like, we got a distribution of these little cheerio things, you know, containers of cheerios. Our clients really didn’t like them, they didn’t go that well, so we’ll bring them up to the youth center. And that’s a day, boy, the kids are coming, that’s a good healthy snack. So, yeah.

That’s, that’s one that they say, you know, it’s one of my proudest accomplishments, the youth center, and not the youth center, I’m the pantry and the rec center. And of course, the youth center, but the pantry is my baby, too.

K: How did the pantry come into existence?

KH: About 25 years ago, uh huh, yeah, 25 years ago, there was a lady, uh, her name was Norelene and Nora knew of, she had a lot of kids, and she had some adopted kids, and she, in her network, knew of other adoptees, and people that needed help, just didn’t have, you know… so she started a little group, and had some fundraisers, and raised money and then what she would do is order food, basic food items, sometimes diapers and things like that on eBay, and give them to the people she knew that needed it. And that went into, she actually started the food pantry. It started originally in the basement of the Rosendale Cafe. Mark gave a spot down there and gave a refrigerator, so it started down there. And it grew from there to our building over at the rec center.

L: Nora was a clerk, right? She was across the street in that other office.

KH: Her mom, that was Norelene, her mom, and this is Nora. I can’t remember her married name, but yeah, her daughter Nora, too. But of course, Norelene was on the board and helped her, too, and then when we moved over to the rec center and got a building, it was kind of, you know, the rec center was acquired through New York State, and there’s certain restrictions. It’s got to be totally recreational, and nothing else can happen on that property unless it’s recreational.

So when we put the pantry on there, it was, oh, boy, you’re going to say something, and nobody ever said anything.

K: So it’s that parcel. That includes where the pantry is now coming down to the pantry. 

KH: The pantry in the building next to that is the Pickle building. That’s where the Pickle Fest door, all their stuff. So our, our out, if we were ever to get questioned by the state was, you know, what’s that building?

“It’s storage. It’s for storage. What are you storing? food” Nobody’s ever said anything. And so that facilitated Nora’s being asked to put, be a little bit more formal and have paperwork. You know, if you’re going to have fundraise and do all this, and you’re going to use town property, if anybody questions, you’ve got to be a little bit more formal.

So I was sitting, I was on the board at the time, and Nora reached out to me and asked me if I would join their board of directors and, you know, do oversight, you know, financial, you and so I started to do that and then bring it back to the board, I’m sitting on the board of the pantry and there’s some financials. This is what we did last month, and so that grew from there to, we have a strong board and eventually not long after that, we asked Debbie Czechia to join the board, and Debbie joined, and now Debbie is… I’m the president, but Debbie runs it. She’s the boss. She’s the boss. And she’s another one. I mean, if you want to talk to somebody, Debbie, 

L: that’s a great idea because she, I talked to her every year because of the taxes.

KH: She’s been our tax collector forever. She heads up the chef’s dinner, every Christmas, you know, they have the free dinner and Christmas for everybody. She organizes that every year. Yeah, she’s a good lady, too. 

K: Ken, like, like, so your whole life has been framed by civil service, clearly to Rosendale, I mean, yeah, I have another question for you, but we’ll save it to the end.  You’re very theatrical.

KH: I don’t know. I have a lot of performative quality.

K: You ever sing? Do you ever do anything like that?

KH: No, I was a, I was political director for a union, so I did do a lot of speeches in front of a lot of people and…

K: Got it. Oh, public speaking is something that you…

KH: That was my career. I worked for a union. I was a business agent for United Food and Commercial Workers, so I represented all the food service workers in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Of course, they were under contract with us. Shop Rite, Food Town, Pathmart, I represented all those workers. 

K: Wow. 

KH: And then the last part of my career, I was made a political director.

K: What does that mean?

KH: I handled the politics for the local, in New York. 

K: Like when you were in support candidates and to lead to terms with membership.

KH: From the National Law and Down, I met President Biden a number of times. I was always lucky enough to be picked to any time some of the biggies came to New York and New Jersey. You know, the UFCW had a place at the table, if you will, so that, you know, I had the privilege of meeting some biggies, Ted Kennedy, President Obama, President Biden, Vice President Gore. Yeah, it was an interesting career. I thoroughly enjoyed it. So I put 35 years into that and retired five years ago. And then I thought I was going to retire and be happy, and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. So that’s my story.

 K: So you’ve dedicated your whole life to civil service?

KH: Helping people, yeah.

K: Yes, clearly.

KH: And, you know.Or being their spokesman. Fought a lot of battles, for a lot of people in the stores, you know. I mean, back in the day, you had employers, even though it was ShopRite  

K: You’re talking about your union. What was the union that you’re part of again, that you represent?

KH: United Food and Commercial Workers. When I first started, there were individual owners that could be ruthless to their people.I mean, absolutely ruthless. And I had no problem getting down in the trenches and going toe to toe, and yeah, we’ve had some really good bang-ups.

L: You know, I’ve just really remembered that evening up at the Food Truck Fiesta – the last summer it must have been. And your whole family was there. And so, where are they all?

KH: Well, I have twin boys.And then one lives in Lake Katrine, the other, and Hurley. They’re both cops.One’s a sheriff, and one’s Kingston City cop. We’re very, very close.It’s got a daughter that lives in New Jersey, unfortunately, two hours away. But, you know, we’re very close, and each one of them has given us a grandchild in the past year..

K: Wow. So, you have three grandchildren this last year?

KH: I have two here, and one in the oven, we just were told.On Mother’s Day.They announced that my other twin is going to have a little baby.

L :So, how neat for you to have everybody so close?

KH: Yeah, it is. It really is. You know, people told me, Ken, when you become a grandfather, it’s nothing like it. It’s a whole new world, and you can appreciate that until it happens. Oh, man.Oh, man. My grandson was just one, and when he comes into the house and he sees me, just love it.

L: They look like a great bunch.

KH: We have a lot of fun.

L: Because you were at the head of the table, and I was standing right with you, and then that entire picnic table, we’re all part of your satellites.

KH: We were close to them. They weren’t all families, so most of them were, but, you know, certainly a lot of good friends. And that’s a great venue to go up and have a reunion. Did you go last night?

L: We didn’t go last night.

KH: I didn’t either. It was too hot. My kids went, and my grandson went, and they called and said, you’re going to go up, and I said, oh, man. I was outside working, and I just, uh, and, you know, six o’clock on that lot, and blazing sun .. It’s hot.

 K: Well, Ken, you know, you had, wow, a really long history of being involved, as I said, in so many different positions here, from the time you were 18, till now, in terms of Rosendale.

KH: I’m 28 now?

K: You’re 28? Good. Me too. Can you tell?

KH: Yeah. I thought you were like 25.

K: That was good.

KH: Thank you.

K:  Um, and you’ve mentioned a few, like, sort of landmark shifts in the town’s history. But, um, because you have such an extensive involvement as both the resident, you were born here, and you functioned in so many different capacities, I’m wondering if you could, I don’t know, reflect more on some of the ways things have changed.

And then think about what it is that we’re building on now, and how that’s a separate question, and how we would like to create more of whatever it is that you, from your point of view, think would be valuable here, like, really, right?

But because you have such a long history, like, you’re, like, we need to make sure that we don’t lose track of you, because you, there’s tons of stuff you could say.

KH: I’m retired!

K: But you’re not somebody to sit around. That’s obvious. Tell us more about some of how you see the significant changes that have occurred here, and what precipitated those.

 KH: Going back to what I said before, you know, yeah, Rosie, there was kind of the brunt of, yeah. But then we got a little bit better, and then, and then we got a traffic light, remember when we got the traffic light in town on 32?

L: Oh, man.

KH: That’s going back. There was people, yes, because now you have to stop in the middle of 32, and yeah, but there was some people that, “hey, man, we got a traffic light in town. We made it.” So little, little improvements like that.

And then, you know, again, the infrastructure, a lot of things that people don’t see. Right. The water and the sewer, you know, there’s something going on down there, there’s trucks and okay. Yeah. Sure. But you really don’t see it. You care about it when it doesn’t work, but when it works. But that’s huge. And she was able to secure millions and millions of dollars to office at the cost. 

K:  Well, you heard my pitch that somehow this all needs to be shown in some way that people could actually see and take in all this information so that it’s preserved as a legacy so that we’re aware of the level of fundraising development, timeline, admin, before and after knowing about it. This is a piece of Rosendale’s legacy that I think is very important. 

But don’t let me get on my soapbox that’s come out of this. I can’t get over it, but I really want to know, Laura and I really want to know what you, you know, yes, we see the work that Jean’s done, but what, you know, I don’t know, it’s a little amorphous what I’m asking you, but I’m sort of like, you’ve got more stories, more something, more, you have a long history here. So there’s really significance about what you’ve lived through in terms of this town’s history, And maybe you have more, I don’t know, got anything on it.

L: I’d be curious to add to that to say, since you’ve got all this perspective about where we’ve come. We’re, what’s something you’d like to see that you think we could actually… 

KH: Now that we got here, where we going?

L: Well, it’s some kind of like vision and you’re like, what if?

KH: The first thing that comes to mind is St. Peter’s. The school closed. And you recall, it’s a big building. And if you remember, Tillson’s school, you know, that closed down probably 40 years ago, and it just rotted away, and I don’t want to see that same thing happen to St. Peter’s because Father Kevin and I are good friends. I’m a parishioner there, of course, and it’s never going to be a school again. It’s not going to be a functioning building, it’s just going to be a burden to the parish to keep it alive and just barely. 

K: They’re looking to do something with it, to sell it, right? This is what I’ve heard.

KH: Well, there’s a lot of rumors out there. There’s talk of possibly doing something with the building down the road that would incorporate affordable and/or senior housing. So, I’m working with Father on that, and it’s informal, there’s no proposals, there’s nothing going on. You know, RUPCO involved, so. So, that’s going to go down the road. Conversation. 

We’re just hoping we’re down there a number of times going through the building with architects and engineers and things like that, and, you know, we’re just hoping that funding will become available and we can do something with it, you know. So, that would be, that would be certainly a good thing for Rosendale, you know, to bring a number of families, maybe more seniors, you know, like Park Heights. That’s a RUPCO project, too. And seamless. I mean, they’ve been with us now for about 35 years or more. And we need more, you know.

K: Well, this is, of course, what’s on everybody’s mind and heart in this region, but also nationally, I mean, it’s not a new, I mean, New York City’s in its own, you know impact on. So, and with increased economy and tourism and people moving up from New York, as it were, it has brought a level of, you know, money in here, but it’s raised the baseline economy in terms of how it’s impacting affordable housing.

 And this is a critical issue that’s on everybody’s mind in one way or another. You know, I just wondered if you have an opinion or a thought about, like, the disgruntlement that comes sometimes between people who’ve lived here for years and can afford rents, and then the demographic coming with more money that impacts the economy.

KH:  I’ve seen that, you know, a lot of times over the years, we’ve seen that with our kids moving away. You know, a lot of my friends, their children grew up, went to school either here or possibly elsewhere, but there wasn’t anything for them to really come back, especially when IBM left. You know, IBM was our basket that held all the eggs in this county. So, you know, when that happened, it was, it was impactful. No doubt. 

I was lucky that my kids were able to stay here, but there’s a lot that weren’t. Having dealt with the town all these years and, you know, having to deal with employees in the town, the big thing is to be able to pay our employees enough so they can live the town that they work in. And that’s been a struggle, you know, because you’re constrained as to how much you can give at the negotiating table based on, you know, and me coming from the labor side of it, you know, I’m for the employee, but when I do this, I’m the employer, but there’s  got to be the happy balance. So that’s always been a big concern, you know, that the employees in our town have to be  able to live in our town. And sometimes that race, you know, it’s dirt back here and that curve is going up. Like you had said, you know, people coming and raising the bar, gentrifying the place of your work. So there’s nothing you could do about that except, I don’t know, here’s the question.

K:  That is the question.

KH: Do the best you can to retain the people that you have and, you know, then trying to get more, you know, more people right now, highway department, we lost our mechanic and we had a mechanic for forever. And he did a wonderful job, you know, with all the trucks and major stuff. We can’t get a mechanic. Can’t pay a mechanic enough. There’s not enough out there. So now we have to, you know, send the trucks to chillcots or somewhere else, which, you know, they’re good people and they do a good job. But you look back and say, geez, when we had a mechanic on the payroll, it was a lot better.

K:  Better because, of course, it’s like you have somebody right there to deal with .. and he knows exactly, 

KH:  he’s dealing with it each and every day instead of, you know, dealing with the thing when it breaks. So that’s one of the burdens, again, getting back to being able to pay the people or employees to stay here.   …  

KH: So, what do you have to, 

K: well, you know, I’m just, this is the affordable housing conversation and I don’t know, I’m not asking you for a solution, but like we hope that all of what we’re doing, the relationship building here is part of the mandate of what this project is, it’s not about trying to come in and impose, it’s really about, well, what’s trying to happen here by talking across lines that don’t always communicate, right? That’s the thing. I mean, now I’m meeting you. Oh my God. It’s a pleasure.

KH: Same here.

K: If you, because of your position as a long-standing civic leader and then here St. Peter’s and with the food pantry, the rec center – what we could create to try to deal with what is an impactful issue, affordable housing. What would you do? How would you go about it? What would you say? Well, again, just touching this from your own point of view. I know you’re in a position here.

KH: you know, we don’t have a lot of resources here, or land available. So it’s important to look at what we’ve got and retool it or you know, bring it back to life if we can. Right now St. Peter’s is the one that stands out.

L: It’s totally underutilized.. Nothing happens there now.

KH: Well, they were using the building, the school building on Wednesdays for CCD up until last month. That’s the Christian Catholic kids go once a week. CCD is the confirmation of Christian doctrine. And so it’s like a Sunday school for half an hour. It happens that I’m going to do it on Wednesday. 

K: It happens that I’m an Episcopal priest.  So I’m not Catholic, but I’m a Episcopal and so whatever I know something about. Anyway, Christianity, let’s put it down. And sacramental theology anyway, but I know I’m a woman, so I’m sure you don’t, whatever. It doesn’t matter. I did go to Mass once recently at St. Peter’s. God what a beautiful church.

KH: No doubt. I’ll send you some information on that too. It’s good reading. I got it. Actually, let me just grab something.

K: I mean, we would like to reach out. It’s been on my list as part of the outreach here for Heart & Soul to actually talk to Father Kevin. I did say hello to him. But they’re sharing services with St. John’s now, right?

KH: St. Joseph’s. He’s the pastor in both St. Joseph’s and St. Peter’s doing two churches. He’s splitting himself thin.

K: We’re continuing with Ken Hassett.

L: He’s still the highway guy, right? He is amazing.

KH: He’s a good guy. He’s my best friend.

L:  What do you think is the most special about Rosendale? What makes Rosendale Rosendale?

KH: The people.

L: And how did that come to be?

KH: It’s a state of mind. It is, it is. Listen, there’s so many diverse types of people that are in this town. Some here forever. Some just got here. But once you’re here for a while, you realize that in Rosendale, we may not agree on everything and we can fight like cats and dogs to get our point across. But if any one of us falls down, everything stops and we pick that person up.

K: That’s a beautiful expression.

KH: Oh, it’s the truth.

K: Yes, and we know that’s part of what we’ve all had our own experience, but that’s beautifully put.

KH: I fought cats and dogs politically, with certain people in this town. We’re good friends now. That was then. We move on. And God forbid during that disagreement that that person falls down, that disagreement means nothing.

K: I understand. I have my own experience and I’ll just, this is just a little sidebar. So the church I was rector of was in Hills Kitchen, 46th Street between 9th and 10th avenues and the West East used to be there. And the whole Times Square redevelopment project was happening during my rectorship and community board and the whole, you know, what a fractionalized neighborhood. Oh my God, but we were able to come together and actually negotiate a $25 million deal from the state and the city to be paid out five years to mitigate the effects of gentrification.

And the community board meetings that I was in were like, you’d think people were insane in terms of their fractional, bitter, angry thing. But when it came to sitting down and finalizing something that would benefit us all, we all came together. So it can be like that, Right. I just share that. It’s like it has to.

KH: It really has to. Swallow, you know. I’ve negotiated all my life. If you’re a negotiator, you’ve got to realize if you’re going to think you’re going to get everything that you want, then you’re not a negotiator. You’re a dictator.

K:  That’s great.

L: That’s great. That’s a great line.

KH: It’s got to be, you know, the perfect negotiation since when the negotiators walk out saying to get everything, you know, I can get everything I wanted. I didn’t. Save it for next time. But it came to that middle.  

L: What do you think is the biggest potential for change in Rosendale? Like what’s something that’s underdeveloped that really could come into being?

KH: Well, I’d go to the, I’d go to the food center, My Town Market plaza. The Achilles heel of this town for my entire life. I worked there. It was one of my first job. I worked at the food center. I worked for the Trataros family. I know them all. 

L: They still own it. And of across the street.

KH:  They still own it. And it’s still in that seat.

L:  So, what’s the key? Like how, how, how did we.

KH: Well. Between you and I, the key is going to be for the Trataros family to just give it up because they’ve, they’re, they’re not going to bring it in.

K: Develop.

KH: No. It needs to be.

K: They’re not going to invest in it.

KH: No. It’s just, there’s a space. And if I get somebody to go into that space and they pay me my rent, I’m happy guy.  “that hole in that thing? It  got bigger. Oh, boy, put a  shopping cart in the hole”  You know, that’s a frustrating part. About the whole complex.

L:  Well, I think that building at the tail end is pretty much mold because of it.

K:  That used to be, used to be a rug company, right?

KH: Furniture store.

K: Furniture store, right?

KH: When I, when I worked there, I worked in the food center. And they used to walk into both the food center and Fanns and go, “you, you, you, you, you’re working up at the new building today.” And some of my co-workers backed in and said, “yeah, man, I’m getting the hell out of here today. I’m going to work on the building.” So I went home and told my father that, “I was asked to work on the building today.”

K: You mean to do it, doing construction, you mean? Is that what you mean?

KH: Right. Mixing, mixing mud and laying brick for the guy that he had. So my father said, how much are you paying you down there? Back then it was like two dollars and change. He says, “next time they come to you and tell you to go up to the thing, tell them that you make $12.50 an hour to lay brick.” All right. So sure enough it happened. Stanley comes down. ” Ken?” I see him. What am I going to do? Oh, no. Make mud and lay brick. I said, oh, I get $12.50 to lay brick. “What?” “I said, you hired me to be a grocery clerk. I’m getting $3 an hour, $2 an hour. I’ll do that gladly. But if I go up there, I get $12.50 an hour.” “Stay here.” And then one of my friends said, “You asshole. You’ve got to stay here all day!” “You’re going to go up there for $3 an hour. Break your back. I’m going to stay down here in a cooler and wave to the customers. Squeeze the melons.”

K: Beginning of your labor negotiation, right? One of the lessons.

L: What would you like to see happen there?

KH: I’d like to see Albert and Alex buy it.

L: Who are they?

KH: They’re the operators of My Town market. I’d like to see them take it so I know that they have ideas. But it sounds like the Trataros family. When it comes time to pay taxes. They say, “Oh my God, look at this place. How do you charge me taxes?  It’s falling down and then I would need some work. Lower my taxes?” That’s happened. Just call it a certiary proceeding.

K: Yes. I know what it is.

KH: I’m taking this to certiary a number of times. Uh-huh. It’s where it is.

K: So that’s their game.

KH:  So you get the taxes lowered and then somebody else comes along. “This place for sale?”

“Absolutely. Best thing. It’s good to do.” “How much?” And the price goes up. That’s why it’s never moved.

KH: Because every time somebody gets a little interested in it, they think they’re sitting on a billion dollar piece of property. And it’s not. So that’s one of the big things that hope happened. Because that could be a real nice place. It could even be nicer than the Plaza up in Stone Ridge. You know, the My Market Plaza up there. So hopefully, hopefully something will happen with it.

KH: Oh, and finally, please. We’ve got to mention this place. For the entire time I was on the board, we needed a new town hall because it was in that little pickle place. And a lot of different discussions, a lot of different proposals. We were looking anywhere from four to eight million dollars for a new town hall. Marbletown was in the same boat. In fact, they were mandated that they had to do something with their court because their court didn’t meet any of the standards. So, um, this place closed, It became available. And there was a guy that sat on the board of education. His name is David O’Hallaran. He was a friend of mine.

L: I remember from Pine Grove.

KH: Yep. He owned Pine Grove. We graduated high school together with good friends and, um, they reached out to me and Gene and, uh, at the time it was Mike Warren and said, “we’re preparing to mothball the Rosedale School to the tune of like $50,000 a year.” Basically just shut the systems down. And he said, “you guys both need town halls. Would it be feasible to…” Yeah. So we were in here first.  Marble town took up an act of the state legislature and signature of the governor to allow a municipality to have their town hall and another municipality.

So this is the only, place in New York state where one town has their town hall and another town. Yeah. Albeit’s 60 feet. Marbletown is 60 feet. So, but that’s, you know, that was just a gift from God to both towns that came to fruition.  Because we would have been collectively laying out probably, you know, 10 to 12 million between the two of us. New offices. And it wouldn’t be as good as this. So, very proud of this. 

L: Oh, one thing I would love  a list of people do you think? 

K: And if we could use your name and whatever, I mean.

L: Like Lisa would be great to talk to.

KH: Lisa? She knows a lot of the projects.

L: She knows really a lot and she’s cool. 

KH: And again, I go back to Debbie Chzechia. 

K:Do we have a contact for her? Could you share that with us? And is it okay if we?

KH: She’s our tax collector.

L: I have Father Kevin down, that’s for you.

K: Do you have a phone number for him?

KH: I don’t. Just call the rectory.

L: Who else do you think would be great for us to talk to?

KH: Trying to think of somebody like outside government who would be.

K: Well, it could be anybody. But you know, you see what we’re trying to do here. It’s so great to get this kind of story and input from you. With this sense of history. Right. We’re not here.

KH:  I got someone for you. Nilson.

L: John Nilsson?

KH: John is, uh, his family used to own the Valley Inn on Main Street, going down Main Street, left hand side of you going toward, you know, from St. Peter’s. Um, it’s, what is it now? It’s the first building.

K: The 1850s?

KH: Across the street from that. Yeah, they used to be called a Valley Inn.

K: Did you know that Laura?

KH: And John Nilson and his parents, well, his parents owned it, but, uh, John has got a lot of history. 

L: Is he here in Rosedale somewhere?

KH: He lives, he lives just over the line right now. He lives in Hurley, but he’s, uh, he’s the commander emeritus of the Tillson American Legion. It’s not the commander, but he kind of runs the place. Everybody goes to John. His name is John Nilson, (914)388-4218.

L: Thank you.

LH: You can just tell, I’ll let him know, too, when I see you on the day. I’ll just tell him we were talking, I recommend that he would be a good one with some knowledge. Yeah, because his parents had that place for  a long time.

KH: the 1850 house just sold. The new owner was at the last town board meeting, she introduced herself, a fine young girl.  Said they’re going to be doing renovations for the next eight to ten months, and they hope to be up and running in about ten months, eight to ten months. And they’re going to operate it basically the same thing, a restaurant bar, a hotel. So at least that place is going to be coming back. 

L: Ken would you come, would you, I don’t know, we have a regular Monday morning meeting, the team of Rosendale heart and soul. We need more people who would represent a different demographic. Would you maybe be willing to come to a meeting and just meet everybody? It’s a Zoom meeting.

KH:  I [don’t?] want to get involved with it. Because I’m spread thin right now, I’m also a fireman in High Falls.

K: This is like, you see what we’re trying to do here is enlarge the conversation beyond like the, okay, here’s the street fest crowd, here’s the theater crowd, here’s the town board. It’s really.

L: A lot of us have, I mean, I’ve been here long. I moved to Rosendale in ’89, but I don’t know, somehow. I mean, I just don’t have the history, doesn’t seem like very long compared to any of you.

K: Right. And we need this history to be alive and communicated and acknowledged and archived and like presented, right? Because you’re not anything without your history, your history informs you. It doesn’t define you utterly, but it informs you.

KH: Billy Brooks.

K:  Actually, Maria’s done him. I think she’s talked to him.

KH: Because there’s one who can talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk.

K: Well, I don’t know. We don’t have to bother you, but I just would, I don’t know, it might be great for you to meet other people and you, if I, if it’s a meeting, if, if, anyway, if you would sign the release. And so this goes on the website. It is public. It is available. We are transparent about everything. You know, it’s available. You see, if you’re okay with it, Jeanne signed it. We just don’t want it to be taking people’s personal stuff, you know, in a way that they don’t, you know, acknowledge consent. 

You know, just so you know, because maybe you don’t know this, but Community Heart & Soul is not just our little thing. It comes from the Orton Family Foundation who run the Vermont Country Store.  And it’s a significant national organization and it’s dedicated for small towns only, right? Because they understand that they wanted to provide a way of helping vitalize small towns through a particular process. And it, why am I telling you that?

L: Yeah, there’s like 90 other Heart & Soul groups.

K: And if you, and, and the New Yorker throughout, yeah, no, and throughout national, but we were the first in this region. Now Beacon is maybe going to come online. Because Rosadale’s the innovators, right? All right, Ken, I’m going to call this a close. Thank you so much. It’s been a pleasure, just a pleasure to talk to you.

KH: Same here!

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