Sunday, December 21, 2014

Gossips Gift Idea

Still need some gifts for Christmas? Here's a very reasonably priced, exquisitely made, uniquely Hudson gift: an ornament that is a replica of the historic Hudson River sloop Eleanor. It is handcrafted from three different woods--poplar, maple, and padouk--and the price, which includes shipping, is only $20. Every purchase of a replica Eleanor benefits the restoration of the actual Eleanor. To order your Eleanor replicas, go to or email

From the Evening Register, December 21, 1914

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Weighted Vote: The Debate Continues

At a Common Council Legal Committee meeting on Monday, which Gossips missed, Hudson's weighted vote was a topic of discussion. Assistant city attorney Dan Tuczinski expressed the opinion that "there is nothing obviously present which suggests that the application of the existing weighted voting format within the city is unconstitutional," but all the case law he cited to support that position had to do with counties not cities. John Mason reports on the discussion in today's Register-Star: "One-of-a-kind or unconstitutional?" 

Friday, December 19, 2014

Mystery Solved!

The walls around the portico at 345 Allen Street were constructed for a holiday party and will come down when the party is over.

Curious Development

The work began yesterday afternoon. By this morning, the first level of the portico at 345 Allen Street was entirely enclosed.

The purpose of the enclosure is unknown. No projects involving this house have come before the Historic Preservation Commission. Needless to say, it is impossible for even the most casual and disinterested passerby not to notice this and wonder what on earth is going on.

Stately Homes in Gingerbread

This morning, I learned that, to celebrate the imminent return of the TV series Downton Abbey, Martha Stewart has created a gingerbread replica of Highclere Castle, the stately home that is the setting for the series. You can watch the process of creating a gingerbread Downton Abbey and get directions for making your own here. (It only took the Martha Stewart team 34 hours to make it. There's still time for you to put one together before Christmas.) 

The gingerbread Downton Abbey reminded me that a dozen or so years ago, Reggie Young created a gingerbread replica of the Dr. Oliver Bronson House for Historic Hudson, aided and abetted (in rolling out the dough at least) by a small staff of Christmas elves, among them Peter Lacovara (who tipped me off about the gingerbread Downton Abbey) and I. 

The house was displayed at Rural Residence during Winter Walk that year and raffled as a fund raiser for Historic Hudson and the effort to stabilize and preserve the remarkable house.

From the Evening Register, December 19, 1914

What's Possible for the Dunn Building?

On Tuesday night, the Common Council passed a resolution authorizing the mayor to "execute all necessary documents to engage Saratoga Associates to implement the Redevelopment Analysis and Master Plan for a Multi-Use Waterfront Building." The building in question is the Dunn building, one of the last surviving industrial structures on Hudson's waterfront.

In pursuing this project, which is intended to "evaluate existing conditions, inclusive of all structural and building envelop elements; and identify adaptive reuse possibilities for the building," the City is finally utilizing a grant from the Department of State that was awarded during the Tracy administration (2006-2007). The $27,500 grant must be matched by another $27,500 from the City's coffers. The match is coming from the "Firehouse Lease Account." 

It will be remembered that the Central Fire Station is not owned by the City of Hudson but by Community Initiatives Development Corporation (CIDC), with whom the City has a thirty-year lease agreement that will allow the City to buy the building in 2035, after making close to $6 million in lease payments, for only one dollar. City treasurer Heather Campbell explained that the lease payment to CIDC is subject to a variable interest rate, but the City budgets the same amount for the lease every year. Therefore, when interest rates are down, there is extra money in the Firehouse Lease Account, and some of that money is being used as the match for the grant from the Department of State. 

In a process of selecting a firm to do the study, the City issued an RFP, reviewed all the the proposals received, narrowed the candidates down to four, and conducted interviews with those four groups: SRG Architects and Barton & Loguidice; Russ Reeves and TenTwenty Architecture; Saratoga Associates; and River Architects. Saratoga Associates was chosen for the project, and Council president Don Moore expressed the opinion that "they will do a very good job."

More than a decade ago, Saratoga Associates was hired to work on the City of Hudson's Comprehensive Plan, which was completed in 2002. Their involvement with the comprehensive plan was a bit controversial since they had also been hired, during the same time, by St. Lawrence Cement to do the visual impact assessment for the "Greenport Project." At one time, Saratoga Associates website described their role in that project in this way:
This highly controversial $350 million cement manufacturing facility was proposed within the scenic and culturally significant Hudson River Valley region of New York State. Saratoga Associates served as the applicant's lead consultant on all visual impact and aesthetic mitigation issues, advising on interpretation of public policy and compliance with myriad governmental regulations. Saratoga Associates worked closely with St. Lawrence Cement and all federal, state and local regulatory agencies to design and implement creative measures that eliminate where possible or, alternately, minimize visual and aesthetic impacts in a manner that balances economic development with environmental protection.
Fortunately, thanks to the efforts of many but primarily Friends of Hudson, the project was defeated, and there was never the opportunity to find out if those "creative measures" to "eliminate where possible or, alternately, minimize visual and aesthetic impacts" actually worked.

Thanks to Sam Pratt for his research help with this post and always for his leadership role in defending Hudson: the city, the river, the valley.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

News from the Street

Gossips has been falling behind in monitoring Scott Baldinger's blog, Word on the Street, and as a consequence overlooked two posts that should not be missed: "A Madeline to Remember" and "Getting Tweaked."

From the Evening Register, December 18, 1914

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Hudson's New Municipal Building

At last night's Common Council meeting, Alderman Nick Haddad (First Ward) provided a progress report on 701 Union Street, which soon will be known as the City of Hudson Police and Courts Center. 

According to Haddad, designs for the interior of the building, which had been agreed on two weeks ago, have since needed to be augmented, setting the project back two weeks. Part of the reason for the delay is that the police department's current facility is so woefully inadequate that it didn't provide a sufficient model for the new facility. As a consequence of the recently discovered need to amend the plans, the bid documents, which were expected to be ready by the end of the year, will not be ready until January 15. 

Haddad reported that Craig Haigh, code enforcement officer, is now reviewing the plans for code compliance. The building is a noncontributing structure in a locally designated historic district, and hence the proposed redesign should be reviewed by the Historic Preservation Commission. It is not clear when that will happen, but those in attendance at last night's Council meeting got a sneak peak at the new design.

Haddad noted that one change has been made since this rendering was created: the faux parapet on the facade will be composed of perforated steel panels rather than the material shown.

Construction is expected to begin in March 2015, to be completed around Thanksgiving 2015.

Of Interest

This "Metropolitan Diary" piece appeared in the New York Times today: "Everyone's a Preservationist."

No Fracking in New York

WAMC and the Associated Press are reporting that the Andrew Cuomo administration "will move to prohibit fracking in the state, citing unresolved health issues and dubious economic benefits of the widely used gas-drilling technique." Read more here.

Update: Here is the link to the New York Times coverage: "Cuomo to Ban Fracking in New York State, Citing Health Risks."

From the Evening Register, December 17, 1914

Hudson's Loss, Hoorn's Gain

In October, Gossips reported the possibility that the replica Half Moon would find a permanent home not in Hudson, not in New York, but in the Netherlands.

That possibility is now a reality. The Board of Directors of the New Netherland Museum has announced that in 2015 the Half Moon will be going to a new home port in the City of Hoorn in the Netherlands. There it will be a living history center at the Westfries Museum, highlighting the Dutch Golden Age and its accomplishments.

It turns out that the Half Moon's journey of discovery to the New World was only part of its long history of service to the Dutch East Indies Company. The New Netherland Museum's announcement explains:
Newly discovered historic information on the ship reveals that the Half Moon was very active before Henry Hudson's voyage in the European commodity trade. After her historic 1609 Hudson voyage, the Half Moon ventured to the warm waters of the Spice Islands of the Indian Ocean as a true Dutch East Indies ship. As such, the Half Moon represents the full scale of Dutch maritime history in the beginning of the 17th century. Moreover, strong historic ties to Hoom, not in the least because the last skipper before Hudson hauled from that area, suggest that the Half Moon is not just going to Hoorn, but returning to Hoorn!  
Fare thee well, Half Moon. We'll miss seeing you in Hudson waters.


Monday, December 15, 2014

Musing About Loss and the Search for a Home

A little more than a month has passed since my beautiful William died. I am so grateful to everyone who expressed their condolences in comments on this blog, in private emails, in cards and notes, and in other wonderful and touching ways.

Not long after William died, a Gossips reader and friend concluded a lovely and sympathetic email with this thought: "No doubt you know: the only effective pain medicine is a puppy." She was right. I did know. Adopting William was the only balm for the pain of losing Niklaas, the dog who preceded William in my life.

Desperate to work my way out of the mournful funk that has descended upon me, I recently began the search to find another dog to love. Fifteen years with William convinced me that shelter dogs are the best dogs ever, so I have been spending time looking at pictures of adoptable dogs online and submitting applications to shelters and rescue groups. I want to be already approved when the dog who is "the one" becomes available. 

The application process typically involves references from people who know you and from the vet who has cared for your previous pets. Applications ask if you live in an apartment or a house, if you rent or own, if you have a fenced yard, how you plan to exercise the dog, how long the dog will be regularly left alone, where the dog will be during the day, where the dog will be at night. One application posed behavioral problems and asked you to tell how you would deal with each one. One application wanted to know how much you planned to spend annually on the care and keeping of the dog. Another wanted to know how much you could reasonably afford for treatment should the dog be diagnosed with cancer. One application required that the applicant live within 90 miles of Larchmont. (That requirement disqualified me; Hudson is 107.5 miles from Larchmont.)

It was in the context of filling out applications to adopt a dog that I discovered this news item which appeared on the front page of the Hudson Evening Register exactly one hundred years ago today, on December 15, 1914. I share it without further comment, leaving it to the reader to draw the poignant comparisons.

The S.C.A.A. is the State Charities Aid Association. I wonder if documentation survives that would allow one to discover the fate of little Louise.

You Can't Always Get What You Want . . .

When the voting was over at the end of November, the Hudson Music Series had finished eighth in the Levitt AMP Grant Awards competition. The deal was that ten of the top twenty vote getters would receive grants of $25,000 each. Hudson was eighth, they were choosing ten, we should have been a shoo in, but no. The grant recipients were announced today, and Hudson wasn't one of them. Click here to find out which community music events did get the money.

From the Evening Register, December 15, 1914