Friday, September 30, 2011

Mayoral Candidates to Debate

Plans for a debate between Hudson mayoral candidates Bill Hallenbeck (Republican, Conservative, Independence) and Nick Haddad (Democrat, Working Families) are in the works, to be sponsored by HAALA (Hudson African American Leadership Alliance). It's anticipated that the debate will take place sometime in late October. Tom Casey has the story in the Register-Star: "Mayoral candidates looking at late October debate."

Musall Leaves Democratic Party

First Ward Supervisor John Musall, who is running for reelection on the Republican line, has split from the Democratic Party, and it's hardly an amicable separation. Yesterday, Musall changed his registration from Democrat to NOP (no official party) and sent an email to the Register-Star alleging that the Hudson Democratic leadership had "employed the most malicious and vengeful tactics to undermine my position and my constituents' trust with innuendo and slander." W. T. Eckert tells the whole story: "First-ward supervisor drops 'D' after name."

What's Behind the Windowless Walls?


Today, September 30, is the deadline for Kim Singletary to present a plan and a signed contract to stabilize this building at 255-257 Columbia Street. In the meantime, some interesting history of the building has been discovered. It would be more correct to say buildings, since before they were somehow connected on inside and these windowless walls constructed around them, there were three buildings on the site. The one farthest west, where the peaked roof is, was a church: St. John's Methodist Episcopal Church. The one farthest east, at the corner, was a brick building with a storefront on the ground floor.

A reader, who lives near the building and has been concerned about the hazard presented by its alleged imminent collapse, discovered this excerpt from Franklin Ellis's History of Columbia County (1878) about St. John's Methodist Episcopal Church:
This organization was the result of a secession from the African Methodist Episcopal Zion church of Hudson, which occurrred in April, 1872. On the 10th of that month a meeting of the seceders was held at the house of Henry Pitts, and at that meeting they formed themselves into a religious society, and took the name of "Friends of Religious Liberty." Of this society Philip Reading was chairman, Garret Deyo secretary, and Albert Porter treasurer. This society raised among its members the sum of $200, with which they purchased a lot on Diamond street, near the corner of Third, on which they commenced the erection of a church building. Many of the leading citizens of Hudson assisted them liberally, enabling them to complete the church at a cost of $3319.11, including furniture, and it was dedicated July 17, 1873,--but, as the building was found to be too small for the occasion, the services were held at the First Methodist church, the use of which was most courteously offered.
Four months before the church building was dedicated, the church organization changed its name to St. John's Methodist Episcopal Church. The church doesn't appear in the 1873 atlas, which shows the property still belonging to Mrs. Biddle, but it's there in the 1888 atlas.  


"St. John's M.E. (colored)" begins appearing in the Hudson directories in 1874, and its location is given first as "Diamond bel N. Third," then starting in 1909 as "Fulton below North Third," then in 1921 as "255 Fulton," and finally in 1927 as "255 Columbia." The church disappears from the directories in 1941, and in 1944, the Colored Citizens Club of Hudson appears for the first time, located at 255 Columbia Street.

Although the Colored Citizens Club doesn't appear in the Hudson directories until 1944, there is evidence that it existed long before then. It is mentioned, for example, in the account of the 1926 fire that destroyed Farmers National Bank; the club had rooms on the building's second floor. And then there's this puzzlement: the 1923 Sanborn map identifies the building at 255 Fulton Street not as a church but as a club.


A Gossips reader submitted these photographs which give clear evidence of what's under those windowless walls. The first two show the back of the church building at 255 Columbia Street from the backyard of 15 North Third. Note that the building originally had an apse in its south wall. The final photograph shows the Third Street facade of the brick building at the corner of Columbia and Third streets. The first two pictures were taken in the 1940s. The third one was taken in 1958--suggesting that the rather brutal "adaptive reuse" of these buildings happened in the very late 1950s or early 1960s.

     
Historic photographs provided by Helen Arrott.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Must Love Dogs

First Ward Alderman Sarah Sterling told Gossips yesterday that Mayor Richard Scalera had suggested a piece of city-owned property that could be used for a dog park. Sterling asked Gossips not to reveal the location, so without naming the site, Gossips reports what DPW Superintendent Rob Perry said at last night's Public Works Committee meeting when Sterling mentioned it to him: "It's a dump! The street cleaner dumps there. When there's a water or sewer break, that's where the stuff gets dumped. Snow gets dumped there."   

Does it sound like our mayor ever had a dog?

Much Ado About Nothing

After close to four years of searching for a new site for the Department of Social Services, spending in the process $1.5 million to buy an abandoned school building and an undetermined amount on studies, analyses, RFPs, and PowerPoint presentations, the Columbia County Board of Supervisors has decided to buy 25 Railroad Avenue after all--the building that was too old, too small, too inefficient, too problematic--provided it can pass a Phase II Environmental Assessment, so that DSS can stay where it's been all along. W. T. Eckert has the story in today's Register-Star: "Supes to buy 25 RR Ave, if it passes muster."       


On the subject of DSS, there's also a letter to the editor in today's Register-Star from Lee Jamison, who's running for Stuyvesant supervisor.

About Protecting Trees

David Marston appeared at the Common Council Legal Committee on Wednesday night to present a petition, with two hundred signatures, urging the Council to adopt a tree preservation ordinance. He also gave the committee information about Tree City USA, a program of the Arbor Day Foundation.

To become a Tree City, a municipality must have a tree board or department and have adopted a tree care ordinance. There are 93 municipalities in New York that have the designation "Tree City." Among them are Albany, Schenectady, and Kingston, as well as Yonkers, Tarrytown, Rhinebeck, Red Hook (the town and the village), and Greenport.

Greenport? Could it be that Greenport, the only municipality in Columbia County that doesn't have a zoning ordinance, has a tree care ordinance?

Greenport's code, Gossips discovered, does address tree planting, but it's more in the spirit of control--like nuisance animal control--than care and preservation. It seems this is another example of the confusion resulting from the Town of Greenport taking a name for itself, back in 1837, that was already in use in the State of New York. The Greenport on the Tree City list is very likely not the Town of Greenport in Columbia County but the Village of Greenport on Long Island, which Forbes Magazine this year named one of America's prettiest towns.   

  
In 2009, Hudson was designated one of America's coolest small towns by Budget TravelLet's aspire to be one of America's prettiest towns as well and protect our trees.  

Photo of the other Greenport from Forbes.com.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Hungry Already

The imminent opening of Grazin', which is happening this Saturday, is heralded at examiner.com


Photo by Scott Baldinger.

More About Monday

The Valley Alliance has published additional comments about Monday night's special meeting of the Common Council: "Public Silenced at Key Waterfront Meeting." 

Hudson in the Movies

Gossips has just received word that The Man at the Counter, which was filmed last year here at The Cascades here in Hudson, has been accepted for screening at the 2011 New Hampshire Film Festival. The film will be part of the NH Nights Program--a selection of films that were created by a New Hamphire resident, acted in by a New Hampshire resident, or filmed in New Hampshire. The film festival happens on October 13 through 16 in Portsmouth, NH.  

Photo by Phil Haber.

Of Interest

Mayor Rick Scalera has received word that the Ferry Street will soon be repaired. Tom Casey has the story in today's Register-Star: "CSX to patch w'front bridge."

HCSD Assistant Superintendent Maria Suttmeier presented graphs to show that student reading achievement was improving, thanks to three intervention programs being used in the schools, but two members of the school board--Jeri Chapman and Elizabeth Fout--wanted more evidence of the success of the programs. Audra Jornov has the report in the Register-Star: "HCSD: Student reading on the rise."  

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

I Scream, You Scream . . .

With October only hours away, Lick has announced its annual Great Pint Sale. From now until Lick closes for the season after Columbus Day weekend, pints of ice cream, which normally sell for $6.75, can be had for a mere $5.50, and if you buy more than three, the price for each pint goes down to just $5.00. So stock up to sustain your spirits during a long Hudson Valley winter and see if your stash can last as long as Halloween!

Hear It for Yourself

The audio recording of last night's special Common Council meeting on the GEIS and LWRP can now be heard online at WGXC.

Arboreal Massacre on Two Fronts

Just when it seemed that the tree slaughter was focused on lower Union Street, word came in last night from North Fifth Street that a major tree had been felled there. This time, the victim was an old and venerable sugar maple, located behind the "Armory houses" recently acquired by Eric Galloway. Neighbors report that the stump of the lost tree measures 46 inches in diameter. 

Two Headlines with Dollar Signs

The project with the questionable goal of turning Route 66 in Greenport into Route 9 south of Poughkeepsie took an important step forward yesterday. Harbalwant Singh, with a bevy of town and county officials declaring that Greenport and Columbia County are "open for business," broke ground on his Greenport Crossings project. Gas station, convenience store, A&W restaurant come first; enhanced bowling alley and chain hotel to follow. Audra Jornov has the story in the Register-Star: "18.5 mil project has groundbreaking."

By contrast, W. T. Eckert has the story of how Scenic Hudson partnered with the Dutchess Land Conservancy and the U. S. Department of Agriculture to preserve ten farms in Dutchess and Columbia counties: "$3.6 million in easements preserves 10 farms."  

The Fate of the Waterfront

It was predictable, but when it happened, it was still stunning. The Common Council on Monday night voted to adopt the Generic Environmental Impact Statement, the first step toward adopting the LWRP. The motion to introduce the resolution was made early in the meeting--before the presentation by City Attorney Cheryl Roberts or any discussion. It was introduced by Fourth Ward Alderman Ohrine Stewart and seconded by Second Ward Alderman Abdus Miah.

Between the introduction of the resolution and the vote, a lot of things happened, but I won't keep you in suspense. When the resolution came to a vote, those voting aye were Common Council President Don Moore, Geeta Cheddie (First Ward), "Doc" Donahue (Fifth Ward), Dick Goetz (Fifth Ward), Abdus Miah (Second Ward), Wanda Pertilla (Second Ward), Sheila Ramsey (Fourth Ward), Ohrine Stewart (Fourth Ward), and Sarah Sterling (First Ward), who mitigated her yes vote by explaining, "I want to get this new zoning in place." The dissenting opinion was voiced by Ellen Thurston (Third Ward), who abstained, and Chris Wagoner (Third Ward), who, after protesting that, as with all other resolutions, this one should be introduced and the Council should vote on it in the week's time, voted no.        

Before all this, however, Moore presented an opening statement. After the meeting, I asked him for a copy of statement. At first, he refused, but when I said "No?" incredulously, he tore a paragraph off the bottom of the printed presentation and handed the rest to me. Here's the statement, without its final paragraph: 

The LWRP and its accompanying GEIS are complex documents. They are also human documents, the product of many people, involved from many points of view and responsibilities, each working to piece the pie together. Citizens, government officials, proofessionals--all have made their marks here.

I have spent two years with the LWRP, studying it, its background, and its foreground. Can it be called perfect? Of course not. Can it be described as a commendable accommodation of Hudson's aspirations for its waterfront, its communities and its economic development, with the realities of law and land, of doing as much as we can, while knowing what we want will take time, organization and money? Yes, it can.

As a City, certainly as your Common Council exercising our responsibility to you, we have taken this process as far, and as fairly, as we can. We have met and exceeded what the law asks of us, listened, and the document is much better for it.

We have balanced the interests of our most vulnerable neighborhoods by providing a plan to get the trucks off the streets of the west end of the City. We have taken legal steps to regulate the port--hours of operation, light, noise, dust, defining processing out of the port--and the causeway for a long as it is used. We have declined to designate a preferred route and instead provided alternative routes that can allow greater public access to the waterfront.

Is everyone happy? I think a more useful question is, can everyone be happy? LWRP's and SEQRA provide frameworks for doing as much as we can granting the potential inherent conflicts. It provides a check on imagining that somehow, just around the corner, one more piece will fall into place that will change the game, and everyone will be fully satisfied with the LWRP.

We want an LWRP that can draw the enthusiasm and support and recognition for what needs to be done to balance, to integrate to the greatest extent possible, the best uses of our mix of social, economic, and enviromental needs and opportunities. I personally believe that all the work that has been done over many years has brought us to a place where we can say, this is a valuable program that we should approve.

One comment: A key consideration in developing the waterfront is the current ownership of the Port and the South Bay by Holcim. I would like to make it as clear as I am able that I completely support the goal of the city obtaining ownership of both. But I have seen no evidence that this document, the LWRP and the GEIS, can accomplish that end through the tools available to a municipality. We have considered different strategies to obtain the port and the one that will work is a sale between a willing seller and a willing buyer. I want to see that happen and will work for it. I also want to hear from Holcim that they will move forward quickly on the easement and the land transfer.*

In the paragraph that Moore removed from his statement, he had referred to the meeting as a Common Council "work session," which calls into question the legitimacy of taking a vote, and also stated that "the floor is for the Council alone." He held to the latter, inviting questions and comments from the public only after the council had voted and he had announced that Roberts and Bill Sharp, the attorney from the Department of State, had to leave.

Roberts began her presentation of the most recent changes in the GEIS by reviewing the progress of the LWRP and GEIS since 2006, when she became involved in a process that had already been going on for nearly two decades. She explained that the last four months of revision had been necessitated by three developments:
Roberts then proceeded to explain, page by page, the changes made to the GEIS since May 2011. Many of the changes she explained went to the issue of "trying to get away from the notion that [the use of the causeway] is somehow prejudged" or a "done deal"; others addressed what actions by Holcim/O&G would trigger the need for a conditional use permit, since after the new zoning is adopted, changing South Bay from an industrial zone to a "Core Riverfront District," Holcim's current use of the port will go from being an "as of right use" to a "lawful nonconforming use." Roberts characterized the LWRP as "very protective of the environment" but explained that "protections could only be imposed if O&G/Holcim changed what they are doing now." She also stated that "the law presumes that eventually nonconforming uses will no longer be in existence."

When Roberts' presentation was complete, Wagoner asked, "Are we voting on this tonight?" His question was answered by Goetz, who said, "We're here to vote. Let's do it. Let's get on with it." When Thurston protested that she had a lot of questions and would have a hard time voting on the resolution at that time, Goetz chided, "If you didn't want to vote, you should have stayed away." The standing room only crowd disagreed with Goetz and applauded when Wagoner suggested that the aldermen should "take this, go to our constituents, and vote next week," Goetz's impatient attitude carried the day, and the Council voted. Once that happened, and Moore explained that the lawyers had to leave but he would say to hear comments from the audience, the aldermen started to disperse, without a motion to adjourn, and the meeting was over.

* The easements and land transfer Moore mentions involve an easement on South Bay, which would give the City the right to control South Bay in terms of conservation and development without taking title or assuming the responsibility of ownership. A second easement involves the roadway along the western edge of the railroad track which is the route to the "southern extension of the park"--Sandy Beach and East Jesus, south of the port--which is the property involved in the land transfer. The City of Hudson would take possession of this land.

Sam Pratt comments about last night's meeting on his blog: "Moore-onic."
Tom Casey reports on the meeting in the Register-Star: "Council OKs waterfront plan GEIS."    

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Scene of Destruction


A reader submitted this picture of the backyard at 9 Union Street this morning.

IMPORTANT MEETING TONIGHT

The Common Council meets in a special session tonight, Monday, September 26, to hear a presentation by City Attorney Cheryl Roberts about the changes made in the past few months to the Generic Environmental Impact Statement, which accompanies the Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan (LWRP). After the presentation and discussion by the aldermen, the Council is expected to vote on whether or not to accept the document. The meeting takes place at the Central Firehouse, 77 North Seventh Street, at 6:30 p.m. 

The meeting has been scheduled for the larger venue of the firehouse to permit more members of the public to attend, but it has been rumored that Common Council President Don Moore will not be allowing the public to speak. Contacted by Gossips this morning, Moore explained that he would allow public comment but only after the Council has voted on accepting the GEIS. He explained that there was a ten-day period following the adoption of the GEIS, during which the public could "put things on the record," but stated that he believed "it was in the city's best interest to move beyond this right now, and let the chips fall where they may." He characterized tonight's vote as a "particularly important step in advancing the LWRP to its conclusion"--something that he expects to see happen in the next month or so.

Not everyone shares Moore's opinion that this action is in the city's best interest. The Valley Alliance is urging "all residents with an interest in the economic, environmental, and social future of Hudson" to attend tonight's meeting to "encourage a better outcome." On Friday, Scenic Hudson sent out an Action Alert that began with this call to action: "PROTECT YOUR WATERFRONT: Urge Local Officials to Fix the LWRP." Scenic Hudson summarizes its position in this way: "The draft LWRP includes a number of positive strategies to achieve the vision of a revitalized waterfront area that we all can support—but all that is undermined by an incomplete approach to industrial activities on the waterfront." This morning, the South Bay Task Force, anticipating not being able to speak prior to the vote, send to members of the Common Council a list of seventeen questions about the most recent changes to the GEIS that should be considered before they vote to accept or reject the document.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Erratum

Two Gossips readers informed me that I was in error when I suggested that the conflagration that destroyed the Farmers National Bank building happened in 1941. The article I discovered and quoted earlier today appeared in the Evening Register for November 22, 1941, but it must have been one of those "Fifteen Years Ago on This Date" items, because one of the readers fixed the year of the fire as 1926. (Full disclosure: The article indicated that it was "Continued from Page Eight," but Page Eight was not available on the Fulton History site.) That same reader told me that the new Farmers Bank building, which was designed by the architectural firm of Shreve and Lamb and built throughout 1927, had its official opening on January 28, 1928. The next year, William F. Lamb, partner in the firm, designed the Empire State Building. 

Arboreal Destruction

This was the scene behind 9 Union Street at 5:30 p.m. on Sunday. 


Please sign the tree preservation petition.

A Chance Discovery

Most people know that this remarkable building--Farmers National Bank, which stood on the north side of Warren Street in the 500 block--was destroyed by fire decades ago, but they may not know exactly when. After yesterday's news that the City was looking to demolish the former Colored Citizens Club, I decided to do some research on the organization.

My search on the Fulton History site uncovered this article from the Evening Register for November 22, 1941, which reprinted an account from fifteen years earlier of the spectacular fire that destroyed the Farmers Bank building. At the time of the fire, in 1926, the Colored Citizens Club had rooms on the second floor of the bank, as did "the Rossman insurance agency, and that of the Rice Insurance Co. of Craig Thorn."   

Flames Had Great Headway
The flames started in the rear end of the bank building and made rapid headway, sweeping the entire third floor and breaking out of the roof near the front of the building, on the Warren street side. They quickly undermined the cupola, which fell with a crash, 30 minutes after the fire started, landing in the middle of Warren street.

Cupola Comes Tumbling Down
With the falling of the cupola, the entire third floor was a roaring furnace. This fire worked from the top down. Sheets of flame shot out in Warren St. The second floor soon caught fire, and the flames were not stopped until the entire interior of the bank building, which was one of the tallest in Hudson, and presented an imposing appearance, with its three stories surmounted by a cupola, on which was a flag staff. When the cupola crashed to the street, the flag staff went through one of the windows of Leavitt & Smith drug store. This was the only damage done to the stores along Warren street across the way. The fact that the high wind, which was blowing in the opposite direction, and away from the stores saved many plate glass fronts from being cracked by the heat.

Sparks Flew for Blocks
The firemen under Chief Petry continued their work of fighting the flames in the bank which was a seething furnace from the first floor up. When the roof fell in the sidewalls remained for some time, making it a veritable crater. The huge sparks created a big hazard, and the air was full of them. The high wind carried them over as far as Carroll Street, and Colarusso brick yard. Fortunately about this time, sleet and rain fell for around a half hour.

Bank Wall Falls on Harder Building
In about an hour's time the west wall went down, falling on the Harder building. The roof of the Harder building was made of asphalt, but it was crushed like an eggshell and fire started in that building, which extends to Prison alley. . . . The firemen then turned their attention to this building, as well as the bank, and fought the flames with unabated energy. The blaze in the Harder building was confined to the second and third stories. . . .

Pride of Hudson a Heap of Ruin
By 7 a.m. the bank building, the pride of Hudson, was a mass of smoking ruins. The front of the bank was of brick, faced with steel plate. The iron front was made in Hudson, at the old Gifford foundry, and represented the acme of building construction of its day. The bank was erected in 1873 by Amiel Folger, contractor. The structure was designed and planned by a firm of Albany architects, and at that time, Michael O'Connor, local architect, was working for this firm.

The interior was rich and massive. All the beams that went into the construction in the days when steel girders were unknown in building construction, were 18 inches square and of chestnut. The structure was well built, with brick walls. The interior was not fireproof, but good and substantial.

Dog Park Meeting

As the days dogs can hang out together at Lick dwindle down to a precious few, First Ward Alderman Sarah Sterling has announced another meeting for people who want a safe place for their dogs to socialize offleash. The meeting will take place at 10 a.m. on Saturday, October 1,  at the Central Firehouse on North Seventh Street. Sterling tells Gossips that a possible location for the park has been identified and, at the meeting, committees will be formed for various planning tasks.  

More Trees Bite the Dust

God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches, and a thousand tempests and floods. But he cannot save them from fools. ~John Muir

Well, OK, maybe trees in Hudson haven't survived avalanches, a thousand tempests, or even floods for that matter, but . . . .


A Gossips reader provided this photograph and reported that, on Saturday, trees along Partition Street behind 9 Union Street, a property owned by Eric Galloway, were being cut down. This raises the question of why someone who owns numerous properties in Hudson and seems to want to be the city's benefactor is hell-bent on its deforestation. Why does he cut down mature trees--in some cases, heritage trees--while at the same time planting new trees so small their chance of survival is marginal?

Trees may be located on property belonging to an individual landowner, but they benefit the whole community--improving air quality, stabilizing the soil, abating noise pollution, and increasing property values. When trees are cut down, the whole community suffers the loss. A tree preservation ordinance would prohibit the indiscriminate destruction of trees by requiring a property owner to show just cause for removing trees.  

Sign the tree petition now, while you still have the chance. Let the Common Council know that you believe trees are essential to Hudson's well-being.   

Saturday, September 24, 2011

A Question of Compatibility

Gossips has given a lot of attention to the new buildings going up at 102-104 Union Street and the fact that the reality departs significantly from the rendering presented to the Historic Preservation Commission. Now it's time to take a long view.


From half a block away, the new buildings, although they dwarf the house next door whose proportions the rendering purported they would replicate, do seem compatible with the larger context. The fact remains, however, that the Historic Preservation Commission and the public were not provided with the means to judge compatibility accurately. Perhaps the HPC should require renderings that show proposed new construction not only in relation to the edge of an adjacent building but also dropped into the larger streetscape. 

In Clear and Present Danger of Demolition


The City of Hudson, in the persons of Mayor Richard Scalera and Code Enforcement Officer Peter Wurster, want to demolish this building on the corner of Columbia and Third streets. The building was at one time the Colored Citizens Club and has since 2003 been owned by Kim Singletary's Overcomers Ministries. The code enforcement office has given Singletary until September 30 to produce a plan and a signed contract for structural stabilization or until October 7 to demolish the building. Failing that, the City will demolish 255-257 Columbia Street. Tom Casey has the story in the Register-Star: "Former CC Club 'unsafe,' facing demolition."  

The article quotes Fourth Ward Supervisor Bill Hughes reminiscing about the building's former function as a community center. "The men came about and they formed the club and working with the city, they built it for the community. For the younger generation the building might not mean as much--it was a diminishing building that was beyond repair. For people in my generation that building represents where we had community events." In spite of his fond memories, Hughes last year included 255-257 Columbia Street in a list of buildings he deemed "demolishable" to make way for replacement buildings for Bliss Towers.   

Friday, September 23, 2011

Old House Tour Next Weekend

On Saturday, October 1, Historic Hudson presents its sixth annual Old House Tour. This year's tour focuses on the part of Hudson below Third Street and closest to the river, where Hudson's oldest houses are found. The seven houses on the tour, as well as the house that is the setting for the benefit reception that concludes the event, were all built during Hudson's first half century--from 1785 to 1835--when our "seaport far from the sea" was a bustling and prosperous maritime center. 

Although at least one of the houses on the tour could be featured in Architectural Digest and was featured in Rural Intelligence, this year's tour appeals more to serious lovers of old houses than to aficionados of decor. Two of the houses on the tour are works in progress, fascinating to people who appreciate historic house construction and meticulous and sensitive restoration work. 

These are the houses of Hudson's earliest history and of its future. As Historic Hudson's invitation to the event explains: "All of the houses on the tour are associated in some way with the original Proprietors, whose determination and enterprise created Hudson. This year's tour celebrates the achievement of those original Proprietors but also celebrates the more recent inhabitants of these houses, the new Proprietors. Their energy, ingenuity, and passion for historic architecture are creating a new Hudson."

Laban Paddock House
Aaron C. Macy House
Jared Coffin House
Cyrus Curtiss House        Photo credit: Sam Pratt
Hollenbeck-Fosdick House--Interior

The Register-Star Weighs In


W. T. Eckert picks up the story that Gossips published a week ago: "Library board asks agency for a share of the building sale $$$" In the article, Eckert confirms that 400 State Street was sold for $476,500, giving the Hudson Area Library Board of Trustees $176,500 "to use however they see fit." 

Theresa Parsons, president of the HAL board, is quoted in the article as saying: “We never have enough from what we get from the city of Hudson [$120,000], Greenport [$5,500] and Stockport [$2,000]. We still have to keep looking for additional funds—that is why I am always out trying to raise funds.” Parsons' search for money seems to keep bringing her back to the same well: the overtapped resources of the City of Hudson.

Rick Scalera, mayor of Hudson, is quoted in the article as saying: "With [the $176,500 remaining from the sale of 400 State St., the $120,000 a year collected from Hudson taxpayers and the offer to move to the Armory at 51 N. Fifth St. for $1 a month by Galvan Partners], I think the library is in a pretty comfortable position and probably should be . . . looking at fundraising for any additional money."

Thursday, September 22, 2011

House for Sale

There's a great house for sale on State Street, with lots of good original exterior details, for someone who has the skill, capital, passion, courage, and spirit of adventure needed to restore it. 

In August, the City of Hudson took possession of 545-547 State Street for delinquent taxes. On September 14, 2011, the house was to be sold at public auction, but there were no bidders. As is its custom, the City had set the minimum bid as the amount that was due in back taxes--$49,017--and no one was willing to start the bidding at that amount.  

After the auction, someone offered to buy the house for an amount that was significantly less than the Kelley Blue Book value of a seven-year-old Subaru. It was agreed at last Tuesday's Common Council meeting that, rather than sell the property for such a ridiculously low price, the City would accept other bids, until the end of business on October 3, and the property would be sold to the person making the highest reasonable bid. 

If you want this house, you just have to determine how much you're willing to pay for it and submit your bid in writing to the City Treasurer. If yours is the highest reasonable bid, the house will be yours for that amount. If you have questions about the process or want to arrange to view the house, contact the City Treasurer.       

Another Unveiling

Asbestos siding was recently removed from a house on Allen Street to reveal the original clapboard beneath--most of it at least. Unlike the house on Robinson Street, whose aluminum siding was removed only to be replaced with some other kind of modern siding, 246 Allen Street is in a locally designated historic district, so we can hope that the clapboard will be restored, the windows returned to their original dimensions, the window above the door reinstated, and the porch, which seems like a 20th-century addition, removed. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Woman Who Would Be Mayor

Sam Pratt raises some questions on his blog about Linda Mussmann, recently foiled in her fourth try to become Hudson's mayor, and her political activities and not-for-profit endeavors.  

Hudson in the Movies

Phil Haber has just posted "The Making of The Man at the Counter: Part II" on his blog. You will recall that this is the movie that was filmed at The Cascades last fall. Haber was the production stills photographer during the first days of shooting. The photograph is from his blog.

The Most Recent Changes to LWRP and GEIS

There have been changes to the LWRP and GEIS since the "final draft" of the LWRP was released to the public in May 2011. If you're curious about what those changes are, the altered pages are now available on the City of Hudson website.  

'Tis a Puzzlement


Yesterday W. T. Eckert had an article in the Register-Star about the closing on the sale of 400 State Street: "Sale of Hudson Area Library final." Make no mistake, it was the building that was sold not the Hudson Area Library, but that may have been a Freudian slip.

What's puzzling in the article is the selling price, which Eckert reports as being $300,000. In August, Eckert reported that the library board had unanimously voted to approve the sale of the building to Galvan Partners for $476,500: "Hudson Library building sold." So did Eckert make a mistake, or was the selling price reduced after Galloway offered to prepare a place for the library in the Armory and allow the institution to be his tenant for the next thirty years for a mere dollar a month in rent?

Whether the price was $300,000 or $476,500, Galvan Partners appears to have gotten one of the best real estate bargains Hudson has seen in a long time. The Hudson Area Library bought the building in 2005 for $300,000. Since then it invested significantly more than $300,000 in the building--the money coming from a member item from State Senator Stephen Saland, two or three New York State Library Construction grants, a grant or two from the Hudson River Bank & Trust Foundation, a Restore NY grant, a member item from U.S. Congressman Scott Murphy, not to mention several thousand dollars from individual contributors to the library's capital campaign. None of that investment is reflected in the selling price.    

A Little Scandal

Audra Jornov has the story in today's Register-Star about a former Third Ward alderwoman who was arrested back in July for driving while intoxicated and having illegally tinted windows on her vehicle. The information about her arrest was released only recently after being withheld for two months. One thing the article, which chronicles the former alderwoman's political activities, doesn't mention is that she currently chairs the City of Hudson Zoning Board of Appeals.   

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Absentee Ballots Counted

The absentee and affidavit ballots were counted today at the Board of Elections, and although Linda Mussmann had a strong showing, particularly in the Second Ward, Nick Haddad retained his significant lead. Haddad picked up 44 votes to Mussmann's 41 to make the still unofficial tally 363 (Haddad) to 198 (Mussmann). Republican Bill Hallenbeck, who according to the Register-Star got 22 votes in the Democratic write-in primary last Tuesday, picked up another 8 votes from absentee ballots.  

Here's the ward-by-ward count of absentee and affidavit ballots.


In the alderman and supervisor races in the First Ward, David Marston picked up 12 votes, Larissa Thomas 11, and Geeta Cheddie 2 to make their totals 89 (Marston), 87 (Thomas), and 26 (Cheddie). Sarah Sterling received 12 votes and John Musall 2 to make their totals 86 (Sterling) to 26 (Musall).

In the Third Ward, Ellen Thurston picked 15 votes and Glenn Martin 2, making the totals there 109 (Thurston) to 18 (Martin).

Although all the votes have now been counted, the final tallies are still unofficial.

Gellert and the Doors

Phil Gellert has a history of problems with the Code Enforcement Office, but this spring he ran afoul of the Historic Preservation Commission when it was discovered that he had removed and trashed historic wood doors from 223-225 Allen Street, replaced them with mismatched metal doors, and covered up the side lights to accommodate the smaller doors.  


Although Gellert tried to get the HPC to accept wood doors of a different sort, the HPV insisted, as the law requires, that he return the building's entrance to the way it was before the violation. So Gellert had to replicate the doors and expose the side lights once again. Gossips noticed recently that this has been done.   

Hudson and Pop Music

Bassist and songwriter Tommy Stinson has a new solo album, which was released on August 30, called One Man MutinyGossips has it on good authority that one of the songs on the album was conceived on the back porch of a house on Union Street.  

Starting with the GEIS

Common Council President Don Moore has announced a special meeting of the Common Council to take place at the Central Firehouse at 77 North Seventh Street at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, September 26. The purpose of the meeting is "to review and consider the LWRP's GEIS [Generic Environmental Impact Statement]." William Sharp, attorney with the NYS Department of State, and Cheryl Roberts, city attorney, will present the GEIS and discuss it with the Council. 

If you want to brush up on the document, it can be downloaded--as it was when it was supposed to be "final" back in May 2011--at the City of Hudson website

Monday, September 19, 2011

If You Haven't Taken the Locavore Pledge . . .

Far be it from me to recommend that people get their pizza anywhere but Baba Louie's or Park Falafel, but late this afternoon, when William and I were walking on Warren Street, we encountered two young Domino's pizza deliverers who were giving out samples of a new product: "artisan" pizza. Feeling peckish, we sampled their wares. I tried spinach & feta; William Italian sausage & pepper. Not bad, although there didn't seem to be any feta on the piece I got. William, however, had no complaints. 

If you're feeling both hungry and impecunious, the pizzas, which are rectangular and somewhat larger than a letter-sized sheet of paper, are, for this week, only $2.99.  

Not a Moment Too Soon

DPW Superintendent Rob Perry has notified Gossips that the "No Parking" signs are going up on Allen Street below Third and on Cross Street. The milling will soon begin--perhaps later today--to remove the old pavement in preparation for repaving. Perry advises residents to move their cars and keep their windows closed. The inconvenience is all in a good cause. These streets do need resurfacing.   

More Information: The milling doesn't begin until 7 a.m. Tuesday morning, September 20.