Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Greetings from William

William played the Easter bunny this afternoon, tolerating his bunny ears just long enough to exchange Easter baskets with his lady friend, Lucy. Lucy's human snapped this picture of William and then turned it into a image suitable for an Easter card, which we share with all the readers who enjoyed the fifteen William stories that marked his fifteenth birthday. (He's got a pretty good sense of humor for such an old dog, don't you think?)
 Happy Easter! Happy Spring!

News from HCSD

A team from the State Department of Education visited Hudson Junior High School and Hudson High School for four days during the week of March 18. Lynn Sloneker reports their findings on her blog Unmuffled: "What State Ed found."

A Historic Photo for the Holiday

A reader shared this picture from the 1950s with Gossips. The family, dressed it seems in their Easter finery, is posing in Franklin Square, once located on South Front Street between Fleet and Ferry streets. The Ferry Street bridge and the waterfront appear in the background.   

Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Promise of Food

It appeared that the assembled crew might be excavating a ruin, but presumably they are getting ready to build "Hudson Arcade," the addition to the front of the old convenience store on Warren and Fifth streets that will become Hudson's only year-round food market. 

The original plan was for the market to be completed in the fall of 2012. The last time Gossips inquired about an anticipated opening date for the market, the answer was spring or early summer 2013. It seems that the date for opening day at the market may need to be adjusted again. Let's hope it will be ready before the Hudson Farmers' Market, which opens this year on May 4, ends its 2013 season on November 23.

What's Happening Inside?

The doors at 13 South Third Street have recently changed color, but if you're curious about the changes being wrought inside the building that will be the restaurant Fish & Game, Michael Davis, the architect for the project and the owner of 3FortySeven, with its still anticipated outdoor beer & wine garden and food court, offers a preview. Thanks to Hungry in Hudson for bringing this to our attention.   

Friday, March 29, 2013

News About HCSD

Yesterday, the Register-Star reported that our school taxes may see the maximum allowable increase: "School officials: 5.3 percent tax levy increase could balance HCSD's budget." 

Earlier today, Lynn Sloneker reported on her blog Unmuffled that Peter Merante, president of the HCSD Board of Education, is resigning: "Merante stepping down."    

Saturday at the Hudson Opera House

At 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 30, the Hudson Opera House hosts a panel discussion entitled Q & A: The Art of the Interview, featuring Jennifer Karady, Illya Szilak, and Gary Wallace, and moderated by Suzanne Snider--four people whose work depends on artful interviews. Explore how "social and professional conventions determine the shape and content of our conversations" and maybe pick up some tips that will stand you in good stead if you ever have to interview someone on WGXC or want to record someone's memories for posterity.

At 6 p.m., the Hudson Opera House holds the opening reception for its new exhibition, Of Light and Dark: Five Artists in Contrast. The exhibition was curated by Dale Stewart and features five artists familiar to Hudson: Dawn Breeze, Melora KuhnKate Sterlin, Kahn & Selesnick, and Doug Clow. In addition to art, there will be music, provided by special guest DJ Gio.

Spring Comes to Hudson

More than a week ago, we shared the century-old truism attributed to the Rev. Dr. Henry Van Dyke that "the first day of spring is one thing, and the first spring day is another." Feeling that today might finally be the latter, William and I headed up to Promenade Hill on our second walk of the morning. DPW superintendent Rob Perry had reported on Wednesday that the crew had done their "biannual cutting" of the slope, and we wanted to check it out.

As the picture bears witnesses, the renegade foliage on the slope has been sheared so that it will not obscure the view.

It was our good luck to arrive at Promenade Hill this morning just as members of the Youth Department staff were hiding the eggs for the annual Easter Egg Hunt. Since we were there, I decided to snap some pictures of the eggs in their hiding places.

William and I left before the Easter egg hunt began. In spite of the fact that William is probably the oldest and certainly the gentlest dog in Hudson, small children are often--because of his size and his habit of showing his teeth when he smiles--afraid of him, and we didn't want to diminish in any way the thrill (and the fun) of the hunt.        

What's It Worth?

At Wednesday's Common Council Legal Committee meeting, city attorney Cheryl Roberts dismissed objections brought by The Valley Alliance that the City was giving away, for fifty years, its right to eminent domain. Among other things, she argued that the City of Hudson would never be able to afford to take the property by eminent domain. John Mason reported yesterday in the Register-Star: "Roberts characterized the notion as absurd. 'The port is too expensive to eminent domain,' she said, suggesting it might be in the neighborhood of $10 million. 'This property will never revert back to Hudson because we've exercised eminent domain. It's too expensive.'"

It's been suggested that Roberts' speculation about the value of the property was inappropriate, since, if the City of Hudson should ever find the political will to take over the port, a city attorney should not be on record as setting its value. But Roberts' suggestion that Holcim's Hudson holdings are worth $10 million raises another question: Is the City collecting property tax on $10 million from Holcim?

Holcim has a history of grieving its property assessment. According to Council president Don Moore, the Common Council went into executive session on February 11 to discuss the Article 7 that had been filed by Holcim protesting the assessment of its property. Yesterday, Sam Pratt did some research to find out Holcim's current assessment and discovered that Holcim's holdings within the city limits of Hudson total 116.6 acres (including the 9 acres to be conveyed to the City of Hudson), which are recorded as three parcels in the tax rolls. The total value currently placed on the three parcels is $3,220,600. That taxable value--a third of what Roberts estimated the price of the property would be--will be reduced by whatever value is set on the 9 waterfront acres being conveyed to the City.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Good News for Hybrid Owners

At the Public Works Committee meeting on Wednesday night, Rob Perry, DPW superintendent, made it known that National Grid has selected the municipal parking lot across the street from the Hudson train station as the location for two electric vehicle charging stations. When this plan will be implemented was not clear. But, on the topic of another project related to National Grid and electricity, Perry confirmed that the installation of the new lantern-like streetlamps on Warren Street above Park Place will begin in April.

They Called It "Progress"

Paul Barrett shared these photographs with Gossips, which he discovered in his research. They appeared in the Register-Star for May 28, 1971, accompanied by the caption reproduced below.

SOWING SEEDS OF PROGRESS: The familiar frame homes that lined North and South Front St., are now piles of rubble that will be cleared to make way for a $3,263,783 moderate income housing project. The Hudson Urban Renewal Agency, through the developer Montrose Construction Corp. of White Plains, hopes to begin construction of 168 housing units overlooking the river on Nov. 9. Within 12 to 14 months, the agency said, a landscaped development of 38 one-bedroom, 91 two-bedroom, and 35 three-bedroom units, parking areas, and an expanded Promenade Hill Park will replace what had been considered one of the most deteriorated sections of the city. (Register-Star photos by Joe Traver)
It's remarkable how differently this action, seen as "progress" forty years ago, is viewed today.

At Last Night's Legal Committee Meeting

During a Common Council Legal Committee meeting that lasted for two hours (committee meetings are scheduled to take only 45 minutes), members of the committee and city attorney Cheryl Roberts discussed the legal memorandum prepared by Ken Dow on behalf of The Valley Alliance. John Mason reports the committee's responses to the objections raised in the document in today's Register-Star: "Committee stands by Holcim land transfer." The general opinion expressed by Alderman John Friedman (Third Ward), chair of the committee, was that The Valley Alliance had "overreached in some of their arguments."

City attorney Cheryl Roberts denied that the agreement was illegal because the City was giving away its right to eminent domain. She maintained that it does not give away the right. She explained that in the unlikely event that the City could afford to eminent domain the port, it would forfeit the nine acres, but "if we could eminent domain the port, we could also eminent domain the nine acres."

She also dismissed the idea that it was a problem for the City to agree not to change the zoning on the port for fifty years. "It would be unlikely that we would change the zoning so that it cannot be used to ship rock," she explained, "because it would be considered a 'taking.'"

The text of the "Bargain and Sale Deed with Covenant," which was available to the public for the first time yesterday, sets forth the conditions of the conveyance:
REVERSION OF TITLE. Title to the Property vested in Grantee [the City of Hudson] hereby shall be divested and shall revert to Grantor [Holcim] upon the occurrence of any of the following:
(a) Exercise by the City of Hudson or the State of New York of the power of eminent domain effectuating a taking of Parcel "A" [the port] . . . .
(b) Unilateral rezoning of the City of Hudson of Parcel "A", as described in (a) above, or any other unilateral legal or regulatory action taken by the City of Hudson or the State of New York with respect to Parcel "A" that terminates or materially restricts the uses of Parcel "A" that are permitted as of the date of this instrument or prohibits or materially restricts access to Parcel "A" by vehicles carrying rock or aggregate over the existing causeway traversing other lands of the Grantor between State Route 9-G and the CSX right-of-way, known generally as the "South Bay Causeway";
(c) failure to designate Parcel "B" (the Property conveyed hereby) as a municipal public park, or following such designation, un-designating the property from parkland designation; or
(d) Sale or leasing of all or any part of Parcel "B" (the Property conveyed hereby) to any third party, whether an individual, a governmental entity, a private not-for-profit corporation or a for-profit business enterprise, provided that this provision shall not preclude the Grantee from relocating the State-owned boat launch to the Property, nor shall it preclude the Grantee from contracting with a private operator to operate its waterfront recreation facility.
This Reversionary Clause shall expire on the earlier of
1. The fiftieth anniversary of the recording date of this instrument;
2. The last date of five (5) continuous, uninterrupted years non-use of Parcel "A" as a commercial industrial dock; or
3. The recording date of a mutual agreement of rescission on entered into between Grantor and Grantor's successor in title to Parcel "A" and the City of Hudson.
Friedman summed up the situation by saying, "We do better owning [the parcel] than not owning it. It means the port cannot be enlarged." He conceded that there are were problems with the language of the resolution passed on February 11 and admitted that the deed and map should have been made public sooner than yesterday. He concluded by saying, "It's in The Valley Alliance's court."

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

News from HDC

At a lunchtime meeting today, the Hudson Development Corporation Board of Directors named two new members: Christine Jones, co-owner of the Red Barn in Ghent, who is a regular vendor at the Hudson Farmers' Market and a mentor in the Hudson Reads program at HCSD; and Duncan Calhoun, co-owner of The Croff House Bed & Breakfast and the soon-to-open hotel, The Barlow.

In addition to the two new members, the HDC Board is made up of four elected officials--the mayor and the Common Council president, majority leader, and minority leader-- and four representatives from the community: Perry Lasher, vice president of commercial lending at The Bank of Greene County; Victor Mendolia, vice chair of the Hudson City Democratic Committee; Seth Rapport, attorney and mortgage broker; and Lori Selden, co-owner of Mexican Radio.

Well, Isn't That Good News?

Salon reports today that law enforcement agencies in many parts of the country are running out of bullets because gun owners, fearful that their right to bear arms might in some way be circumscribed, are buying up all the ammunition: "With gun nuts hoarding bullets, will cops be disarmed?" 

Back to South Front Street Again

Gossips' fascination with what was lost during Urban Renewal continues, and readers continue to satisfy that curiosity by sharing pictures of the way things were. This picture, which was taken around 1925, shows the building that once stood on the northwest corner of South Front and Fleet streets. (Fleet Street was the continuation of Partition Street west of Front Street and, until 1942, carried a bridge over the railroad tracks.)

This is how the building was described in the 1970 National Register application for the Front Street-Parade Hill-Lower Warren Street Historic District: "Three-story brick commercial and residential block, three bays wide on Front Street, seven bays wide on Fleet Street, flat roof, common bond brickwork, bracketed and paneled cornice, first floor store front."

The building immediately to the right of the building on the corner, seen again in this picture, was for many years the Germania Hotel

In 1925, the Arrowhead Store became Chipp's Market, a grocery store and butcher shop operated by Joseph Cipkowski and his wife, Anna Piast, until 1970. The picture below shows the interior of the stop when it was still the Arrowhead Store.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Scenes from a Marriage Equality Rally

Although it was announced that Mayor William Hallenbeck would speak at the rally for marriage equality on Tuesday night, Hallenbeck was a no-show. Common Council president Don Moore, however, did appear to say that he had enjoyed decades of married life and did not wish to see the opportunity for that denied to anyone.

Of all the comments made at the rally, perhaps the most memorable were made by Justin Weaver (a.k.a. Girlgantua), who told the group that he had grown up in Hudson and had to leave here to find himself but leaving Hudson might not have been necessary if Hudson had been then what he finds here now--a diverse, loving, and supportive community.

Ice Harvesting in Hudson

It is fairly well known that ice used to be harvested on the Hudson River. This photograph, from the New York State Archives, shows ice harvesting at Stuyvesant Landing in 1912.

It is also fairly well known that people used to go ice skating on Underhill Pond. This photograph showing people skating (and walking) on the frozen pond was taken in 1910, when the water body was known as Lake Underhill.

A lesser know fact is that ice was also harvested from Underhill Pond. Jack Connor told Gossips recently that in August 2010, when an old dumped fuel tank was discovered in the vicinity of Montgomery C. Smith School, he did title research, as city attorney, on the land in that part of the city and discovered that the land around Underhill Pond, now owned by the City of Hudson, was previously owned by "an ice company." That ice company was possibly New York & Hudson Ice Company, listed in the 1912 Hudson city directory as located down the hill at 39-41 Mill Street. The City of Hudson took ownership of the land in the late 1930s or early '40s, when refrigerators were replacing iceboxes and the demand for ice declined and the company defaulted on their property taxes.

Connor thinks the ice was probably hauled in wagons up the slope to Sixth Street. Not long ago, this wagon wheel with a broken spoke was pulled from the mud at the bottom of the pond. The wheel may have been there since the time when they harvested ice on Underhill Pond.

Photo provided by Jack Connor

Tonight in the Public Square

Today the United States Supreme Court begins its consideration of the constitutionality of Proposition 8, which ended same-sex marriage in California, and DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act), which prohibits federal recognition and benefits for same-sex married couples.

Tonight, Tuesday, March 26, at 7 p.m. in the Public Square (a.k.a. Seventh Street Park), there will be a rally to show diverse support for marriage equality. Speakers for the occasion include married same-sex couples, LGBT activists and leaders, and elected officials, including Hudson mayor William Hallenbeck and Common Council president Don Moore.

The rally in Hudson is part of the United for Marriage: Light the Way to Justice coalition, a group of LGBT and allied organizations rallying in Washington and across the country to show support for marriage equality. Click here for more information about the rally in Hudson. Click here to learn about events happening elsewhere in the country during the Supreme Court hearings on marriage equality.

The image above is from the video Yes, Sir, That's My Baby--A Tribute to Marriage Equality, featuring Ryder Cooley and Sarah Kilborne.

Of Interest

Cheryl Clark reviews The Crimson Sparrow in today's Times Union: "Flights of culinary creativity." Her conclusion: "This is food to be appreciated for the grace of its presentation, the thoughtfulness of its combinations and the artistry of its invention."

Monday, March 25, 2013

Valley Alliance Weighs In on Land Transfer

The Valley Alliance announced today that a ten-page legal memorandum from attorney Kenneth J. Dow to Mayor William Hallenbeck finds that "it would be unlawful for the City to enter into a contract for the conveyance of lands from Holcim US to the City" as the plan was outlined in the resolution passed by the Common Council at a special meeting on February 11. 

A press release from The Valley Alliance states that "Dow's analysis on behalf of The Valley Alliance finds that the terms of the resolution violate the City Charter, State Constitution, Common Law and multiple other laws, rendering any such deal 'unauthorized, unlawful, and void.'"

Click here to read the entire press release.

Click here to read Dow's legal memorandum.

Jefferson and Madison in Hudson

Last month, on Presidents' Day, Gossips did a post--and another and another--about the presidents who had visited Hudson. Today, an erudite Gossips reader shared his discovery that two more presidents had visited Hudson--together and before either had become president: Thomas Jefferson and James Madison.

In the spring of 1791, Jefferson and Madison took a month-long northern tour together, traveling to New England and upstate New York. The purpose of the trip was, in Madison's words, "health, recreation & curiosity." Madison suffered bilious attacks, and Jefferson was plagued by migraine headaches. There were rumors at the time, however, that the trip had a political purpose. 

In her book Founding Gardeners, Andrea Wulf talks about the trip and the rumors about its goals, and in the process reveals the fascinating fact that the reader brought to Gossips attention this morning: 
There was some truth to these allegations, in that Jefferson wanted to shift more trade from Britain to France (as he had already tried to do during his time as American Minister in Paris). On their way up the Hudson River valley, for example, they stopped at the small port town of Hudson, where Jefferson tried to persuade a large distillery owner that wine imported from France would produce better spirits than the molasses from the British West Indies.
That "large distillery owner," the endnotes to the book reveal, was none other than Seth Jenkins, who we know from Ellis' History of Columbia County, was one of several of the Proprietors "licensed in 1786 'to retail all kinds of spirituous liquors.'"

The Lure of Warmer Climes a Hundred Years Ago

These ads appeared in the Hudson Evening Register for February 8, 1913. A hundred years and almost two months later, as winter hangs on, these ads make you want to rush to your local Railroad Ticket Office to book passage.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Hudson and History

Because of the renovations going on there now, Gossips has been giving a fair amount of attention to our beautiful Beaux Arts Columbia County courthouse, designed by Warren and Wetmore. That attention inspired Bob Weinman to share this picture, which he came upon recently while straightening up.

These guys, in their overcoats and fedoras, may look like extras from a prequel to The Godfather, but they're not. This is the 1936 Columbia County Board of Supervisors, and in the front row, third from the left, is Weinman's own grandfather, George J. Weinman. The others are: [Row 1] Richard E. Cullen, Howard M. Hallenbeck, Weinman, Allen E. Phelps, J. P. Lasher (Chairman), Frank M. Briwa (Clerk), Edward West, Harry George; [Row 2] Sterling Wyckoff, Milton V. Saulpaugh (Sheriff), Joseph R. Veit, George Spaulding, Fay Van Duesen, A. Parker Boice, H. Delavan Stickles, Samuel E. Swift, L. Proceus Hover (Superintendent of Highways); [Row 3] James W. O'Neill, Hugh Potter (County Treasurer), Edward C. Johnson, Grant A. Miller (County Clerk), Ralph Hamm, Morton L. Fingar, William B. Daley, Jr., John McHugh, George B. Van Valkenburgh, Frank L. Kent, Sherwood B. Speed (County Attorney).

Note the original front door of the courthouse. Wouldn't it be grand if we could have that back?

To put this picture in the context of history, here are some things that happened in the world in 1936:

  • On January 20, Edward VIII succeeded his father as king of England, and eleven months later, on December 11, he abdicated, so he could marry American divorcee Wallace Simpson.
  • Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell, was first published.
  • The 11th Olympic Games took place in Berlin. Adolf Hitler opened the games, and African American Jesse Owens gained international fame by winning four gold medals.
  • Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected for a second term as President in a landslide victory over Republican Alfred M. Landon.

Random Acts of Vandalism

At 4 a.m. this morning, guests and the proprietor of the Union Street Guest House were rudely awakened by the sound of shattering glass. Someone had smashed three windows on the first floor of the building. It appeared, from the damage caused, that a baseball bat may have been used like a ramrod to smash through screens and glass. Two of the windows were in the living room of the proprietor's quarters; the third was in the sitting room of a guest suite.

Chris Wagoner, the owner and proprietor of the Union Street Guest House and an alderman representing the Third Ward, could think of no reason why his property should have been singled out for attack. The police, who were summoned and promptly responded, were similarly perplexed. No other houses on this section of Union Street suffered any damage.

Three weeks ago, at 2:45 a.m. on a Saturday, in the newly revitalized section of the city known as Hudson's East End, the Stoddard Corner Bookshop was the victim of a similar attack.

Peter Pehrson, proprietor of the bookshop at Columbia and Eighth streets, told Gossips that the police were prompt and sympathetic but could find no evidence of how the damage was done. He speculated, however, that a baseball bat may have been used to break the plate glass display windows in his shop. 

Chefs Across the Border

When it comes to food, Columbia County--Hudson in particular--has arrived, and an event coming up in April is validation of its ascendance. Berkshire Farm & Table presents ChefX, an event that brings together chefs who value local ingredients and support local farmers and food artisans--in the Berkshire and the Hudson Valley--and fans of local food.

The event is actually two events. On Sunday, April 7, five chefs from the Berkshires come to Hudson to prepare a special five-course tasting--five chefs, five courses--at the Crimson Sparrow. The visiting chefs come Nudel Restaurant in Lenox, the Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge, and the Meat MarketBell & Anchorand Rubiner's Cheesemongers in Great Barrington. 

Then on Monday, April 29, the great chefs of Hudson (and Philmont) travel to the Berkshires to present a five-course tasting at Allium in Great Barrington. Our traveling culinary team will be made up of the chefs from the Crimson Sparrow, Helsinki Hudson, Grazin' Diner, Swoon Kitchenbar, and Local 111

Each dinner will culminate in a Chefs' Cocktail Hour, to give diners the opportunity to meet the chefs in a casual setting and chat about their work, their philosophy of food, and their restaurants. For information and tickets, visit  

Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Story Continues

At their meeting on Tuesday, the Common Council unanimously approved a resolution authorizing the mayor to "take such actions as necessary to evict or otherwise remove all tenants currently residing at 405 Warren Street." The resolution states that a judgment of the Columbia County Court on July 30, 2012, conveyed "full and complete title of the property" to the City of Hudson, and the deed conveying title was recorded at the county clerk's office on August 13, 2012. 

The City of Hudson is foreclosing on the building for nonpayment of property tax. The Register-Star reported that approximately $78,200 in back taxes is owed on the property.

Gossips was recently informed, by someone with knowledge of the situation, that the owner of the building intends to file or has filed an appeal of the court decision that awarded title to the City. It seems the owner is maintaining that the building belongs not to him but to his church, and, as church property, it is exempt from property taxes.

Grandinetti Grandstanding?

Last Saturday night, Dan Grandinetti addressed a forum organized by the Staley B. Keith Social Justice Center forum and criticized government agencies and educational institutions for not employing African Americans. "I'm not sure Columbia County heard about the Civil Rights Act in the 1960s," said Grandinetti. Today, John Mason reports the responses to Grandinetti's claims in the Register-Star: "Racial mix in county jobs at issue."

Friday, March 22, 2013

How Long Is Fifty Years?

At the end of last Tuesday's meeting, the Common Council went into executive session to discuss, as Council president Don Moore indicated, Holcim. Presumably, they were going to talk about the transfer of the nine acres on the waterfront. This reminded me of the conditions for the transfer that city attorney Cheryl Roberts explained last month, all of which will be in effect for the next fifty years. 

Thinking about the enormity of this commitment inspired me to consider just how long fifty years is by relating that length of time to the lives of the people involved in making the decision. 

Fifty years ago . . . 
  • Common Council president Don Moore was taking a year off from college.
  • Alderman Nick Haddad (First Ward) was a third-grader in Red Hook.
  • Alderman Abdus Miah (Second Ward) was a toddler in Bangladesh.
  • Alderman Wanda Pertilla would not be born for another four years.
  • Alderman Chris Wagoner was three months old.
  • Aldermen John Friedman (Third Ward) and Ohrine Stewart (Fourth Ward) were both somewhere between conception and birth.
  • Alderman Sheila Ramsey (Fourth Ward) was a twenty-four-year-old mother of two living in Hudson.
  • Alderman Carmine Pierro (Fifth Ward) was in the seventh grade. Five years later, in 1968, he would graduate from Hudson High School, along with classmate Rick Scalera.
  • Alderman Robert Donahue (Fifth Ward) was twenty-five, married, and selling life insurance for John Hancock.
  • City attorney Cheryl Roberts was a newborn.
  • Alderman David Marston (First Ward)--the only alderman who chose, by abstaining, not support the action--would not be born for another fourteen years. Fifty years ago, Marston's parents were still teenagers, and they very likely hadn't met yet.

As more evidence of the enormous length of fifty years, this is how high school students dressed in 1963.

This photograph is from the Hudson High School yearbook, Blue and Gold, for 1963, and shows the yearbook staff.

Not to Be Missed

Rural Intelligence this week features a great article by Scott Baldinger about shopping in Hudson. Baldinger writes wistfully about a time when "shopping vintage (or vintage-ish) was a serendipitous adventure" and celebrates the shops in Hudson that are "still capable of bringing back those memories--of a time when various indoor or outdoor spaces offered a curious collector the chance to amble, touch, and discover amazing things for doable prices." Read the article to find out which ones they are: "Let's Get Lost (in Hudson)." 

How Reassuring

Nathan Mayberg reports today in the Register-Star that the Columbia County Board of Supervisors rejected a proposed new ethics law which would have required supervisors and some county employees to reveal more about their personal finances and business interests: "Proposed new ethics law defeated by slight margin." A total of 1,768 votes were required to pass the new law; 1,761 weighted votes were cast in favor of adopting the new law. 

Among the supervisors voting against adopting the new ethics law was Supervisor Michael Benson (New Lebanon), the president of BCI Construction, who reportedly "called the financial disclosure questions part of the 'most invasive form I've ever seen.'" Of interest but of no particular relevance, the City of Hudson was involved in a contract dispute with BCI Construction last year over payments for the construction of the City's new waste water treatment plant.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Status of the Courthouse

As we all know, the Columbia County Courthouse is undergoing renovation and new construction. An addition is being added at the rear of the building, and ramps for handicapped access are being added at the front.

The courthouse project was in the news again today. Nathan Mayberg reports that the Columbia County Board of Supervisors "has approved $73,700 in contract awards to Lothrop Associates LLP to design a new heating system, along with energy efficient windows": "County OKs new courthouse projects." 

The idea of replacement windows always raises red flags, but a conversation with Supervisor Sarah Sterling (First Ward), who sits on the Public Works Committee, was somewhat reassuring. According to Sterling, the new windows, sought for energy efficiency, would replicate the windows that were originally there.

Over the years, many sins have been committed against the fenestration of the courthouse for the sake of air conditioning. The first floor windows currently found on both the east and west sides of the building appear to be entirely Plexiglass, with solid white panels at the top, some of which are pierced by air conditioners. It will be nice to see these windows go and wonderful to see them replaced with windows that replicate the ones that would have been there in 1907. It would also be wonderful if the grilles on the second floor windows that were hacked to accommodate air conditioners could be restored.

Mayberg's article ends with this sentence: "A change in the windows could potentially need to be reviewed by the city of Hudson Historic Preservation Commission, as the courthouse is over 100 years old." Replacing the windows will require review by the Historic Preservation Commission, not because of the age of the building but because the building is a contributing structure in a locally designated historic district and in a historic district listed in the National Register of Historic Places.