Sunday, May 29, 2016

Hudson in May 1866

There are a fair number of visitors in Hudson this weekend, as there were 150 years ago in the last week of May, when Hudson was host to the Sabbath School (or Sunday School) Convention. But there were also some less upstanding folks in town then, as evidenced by the mid-19th century version of the "Police Blotter" that follows, which appeared in the Hudson Daily Star for May 24, 1866.

 
 
 

The article indicates that Patrick Flarrel, arrested for disorderly conduct on Warren Street, "had no stamps." During the Civil War, and apparently for some time afterward as well, postage stamps could be used as legal tender. When the war lasted longer than expected, people panicked and started hoarding silver and gold coins. The production of new copper coins was restricted because metal was needed for weapons. To address the problem, Congress passed a law permitting the use of postage stamps as currency. Click here to read more about this.

City Hall, where the events described in "Police Doings" took place, was in 1866 the building we now know as the Hudson Opera House. Completed in 1855, it would have been a relatively new building when Clara Williams, Amelia Hines, Patrick Flarrel, and Charles Ludaber appeared before the Justice on that morning in May.
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Holiday Weekend: Parking and Trash

Wherever your car is parked this morning, it can stay there all day and through the night. Memorial Day is one of several holidays on which alternate side of the street overnight parking is suspended. If this were an ordinary summer weekend, you would have to park your car on the even side of the street tonight (tomorrow being May 30, an even day), but because the tomorrow is a holiday, your car can spend the night on either side of the street.

This is what the trash barrels along Warren Street used to look like on the last day of a long holiday weekend.


Photos: Sarah Sterling
The good news is that a similar trash overflow won't be happening this weekend. It has been reported that a DPW crew came through this morning and emptied all the trash barrels along Hudson's main street.
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Saturday, May 28, 2016

The First Decoration Day in Hudson, 1868

This year, Memorial Day, which is now observed on the last Monday in May, falls on the date it was originally meant to be observed, May 30, a day chosen because it was not the anniversary of any particular battle and it was an optimal time for flowers to be in bloom. On May 5, 1868, almost exactly three years after the end of the Civil War, General John A. Logan, commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, the fraternal organization of Civil War veterans who had fought for the Union, issued a proclamation calling for "Decoration Day" to be observed nationwide and annually on May 30. The first Decoration Day was observed on May 30, 1868.

For several days prior to May 30 in 1868, this notice appeared in the Hudson Evening Register.


On May 28, 1868, a further appeal to the ladies of Hudson, to volunteer not only the flowers from their gardens but also their flower-arranging talents, appeared in the Register.


There is more to report about the first Decoration Day in Hudson, and Gossips will do so as the weekend continues.

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Friday, May 27, 2016

Contemplating Compatibility

This morning, the Historic Preservation Commission voted to grant a certificate of appropriateness for the addition of a partial second story to the building at 555 Union Street. 


HPC members Gini Casasco, Peggy Polenberg, Phil Forman, and Miranda Barry voted in favor of granting a certificate of appropriateness; HPC chair Rick Rector and David Voorhees voted against it.

At some point in the discussion, Voorhees asked a critical question: "Is this compatible with the existing structure?" The question should have initiated a deliberate and informed consideration of compatibility, but Forman responded, "Distinguishing an addition from the original building is best practice, " and the issue was dropped. While what Forman said is not untrue--additions should be differentiated from the original building--it does not preclude the question of compatibility. 

The National Park Service, which sets the national standards for historic preservation by which our Historic Preservation Commission should be operating, has published a Preservation Brief on the topic: "New Exterior Additions to Historic Buildings." This document begins by citing the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation that address exterior additions:
(9) New additions, exterior alterations, or related new construction shall not destroy historic materials that characterize the property. The new work shall be differentiated from the old and shall be compatible with the massing, size, scale, and architectural features to protect the historic integrity of the property and its environment.
(10) New additions and adjacent or related new construction shall be undertaken in such a manner that if removed in the future, the essential form and integrity of the historic property and its environment would be unimpaired.
The Preservation Brief goes on to say:
A new addition to a historic building should preserve the building's historic character. To accomplish this and meet the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation, a new addition should: preserve significant historic materials, features and form; be compatible; be differentiated from the historic building.
On the topic of differentiation, this caveat is offered:
To preserve a property's historic character, a new addition must be visually distinguishable from the historic building. This does not mean that the addition and the historic building should be glaringly different in terms of design, materials and other visual qualities. Instead, the new addition should take its design cues from, but not copy, the historic building.
The Preservation Brief provides photographs of additions to existing buildings that are considered to be compatible and those that are not. While acknowledging, "There is no formula or prescription for designing a new addition that meets the Standards," it does say that there needs to be "a balance between differentiation and compatibility in order to maintain historic character." Gossips makes no judgment but invites readers to study Preservation Brief 14 for themselves and decide if the addition approved by the HPC this morning achieves that balance.
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Greet Summer at the River

Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start of summer. Later today, you can get the long weekend off to a suitable start down by the river, at the Hudson Sloop Club's Friday Fish Fry.

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Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Mayor's "State of the City" Discussion

If you missed Mayor Tiffany Martin Hamilton's first town hall meeting on May 16 (also called a "State of the City" discussion) or if you just want to experience it again, Dan Udell's videotape of the event can now be viewed on YouTube.

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Revisiting the Wards

In January, at the organizational meeting of the Common Council, the new Council president Claudia DeStefano announced her intention to form a "bipartisan committee to examine ward boundaries" with the goal of making a proposal about amending the ward boundaries, presumably to address the inequity of the weighted vote, which would be presented to voters in a referendum in November 2016. The November election is now only five months away, and if such a committee has been formed, Gossips is unaware of it. Since January, it seems, the attention of DeStefano and the rest of us has been focused on other things.

A day or so ago, Gossips' thoughts were drawn back to the ward boundaries (and the inherent inequity of the weighted vote) by a reader who wanted to know when the five wards were formed. The short answer to that question is: They weren't all created at the same time. The Fifth Ward was the latecomer, carved out of what had originally been the Fourth Ward in 1886. But when were the boundaries of the original four wards established?

In his History of Columbia County, Franklin Ellis reports that on May 5, 1785, Seth Jenkins issued a proclamation announcing the incorporation of the City of Hudson and his appointment as mayor and calling for an election to be held on May 9. In that election Jenkins became the mayor by popular vote, and four aldermen were elected: Stephen Paddock, Ezra Reed, Benjamin Folger, and William Mayhem. Four aldermen--but there's no indication that they represented four wards. In fact, at the time, the conceptualized part of Hudson (i.e., streets laid out, etc.) did not extend beyond what is now Third Street.

The city charter of 1823 enumerates the officers of the city, but makes no mention of wards: 
And be it further enacted, That there shall be the following officers in and for the said city, to wit: one mayor, one recorder, four aldermen, four assistants, one clerk, one marshal, one chamberlain, one supervisor, and as many assessors, collectors and constables, as the common council for the said city shall, from time to time, direct to be chosen.
The wards are mentioned for the first time in the amended city charter that was adopted on April 10, 1854.
The said City shall be divided into four Wards, as follows:
The part lying southerly of the centre line of Warren Street and westerly of the centre line of Third Street, shall be the First Ward;
That part thereof lying Northerly if the centre line of Warren Street and Westerly of the centre line of Third Street, extended to the northerly bounds of the city, shall be the Second Ward;
That part thereof lying southerly and easterly of a line running from a point in the centre of Third Street, in the south bounds of the city, along the center line of Third street to the centre line of Warren Street, thence along the centre line of Warren Street to the centre line of Seventh Street, thence diagonally across the Public Square to the centre line of Columbia Street and Columbia Turnpike road to the line of Greenport, shall be the Third Ward, and
That part thereof lying northerly and easterly of a line running from a point in a line with the centre of Third Street, in the north bounds of the city, southerly along the centre line of Third Street to the centre line of Warren Street, thence easterly along the northerly line of the Third Ward to the line of Greenport, shall be the Fourth Ward.
It would seem that the charter amendments passed in 1854 created Hudson's original four wards.
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Happy Anniversary, Carrie Haddad Gallery

Photo: Chronogram
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Carrie Haddad Gallery--the first art gallery in Hudson--which opened in 1991, originally at 316 Warren Street. Earlier today, Carrie Haddad was interviewed by Joe Donahue on WAMC. You can listen to that interview here. A favorite quote from the interview is this statement by Haddad, speaking of the people who make up the Hudson community: "We are a large dysfunctional group that functions very well together." Congratulations on 25 years! 
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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Freedoms of Summer

What can do you between Memorial Day and Labor Day that you can't do the rest of the year?

If you are a properly brought up Baby Boomer, you might answer, "Wear white shoes." If you're a Hudson resident, you are more likely to answer, "Park my car overnight on either side of the street on the weekend."

Mayor Tiffany Martin Hamilton announced this afternoon that, starting on Friday, May 27, alternate side of the street parking is suspended until September 30. This means that from Friday night to Saturday morning and from Saturday night to Sunday morning cars can be parked overnight on both sides of the street.
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Going After the $10 Million

It seems pretty clear that Governor Andrew Cuomo loves a good competition when it comes to awarding state funds for economic development. Last year, it was the URI--Upstate Revitalization Initiative-- which pitted the seven upstate regions against each other for $500 million--$100 million a year for five years. This year, it's the DRI--Downtown Revitalization Initiative--in which the cities in each region compete with each other for $10 million. Some have opined that Hudson is not an appealing candidate because it's not needy enough, having enviably revitalized itself. Others predict that the money will go to a big city like Schenectady or Troy, and a small city like Hudson doesn't stand a chance. Still, with characteristic pluck and determination, Sheena Salvino, executive director of Hudson Development Corporation (HDC), has nominated Hudson and is now working on the application, which must be submitted by June 1. As Salvino put it, "Ten million dollars is going to be awarded to one community in the Capital Region. If we don't apply, your tax dollars will go to some other community. Wouldn't you rather those tax dollars be invested in Hudson?"

Working with input from the business community, the Common Council Economic Development Committee, and members of the public, Salvino has identified broad areas for potential investment, which she wants to keep confidential, since, after all, it is a competition, and you don't want the other guys to know what you're proposing. Should Hudson be selected for the $10 million investment, $300,000 will be awarded in the first year for in-depth planning with lots of community input to generate and develop specific projects to be pursued.
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News of the Greenport Planning Board Meeting

Colarusso's proposal for a haul road from the quarry to the river came before the Greenport Planning Board on Tuesday night. Patrick Prendergast, the same person who presented the plan for O&G back in 2009-2010, presented it again last night, acknowledging that the plan was essentially unchanged since then. In fact, Prendergast quipped he'd been "hunting and pecking" through the documents he'd created in 2009 to change O&G to Colarusso.

Gossips remembers, as did at least one member of the Greenport Planning Board, that the NYS Department of Transportation had some unresolved concerns about gravel trucks crossing Route 9G and entering and exiting Route 9, but Prendergast told the Greenport Planning Board that DOT had approved the project in December 2010 (months after the project was before the Greenport Planning Board the first time), but O&G "never got a work permit from DOT." (The project never got site plan approval from the Greenport Planning Board in 2010 and never came before the Hudson Planning Board.) Prendergast told that Greenport Planning Board that Creighton Manning had done a traffic analysis of both the intersection of the proposed haul road and Route 9 and the intersection of the haul road and Route 9G--a study that would be submitted soon, as part of their application. 

During the course of the discussion, some interesting things were revealed. First, although Colarusso purchased all of Holcim's holdings in the City of Hudson, they did not purchase the land owned by Holcim 930 feet from Route 9G (the Hudson border) to Route 9. This land is still owned by Holcim, and Colarusso has a 100-foot wide easement through that property.

Also revealed was Colarusso's plan to move the roadway through South Bay south, to center it on the causeway. It seems the "causeway"the path through South Bay that was filled in during latter part of the 19th century to support Fred W. Jones's mountain railroadonce accommodated two railroad tracks and a service road. The path now being used by gravel trucks making their way to the port is actually the service road. The plan, as Prendergast explained it, is to move the roadway to the center of the causeway and make it wide enough to accommodate two-way traffic, and then to create a "grass filter strip" on either side between the roadway and the wetland. Prendergast said this plan was now being reviewed by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), claiming with Trish Gabriel and "the wetland" person" are "OK with it."

Ray Jurkowski, the engineer on the Greenport Planning Board (the Greenport Planning Board is required to have one engineer memberwhat a concept!), asked about SWPPP (Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan), noting that what was being proposed was "a disturbance of 8.8 acres." Prendergast posited that it was simply "maintaining a road." Jurkowski countered, "It's a disturbance."

Edward Stiffler, chair of the Greenport Planning Board, disclosed that he had received a call that afternoon from Hudson mayor Tiffany Martin Hamilton, who was concerned that the City of Hudson was being left out of the review process. Prendergast attested that the proposal had been "hand delivered," presumably to the code enforcement office, on Friday. (Gossips discovered the project listed on the agenda for the Greenport Planning Board on Thursday, May 12--a week and a day before it was submitted to the City of Hudson.)

Toward the end of the Planning Board's consideration of the proposal, Stiffler acknowledged the receipt of a letter from the Valley Alliance, noting that it raised concerns "we may want to address at a future time." When asked if the Greenport Planning Board intended to declare itself lead agency in the review of the proposed haul road, Stiffler said they haven't decided yet. He earlier spoke of gathering additional information to determine whether or not the project "trips a threshold for a coordinated review" with the City of Hudson.
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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Déjà Vu All Over Again . . . and Something Else

(Is it significant that this is the sixth time in six years that Gossips has used the title "Déjà Vu All Over Again"?)

Tonight, this item appears under New Business on the agenda for the Greenport Planning Board.
Colarusso Quarry Co. – Application for Site Plan Review for a Haul Road from the Colarusso facility on Newman Road to the Hudson River Waterfront. (May require a coordinated review with the City of Hudson Planning Board). 
This same proposal was before the Greenport Planning Board six years ago, in January 2010. That time, the haul road was being proposed by O&G/Holcim; this time, it's being proposed A. Colarusso & Son, which acquired the Holcim property in Hudson and Greenport in 2014.

When this proposal was made more than six years ago, Cheryl Roberts, when city attorney for Hudson, sent a letter to O&G warning that "seeking approval from the Town of Greenport Planning Board in advance of a declaration of lead agency and undertaking a coordinated review . . . amounts to segmentation in violation of 6NYCRR 617.3(g)." This time, the Greenport Planning Board is acknowledging upfront that the project may require a coordinated review with the City of Hudson Planning Board.

As it did in 2010, the Valley Alliance has submitted a written statement about this proposal, which includes concerns about the South Bay Creek & Wetland, possible SEQRA violations, and traffic issues. The full text of the Valley Alliance's letter to the Greenport Planning Board can be read here.

One thing that's different today from the way things were in 2010 is that back then this is what the road going east from Route 9G looked like.

In January 2010, Gossips reported about the road being proposed: "From 9G east, it will be two lanes, each lane 12 feet wide, with shoulders." Today, the road going east appears to be exactly what was proposed in 2010. Gossips sources have reported that the road going east is 29 feet wide.

The first 930 feet of the road from Route 9G east to Route 9 is actually in Hudson not in Greenport, in a part of the Southern Waterfront Area zoned Recreational Conservation in the 2011 Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (LWRP). The agenda for the next Hudson Planning Board meeting, which takes place on Thursday, June 9, is not yet available.  

Also on the agenda for tonight's Greenport Planning Board meeting is an application to build "retail establishments at 161 Fairview Avenue." The address indicated is between McDonald's and the Gothic Revival house that survives from an earlier time. What impact the proposed commercial development will have on the house, which now appears abandoned, is not known.

Photo: Paul Barrett
The Greenport Planning Board meeting begins at 7:30 p.m. tonight at the Greenport Town Hall, 600 Town Hall Drive, off Healy Blvd. in Greenport.
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Shad Season on the Hudson in 1959

Yesterday, inspired by Sunday's gathering at the Shacks, Paul Barrett sent Gossips an article that appeared in the Chatham Courier on April 23, 1959, reporting that the first shad of the season had been taken from the Hudson River. The article, which was accompanied by two photographs, is reproduced below.


 
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Monday, May 23, 2016

Meeting at North Bay

The headline in the Register-Star declares: "Furgary Boat Club to be opened to the public."  This is a bit of an overstatement. What Gossips heard the mayor say was that the fence along the southern edge of the site was to be moved several yards north, to allow access to the river while still cordoning off the shacks.

The purpose of the meeting on Sunday was to gather ideas and thoughts about the future of the Furgary site in particular and North Bay as a whole, but, although the event had some moments of contention, the ideas posted on the board provided for the purpose seemed pretty general and somewhat redundant. (Those comments are going to be published, and when they are, Gossips will share them.) 

Two things learned from Leo Bower yesterday are worthy of sharing. First, the question of whether the primary accent in Furgary is on the first or second syllable can finally be put to rest, because the true name of the settlement is simply "The Shacks." Second, there were similar shacks south of Promenade Hill, where the parking lot for the state boat launch now is. Bower had a wonderful picture of those shacks among a collection of photographs he brought to the meeting for people to see. The best Gossips can offer is this screen capture from the 1959 film Odds Against Tomorrow, which shows one of those shacks and a bit of another in the background. The building farthest left, appearing under the bill of  Harry Belafonte's cap, is now the clubhouse of the Hudson Power Boat Association.

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