Monday, December 18, 2017

Happening Now

The Columbia County Sanctuary Movement staged a sit-in this morning at Congressman John Faso's office in Kinderhook to demand that Faso sign on as a co-sponsor of the Clean Dream Act. It is being reported that county sheriff's deputies are making arrests. You can follow what's happening on the CCSM Facebook page.


Meetings Today

For those interested in following the developing plans for the future of Hudson, there are two meetings happening today, Monday, December 18.
  • At 3 p.m., the Mayor's Housing Task Force will meet in the conference room at 1 North Front Street. The purpose of the Housing Task Force, which is working in tandem with the DRI (Downtown Revitalization Initiative), is (1) to understand Hudson's current housing needs; (2) to develop near-, mid-, and long-term actionable solutions; (3) build community consensus for solutions "via ongoing, transparent communication and inclusive outreach."
  • At 6 p.m., the DRI Local Planning Committee will meet in the auditorium at John L. Edwards Primary School. This is the third of five meetings of the LPC. It is not a public meeting, although opportunity for public comment may be allowed at the end of the two-hour session. Among other things, the committee is expected to review the input from the public workshop that took place on December 7. 

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Ear to the Ground

In February, Business Insider reported that second-home buyers--especially those in the market for luxury homes--were turning their attention from the Hamptons to the Hudson Valley: "The future of the Hamptons is uncertain as prices plummet and luxury buyers head north." Now there's another link between the Hudson Valley--specifically Hudson--and the summer destinations on Long Island--in this case, not the Hamptons but Montauk. Gossips has heard that Montauk Mainstay has signed a lease for 437 Warren Street, the former location of Woodstock General.



More than a year ago, the congregation of the First Presbyterian Church had to vacate the historic building at Warren and Fourth streets because of structural issues with the beams and trusses that support the roof. Now those problems have been corrected, and the church will reopen for its first service on Christmas Eve.

Yesterday the church issued the following invitation on its Facebook page:
Come all ye faithful! Joyful and triumphant! You and your friends, family, and guests are invited to join us for our re-opening Christmas Eve! Lessons and Carols service is at 5 p.m. in the sanctuary at First Presbyterian Church.

Memories of Gifford-Wood

The post on Thursday about Gifford-Wood and its government contract during World War I to build "gas generating machines for aviation purposes" inspired Bob Tomaso to share this picture of the employees in the steel shop at Gifford-Wood. The date on the picture indicates that it was taken on October 10, 1957.

Tomaso's father, Marco, appears in the first row, the third from the left. Interestingly, there was one woman in the steel shop crew in 1957. There were probably more during the World War II years. Tomaso told Gossips that his father met his mother, Frances, at Gifford-Wood, in the 1940s, when they both worked at the plant. 

If any readers recognize other members of the crew shown in the picture (you can click on the picture to enlarge it), please indicate who they are in a comment.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Connecticut Garbage in Upstate New York

I couldn't resist the title for its faint echo of Mark Twain, but in truth this post is not about garbage so much as it is about cement and the lingering impact of the multinational cement company that was prevented from building a behemoth coal-fired cement plant here back in 2005: Holcim, then known as St. Lawrence Cement. In 2015, Holcim merged with Lafarge, which operates a cement plant upriver in Ravena, to form LafargeHolcim, the world's largest cement maker. This post reports three items of news, speculation, and possibility involving LafargeHolcim.

Photo: The Concrete Producer

The first is news. Last Friday, the New York Times reported on something that happened before the Swiss corporation Holcim merged with the French corporation Lafarge: "France Investigates Lafarge Executives for Terrorist Financing."  It is alleged that the company helped finance the Islamic State militant group and other armed factions in an effort to keep its plant in northern Syria operating and profitable.

Then, there is speculation about LafargeHolcim and Colarusso. It seems that when Colarusso bought the quarry, South Bay, and the dock from Holcim in 2014, they agreed not to compete with Holcim in the cement industry. Now that Holcim and Lafarge are one company, there is nothing preventing Colarusso from supplying limestone to the LafargeHolcim plant just up the river and delivering it by barge, which could mean a huge increase in blasting activity in the quarry and a similarly huge increase in the number of trucks hauling stone to the river and the number of barges coming and going from the dock.

Now, here's the garbage part. It seems that the State of Connecticut is looking to replace an aging trash incinerator in Hartford that serves seventy Connecticut towns. There are three proposals for accomplishing this: one is to rebuild the incinerator in Hartford; another is to expand an existing incinerator in Bristol, Connecticut, and ship the trash there; and the third is to transport the trash to New York and burn it at the LafargeHolcim plant in Ravena, which is already one of the biggest polluters in the state. This proposal, which was submitted by a group called Mustang Renewable Power Ventures, can be found here. Reference to the LafargeHolcim cement plant in Ravena appears on pages 6, 7, and 15-16. The source of this information about this proposal is Energy Justice Network.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Sticks and Stones and All That

Gossips has twice mentioned the ill-considered language in Hudson's DRI application--back in August and this past Tuesday. Earlier today, Enid Futterman published a link to the latter post on, with the title "The (fatal?) flaw in the DRI." This was followed up by a scathing criticism by Julie Metz, also published on, of both the language and the response of those responsible when its potential consequences were pointed out: "First Do No Harm: Words, the DRI, and Hudson's Future."


There Should Be a Better Way . . .

Some have wondered why the drivers of eighteen-wheelers take the truck routes through Hudson in the first place. Unless the truck is making a delivery somewhere within the city limits of Hudson, it's possible to get to the destination without having to deal with city streets. It would be much easier both on our city and on the truck drivers.

Today, a Gossips reader witnessed and photographed a truck in Hudson that had strayed off the truck route. It made a right turn from North Third Street onto State Street, knocking down the street signs in the process, and then proceeded up State Street, where it turned left onto Green Street to rejoin the truck route. 

My source called the police to report what had been witnessed and was told that an off-duty police officer had also witnessed the incident and had taken pictures. Perhaps some action will be taken, and the word will spread among drivers of big rigs that you route yourself through Hudson at your own peril.

What likely happened was the driver of the truck missed the turn onto Columbia Street--the truck route--where the intersection is designed, as much as possible, for big trucks making right turns. If that was the case, there weren't any reasonable alternatives except to turn on the next parallel street and hope it led to the same destination, ripping down street signs in the process. But there should be a way to discourage long-haul truckers from entering Hudson in the first place. 

A few years ago--perhaps as many as ten--there was a problem with trucks barreling through the Village of Kinderhook along Route 9 in the middle of the night. Some investigation discovered that the truckers' GPS was routing them south from Interstate 90 on Route 9 instead of Route 9H, which by-passes the village. Once that was discovered, it was corrected. Wouldn't it be grand if long-haul trucking companies like CFI would start routing their drivers around Hudson instead of through it?

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Storytelling on a Winter Afternoon

Real People Real Stories, inspired by The Moth Radio Hour, has become an audience favorite and now opens and closes each season at the Ancram Opera House. In the final set of stories for 2017, told starting at 3 p.m. this Saturday, five storytellers confront crisis and calamity: a bungee jump adventure teeters on the precipice, a $3 parking ticket escalates to a contempt of court citation, an American college student is caught in the crosshairs of the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia, a woman suspects her spouse is a survivalist, and a corporate crisis counselor is ensnared by a client from hell. The storytellers are Chris Atkins (Hillsdale), Phil Halpern (Stockbridge, MA), Jan Hopkins-Trachtman (Gallatin), Brett LaFave (Albany), and Lauren Letellier (Hillsdale).

A reception with the storytellers follows the performance. Click here to purchase tickets.

Be Part of a Hudson Holiday Tradition

This year, Classics on Hudson collaborates with Hudson Hall to present the annual Messiah Sing, led by conductor Gwen Gould, in the newly restored performance hall at the Hudson Opera House. Choose your part--soprano, alto, tenor, or bass--and sing Handel's beloved oratorio with soloists from the Bard Conservatory Graduate Vocal Arts Program and the Tecchler Quartet from the Bard Conservatory of Music. Scores are provided, but you if have your own from your college chorus days, bring it along, because the number of scores is limited. 

The Messiah Sing takes place on Sunday, December 17, at 4:00 p.m. Click here to purchase tickets. 

The Great War: December 13, 1917

Our exploration of life in Hudson during the Great War has been on hiatus for a while, but a news item that appeared on the front page of the Hudson Evening Register for December 13, 1917, is bringing it back. It reveals the role one of Hudson's principal businesses of a century ago played in the war effort.

In 1917, the Gifford-Wood Company was located at the end of Hudson Avenue, in a facility constructed in 1907, soon after Gifford Brothers, the company created by Elihu Gifford in 1814, merged with William T. Wood & Company of Arlington, Massachusetts, in 1905. The picture below shows the Gifford-Wood plant as it appeared in 1915.

The building, which was most recently the location of W. B. McGuire Overhead Door, still stands and bears traces of its  original identity.

Photo credit: Virginia Martin

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Watch for Yourself

Dan Udell's video of Monday night's informal Common Council meeting, at which Linda Mussmann read the letter signed by the residents of Mill Street expressing their concern about the dog park proposed for Charles Williams Park, can now be viewed by clicking here


E-Blasts Are Back!

Five days ago, on December 8, Gossips apologized to readers who had come to depend on email notification when a new post was published. Today, as some of you may have noticed, the email alerts are back. It is not because, through the magic of technology, my ability to send email from Outlook was restored. Rather it was because I re-created the Gossips distribution lists using a different email server, re-entering every one of your email addresses. If by chance you used to receive email notifications and did not receive the two sent earlier today, please let me know at My primitive solution to the problem admits endless opportunities for errors and omissions.

Who Got the Money

The information about how much of the $85 million in Regional Economic Development Council funds is coming to Hudson and Columbia County is now available. The most exciting award, in Gossips' opinion, is $120,000 in Empire State Development funds for the restoration of the historic Park Theater at 723 Warren Street.

Other awards for projects near and dear to us in Hudson are:
  • $45,000 to Basilica Hudson to hire a new development manager and $75,000 to renovate and upgrade its gallery building
  • A total of $500,000 to DigiFab for new machinery and equipment to expand its operation
  • $45,ooo to the Hudson Opera House (a.k.a. Hudson Hall) for a workforce readiness program
  • $225,000 for the restoration of the former Allen Street School, now known as River House, to create workspace for creative professionals and enterprises focusing of multi-media and film production.
  • $420,000 to The Olana Partnership for farm landscape restoration
To see all of the awards for local projects, click here. Columbia County awards begin on page 88.

More Money for Economic Development

The 2017 Regional Economic Development Council Awards were announced this morning, and the Capital Region, of which Hudson is a part, was awarded $85 million, as a Top Performer. In the video about the Capital Region that preceded the announcement of the award, Hudson, as a Round 2 DRI recipient, along with Basilica Hudson and Melissa Auf der Maur, had a featured role. Exactly how much of that $85 million will fund projects in Hudson and Columbia County is not yet known--at least not by Gossips.

The other awards were:
  • Western New York, $68.8 million
  • Finger Lakes, $63.9 million
  • Southern Tier, $67.3 million
  • Central New York, $86.4 million (Top Performer)
  • Mohawk Valley, $85.5 million (Top Performer)
  • North Country, $64.9 million
  • Mid-Hudson, $84.8 million (Top Performer)
  • New York City, $64.8 million
  • Long Island, $84.3 million (Top Performer).


The Register-Star on the Dog Park

In today's Register-Star, Amanda Purcell has a story about the brouhaha over the proposed dog park. In the print version of the paper, the story appears on the front page, above the fold, with the headline "Neighbors demand say on dog park." Online, it has a slightly tamer title: "Neighbors want voices heard about dog park."

There are a couple of mistakes in the article that need correcting. First, there's a photo caption that indicates an acre of land will be fenced for the dog park. Don't we wish! In fact, the total area for the proposed dog park is less than half an acre--approximately the same size as the dog parks in Germantown and Athens. In the body of the article, it is stated that the money from the initial GoFundMe campaign will be used to fence 5,000 square feet for the dog park (an acre is 43,560 square feet), and the $5,500 raised by the second GoFundMe campaign will be used to buy poop bag dispensers and signage. Those would be some expensive poop bags!

In fact, the second GoFundMe campaign was initiated with the expressed purpose of raising more money for more fencing to increase the overall size of the park. There is now--from the two GoFundMe campaigns and a contribution from the Mrs. Greenthumbs Hedge Fund--enough money for the fencing, poop bag dispensers, signage, and maybe a few other amenities, like benches or more trees. All that's missing is the civic will to build the dog park. 

Get Your DRI Fix for the Week

There's another meeting of the DRI Local Planning Committee next Monday, December 18, and not another public meeting until February 8, but if you missed the public engagement workshop on December 7, or just want to relive the experience, Dan Udell's video of the event can now be viewed online by clicking here.


Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Emily, If You Only Knew . . .

A word is dead
When it is said,
Some say.
I say it just
Begins to live
That day.

Emily Dickinson was talking about the spoken word. We in Hudson are now seeing the impact of the written word--in particular, these words included in the Hudson's DRI application (page 18).
Though accommodating the operational growth of the business has been a challenge to address in terms of the impact on waterfront businesses and the environment, City officials and neighboring business owners support the expansion of Colarusso.
When asked about this statement, Sheena Salvino, executive director of Hudson Development Corporation (HDC), who was an author of the application, explained: "This statement was intended to relate to the 2015 expansion/acquisition referenced in the paragraph, not any further expansion or usage of the haul road/port." That may be what was intended, but that's not the way the statement is being interpreted.

When the Greenport Planning Board gave its approval to the proposed haul road, Michael Bucholsky cited this statement--"City officials and neighboring business owners support the expansion of Colarusso"--as evidence that a two-lane haul road through South Bay would be welcomed as a good thing. When the Columbia County Planning Board reviewed the haul road proposal, P. J. Prendergast, the engineer for Colarusso, claimed that it says "right in the City's DRI" that the City supports the project.

Now the claim of City support has reached a new level: the State of New York Supreme Court, Albany County. In the answer to the Article 78 filed by the City of Hudson against the Town of Greenport Planning Board, the attorneys for the respondents--Whitbeck Benedict & Smith LLP--make much of the statement of alleged support in the DRI application. Following is quoted from that document:
Furthermore, Petitioner fails to include explicit, more recent language from another City-sponsored document that directly supports the Project--the Downtown Revitalization Initiative ("DRI") application. . . . Under this program, the City was awarded a 10 million dollar grant from the state in August 2017 in order to "revitalize" the City's BRIDGE District, which includes the Applicant's current property and the site of the proposed Project. . . . Specifically, the application references the haul road and the City's support for the Project:
"Hudson recognizes the economic contribution of Colarusso, as well as the rarity and value of a functioning deep water port. Though accommodating the operational growth of the business has been a challenge to address in terms of the impact on waterfront businesses and the environment, City officials and neighboring business owners support the expansion of Colarusso."
The italics were added by the respondents.

The Fate of the Dog Park

Twice Gossips has appealed to readers to contribute money to build a dog park, and twice you have responded generously. The first campaign, launched in June 2014, raised $7,025 for the dog park; the more recent campaign, launched on October 25, raised $5,500 in less than a month. A Gossips post published on October 25, with the title "Hudson Is Getting a Dog Park!", joyfully announced that plans were moving forward to build a dog park, and they were moving quickly. The goal was to have the dog park constructed before the end of 2017.

Now there's snow on the ground, fewer than three weeks remain in 2017, and despite the fact that the money and the plans are in place to build a dog park of adequate size, with separate areas for large and small dogs, the dog park has once again been put off.

For several days, Gossips has wrestled with how to explain why there will be no dog park until spring--if even then--but what happened at the informal Common Council meeting last night makes telling the story easy. I just have to report what happened.

There was very little on the agenda for the last informal Council meeting of the year. After the meeting had gone on for all of five minutes and all the agenda items had been covered, Council president Claudia DeStefano asked if the audience had any issues to bring before the Council. Linda Mussmann, supervisor elect for the Fourth Ward, the ward that now contains Charles Williams Park, rose to read a letter, dated December 1 and signed by nine residents representing the five households living beside Charles Williams Park. The text of that letter follows:
To Whom It May Concern:
It has been brought to our attention that a proposal has been made to build a dog park on Mill Street. We, the families on Mill Street are very concerned and want an opportunity to discuss this before the final decision is made.
In the past five years Mill Street has diversified into a multi-cultural family-friendly neighborhood where 13 kids, under the age of 16, are currently living. Our kids spend lots of time outdoors playing in the front yards right near the street. The safety of our children is our number one concern. With a dog park located right behind our homes, we are worried about the possibility of dogs on the loose, strangers coming and going in the neighborhood, the lack of parking spaces, the level of noise, the increased traffic on our quiet street, and the sanitary issues that come with a dog park.
Mill Street is a dead-end street with no sidewalk and no on-street parking. Since we were not asked about this project, there is a feeling that Mill Street has become the new dumping ground for new projects for the City of Hudson. We are concerned that the sense of safety we feel is going to be taken away from us. We are especially worried that our children will not be safe.
We are all hard-working families on Mill Street and some are dog owners; and we are not against Hudson getting a dog park but believe that there should be a discussion with the people who live there. We feel it would be a good idea to have some kind of study to find a better location that could be more accessible and less disruptive for the neighborhood. Thank you for your consideration and support in this matter.
After Mussmann read the letter, Alderman Abdus Miah (Second Ward) weighed in, declaring, "These people do not want a dog park," and calling the plan for siting a dog park in Charles Williams Park "not appropriate." Alderman Tiffany Garriga (Second Ward) then took her turn, saying that she agreed "with what the people have to say on Mill Street." She went on to say, of herself and Miah, "as Second Ward representatives, we fought hard to keep the dog park out of Charles Williams Park. Now," she continued, "people think they have been taken advantage of because it's a different ward." (The new ward boundaries to achieve wards of equal population put Mill Street, which had been part of the Second Ward, in the Fourth Ward.)

At some point, after Mussmann had already read their letter, residents of Mill Street arrived at City Hall. One of the residents addressed the Council, saying he had four dogs and knew from experience that it was "not easy to keep dogs under control or to keep them from jumping on children." He asserted that the dog park would "intrude on family space."

Regarding the call by Mill Street residents for "some kind of study" to find a location for the dog park, the search for a site for the dog park has been going on since 2011, and it was finally determined by the mayor's office in late October that Charles Williams Park--the City's newest and most underutilized public space, the original plans for which included a dog park, among many other unrealized amenities--was the only possible location. Regarding the request for a "discussion with the people who live there," advocates for a dog park in Hudson would welcome an opportunity to dispel the misconceptions about dog parks and explain the rules and protocols that govern the use of dog parks and the etiquette of dog parks that is understood and observed by the people and dogs who visit them.