Sunday, December 9, 2018

Return of the Light

Here's a little reminder for everyone who hates the darkness of winter. Although the Winter Solstice is still twelve days away, we've already had the earliest sunset of the year. It happened on Friday, December 7, when sunset happened at 4:23 p.m. From now on, sunsets will start occurring later and later in the afternoon. 
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Another Corner, Another Gas Station

Gossips hasn't been reporting on the progress of the mega gas station proposed for the corner of Route 23 and Craryville Road. It's too far afield, and there's certainly enough happening in Hudson to occupy our attention. Still, it's not been off the Gossips radar entirely. For readers who want to catch up, there was a comprehensive article about the controversial proposal by John Townes in last month's Hill Country Observer: "Saving a country crossroads: Gas station proposal draws backlash, spurs test of a town's new vision for development."

Photo: Susan Sabino|Hill Country Observer
The proposal for the out of scale and out of character gas station is currently being reviewed by the Copake Town Planning Board. The Planning Board met last Thursday night, and Amanda Purcell reported about it the next day on HudsonValley360: "Craryville gas station support falls short." I bring this up only because of something Purcell quotes Planning Board chair Robert Haight as telling the assembled audience: "If you are here and you just don't want this gas station, please don't waste your time telling us that or our time, because those comments should have been done with the Zoning Board of Appeals. We're here just for site plan approval. We'd like to hear some comments about the building or safety of the site. That is what we're here for." In future months, we here in Hudson may be hearing our Planning Board chair telling audiences the same thing only he will have to say such comments should have been made to the Common Council.
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Saturday, December 8, 2018

Following Up

Last Sunday, Gossips reported that work was being done on the roof of 59 Allen Street, the Gothic Revival house built for Charles Alger in 1851.

No certificate of appropriateness had been sought or granted by the Historic Preservation Commission, and it was not known if a building permit had been issued for the work.

This morning, I spied a notice on the front door of the house.

Closer examination revealed that it was a stop work order, issued on Monday, December 3, by code enforcement officer Craig Haigh, indicating that the roofing work was being done without a permit.

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Letting No Grass Grow Under Their Feet

Discovered this morning on the Columbia County clerk's website:


The deed transfer for 17-19 Fairview Avenue was filed yesterday, Friday, December 7, at 11:52 a.m.--only hours after the mayor's public hearing on Local Law No. 5. Stewart's Shops paid $600,000 for the property, more than twice what the prior owners paid for it in 2005.

We've known for close to two years that Stewart's was in contract to buy this house as well as the house at 162 Green Street, but the sales were contingent on the City changing the zoning to allow them to pursue their plan for expansion. Local Law No. 5 hasn't even been officially enacted yet, but Stewart's is moving ahead with its plan.
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Friday, December 7, 2018

Design Ideas for Oakdale

On October 13, members of the Hudson community gathered in the Community Room of the Hudson Area Library for a planning workshop that was the first step of a project to revitalize Oakdale Lake and the surrounding park. To review the ideas that came out of that session, click here.



In the intervening two months, the Hudson Valley Initiative team from the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation at Columbia University has been working with those ideas to create an innovative design concept for Oakdale, which they have broken down into eight doable parts. On Tuesday, December 11, Hudson Valley Initiative returns to present the result of the work so far: "8 Design Ideas for Oakdale Lake."

Kaja KΓΌhl, who directs the Hudson Valley Initiative program, commented, "We heard so many fabulous ideas at the first community workshop in October for different aspects of Oakdale. We wanted to find a way to accommodate as many as possible, so rather than one big vision, we are excited to come back to Hudson and share a series of design ideas with Hudson residents. Each can be pursued individually and at different timelines; together they provide a vision for Oakdale as a destination for all." 

The workshop to review and comment on the ideas for Oakdale takes place at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, December 11, at the Hudson Youth Center, located at Third and Union streets. Childcare and pizza will be provided. For more information visit friendsofoakdalelake.com.
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Thursday, December 6, 2018

The Mayor's Public Hearing

About ten people showed up for the mayor's public hearing on Local Law No. 5--four of them aldermen: Rob Bujan (First Ward), Eileen Halloran (Fifth Ward), Dominic Merante (Fifth Ward), and Rich Volo (Fourth Ward). 

The first to speak was Kristal Heinz, who declared, as she did at the Common Council public hearing, her support for the legislation, asserting that the two businesses that would benefit from the law "have been here for a long time." After Heinz's comment, I stated my opposition to the law, wondering why the Council had never pursued Local Law No. 9 of 2017, which would have addressed Stewart's complaint that Hudson's zoning prevented making any improvements to the convenience store, without enabling Stewart's to double the size of its facility and demolish two houses in the process, and would also have solved some other zoning issues in the city at the same time.

Next to speak was Michael LeSawyer, whose house, where he has lived for the better part of the past sixty years, is directly across Fairview Avenue from Stewart's. LeSawyer argued that Stewart's and Scali's "have not established a need to change a neighborhood that has existed for a lot longer than twenty years." (The zoning amendment applies specifically to a nonconforming use that "has been established and has been operated continuously for a period of greater than twenty years.") LeSawyer predicted the Stewart's expansion, which involves demolishing two houses, "will look like a bomb went off the neighborhood" and warned, "It's not going to look better." He noted there is no guarantee of what a new Stewart's would look like and commented, "We're doing a lot of things for wanna, maybe, gonna get." He complained that the Council had voted unanimously to enact the amendment "without discussion or review" and called it "an embarrassment." He brought up the dog park, where a plan supported by many Hudson residents was jettisoned by the objections of just five households. Of the Stewart's expansion he said, "A lot of people are concerned and don't want it," and contended that only Stewart's would benefit, marveling at the willingness to "change our zoning for a gas station." LeSawyer concluded, "I'm opposed. It's wrong all across the board."

Heinz then spoke for a second time to rebut LeSawyer, saying it was unfair to characterize the Council as voting to enact the amendment "without discussion or review" and insisting that amending the zoning was only the first step in the process of designing an expanded Stewart's.

Architect and urban designer Matthew Frederick said he was struggling with the justification for Local Law No. 5. "If we are changing the law, we need to know what economic opportunities justify it." He also questioned the rationale for specifying in the law that the two nonconforming uses could double in size. He noted that Stewart's and Scali's both are suburban in character, located in an urban residential neighborhood. He concluded his remarks by saying he saw no justification "economically or urbanistically" for the zoning amendment and what it would enable.

Alderman Rich Volo (Fourth Ward), who voted on November 20 to enact the legislation, then spoke, saying that he thought the Council "could have done more due diligence" before voting on the legislation, noting that it had not been put before the Zoning Board. 

Mayor Rick Rector then read written comments he had received, one of them being from former Third Ward alderman and attorney John Friedman. Friedman questioned the structure and language of the law, making reference to Ken Dow's criticism of the law expressed in the letter originally addressed to the Planning Board, and warned that the issues of spot zoning and legislative licensing "will very likely lead to suits against the City on due process grounds." He was skeptical of the claim that the Council had given serious consideration to the issues raised by Dow:
I am, frankly, appalled that Mr. Dow's scholarship has been so casually brushed aside when clearly the aldermen hadn't read it--for if they had, they would have had questions, and they had none. It beggars belief that a Council composed entirely of land use and legal neophytes could digest Mr. Dow's work without question and then discard it completely.
Friedman concluded that too many questions remained about "the structure and legal import of this measure" and urged the mayor to veto it.

Libby Coreno, attorney for Stewart's Shops, arrived at the hearing late. When Rector invited her to speak she said, as she has before, in an effort to minimize the significance of demolishing six dwelling units, that the City needed to explore housing initiatives and develop a "large-scale land use policy," complained, as she has before, that the City's current zoning gave Stewart's "no ability to modify, update, or improve its store," and contended that "Stewart's is a jobs provider and cares about providing jobs." She went on to say that Stewart's just wanted to "stay and remain and be a jobs creator in Hudson." 

The public hearing lasted for twenty minutes. It is not known what action the mayor will take.
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Of HHA and Housing in Hudson

Last week, a headline on the front page of Columbia Paper announced "Private firm to own Bliss Tower." In the article that followed, reporter Jeanette Wolfberg recounted the November 14 meeting of the Hudson Housing Authority Board of Commissions, at which HHA executive director Tim Mattice explained to tenants the RAD (Rental Assistance Demonstration) program and how it will affect them. Gossips was at that meeting, too. 

RAD is federal program now being promoted as a way to save public housing by allowing housing authorities to partner with private sector entities to seek private funding. Mattice told tenants at the meeting, "Congress is no longer funding public housing," HHA "typically gets a couple hundred thousand dollars a year" (not enough to maintain the building and make the needed improvements), and "Ben Carson [HUD Secretary] sent out a letter saying they want all housing authorities to convert to RAD." 

The RAD conversion is being pursued in order to carry out a $55 million project, which involves the complete rehabilitation of Bliss Towers--inside and out--and the construction of two new buildings across State Street from Bliss Towers.

Speaking of the future, Mattice explained, "We are going to be co-owners of the building with shared management responsibilities with our development partners." Those development partners are PRC (Property Resources Corporation). The co-ownership agreement would be in force for fifteen years, after which HHA would have first right of refusal to buy the buildings. 

In her article, Wolfberg reported that a woman in the audience asked, "What if PRC says, 'We aren't getting as much as we could get, so we want to turn this into condos?'" The question, as well as the rest of Wolfberg's report, inspired Parry Teasdale to write an editorial about the state of affordable housing in Hudson generally and specifically about the agreement HHA is now negotiating with PRC: "How much is Bliss worth?" The editorial ends by evoking the hobgoblin of gentrification and enjoining HHA not to enter into an agreement with PRC unless the rights of residents are protected.
So imagine a company that, in 2033, owns a high rise apartment building in Hudson with upper floor apartments that have spectacular views. The neighborhood will have benefited from the $10 million state grant to develop the waterfront. People who know money would say that's a deal worth waiting for, especially because there will be revenue in the meantime from government vouchers for low-income tenants who can now (in 2033) be displaced.
Property Resources Corporation is not doing Hudson a favor by partnering with HHA. It's making a shrewd investment that promises a high return. HHA should not underestimate the value of its asset in terms of improvements and the veto powers the HHA board will need in writing to protect the rights of residents. Otherwise the deal should not be approved.
Gossips tried to speak with Mattice to get his reaction to this editorial, but my phone call was not returned. I was, however, able to speak with Alan Weaver, chair of the HHA Board of Commissioners, who explained that even after fifteen years, the buildings would still be subject to the same income parameters (percentage of area median income) that Bliss Towers is now. He assured me there was no plan to convert the buildings to high-end condos.

Weaver also told me that, at the next meeting of the HHA board, which takes place on Wednesday, December 12, at 6 p.m., in the Community Room at Bliss Towers, the final design for the new buildings will be presented, as well as the design for the exterior rehabilitation of Bliss Towers. (It's rumored that those powder blue panels under the windows may be going away.) The meeting may be an opportunity for members of the larger Hudson community to ask questions about the RAD conversion and its impacts.
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Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Was It Ever Thus?

Yesterday, Gossips reported there were thoughts of re-creating the street grid in the area around the Kaz site as it appears on old maps and drawings and questioned whether Montgomery Street had run from Third Street to Front Street and if Second Street had ever extended from Allen Street to the edge of South Bay, as is shown on the 1873 Beers Atlas map.

The post inspired a reader, who is a consummate researcher, to share a discovery she had made. On April 13, 1854, the Road, Street and Bridge Committee of the Common Council submitted a report regarding a petition to open and grade Montgomery Street. The record of that report, as it appears in the minutes of the Common Council, is reproduced below. A transcription of the excerpt from the Council minutes follows.     

Ald. Crapser, from the Road, Street and Bridge Committee, submitted the following report:
The Committee to whom was referred the petition of Jas. T. Perkins and others, for opening and grading Montgomery Street respectfully report that they have given very particular attention to the matter and from actual survey present the following facts: From Third to Second Street the grade is 50 feet. Height of the embankment at Third Street 10 feet, at the west side of the Catholic Church 12 feet. Deepest Culling 15 feet. At the intersection of Tanner's Lane the grade on Montgomery Street is 16 feet above that of Tanner's Lane, requiring 7,500 yards of earth to grade said Lane. The surplus earth from Montgomery St will only furnish 624 yards, as the cutting of Montgomery St is 8,418 yards and the filling 7,794 yards. Two or more houses and lots will be made almost worthless, as the embankment will be nearly up to their roofs and a number of other lots will be inaccessible.
The owners of a large majority of the lots have notified the Committee that in the event of Montgomery Street being opened and graded that they will not pay the assessment but will give up their lots and in that case they would become a heavy tax upon the city.
The committee are desirous to extend every facility possible to aid private enterprise and for public improvements where they can be effected without being too detrimental to other interests, and without making too great a draft upon the finances of the City. The whole number of Petitioners represent eight lots, and the whole number of remonstrants represent 20 lots. In view of the facts stated and others that might be adduced, the committee recommend that the petition be not granted.
In 1854, the Common Council decided not to pursue opening and grading Montgomery Street. It remains to be discovered if, in the nineteen years between 1854 and when the 1873 Beers Atlas map was drawn, the Montgomery Street actually was extended from Third Street to Second Street.

Addendum: The Catholic church referenced in the Council minutes was this church, built in 1848, which stood at the corner of Third and Montgomery streets.

The church moved to its current building at East Allen and East Court streets in 1930. The church building on Third Street was destroyed in fire in March 1950.
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Another Distinction for Hudson

The Albany Business Review just released its list of "The New York towns, cities and villages that are shrinking fastest." There are 26 on the list, as compared with 25 on its list of fastest growing cities and towns in upstate New York. The final paragraph of the article introducing the list explains why there are 26: 
Why did we include 26 after doing only 25 for the fastest-growing towns? Because No. 26 was just too surprising to keep off the list. Hudson may be known now as a trendy, up and coming city that's seen an influx of investment in its creative economy, yet it has also lost more than 7 percent of its population since 2010, per Census estimates.
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About Local Law No. 5

Tomorrow at 4 p.m., the mayor will hold a public hearing on Local Law No. 5, the amendment to the zoning in R-2 and R-2H districts that will allow Stewart's and Scali's, both nonconforming uses in a residential neighborhood, to expand--expansions that would in both cases involve the demolition of houses. In the run-up to the public hearing, Amanda Purcell has an article on the subject on HudsonValley360: "Scali's, Stewart's a step closer to expansion." In the article, Fourth Ward alderman John Rosenthal, who chairs the Legal Committee and has been the principal champion of the amendment, justifies the zoning change that would benefit only two businesses by saying "the city has previously partnered with businesses to resolve zoning issues, including, most recently, The Wick Hotel, 41 Cross St." Rosenthal previously made reference to The Wick when defending Local Law No. 5 in a comment on this blog, where he refers to The Wick as "an upscale hotel." 

I don't know what previous instances of the City "partnering" with businesses to resolve zoning issues Rosenthal has in mind, but the situation with The Wick is hardly comparable to the situation with Stewart's. It can be argued that the amendment made to enable the creation of The Wick was simply correcting a scrivener's error. The zoning, which was part of the LWRP (Local Waterfront Revitalization Program) adopted in 2011, designated the area where The Wick was to be located Residential Special Commercial (R-S-C). The LWRP described the R-S-C district in this way:
Additional commercial zones are proposed to the waterfront area such as Residential Special Commercial District and the Core Riverfront District, both of which allow for a mix of commercial uses intended to support continued mixed use development along Front Street and in the Core Riverfront area to encourage the redevelopment of vacant sites and increase pedestrian activity within areas near the riverfront and the Amtrak station.
The description certainly suggests that a hotel, located in close proximity to the train station, would be exactly the sort of commercial use the LWRP had in mind, but the district use regulations in the code, although including "boarding house" and "rooming house," did not include "hotel." To correct what was arguably an oversight, the Council enacted Local Law No. 1 of 2016 in April 2016, which created the R-S-C 2 district on the south side of the city where "Hotels" would be a permitted conditional use. (A new district had to be created because Second Ward alderman Tiffany Garriga didn't want hotels to be allowed in the R-S-C district on the north side of the city.)  

The zoning amendment to accommodate Stewart's, with Scali's thrown in to make it seem less like spot zoning, is quite another thing.
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Exhibition and Screening Next Week

Next Thursday, December 13, the Urban Design students from the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation at Columbia University will present a pop-up exhibition and screening called The Space Between Cities: Redefining Urbanization in the Hudson Valley. The students will be sharing printed work and eleven short videos that explore a range of topics--from the challenges of agriculture and the distribution of fresh produce, through the relationship between a small city like Hudson and its suburban and rural surroundings, to scenarios for the future of Hudson's waterfront. The invitation to the event explains:
It is the goal of our studio, and of the teaching of the Urban Design program, to create the conditions for collaboration and communication among varied stakeholders. The projects in this exhibition are not meant to be implemented as they are, but offer concepts and ideas for further discussion. Each of these proposals is a provocation made by students--from many backgrounds and from all over the world. Drawing from their diverse creative and analytical skills, the students' projects open new ways of approaching questions of urbanization, community investment, and long term change. The hope is that these projects can contribute to ongoing conversation, and that the work can promote more collaboration and communication between all those seeking equitable change in their community and across the Hudson Valley region.
The event takes place at Hudson Hall, 327 Warren Street, from 5 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, December 13. Click here to indicate your intention to attend.
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No Trails North for Now

Hiking trails around and over the former landfill at the end of North Second Street have been talked about for years. In December 2014, Columbia County received a $131,125 grant to design "a recreational and natural trail within walking distance of Hudson." The trail would link Hudson to the Greenport Conservation Area and the network of trails beyond. At the end of 2016, the County issued a request for proposals for the design, responses to which were being reviewed in the spring of 2017. Now it seems the design is complete, the cost has been determined to be $2 million, and the Board of Supervisors has decided not to pursue the project, at least not for now. Richard Moody has the story at HudsonValley360: "Columbia County unsure of $2 million trail project on Hudson Landfill."      
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Tuesday, December 4, 2018

East of Third and South of Allen

Since May, the redevelopment of the Kaz site has been a matter of intense public interest and scrutiny. Efforts by the Hudson Development Corporation (HDC) to redevelop the site have come to a halt, and the thinking about redevelopment has broadened to embrace everything west of Third Street and south of Allen Street.

At the HDC board meeting last Tuesday, architect and urban designer Matthew Frederick reiterated an earlier appeal that a formal urban design study be made of the area before proposals were sought from developers. He questioned the need to acquire the CSX parcel, indicating that the area should be an extension of the existing street grid and did not necessarily have to be accessed from South Front Street. He stressed that the plan should divide the site into multiple parcels, arguing that "more money will come to the city ultimately from multiple parcel ownership." Frederick has summarized and elaborated on his comments on his blog Hudson Urbanism: "Radically rethinking the Kaz development model."   

Walter Chatham, who chairs the Planning Board and was recently appointed to the HDC board, has been studying old maps of Hudson, such as the 1873 Beers Altas map and a 1923 aerial drawing of Hudson (details of both are shown below), with the thought of re-creating the street grid in this part of the city as it used to be.


Both the map and the aerial drawing show Second Street as a roadway extending south beyond Allen Street all the way to what in 1873 was edge of South Bay, Montgomery Street extending all the way to Front Street, and Deer Alley extending to Second Street. Today, a guardrail, installed in 2012 after a septuagenarian accidentally drove his car down the steep hill and crashed his car into the Kaz warehouse below, marks the terminus of South Second Street at Allen Street, Montgomery Street deadends after the equivalent of less than a block, and a barrier prevents cars from going any farther west on Deer Alley than just past 211 Allen Street. In each case, there are steep drop-offs at those points.


Reinstating the streets as they appear on old maps and images would accomplish the goal of integrating the Kaz site into the existing city by imposing the form of the city onto the site and by providing access to the site from other parts of the city. Before any action is taken though, effort should be made to determine if the streets ever actually existed as depicted in the old documents and, if they did, to learn why they don't exist in that way anymore.

In this engraving of 59 Allen Street, the Charles Alger House, which appeared on an 1858 map of Columbia County, it appears that the staircase leading down from Allen Street to Cross Street already existed, but there is no evidence of a roadway.

Of course, in 1858, this part of Hudson was still fairly undeveloped. Most of the houses in the 200 block of Allen Street were not built until after 1865, after the end of the Civil War. In 1851, the year the Alger house was built, it was suggested that the area, then known as Universal Hill, be made into a park or "pleasure ground." The person suggesting this use argued, "It has a fine view of the river, mountains, Mount Merino, &c. It could be converted into a beautiful place, second to none in the country." A description of Universal Hill found in a letter to the editor published in the Hudson Daily Register in October 1881 describes the state of Allen Street around the time the engraving of the Charles Alger House was made.
[Universal Hill] was a broad, beautiful green, fronting the bay, extending from the old church edifice on Third street, which was the only building upon it, nearly to Second street, Allen street, between these points was then little more than a rough road, known as Federal or Church street. . . .
It is not unreasonable to imagine that, as Hudson developed after the Civil War and more houses were built along Allen Street below Third, Montgomery Street was created running parallel to Allen with Deer Alley midway between, as they appear on the 1873 Beers Atlas map and fifty years later in the 1923 aerial drawing. But why don't these streets exist in the same way today?

The answer may be found in a series of articles written in 1988 by local historian Margaret Schram, author of Hudson's Merchants and Whalers: The Rise and Fall of a River Port, 1783-1850. The six-part series, which she called Columbia County's sleeping dragon, appeared in the summer and early fall in The Independent. The "sleeping dragon" (Schram apologized for the melodramatic title at the end of the first installment) refers to the continuing threat of landslides in Hudson and all of Columbia County posed by the geological hazard of Lake Albany clay, "deposited when the last glacier was melting and receding." The instability of Lake Albany clay, upon which the whole county is situated, is now understood to have been the cause of the Knickerbocker Cement Plant tragedy, which occurred in 1915, taking the lives of five workers. (The Knickerbocker plant was located where the ATM plant currently is.) Schram described the event in this way:
The night shift was preparing to leave and the day shift was just entering at 5:50 a.m. on the hot, sultry morning of August 2. Suddenly, the workers walking toward the power house felt the earth move. They saw the great pile of rock begin to sink and slide; they ran for their lives.
A tremendous noise followed--the rumble of earth moving and the crash of buildings collapsing. Clouds of dust, debris, smoke and steam darkened the area, which was filled with streaks of fire and the terrified screams of trapped men.
Under the pile of rock, the earth had suddenly dropped into what seemed like a giant pit. Almost four acres of land moved eastward toward [Claverack Creek], undermining all the buildings and carrying them along. The land dropped 25 to 35 feet, followed by a mass of loosened earth which buried everything.
Photo: Greenport Historical Society
Photo: Greenport Historical Society
In her articles, Schram also touched upon the City of Hudson and the effects being situated on Lake Albany clay has had on the geography of the city. She includes the detail below from the 1873 Beers Atlas map of the Second Ward with the following caption:
This 1873 map of the City of Hudson shows two brickyards at the north end of Third and Second Streets, just off Mill Street. The geography of this portion of Hudson has changed considerably since this map was drawn. Robinson Street is now the northernmost street on the block between Third and Second. Clay slides have eroded the rest.

The geography of the south side of Hudson has similarly changed since 1873, but Schram did not mention it beyond saying "parts of the City of Hudson's hillsides are slipping, just a foot or two a year." I recall hearing, a decade or so ago, about a landslide that occurred behind the 200 block of Allen Street in the 1930s, but so far I have been unable to locate any substantiating account of it. But whether the slopes in this part of the city became steeper as a consequence of a single dramatic event or a series of minor clay slides over time, there is certainly evidence that it happened.

Schram undertook to research and write her series of articles to raise public awareness of the problems Lake Albany clay can create. Most of the major disasters she described happened in the early 20th century, but she did document an erosion issue what appears to have continued in the thirty years since she wrote the series. She included the photograph below, taken in 1988, showing the parking lot next to the former Charles Williams School, at the end of North Third Street. The following caption accompanied the photo:
The parking lot at Hudson's former Charles Williams School, now home to the County Sheriff's Department and Health Department, has shrunk at least a car's length due to lake clay shifts, with more cracks appearing.

Today, there is nothing but brush beyond the guardrail seen in the 1988 photograph.

It may be that 21st-century technology can overcome geological challenges and reinstate South Second and Montgomery streets, but it would seem those challenges must first be thoroughly understood.
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Monday, December 3, 2018

Meetings of Interest in the Week Ahead

Today is a day off for inveterate meeting goers. The week's events begin tomorrow.
  • On Tuesday, December 4, the Conservation Advisory Council meets at 6 p.m. at City Hall. A full agenda is planned for the meeting. First, there will be a debriefing on the public presentation, which took place last Thursday, of the maps being prepared for the Open Space and Natural Resources Inventory. If you missed the meeting on Thursday, the maps presented can be viewed online here and comments on the maps can still be submitted.
Also at its meeting tomorrow night, the CAC will review the second draft of the narrative for the inventory and discuss proposed planning recommendations to be included in the inventory, those recommendations being: develop conservation planning guidelines based on the findings of the inventory, to be adopted as city policy; update and complete street tree inventory; develop a comprehensive, city-wide street tree and sidewalk plan, incorporating green infrastructure to address stormwater issues wherever possible; confront the expectation of higher tides and inundation in the low-lying parts of the city by adopting robust design requirements for any new construction or adaptive reuse of existing buildings in the flood plain, and make realistic decisions about how much should be invested there; address poor conditions and lack of amenities and programming in city parks.
  • On Wednesday, December 5, the Common Council Youth, Education, Seniors, and Recreation Committee meets at 5:30 p.m., and the Housing and Transportation Committee meets at 6:45 p.m. The city website offers no information about where these meetings will take place, but it is assumed that the Youth, Education, Seniors, and Recreation Committee will meet at City Hall, and the Housing and Transportation Committee will meet someplace at the Hudson Area Library. Last month, it was the History Room.
  • On Thursday, December 6, at 4 p.m., in City Hall, Mayor Rick Rector holds a public hearing on the controversial Local Law No. 5, sometimes known as "the Stewart's law," which would amend the zoning in R-2 and R-2H districts to allow a nonconforming use that has "been established and has operated continuously for a period of greater than twenty years" to double the size of its building and to expand into adjacent lots. The only nonconforming uses to which this amendment would apply are Stewart's and Scali's.
The public hearing held by the Common Council on November 13, at which only three people commented, lasted all of six minutes, and on November 20, the Council voted unanimously to enact the law. Those not able to be present for the mayor's public hearing on Thursday can submit written comments to the mayor. They must be received prior to 4 p.m. on Thursday, and they must include the author's name and address. 
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