Thursday, July 28, 2016

Sunday at the Bronson House

This Sunday, July 31, Historic Hudson invites you to relive an exceptional 19th-century experience: listening to chamber music in the elegant suite of octagonal rooms, designed by Alexander Jackson Davis, at the Dr. Oliver Bronson House.

Photo: lizcnyc|flickr
This Sunday, at 2 p.m., Historic Hudson presents Program II of its Chamber Music Series. Musicians from The Orchestra Now of Bard College return to the Bronson House to perform chamber music by Beethoven: the String Trio in G major, Op. 9, No. 1 (1797), and the String Quartet No. 5 in A major, Op. 18 (1798). 

Seating is limited, but there is still space if you act now. The weather on Sunday promises to be cooler--in the 70s--with a possibility of rain. But don't let the chance of rain deter you. The roof at the Bronson House no longer leaks. So, go to to purchase your tickets to a remarkable and memorable musical event.

On the Desk, Off the Desk

At the last Common Council meeting, when the aldermen were voting to put the proposed Fair & Equal legislation on their desks, City Attorney Ken Dow questioned the Council's custom of voting to put legislation on their desks (to accept it for consideration) and then voting again, after the legislation had "ripened" for ten days, to remove it from their desks (to enact it). He argued that the requirements for the Council to consider the proposed legislation had been met, and it was on their desks. A vote was not required to put it there. Nor was a vote required to put proposed legislation on the aldermen's desks when the legislation comes from committee, which is how most new laws originate. Dow said he would research the necessity and validity of the practice and report back to the Council.

Last night, at the Common Council Legal Committee meeting, committee chair Michael O'Hara reported Dow's findings. As with the weighted vote itself, the practice of voting on new legislation twice--to put it on the desk and to remove it from the desk--appears to be unique to Hudson. Dow could find no other municipality that did that.

The outcome, in the case of the Fair & Equal proposal, may be that the vote taken on July 19  is deemed invalid because it was unnescessary, and the Council will have to vote on it again--this time to decide whether or not to enact it. Unfortunately, since most of the aldermen think they have nipped the proposed law in the bud, what's supposed to happen between accepting legislation for consideration and voting on it--at least ten days of serious consideration and discussion with colleagues and constituents--won't happen.

News About Greenport Gardens

Gossips did not follow the review process for Greenport Gardens, the controversial Mental Health Association housing project to be constructed on Joslen Boulevard at Green Acres Road, but since I was the only member of the press present at Tuesday night's Greenport Planning Board meeting, it falls to me to report what transpired at that meeting relevant to this project.

Christa Construction
The project was conditionally approved by the Planning Board on January 26, 2016. The conditional approval was for six months, during which time the project, because it would house people with mental disabilities, had to be reviewed by the New York State Dormitory Authority (DASNY). During that review process, changes were requested which, on the final day of the six-month period, were being presented to the Greenport Planning Board. The most significant change seemed to be eliminating the basement, making it necessary for all the mechanicals and planned storage space for tenants to go elsewhere. Eleven air conditioning units would go on the roof, and an additional 1,100 square feet for storage would be added to the project. In addition, there would be a 6,000 square foot reduction in patio space.

The Planning Board had to decide if the changes were significant enough to require a new application and a new review, or if they were insignificant, and the Planning Board could grant final approval. Virginia Benedict, legal counsel to the Planning Board, explained there was one other option: the applicant could ask the board to extend the six-month period and agree to a permissive public hearing. The applicant was unwilling to do this.

There was concern about noise from the rooftop air conditioning units, but it was determined that ambient noise levels would be within what was permitted by the Town of Greenport's noise ordinance. There was consternation that the applicant had waited until the last minute to present the changes in the site plan to the Planning Board. There was unease, given the contentiousness provoked by the project, that the public could not be informed of the changes before the Planning Board approved them. In the end, however, the board voted four to one that the changes did not require a new application and a new review, and the project was approved as amended.

Happy Birthday, John Ashbery

Today is John Ashbery's birthday. How do I know? Garrison Keillor told me on today's Writer's Almanac

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Hudson in the New York Times . . . Again

Tony Cenicola|New York Times
There's an article in today's New York Times by Amy Thomas that makes me glad to be here now and thrilled to have been among those who witnessed what she calls the city's "remarkable and elegant transformation": "Hudson, N.Y.: An Elegant Transformation."

The Waiting Is Over

Mayor Tiffany Martin Hamilton announced this morning that the Hudson Senior Center at the Galvan Armory will open on Monday, August 1. The center's hours will be 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Morning programming will be managed by the Columbia County Office for the Aging; afternoon programming will be managed by the City of Hudson. Lunch will be served daily. After the first day, those wanting to have lunch at the senior center must make a reservation a day in advance on a sign-up sheet or by telephone. Yoga and aerobics classes now offered at the Hudson Youth Center will, starting next week, be held at the new location.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Fair & Equal According to Whom?

"Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people." That quote is traditionally attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt. In this scheme of things, whether Roosevelt's or not, there is no category for those who are reluctant to consider an idea unless they know whose idea it is. For folks in this category, the Fair & Equal campaign to eliminate the weighted vote and bring the principle of one person, one vote to Hudson has identified everyone involved in the initiative on their website: "Who We Are."

This Saturday at Basilica Hudson

For everyone who is missing the Ramp Fest and Taste of Hudson, there's a new food event making its inaugural appearance this year: Read & Feed. This Saturday, Basilica Hudson partners with CLMP (Community of Literary Magazines and Presses) to present a festival that brings together artisanal makers of food and artisanal makers of literature.

The event, which takes place from 5 to 11 p.m. on Saturday, July 30, will feature panel discussions that bring together writers, farmers, and chefs, cooking and mixology demonstrations, a marathon reading of John Cage's Diary: How to Improve the World (You Will Only Make Matters Worse), and a marketplace featuring more than twenty small press publishers, artisanal food makers, and spectacular eats and drinks.

This morning, on WAMC's Roundtable, Joe Donahue spoke about Read & Feed with people involved in organizing it: Jeffrey Lependorf, executive director of CLMP; Lisa Pearson, publisher of Siglio Press; and Michael Albin, proprietor of Hudson Wine Merchants. That interview can be heard here

To learn more about the event and purchase tickets, click here.

Monday, July 25, 2016

An Anniversary Gossips Missed

Little did I know that July 7, aside from being the day my mother was born in 1912, was the day when, in 1802, The Wasp was first published. Gossips has written about this early Hudson publication a few times, but it wasn't until this morning, when a reader brought it to my attention, that I realized The Wasp was considered to be the first comic book or The Wasp and its editor, Harry Croswell, had gotten the attention of the History Channel: "First Comic Fuels Political Feud." The item is recommended reading. One thing that's left out, however, is that Croswell, as the editor of The Balance, wrote what is considered to be the first definition of a cocktail.


If You Go Down in the Park Today . . .

you're sure of a nice surprise. Mayor Tiffany Martin Hamilton informed Gossips this morning that the bathrooms have been open and accessible to park visitors since Friday.

It is not clear if there is any causal relationship between the discussion of the bathrooms being closed at the Economic Development Committee meeting on Thursday night (which Gossips reported on Saturday), and the situation being remedied the next day, but all who spend time in the park should be relieved.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Council Initiatives

In the previous Council, when Alderman John Friedman (Third Ward) chaired the Legal Committee, initiatives tended to come from that committee. Now the role of originator seems to have shifted to the Economic Development Committee, chaired by Alderman Rick Rector (First Ward). At that committee's meeting on Thursday, the pursuit of two goals were discussed.

The first was the development of the Dunn building at the waterfront. Rector made the point that a year has passed since Saratoga Associates had completed its study on the adaptive reuse of the building. He concluded, "It's time to act. The building is crumbling."

Friedman, a member of the Economic Development Committee, said of the Saratoga study, "It's a good plan. It will bring people down there [to the waterfront] in the middle of day." He proposed that the City "lease the whole space to a developer, with adequate covenants." The right developer, he posited, "can preserve the building for us." He originally suggested a 99-year lease but conceded that a 30-year lease would be long enough.

Rector proposed "making it part of historic preservation"--presumably getting it listed in the National Register of Historic Places as well as designating it as a local landmark. It was agreed that the committee would use the adaptive reuse study as the basis for preparing a request for proposals. They spoke of holding a special meeting of the committee to work on the RFP.

Rector introduced the second issue by telling the committee that the fears expressed by some that the hotel proposed for 41 Cross Street could end up becoming a Holiday Inn Express had inspired him to think about the need to ban "formula businesses" from Hudson. He cited San Francisco and the Village of Red Hook as municipalities (along with 25 to 30 others in the United States) where such businesses are prohibited in order to maintain the unique character of the place. Friedman observed that formula businesses, whose store designs are homogeneous, are "antithetical to the value this community places on its architecture." He also suggested that such an ordinance might "dampen the enthusiasm for escalating rents if people knew there was a class of tenant you couldn't have."

The committee considered briefly if a ban on chain stores would apply only to certain districts--for example, historic districts--or to the entire city. They spoke of how the homogeneity of storefronts contributed to the "geography of nowhere." The committee, made up of Rector, Friedman, Henry Haddad (Third Ward), and Alexis Keith (Fourth Ward), was unanimous in its support for banning chain stores and other "formula businesses" from Hudson.

Seen on Warren Street

The sign is up at LICK's new location at Warren and Seventh streets. Can ice cream be far behind?

Courtesy Virginia Martin

A Preview of the Ramp

A ramp will soon be constructed to provide universal access to Promenade Hill. Although no one wants to deny anyone the access to Hudson's oldest public space and the spectacular views it affords, there is concern about the appearance of the ramp and its compatibility with the 18th-century design of the promenade. The illustration below shows the design now being considered.

The ramp would begin in the parking lot behind 1 North Front Street and proceed north to the edge of the boundary with Hudson Terrace. Then it would continue along the northern edge of the park west to the existing path along the bluff, with a landing at the playground. A rendering showing the ramp in context, from the perspective of someone standing in the parking lot, is being developed and will be submitted soon. 

Saturday, July 23, 2016

The Battle of Waterfront Loo

It's nicely designed to echo the historic train station behind it. Its amenities (according to legend, since few have ever seen them) include shower rooms. When it was built more than a decade ago, it cost $250,000. But today, the comfort station at Henry Hudson Riverfront Park is a perennial cause for complaint because it is never open, and its facilities are never available to park visitors.

In October 2015, Alderman Henry Haddad (Third Ward) introduced a resolution in the Common Council to install a security camera at the entrance to the facility to deter vandalism, which is the reason given for why the building is perpetually locked, and to keep the restrooms open every day from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. during warm weather months--from April 1 to November 1. Although introduced, that resolution was never voted on. The following is quoted from the Common Council minutes for October 20, 2015:
President [Don] Moore stated Proposed Resolution No. 8 which would approve the opening of bathroom facilities at Henry Hudson Riverfront Park has been discussed at the Finance Committee Meeting earlier in the evening. He stated the proposed resolution would be deferred until there had been a more detailed plan which would be discussed at the next Public Works Committee Meeting.
This screen capture of the minutes from "the next Public Works Committee meeting" provides evidence that the subject was discussed but no information is provided about "a more detailed plan" or what action was agreed to. (The bathrooms are item 8 in the list of "questions [that] were asked of Supt Perry which he answered to the satisfaction of all.")

At the Economic Development Committee meeting this past Thursday, the subject of the bathrooms in riverfront park came up again. Midway through the summer, the building remains regularly locked. Committee chair Rick Rector pointed out that the bathrooms had been locked, providing no access to the facilities, during the fishing derby the previous weekend. Haddad alleged that Mayor Tiffany Martin Hamilton had decided the bathrooms could not be open on a regular basis until the security camera was installed, and a security camera has not yet been installed.

Meanwhile, I've been taking Joey to the dog park in Germantown almost every day this summer. I've noticed that the restrooms in Palatine Park, where the dog park is located, not only are not locked, but their doors stand open, apparently all the time. These pictures were taken on Friday morning, at about 7:30 a.m.

Of course, Hudson isn't Germantown, and Germantown isn't Hudson. If evidence were needed of the truth of that statement, these scratches which recently appeared defacing the cap stone on the wall outside of the new library provide it.

Jamison Teale|Facebook


Friday, July 22, 2016

Waiting for the $10 Million

Governor Andrew Cuomo has already announced the winners of the $10 million in the Downtown Revitalization Initiative in seven of the ten regions in New York. They are Elmira, Geneva, Middletown, Oneonta, Oswego, Plattsburgh, and Westbury. The winners in three regions--Western New York, New York City, and the Capital Region--are yet to be announced. In the Capital Region, Hudson is competing for the $10 million with seven other cities--Albany, Rensselaer, Cohoes, Troy, Schenectady, Glens Falls, and Mechanicville and two villages--Castleton-on-Hudson and Hudson Falls.

Watch for Yourself

Dan Udell's video of Tuesday's Common Council meeting, which went on for an hour and forty-two minutes, is now available on YouTube. Click here to watch.

City clerk Tracy Delaney calculating the weighted votes on the proposed local law to eliminate the weighted vote