Monday, May 21, 2018

Grand Opening This Morning

Although The Wick has been providing lodging and dining for a few months now, and its little electric vehicle has been seen on Warren Street for the past few weeks shuttling guests to restaurants and other locations, the hotel's official grand opening took place this morning. Dignitaries were on hand to congratulate the Redburn Development partners, Tom Rossi and John Blackburn, on their successful restoration and adaptive reuse of the mid-19th century industrial building that started life as a candle and soap manufactory. First, there were the speeches; then, there was the ribbon cutting.

From left to right: Assemblymember Didi Barrett; Daniel Mackay, deputy commissioner for historic preservation, NYS OPRHP; Mike Yevoli, regional president for Empire State Development's Capital Region; Rick Rector, mayor of Hudson; Jeff Hunt, president and CEO, Columbia County Chamber of Commerce; Blackburn and Rossi, Redburn Development; Congressman John Faso; Mike Tucker, president and CEO, Columbia Economic Development Corporation, is at the lectern  



When the ceremony was over and people headed into the lobby for refreshments, I decided to snap a picture of this: a discreet plaque beside the door that marks The Wick as a Tribute Portfolio hotel.

Some people insist on calling The Wick a "chain hotel" because of this designation, conjuring up visions of garish formula signage--maybe even neon--but this is it.

For those of us old enough to remember, it's a little like the Duncan Hines plaques that marked for travelers restaurants where you could get a decent meal back in the 1950s, before there were such things as national chains.
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Sunday, May 20, 2018

The Great War: May 21, 1918

Last week, Gossips published a letter from Corporal John Cannon, written in the trenches on April 10, 1918. The letter had appeared in the Columbia Republican on May 14, 1918. Another letter was received from Corporal Cannon on Saturday, May 18, and apparently shared with the Columbia Republican, as the previous one had been. The content of that letter was reported on May 21, 1918, and Gossips shares it now. 


Charles McDonald's family lived at 64 Worth Avenue. His father owned a tobacco shop at 703 Warren Street.


John Malone's family lived at 41 North Seventh Street, in a house that no longer exists. The building that is now the location of Bagel Tyme occupies the lot where, a hundred years ago, the Malone home stood.


The Columbia Republican doesn't identify Joseph O'Connell's parents. There is only one O'Connell listed in the Hudson city directory for 1918: Daniel O'Connell, whose occupation is given as "station agent" and whose home address is 23 Allen Street.

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Another One Bites the Dust

Despite Hudson's alleged commitment to historic preservation and the oft lamented shortage of housing for people who want to live here, buildings keep getting demolished. Last year, this house at 13 Worth Avenue was being advertised on Zillow as a "fixer upper." Asking price: $65,806.


This afternoon, I was surprised to discover that the house is no more.

Assessment records indicate that the house was sold on May 26, 2017, for $39,500. The prior owner was Wells Fargo Bank, suggesting that the house may have been foreclosed on. 

No buildings on Worth Avenue are included in any historic district, so there was nothing to prohibit the new owner of 13 Worth Avenue from demolishing it. By the same token, if something new is to be built on the lot, there will be no review of the design of the new construction for appropriateness or visual compatibility with the surrounding neighborhood.
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Saturday, May 19, 2018

More Tsuris for the Embattled HDC

Reading Hudson's Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) application last year, many were surprised by some language contained therein--in particular, these statements about A. Colarusso & Sons and its operations on the waterfront: "city officials and neighboring business owners support the expansion of Colarusso (page 18); "Key improvement to be considered . . . reduction of truck traffic through residential areas of the BRIDGE District by re-routing Colarusso trucks onto a widened two-way haul road the the City's south border" (page 47); "On any given fair weather Saturday, brides in their gowns might pose for photos at Basilica Hudson, while just outside gravel is delivered by truck from the Colarusso quarry to the deep water port across Front Street" (page 37).

It's been something of a mystery how and why this language got into the document, and a few weeks ago, on April 20, Sam Pratt submitted a FOIL (Freedom of Information Law) request to the Hudson Development Corporation (HDC) for "records created between January 1st, 2017 and December 31st, 2017 which mention, discuss, originate from, or otherwise concern the A. Colarusso & Son company ('Colarusso')." At the HDC board meeting on April 24, the FOIL request was accepted as a communication. Sheena Salvino, executive director for HDC, commented that "all communication relating to Colarusso" would be emails about the DRI application "as it went back and forth" and told the board she was seeking the advice of the HDC attorney to find out what they were obligated to provide.

Pratt reports what has happened since then in a post published yesterday on his blog: "State: Yes, the Freedom of Information Law applies to that Hudson agency." 
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City Funding for Events

For the past several years, it has been an annual ritual. The Common Council Arts, Entertainment & Tourism Committee, at its regular May meeting, would parcel out a sum of money, usually about $20,000, earmarked in the City budget for festivals and events. Late last summer, the AET Committee, agonizing over the possibility that the City might be using taxpayer money to support events and festivals that interfered with commercial activity on Warren Street rather than promoting the city, proposed using the $20,000 to produce one event: Hudson Community Day. That idea was not well received--either by the sponsors of important Hudson events or by representatives of the business community. In the end, it was decided that the AET Committee would go back to distributing the $20,000 as it had in the past, and $20,000 was written into the 2018 budget, although the AET Committee still fussed about the process of determining who got the money and assessing the positive impact of the events supported by the City.

Photo: Albert Gnidica
At the beginning of 2018, Common Council president Tom DePietro abolished the Arts, Entertainment & Tourism Committee, and it wasn't immediately clear how or if the money would be distributed. But in April, DePietro announced that the money would be awarded by the Finance Committee--it's money, after all. Earlier this week, Rob Bujan, chair of the Finance Committee, published the guidelines for applying for financial assistance and announced that applications are due on June 15.

Photo: Sarah Sterling

The criteria for applying are introduced with this statement: "The City of Hudson grants financial assistance to events that have an impact on the economic & social fabric of Our City. So, no matter how small or large, if your event has a positive effect on the whole City of Hudson, we encourage you to apply!" 

Applicants for funding must be city residents, and events cannot charge admission fees. A mass gathering permit is required before applying for funding. Applications must include the event budget (income and expenses), and funded events are required to submit a post-event report. The application must address the following questions:
  1. Why do you think the City should sponsor your event?
  2. What does your event contribute to the city?
  3. How will you let people know about your event?
  4. Who else is helping to fund your event?
  5. Have you produced events in the past?
  6. Based on your previous events, or your projections for the event you are planning, can you estimate the size of your audience?
For the complete guidelines and instructions for submitting applications, which are due on June 15, 2018, click here.
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How Trendy Is That?

Earlier this week, Newsday ran an article about Hudson, with the lede, "Just when you thought Hudson, New York, could not get any more trendy--well, it does." Our trendiness even got us mentioned this week on the Showtime series Billions. At a Land Rover dealership in Manhattan, billionaire hedge fund manager Bobby Axelrod offers to buy his CIO Taylor Mason a vintage Land Rover, saying "You'll look good in it up in Hudson on weekends."

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Thanks to Neal Van Deusen for bringing this to our attention and providing the screen capture

The Early Bird Gets the Asparagus . . .

and the chance to be part of the ribbon cutting marking the opening of the Hudson Farmers Market for its 21st season! 


Although the Hudson Farmers Market has been open on the corner of Columbia and Sixth streets for a few weeks now, today is the OFFICIAL opening for the season. The event begins at 9:30--just after it's expected to start raining. So, grab an umbrella, show your mettle, and get to the market early. You can be part of the annual group photo of the market's vendors and loyal patrons.
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Friday, May 18, 2018

One Brief Shining Moment

On Wednesday, Gossips celebrated the removal of the aluminum siding at 742 and 744 Warren Street and the revelation of the original detailing--particularly on 742 Warren--that had been hidden for who knows how many years.


But alas, in the past thirty-six hours, all those marvelous details that were revealed on 742 Warren Street have disappeared--this time, not just covered up but probably removed altogether.

The word is that the discovered decorative elements were "broken" or missing parts, and restoring or reproducing them was too expensive, so the solution was apparently to install new clapboard in those areas. 

The situation raises an important question for the Historic Preservation Commission and for our preservation ordinance. The HPC granted certificates of appropriateness to 742 Warren Street and 744 Warren Street to remove the aluminum siding. Of course, a proposal to remove aluminum siding would be given a certificate of appropriateness. It was a no-brainer. At the time, the owners of both the properties told the HPC that the original details survived beneath the aluminum siding, leading anyone to believe that it was their intention to preserve whatever details were discovered. Given that the HPC exists to preserve and protect the authentic architectural fabric of Hudson, it would seem that, once the original decorative details were revealed, another certificate of appropriateness would be required to obliterate them, but this didn't happen. Thank goodness that, in the brief time they were exposed, the decorative details were fairly well documented, although not as well documented as they might have been had people known they were to be short-lived.

I am reminded of the film Bedazzled--the original 1967 version not the 2000 remake. The HPC is Stanley Moon, and just about any applicant before the HPC could turn out to be George Spiggot.
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ZBA Punts

In September 2017, Mayor Tiffany Martin Hamilton asked the Zoning Board of Appeals for "a determination of the exact location of the boundaries between the Core Riverfront (C-R) District and the Recreation Conservation (R-C) District" in South Bay. The request seemed pretty clear. The ZBA's response seems anything but clear.



The ZBA passed the task off to the engineers at Barton & Loguidice, who studied a number of City documents and submitted their findings in November 2017. Their report concluded: 
After review of the documents . . . , it appears that the intent of the LWRP (Local Waterfront Revitalization Program) and associated zoning amendments was to include the then-proposed South Bay truck route along the causeway and to the Front Street property frontage within the Core Riverfront (C-R) zoning district. The discussion, considerations, and figures within these documents reasonably convey this intent. As shown on the official zoning map of the City of Hudson, the illustration of the C-R district termination at the railroad tracks as opposed to the Front Street property frontage would appear to be in error.
The documents referenced in the statement above are the City of Hudson Code, Chapter 325: Zoning; Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (LWRP); LWRP Draft Generic Environmental Impact Statement; LWRP Final Generic Environmental Impact Statement; and the LWRP State Environmental Quality Review Act Findings Statement.

This past Wednesday, after revisiting the issue in February and March and taking the intervening two months to read and digest documents submitted at the public hearing held in March, the ZBA decided it was time to make the determination that had been requested. ZBA member Steve Dunn had prepared a memo and statement of his recommendations--a statement that seemed to address exactly what the ZBA was asked to do: determine "the exact location of the boundaries between the Core Riverfront (C-R) District and the Recreation Conservation (R-C) District." 
The ZBA finds that the boundaries of the CR zoning district in the City of Hudson are as follows:
It is bounded on its west by the Hudson River, on its north by Dock Street, on its east by the Amtrak railroad tracks, and on its south side the tail of the district terminates at the railroad tracks as is depicted on the Hudson zoning map. Except for where the tail of the Core Riverfront district departs from the haul road to terminate at the railroad tracks, the tail of the Core Riverfront zoning district contains the haul road, and has boundaries that are defined by the current location of the haul road, with a width which is the same as the width of the existing haul road. 
The discussion that ensued was hard to comprehend, even for someone who's been following this story since the beginning. There are two questions that need to be answered: Where does the "tail" join the "body" of the Core Riverfront District? What is the width of the tail as it extends through South Bay? The second is especially critical because, if the width is not established, there is no way to determine if proposals to widen, move, or otherwise alter the "haul road" spill out of the Core Riverfront District and encroach on the Recreation Conservation District. 

Reacting to Dunn's statement, Lisa Kenneally who chairs the ZBA, seemed to redefine the task set them. "We were asked to have the engineers define it, and we've done that," she told Dunn. She went on to say, "The intent of the LWRP was not carried through, but we cannot change it. The map is the legally approved definition." City attorney Andy Howard, sitting in for Mitch Khosrova as counsel to the ZBA, added, "The district is not defined as Steve defined it. . . . The ZBA does not have the authority to create a definition. The only definition of the district is the map." 

The discussion went on for a while, with Dunn insisting that if they don't define the width of the tail, "we leave an ambiguity, and we have not done our job." Howard suggested that the ZBA could make a finding that the map does not have the specificity for the Core Riverfront District provided for other districts, because the "tail" is not defined by physical objects, such as streets or railroad tracks. Along the way, it was pointed out that only the Common Council has the authority to amend the map or create a definition. 

In the end, ZBA member Russ Gibson moved that "we respond that the zoning map is correct, but if the Common Council needs the zone defined specifically, they must undertake it themselves." Six members of the ZBA--Gibson, Kenneally, Theresa Joyner, Kathy Harter, Mary Ellen Pierro, and Myron Polenberg--voted in support of the motion; Dunn was the only dissenter. Earlier in the discussion, Howard told the board, "If you do decide to vote, you need corporation counsel to prepare a resolution." Presumably, he or Khosrova will prepare such a resolution, based on the motion set forth for the ZBA to vote on next month.
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Thursday, May 17, 2018

Following Up with the Kaz Project

Before publishing my previous post, reporting the intel from tonight's Economic Development Committee meeting, I emailed Don Moore, chair of the selection/review committee of the HDC Board, the committee tasked with reviewing the proposals and recommending a developer for the Kaz redevelopment project, asking him to comment on the report that "the Board has elected to stall the selection of a preferred developer." I regret that I did not give him adequate time to respond. An hour after I published that post, I received this response from Moore and permission to share it on Gossips:
I knew Sheena would be away but did not review her statement. In that she described the Kaz review process as "stalled," her description is accurate. "Elected" implies nothing more than a round of conversations about whether we had the time and attention, and whether it would be responsible to the city and to the firms that bid on the project, to continue with additional site visits until we had a clearer picture of the city's concerns and interests.
It was my task as chair of the review committee to continue to schedule HDC board members for site visits to the developers' completed projects in Peekskill, Watervliet, Schenectady, and Saratoga. These were to have occurred last week and this week. Each of the sites had been visited by board members and by Sheena, but additional visits were needed so that everyone who wanted to visit the sites would be able to do so.
In light of Tom [DePietro]'s objections to our approach to Kaz development and his initiative to explore dissolution of an LDC, and the time and consideration that were needed for our board chair to develop a considered response, postponement of the visits and consideration of the project is the responsible position to take. So, yes, it is fair to say the Kaz project is stalled while everyone takes a step back to assess what happens next.
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News About Plans for the Kaz Site

Tonight, at the Common Council Economic Development Committee meeting, Alderman Rich Volo (Fourth Ward), who chairs the committee, read a report from Sheena Salvino, executive director of HDC (Hudson Development Corporation) and HCDPA (Hudson Community Development & Planning Agency), who could not present the report in person because, as she explained in the report, she was out of town. Among the things included in the report was this revelation about the Kaz redevelopment project:
Though the selection committee was well into the vetting and review process (7 months), the Board has elected to stall the selection of a preferred developer.
This statement raises a few questions. What does it mean to "stall" the selection? When and how did it happen that the board "elected" to do this? Gossips was present at the last meeting of the HDC board, which took place on April 24, and reported on it. No vote was taken at that time, and the board did not go into executive session, so how did this come about? Inquiring minds what to know.

Update: Answers to these questions have been provided. See "Following Up with the Kaz Project."
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A Bicycle Trail Runs Through It

Last night at the Common Council Public Works and Parks Committee meeting, DPW superintendent Rob Perry revealed the route being proposed for the Empire State Trail through Hudson. The Empire State Trail is Governor Andrew Cuomo's plan to "enhance outdoor recreation, community vitality, and tourism development" by creating a continuous 750-mile route, for bicyclists and hikers, from New York City to the Canadian border and from Albany to Buffalo.

Coming from the north, the trail enters Hudson on Henry Howard Avenue and then follows the Dugway to Mill Street and Charles Williams Park. It continues on Mill Street to Dock Street and then goes south along Front Street to Allen Street. The route then goes up Allen Street to Third Street, where it turns right and exits Hudson on Route 9G to the soon-to-be-constructed roundabout at the intersection of Route 9G and Route 23.

The original route through Hudson proposed by the Empire State Trail people involved Warren Street, and there was talk of moving the parking lane on one side of the street to create a bicycle lane along the curb, as has been done in various places in New York City. Fortunately, that idea was abandoned, and so was the possibility of eliminating parking on one side of Allen Street to create a bike lane. Gossips has been told that no onstreet parking will be sacrificed along the route of the trail through our city. 

In anticipation of the trail coming through our streets, those of us who live and park on the affected blocks of Allen Street may want to start practicing what is called in Europe the "Dutch Reach," to avoid "dooring" cyclists when exiting our cars. The poster below, created by a group called the Dutch Reach Project, outlines how it's done. There's even a video on YouTube to teach the Dutch Reach.

Image: dutchreach.org
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HDC and the Common Council

Late last night, an article about the controversy between the Common Council and HDC appeared on HudsonValley360 (a.k.a. the Register-Star): "HDC, Common Council clash." There's not much new information in the article, but it does reproduce an email sent to John Gilstrap, president of the HDC board, and copied to all the members of the board, from Common Council president Tom DePietro, responding to Gilstrap's memo to the Common Council. The article reports that DePietro was "speaking for himself and not on behalf of the council" in his response to Gilstrap. 

DePietro's email starts out by telling Gilstrap that his memo "begins with a false statement, and compounds its errors throughout." It continues: "I did not ask the city attorney 'to develop a plan to dissolve HDC.' He was asked to 'look into how does one get rid of an LDC'--a much more general question, to be sure." Later on in the email , DePietro says, "Personally, I find it funny that in your second paragraph you admit you don't even know the guidelines for dissolving an LDC, even though it's posted on the HDC website."

For those curious about the subject of LDCs (local development corporations), their purposes and powers are defined in New York Consolidated Laws, Not-for-Profit Corporation Law--NPC § 1141. Dissolution is addressed in paragraph (g).
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Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Tourism Board Complete

When the Common Council first proposed levying a lodging tax, it was agreed, as a concession to the proprietors of inns and B&Bs, that a portion of the revenue from the lodging tax would go to promoting Hudson as a destination. It was also agreed that how the money, which maxes out at $250,000, was to be spent would be determined by a Tourism Board.

Photo: Bruce Gilbert|Newsday
Yesterday, the Council Common passed a resolution appointing its four members of the Tourism Board: Jeff Hunt, president and CEO of the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce; David Brown, proprietor of a B&B at 26 Warren Street; Ellen Thurston, former alderman, former supervisor, longtime organizer of Winter Walk, and chair of the committee that created Hudson's "Namesake Celebration" to mark the Quadricentennial in 2009 of Henry Hudson's discovery of the river that bears his name; and Jamie Smith Quinn, executive director of the FASNY Museum of Firefighting.

Today, Mayor Rick Rector announced his appointments to the Tourism Board: Chuck Rosenthal, proprietor of Valley Variety and president of the Hudson Business Coalition; Tambra Dillon, executive director of Hudson Hall; and Kristen Keck, proprietor of Wm. Farmer & Sons. Ted Gramkow, an executive coach and strategic adviser, was appointed to the Tourism Board last year by Mayor Tiffany Martin Hamilton.

The nine member board is now complete. Alderman Rich Volo (Fourth Ward) will chair the Tourism Board, by virtue of the fact that he is the chair of the Common Council Economic Development Committee.

Gossips Note: In searching for a photograph to accompany this post, I discovered an article that appeared today in Newsday: "Hudson, New York, makes for a perfect weekend getaway." The article begins: "Just when you thought Hudson, New York, could not get any more trendy--well, it does." It goes on to describe Hudson as "the picturesque but still gritty 19th century town." I commandeered a photograph from that article to illustrate this post.
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To Boot or Not to Boot

Last night's Common Council meeting was much tamer than last week's informal meeting. The Council decided not to vote on the resolution to override the mayor's veto of the aldermen's request for their own attorney, instead accepting the judgment that, according to Section 201 of New York Consolidated Law, Second Class Cities, "The corporation counsel shall be and act as the legal adviser of the common council and of the several officers, boards and departments of the city." The slate of appointees to the Tourism Board--Jeff Hunt, David Brown, Ellen Thurston, and Jamie Smith Quinn--was unanimously accepted. The resolution to increase the fee for removing a boot installed on cars with three unpaid parking tickets, however, did not fare as well.

Because the request for the increase had originated with the Hudson Police Department, Chief Ed Moore had been asked to appear at the meeting to provide some background. He explained that the law making booting the penalty for unpaid parking tickets had been enacted in May 2011. In March 2016, the practice of booting was suspended by Mayor Tiffany Martin Hamilton because some cars that were booted ended up also getting towed because the overdue parking fines, which had to be paid before the boot could be removed, could not be paid on the weekend.

So, for the past two years, cars have not been booted, and people have been racking up fines that go unpaid. Moore said there were literally hundreds of outstanding tickets, and the City has lost revenue, because people think if they don't pay their fines, there will be no consequences. Because people can now pay their outstanding tickets at the police station, which is open every day, 24 hours a day, Moore thought it was time to bring back the boot, but the towing companies that install and remove the boots wanted more money to come back into Hudson to perform this service. When the practice was initiated in 2011, the fee was $110; now they want $150. Moore pointed out this was the going rate and what was charged in Kingston and Albany.

At the outset, Council president Tom DePietro told the aldermen that the resolution before them was about raising the fine for removing the boot; it was not about booting or not booting. Still, it seemed to end up being about booting. Tiffany Garriga (Second Ward) worried that people wouldn't be able to afford $40 more to have the boot removed. When Moore said $150 was charged in Kingston and Albany, Garriga had protested that they were bigger cities. Rich Volo (Fourth Ward) opined that there should be an alternative to booting. Rob Bujan (First Ward) said he was researching the alternatives and suggested perhaps preventing people from renewing the registration on their cars if they don't pay their tickets. Moore warned, "That comes with a price." It wasn't clear what he meant, but if the idea is to motivate people to pay their parking fines before they amass huge numbers of tickets and accumulate astronomical fines, threatening to prevent them from doing something they only do every two years doesn't seem to be a very effective approach. 

In the end, every alderman voted against raising the boot removal fee. A resolution to raise the fine for a parking meter violation from $8 to $10, passed 7 to 3, with Garriga, Kamal Johnson (First Ward), and Calvin Lewis (Third Ward) dissenting.

The question of the boot reminds me of the bad old days in Hudson, a dozen or so years ago, when nonpayment of parking tickets could result in a criminal summons, and offenders were taken from their homes and marched in handcuffs to the police station.  
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What Lies Beneath

In February, Gossips reported that the owners of 742 and 744 Warren Street had applied for and received a certificates of appropriateness to remove the salmon-colored aluminum siding on the two buildings.

It was expected that all the window trim, cornices, and corbels were still there, under the aluminum siding, just waiting to be revealed.

Now the work is well underway, and just look at what's been hidden for all those years.


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Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Election Results

The Register-Star is reporting the results of today's vote: "2018 school district election results." No surprises. The budget passed. The reserve fund passed. Both candidates for the Board of Education, running uncontested, got elected. The only thing worth reporting is that only 495 people in the Hudson City School District bothered to come out to vote, as compared with 857 in Chatham and 1,041 in Ichabod Crane.
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The Initialism Strikes Back

John Gilstrap
This evening, the Common Council received a communication from John Gilstrap, president of the HDC (Hudson Development Corporation) Board of Directors, responding to Council president Tom DePietro's declaration that HDC "should probably no longer exist." The entire memorandum can be read here, but Gossips will quote some of it. Gilstrap starts out by asserting: "The dissolution of HDC is not an action that the City of Hudson has the authority to undertake. This option is solely available to HDC." He goes on to say:
What would the dissolution [of HDC] mean for the City of Hudson? Even without a more thorough and complete examination of the consequences, we can conclude that, absent cooperation and support from the Common Council, the Kaz redevelopment project and the purchase of the adjacent CSX property are no longer viable. The pursuit of housing, small supermarket, transportation enhancements and increased tax revenue at the Kaz site are terminated and very likely will become the responsibility of the City. . . .
Other issues that the City of Hudson will need to address and for which it will need to accept immediate responsibility are:
The guidance, preparation, application and administration of state and federal grants to the City and to HDC, such as those under the 2018 State Consolidated Funding Application.
The administration of grants received by the City and HDC under the Downtown Redevelopment [sic] Initiative that are the responsibility of either the City of Hudson or HDC that will require administration by another agency or agencies such as by the City of Hudson or Columbia County, or the postponement, renegotiation or termination of funded projects.
That without administration of either the Kaz-redevelopment, CFA or DRI projects, HDC will exhaust its revenue within four to six months.
That the action to dissolve HDC also implies shuttering the Hudson Development and Planning Agency, since that agency shares staff with HDC and will exhaust its revenue by the end of May.
Gilstrap's memo also discloses that Sheena Salvino, executive director of HDC and HCDPA announced to the HDC board at the end of March her intention to resign, effective August 1.

In introducing the communication, DePietro said there was no need to discuss it because "the aldermen already know my response." He called the language of the memo "incorrect and misguided," saying that his comments at the informal meeting were "the beginning of a conversation." At the end of the meeting, he told the audience, "If you're here about HDC, you should come to the next HDC meeting." When audience member Karla Roberts protested that HDC meetings were "not really an open avenue" for public comment, DePietro told her, "We on the Council have made it clear they need to do more" by way of accepting input from the public. Alderman Tiffany Garriga (Second Ward) threatened, "If they shut us down, we will shut them down."

The next HDC meeting takes place on Tuesday, May 22, at noon, at 1 North Front Street.
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Alphabet Soup in the Soup

At the informal Common Council meeting last Monday, Council president Tom DePietro, Alderman Tiffany Garriga, and members of the audience, including Fourth Ward supervisor Linda Mussmann, voiced the opinion that HDC (Hudson Development Corporation) was "outdated," "outmoded," "out of control," and shouldn't exist. The alternative forwarded seemed to be that the Common Council, eleven members elected every two years with no particular expertise, aptitude, or experience in such matters, should take on the planning and development role for the city. The Council has an Economic Development Committee after all. 

The crux of the problem with HDC is the redevelopment of the Kaz site. Those most vocal in their criticism of HDC make it clear they have no confidence that the agency, with a thirteen-member board only two of whom are elected officials (the mayor and the Council president) serving ex officio, can do the right thing for the city with this project. Interestingly, though, the other alphabet soup agency, HCDPA (Hudson Community Development & Planning Agency), which people sometimes have difficulty distinguishing from HDC because they share the same staff, isn't drawing the same kind of criticism--perhaps because everyone is clamoring for more affordable housing (which is what HCPDA is all about), perhaps because everyone on the board serves ex officio--the mayor, the Common Council majority and minority leaders, the chair of the Planning Board, and the chair of the HHA (Hudson Housing Authority) Board of Commissioners. Although not under attack from members of the Council and the public, HCDPA is running into troubles of its own.

Back in 2015, HCDPA was nearly bankrupted by a demand from the Galvan Foundation to contribute $100,000 for the build-out of the senior center at the Galvan Armory. Three years before, in 2012, HCDPA had pledged $100,000 to the senior center, but that was when the City was planning to build its own building to be used as a senior center. Galvan had rejected $400,000 in CDBG funds for the senior center, awarded to the City in 2010, because the money came with too much red tape, but they wanted HCDPA's $100,000 and threatened not to complete the senior center if they didn't get it. HCDPA at the time only had $83,000. The solution to the problem was that the City ponied up the $100,000 for Galvan.

At the HCDPA meeting last week, it was disclosed that, after paying two bills, the agency would have no money. The possibility of selling off all the agency's property was proposed by HCDPA executive director Sheena Salvino. According to the tax rolls, HCDPA owns about twenty-five parcels, most vacant lots located in the Second Ward. Joe Czajka, senior vice president of Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress, who was at the meeting to present the Strategic Housing Action Plan, had a better idea: use the property as collateral for a loan, which would provide immediate operating funds and could be repaid as the properties are sold. The reason for hanging on to the property is that several of the parcels are, according to the current zoning, too small to be "buildable." There is talk of revising the zoning, in the interest of achieving greater population density, to allow buildings to be constructed on smaller lots; hence it is anticipated that the lots will command higher prices when zoning revisions have been adopted and they are "buildable." The board agree to "value and appraise every physical and 'locatable' property owned by HCDPA" in preparation for either selling them or using them as collateral for a loan.
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Leaving One's Mark

Time was faux Greek Revival columns and pilasters were the principal identifying element of Gallowegian architectural style.

 



Now, based on evidence provided by renderings displayed on the signs at 356 Union Street and 29-31 Fairview Avenue, there may be a signature color: dark teal blue. Can this be the Blue Period?

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