Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Of Interest

The Register-Star's coverage of the demolition of the Colored Citizens' Club, with quotes, some apparently recycled, from leaders of the African-American community: "Historic club goes down." 

Moore Responds

In a letter to the editor in today's Register-Star, Common Council President Don Moore responds to Timothy O'Connor's assertion that the Common Council voted on the zoning revisions without an adequate map that defined the zoning districts: "Map does exist." According to Moore, Figure 27 in the LWRP (reproduced here) is that map.

The map in question has serious shortcomings as it pertains to the extension of the Core Riverfront District to include the "causeway." It does not define the width of this extension; it does not accurately represent how the "causeway" connects back to the larger Core Riverfront District. Both considerations should have been serious concerns for the Common Council in approving this zoning, but apparently they weren't.      

Monday, December 5, 2011

CC Club Leveled

The former Colored Citizens Club at the North Third and Columbia streets was demolished this afternoon. It's been reported that it was supposed to be demolished over the weekend, but the work was postponed until today because of Winter Walk. Residents in close proximity to the structure complained that they had not been warned that the demolition was to take place.

Scott Baldinger provided these photographs and a video of the demolition.

Click here to view the video.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

So Long, Ritter's

At 2 p.m. this afternoon, Ritter's Grocery closed forever--a neighborhood institution that will be sorely missed.


Photograph by Peter Meyer.

Gossips Missed It . . .

but Wenonah Webster didn't. On Thursday night, Annie Leibovitz shot an ad for McClelland's Scotch at our own Red Dot.

Not to Be Missed

A My View about Hudson's architectural heritage in general and 211 Union Street in particular by David Marston, alderman elect for the First Ward. This piece appeared in the print version of the Register-Star yesterday and online today.  

Ear to the Ground

Scott Baldinger reports the latest Hudson rumor on his blog: "Eye on Ian." Can it be that Ian Schrager, creator of the original boutique hotel, has purchased the Warren Inn, the first and only movie theater turned motel in the country?

Friday, December 2, 2011

More About the Dog Attack

In today's Register-Star, Audra Jornov reports on a dog attack that took place yesterday in the Hudson City Cemetery: "Dogs bite city woman.Gossips has since received more information about the incident.

The woman attacked was a 79-year-old peace activist from Claverack who is a regular at the Saturday vigil in Seventh Street Park. Yesterday, she decided to take a walk in the cemetery after attending a meeting of the Interfaith Council in Hudson. 

When the two dogs attacked, the woman turned her back on them and could feel the dogs' paws on her shoulders. During the attack, she fell and broke her wrist. She managed to drive herself to her doctor's office at Columbia Memorial Hospital. There she was admitted to the emergency room, where they set her wrist and released her.

The owners of the dogs have been described as being "very soliticious." The victim was told that one of the dogs could be aggressive with people who had hoods covering their heads. Yesterday was a cold day, and the victim had put the hood of her sweatshirt up. 

Getting the Stone Off Hudson's Streets

The Common Council recently approved zoning amendments that extend the Core Riverfront District the length of the "causeway," an action requested by Holcim/O&G in its "public comments," to protect their right to use and develop this path through South Bay as a route for moving gravel from the quarry to the river. Since July, O&G has been using this route to haul gravel to the river, but empty trucks leaving the dock continue to travel on city streets. According to Common Council President Don Moore, the Common Council will soon take up again the local law that would require O&G to use the causeway in both directions and prohibit gravel trucks on Columbia Street below Third and on Front Street.   

Our 21st-century Common Council is dealing with the same problem a 19th-century Common Council faced 140 years ago--and making virtually the same decisions. This timetable, created a decade ago by Don Christensen for the exhibition Seeing South Bay, reminds us how the railroad that became the berm that became the "causeway" came to be in the first place and poignantly demonstrates how history repeats itself.

1872--Frederick W. Jones forms a company to quarry stone and marble from Becraft Mountain. Mule-pulled wagons begin transporting stone and marble from the mountain down Worth Avenue to Union Street to West Court Street to Allen Street to the river for shipment.

August 6, 1872--Samuel T. B. Heermance, owner of a tract of land on the east shore of South Bay, receives a "grant of land under water" from the State of New York to develop underwater lands through South Bay to the river for "beneficial use."

October 1873--Heermance sells Jones a right of way through his property and through the "land under water" to the river's edge the width of one rod (about 16 feet) to build a railroad. No public announcement is made of this plan at the time.

January 29, 1874--Application made to Hudson Common Council to build a horse-drawn railroad from the quarry on Becraft Mountain through Green Street to State Street, down the center of State Street to Front Street and to the river.

February 23, 1874--Residents and business owners along Green and State streets submit a petition to the Common Council against the railroad application, claiming, "such a track would seriously lessen the value of real estate along its line."

February 29, 1874--Common Council rejects application for State Street railroad.

March 19, 1874--Public announcement of plan by Frederick Jones to build an alternative railroad from the quarry through South Bay.

March 26, 1874--Common Council approves right of way across Bay Road for the Jones railroad.

May 4, 1874--Groundbreaking ceremonies for railroad construction. Engineering contractors promise to have road "constructed, fully equipped with locomotive and cars, and in perfect running order by July 15." Construction is halted shortly afterward.

April 16, 1884--Heermance sells Jones the one-rod wide strip of land through South Bay to be used as a railroad from the river to the mountain.

March 1887--After a delay of 11 years due to "vicissitudes of fortune," work on the railroad resumes.

March 14, 1889--Final rail line to river completed.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Last Night at City Hall

It was predictable. It was inevitable. Everyone knew the votes were there. Still when it happened, it was sobering and stunning. 

Last night, the Common Council passed four pieces of supporting legislation for the LWRP: the zoning amendments, the amendments to the zoning code and the city charter to create a local Coastal Consistency Review Board, and the charter amendment to create the position of a Harbor Master. These actions are being hailed in today's Register-Star headline as "passing the LWRP":  "Common Council passes LWRP." Only Third Ward Alderman Ellen Thurston voted against adopting the zoning amendments. Third Ward Alderman Chris Wagoner was absent, so his vote too was effectively a no vote.  

According to reports, the action was cause for celebration by members of the Common Council as well as members of the audience--Linda Mussmann and Rick Scalera. Common Council President Don Moore is quoted as saying, somewhat incomprehensibly, "This is a plan with specific projects and it's not something that you run up and down Warren Street proclaiming, but it's a very substaintial [sic] tool for people in the city that want to see the waterfront developed." Similarly, Scalera claimed the plan “brightens the future for our children and unshackles our waterfront for development.” 

By contrast, we're reminded of Nick Haddad's warning during the mayoral debate that it will be "very difficult to get necessary investment in place if it has to coexist with heavy industry," and his prediction that "what we want will not happen so long as the industry is in place."

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Where's the Map?

In a letter to the editor in today's Register-Star, Timothy O'Conner questions how the Common Council can move ahead with a vote on the zoning amendments proposed by the LWRP without having before them a map that accurately defines the boundaries of the districts--in particular, the Core Riverfront District which now extends the length of the "causeway."

Tonight at 6:15, the Common Council will hold a special meeting to vote on the following legislation:

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Last Word from the Board of Elections

The ballot counting is effectively over, and Hallenbeck has emerged the winner. Read the details on Sam Pratt's blog.

More News from the Board of Elections

Sam Pratt reports that Haddad's gain in the First Ward was lost in the Second Ward: "Mayoral margin back up to 29."

News from the Board of Elections

Sam Pratt reports that the First Ward really came through for Nick Haddad: "Haddad gains a lot of ground in the lst." Of the 18 absentee and affidavit ballots from the First Ward counted this morning, 17 were for Haddad and only 1 for Hallenbeck, reducing Hallenbeck's lead to 11.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Today at the Board of Elections

Sam Pratt reports on the hand count of ballots cast on Election Day, which seems to have reduced Hallenbeck's lead by an as yet undetermined number of votes: "22, 23, 24, or 25."   

This Morning in Court

Sam Pratt reports that Judge McGrath has ruled that Article 16 of New State York Election Law "does not permit him to provide the remedy sought by the Haddad campaign": "Round #1 to Hallenbeck." 

Hudson Ballot Count Today

Today is the day the ballot count begins that will tell us who will be the next mayor of Hudson. Gossips is still sidelined, but Sam Pratt is a pollwatcher for the Haddad campaign and will be reporting any major developments on sampratt.com. Gossips will be checking Sam's blog periodically for the latest news, and we suggest you do the same.    

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Not to Be Missed

"Hudson, the Business-Friendly City" on SamPratt.com.

A House's Changing Fortunes


Back in 1996 or 1997, this little house on Allen Street was rehabbed by Columbia County Habitat for Humanity. It was Habitat's first project in Hudson, and initially there was a lot of enthusiasm for the project. Preservation advocate Judy Meyer, who joined the board of Habitat for Humanity at about this time, persuaded the organization to agree to retain the original interior details of the house--baseboards and moldings, fireplace surrounds, lighting fixtures. The house was gutted by volunteers, who painstakingly removed all the details, believing that they would be stripped, restored, and reinstalled in the house. Habitat, however, reneged on the agreement and sold everything salvaged from the house at a fundraising auction. Meyer resigned from the board in protest.

Eventually, the rehabbed house was sold to a qualifying family, who lived in the house for more than a decade. Earlier this year, they put it on the market. Asking price: $169,000. Apparently, after ten years, an owner's only obligation to Habitat for Humanity is to pay off the mortgage.

The house's new owner is now undertaking another extensive rehabilitation. The two-story front porch has been removed, and its elements are being stored in the side yard. Although the project has yet to come before the Historic Preservation Commission for a certificate of appropriateness, word has it that the porch was removed because it was rotting and the plan is to rebuild it exactly as it was. 

The reason for telling this story is only to make the point that genuinely historic houses retain their appeal and their potential to appreciate in value, as the last two decades in this little house's history attest.          

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Of Interest

Tom Casey reports on last Monday's Public Works Committee meeting in today's Register-Star: "Auction helps city pay for field use." The final item in Casey's report sent Gossips to Promenade Hill to see what changes had been wrought: "DPW supplied topsoil to volunteers from BeLow3rd [sic] who installed the soil as well as ground cover and pavers at Promenade Hill. The volunteers requested to also remove worn down bushes with topsoil and grass." 

Promenade Hill is Hudson's oldest park. Established in 1795, it has the distinction of being the first public space in the country set aside for the purpose of viewing the landscape. Many have believed for a long time that the park should be the subject of a historic landscape study, which would inform a master plan for its restoration. For various reasons, this has not yet happened, and in the absence of a master plan, well-intentioned piecemeal improvements to Promenade Hill make purists a little nervous.

Gossips' reconnaissance yielded the information that the raised bed surrounding the flagpole has been planted with a ground cover and three pieces of bluestone have been laid as a path to the flagpole for the person who lowers the flag to halfmast during periods of public mourning. Nicely done, BeLo3rd! 

Friday, November 25, 2011

Not to Be Missed

Hungry in Hudson reports on the state of food shopping in Hudson now that the Farmers' Market has closed for the season.

Hudson Lunatic Asylum


From 1830 to 1850, Dr. Samuel White, a pioneer in the humane care of the mentally ill, operated the Hudson Lunatic Asylum at 400 State Street, assisted by his son Dr. George H. White. On February 11, 1840, this report of the asylum's work during the previous year appeared in the Columbia Republican. 
HUDSON LUNATIC ASYLUM--During the year 1839, 84 patients have been under the care of Drs. S. & G. H. White, the proprietors of this institution--to wit:
Recent cases . . . . . . . . . 23
Chronic do.  . . . . . . . . . . 58
Intemperate . . . . . . . . .   3
                                         
Of the recent cases that were removed during the year, 15 recovered, 3 improved, 2 died. Of the chronic cases removed, 9 recovered, 11 much improved, 9 improved, 1 died. Of the intemperate removed, 2 reformed. Remaining under treatment, Jan. 1st, 1840, 32. 451 cases have enjoyed the benefit of this institution since it was opened, a period of nine and a half [years] ago. The quiet patients continue to enjoy family worship, as heretofore. 

Of Interest

Who knew that the native nine-spotted ladybug was the official New York State insect? Who knew that its last recorded sighting was 29 years ago? The good news is that the ladybug is coming back. Read about it in today's New York Times.  

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Unscrupulous Partisans in Hudson?

The Register-Star reports today that Hudson Democrats and Republicans will be in court on Monday morning to hear a ruling on whether the handling of thirty-two permanent absentee ballots violated state election: "Ballot delivery brings parties to court."  

There are in Hudson a number of permanent absentee voters whose ballots are "carried" by people who are not relatives or neighbors or caregivers but people whose contact with these voters may be limited to hand-delivering their absentee ballots and returning the ballots to the Board of Elections. In the article, John Friedman, attorney for the Haddad campaign, cites the case of one such voter who "requested a new absentee ballot after feeling pressured after a ballot was hand-delivered to her." Commenting on the practice, Friedman is quoted as saying, “The people who are doing this carrying, they don’t check the people’s mail, take them to get groceries, sweep their front porch, these people are only interested in those voters for one reason and one reason only. [The voters] are easily influenced or pressured . . . and the one woman requesting a new ballot speaks volumes.”

Mayoral candidate Nick Haddad explained that the Democrats have taken the action to enforce the law that protects vulnerable voters from “undue influence, coercion, or outright fraud by what the highest court in New York called ‘unscrupulous partisans.’”

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Political Life After Hudson

Sam Pratt reports on this blog that John Porreca, one-time Third Ward alderman who lost to Don Moore in the race for Hudson Common Council President in 2009 and since sold his house in Hudson and moved to Greenport, appears to have ousted incumbent Greenport Supervisor Ed Nabozny by only six votes. Porreca was ahead by six votes on election night and, after the absentee ballots were counted, remains ahead by six.          

Of Interest

Marc Molinaro was successful in his bid to become Dutchess County Executive, which, come January 1, leaves the 103rd Assembly District unrepresented. The Kingston Daily Freeman reports today that, owing to a number of factors, among them redistricting and the federal Military Overseas Voting Act, filling the vacancy turns out to be a complicated task, and our part of the Hudson Valley may be left with no voice in the State Assembly for as long as six months. 

Thanks to a Gossips reader for bringing this to our attention.

Indoor Market Returns

The Hudson Farmers' Market has closed for the winter, but the Indoor Market at Christ Church Episcopal opens this Saturday for a four-week run, until the third Saturday in December. From 10 a.m. until 1 p.m., vendors at the Indoor Market will be offering winter vegetables, as well as micro greens, eggs, breads, wine, beer, pies, prepared foods, nuts, humus, pasture-raised meats, mushrooms, sauces, apples, cider, doughnuts, teas, herbs, flowers, and many items suitable for holiday gifts.   

The vendors participating in the Indoor Market include Blue Star Farm, Flowering Heart Farm, Cheese!, Berkshire Mountain Bakery, Loaf, Hudson Chatham Winery, Chatham Brewing, Cedar Farm Flowers, Tierra Farm, Northern Star Farm, Pigasso Farm, Red Oak Farm, The Red Barn, Dale Baker Farm, Samascotts, Freddie's Rockin' Humus, Hudson Valley Holmstead, Omi Lavender, Good Fight Herbs, Fog and Thistle, and Running Creek Farm.

The Indoor Market will take a hiatus during the bleak midwinter (January and February) but will return to Christ Church for eight weeks in March and April.

Photograph from The Red Barn website.

255-257 Columbia Street: Addendum

After publishing the post yesterday about the transfer of funds, Gossips received the following clarification. The $1,400 that was transferred was needed to pay for an engineering assessment of the building in preparation for demolition. Bids for the demolition are now being received, and it is expected that the Common Council will consider a resolution at its December meeting to attach the full cost of the demolition as a lien against the property.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Demolition Marches On

Gossips has learned that at its regular meeting on November 15, the Common Council passed a resolution to transfer $1,400 from the Contingency Fund to the "Demolition of 255-257 Columbia Street account." Third Ward Alderman Chris Wagoner was the only council member to vote against the resolution. Second Ward Alderman Abdus Miah and First Ward Alderman Sarah Sterling were absent from the meeting. The remainder of the Common Council voted in favor of transferring funds to finance the demolition. 

Workshop on Tax Credits


On Monday, November 28, Erin Tobin from the Preservation League of New York State will conduct a workshop on the NYS Historic Homeowner Tax Credit Program. The workshop, which is sponsored by First Ward Neighbors, will take place at 6 p.m. at the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce, One North Front Street.

The tax credit program covers 20 percent of qualified rehabilitation costs for owner-occupied historic houses that are individually listed or part of a historic district listed in the State or National Register of Historic Places and located in a qualifying census tract. 

The workshop is open to everyone. The National Register listed Hudson Historic District includes both sides of Warren Street and most of the south side of the city. To find out if your house is eligible, check the NYS Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation website.    

Calling All Foodies!

Acres Co-op Market is planning to be part of the festivities at Winter Walk on December 3, and they're looking for volunteers to be part of the effort. They've issued this appealing appeal for help:  
Artists, crafters, and others are needed to help make flamboyant food-themed hats for Acres volunteers who will be distributing free food treats and information about Acres. Foodie (in the best sense) volunteers are also needed to help with the food as well as the distribution. The effort itself will be a party for fun-loving volunteers, with lots of exciting, easy, tasty tasks to choose from.
If you want to be part of the fun, contact Acres Volunteer Coordinator, Mona Coade-Wingate, or Acres Co-op Market.

Monday, November 21, 2011

More About the Judge

It seems it took a while for City Hall to parse how a vacancy is filled when the elected city judge resigns the position. At first, it seemed to be a question of whether it was the mayor or the Common Council that appointed a new judge, but tonight Common Council President Don Moore informed Gossips that the New York State Uniform City Court Act supersedes the city charter in this matter. According to Section 2104, the appointed acting part-time judge--the person who fills in when the elected judge isn't available--has the option of filling the vacancy until a new election is held. If for some reason that person declines the position, the mayor appoints someone to fill the vacancy until there can be an election. The appointed acting part-time judge for the city court in Hudson is Mark Portin.    

Here Come da Judge

As a consequence of Richard Koweek's celebrated victory over Beth Cozzolino for Columbia County Court judge, come January 1, Hudson City Court will be without a judge. It has been determined that the city charter assigns the responsibility of appointing a new judge to the Common Council. The person appointed will serve as interim judge until a special election can be held in 2012. Tonight the process of determining candidates for the position and making a final decision will be a major topic of discussion at the Common Council Legal Committee meeting, which takes place at 6:45 p.m. at City Hall.   

Library Names New Director

The Trustees of the Hudson Area Library announced today that they have named a new library director: Emily Bennison Chameides. What follows is the press release announcing the appointment issued by the library this morning. 
The Board of Trustees of Hudson Area Library is pleased to announce the appointment of Emily Bennison Chameides as our new Library Director. She has been working at the library for the last year as Library Assistant and since August as the Library Manager. In this role she has carried out many of the day-to-day responsibilities of the Director's position since the departure of the previous Library Director.

Previously, Ms. Chameides was the Youth Services and Program Coordinator at the Roeliff Jansen Community Library in Hillsdale, NY and Director of Media Education and Exhibitions at the Children's Media Project in Poughkeepsie, NY. She holds a BA from Vassar College. Ms. Chameides will begin work on her Master's in Library Science degree in the Fall of 2012.

Ms. Chameides is also an active member of the Hudson community. Besides her earlier volunteer work at the library, she has been active with the Friends of the Hudson Area Library. She is the Youth Programs Coordinator & Workshop Facilitator at WGXC: Hands-On Radio. She and her husband Michael Chameides live in Hudson.

The Board looks forward to Ms. Chameides continuing the energetic and creative leadership she has shown over the last few months in her role as Library Manager. As the Library moves forward with work on the new library facility at the Armory on North Fifth Street, we expect to continue to improve the services we provide at 400 State St. We are confident that Ms. Chameides will be a driving force, with the Library's staff and volunteers, in bringing both of these challenges to fruition. 

Become a Friend of Music

It's not something we like to hear, but our $40 million school district doesn't have enough money to fund adequately its music program. The biggest issue seems to be that there's no money for new instruments. To address the problem, the HCSD Music Department is looking for help from the community.

Tonight--Monday, November 21--is the first meeting of the Hudson Friends of Music. At the meeting, which takes place at 7 p.m. in the band room at Montgomery C. Smith Intermediate School, the group will be discussing upcoming concerts, fundraising ideas, and community outreach opportunities.     

Of Interest

Olde Mohawk Masonry & Historic Restoration touts its role in the "restoration" of General Worth's birthplace on its website. In addition to misspelling irreparable, the text assigns a date to the house (ca. 1810) that would make it impossible for it to have been the birthplace of General Worth, who was born in 1794. Of course, the website doesn't say it was General Worth's birthplace; it calls the house "his childhood home." If the house wasn't built until around 1810, William Jenkins Worth couldn't have lived there for very long. By 1812, both of his parents had died, he had gone to Albany to pursue a mercantile career, and in June 1812 he embarked on his illustrious military career by joining the army at the beginning of the War of 1812. 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

CC Club Revisited


More than a month has passed since Chris Gilbert's offer to buy the old CC Club was scuttled because he couldn't produce, in twenty-four hours, an engineering plan to stabilize the building. Back around Columbus Day, Mayor Scalera gave the impression that the building was such a threat to health and safety that it had to come down immediately, yet here we are, approaching Thanksgiving Day, and the building is still standing. Scalera and Code Enforcement Officer Peter Wurster have both, when asked about the building, talked about the possible presence of nonfriable asbestos and other toxins delaying the demolition. If eliminating this building and delivering the site to some developer is to be part of Scalera's legacy, time is running out.

Meanwhile, a Gossips reader has provided more information about St. John's Methodist Episcopal Church and its transformation into the Colored Citizens' Club. This article appeared in the Hudson Daily Star for May 9, 1940.   

CLUB PURCHASES FORMER CHURCH BLDG.
A building here, which for approximately 70 years was used for a church, was sold yesterday to the Colored Citizens' Club of Hudson, N.Y., Inc.

The property, located at 255 Columbia street, just below North Third street, on the southerly side of Columbia street, was sold by the Delaware Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church of Philadelphia.

Formerly known as the St. John's Methodist Episcopal church, the building for 70 years was used as a place of worship, until about five years ago.

The Colored Citizens' Club, which recently incorporated, will use the building for a meeting place.

The sale of the property, title to which has passed, was handled by the Wheeler Realty Service. 

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Lincoln in Hudson

In February 1861, Abraham Lincoln made his inaugural journey by train from Springfield, Illinois, to Washington, D.C. The route of the journey passed through Hudson.

On February 9, 1940, shortly after the publication of the second volume of Carl Sandburg's biography of Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln: The War Years, this bizarre little item appeared on the front page of the Hudson Daily Star, demonstrating how much sensibilities have changed. Thanks to a Gossips reader for bringing this to our attention.
Lincoln "Bussed" Girls Here in '61
And They Liked It
In Carl Sandburg's life of Abraham Lincoln recently published, he referred to the stop of Lincoln's train at Hudson on his way from Springfield, Ill., to Washington, on February 19th, 1861, and goes on to say: "A pleasing incident occurred at Hudson. Several young ladies came into the car and the President folded them rapturously to his throbbing bosom. They said: 'Don't,' which induced the President to believe that they liked it."

Who Will Be Our Next Mayor?

Today's Register-Star reports on the progress in counting absentee and affidavit ballots at the Columbia County Board of Elections: "Copake votes out police force." Jason Nastke, Republican Commissioner of Elections, is predicting that will be after Thanksgiving before Hudson knows who the next mayor will be. A judge ruled on Wednesday, in a meeting in court to discuss the ground rules for ballot counting, that Hudson ballots will be counted last. 

Friday, November 18, 2011

South Bay Zoning: 2009 and 2011

At the public hearing on November 10, Timothy O'Connor, representing the South Bay Task Force, argued that the zoning proposed in the 2009 version of the LWRP was on the way to providing greater protection for South Bay than the zoning that the Common Council is about to adopt. In the zoning proposed in 2009, all of South Bay became a Recreation-Conservation Zone and the roadway fondly known as the "causeway" was a nonconforming use.


In January 2010, Holcim/O&G submitted their comments during the public comment period. The zoning of South Bay was of particular concern to them, and here's what they had to say (boldface added): "The Plan proposes to rezone a significant portion of the Industrial (1-1) Zone to Core Riverfront Zone (CR) along the immediate waterfront and Conservation-Recreation Zone (R-C) for South and North Bays. The text is unclear as to the status of the causeway within the R-C district at the South Bay, although we interpret the intent to be that the use of the causeway for industrial transportation purposes will be considered a non-conforming use since the R-C zone will no longer allow industrial uses and it further implies that the use and related upgrading will require local permits. Holcim and O&G oppose this zoning proposal to treat the transport of materials by vehicle across the causeway as a nonconforming use of land. Nonconforming use status would greatly limit our ability to expand or change the use, e.g. transport by means of a conveyor system, and may even limit our ability to maintain a particular use given the onus placed on the property owner. Our suggestion is that either: (1) the CR district be extended to encompass the right-of-way of the causeway; or (2) the private transport of goods/public access across the causeway be added as a use as-of-right in the R-C district. . . ."

As a consequence of this suggestion from H/OG, we have the South Bay zoning currently being proposed. The Core Riverfront Zone has been extended, as requested, to encompass the length of the causeway, bisecting South Bay, which should be treated as a single ecological entity.

No official map has thus far been provided to show the width of the "causeway corridor" or to clarify what happens when the haul road takes a turn to the north and strays into other zoning districts on its way to the Broad Street railroad crossing, but the South Bay Task Force has created this visual. 

  
The South Bay Task Force stated its position in a My View that appeared in the Register-Star on  November 10--the day of the public hearing. Few, if any, on the Common Council seem to have read it or heeded it, but even though the public hearing is over and it looks likely that the Council will adopt the zoning changes at a special meeting on November 30, SBTF's My View is still recommended reading for people who want to understand what's been going on with the LWRP in the past two years, without community involvement or public consensus.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The LWRP Marches On

Today's Register-Star finally has coverage of the public hearing on the zoning amendments that are part of the LWRP--a hearing that took place a week ago: "Nearing final vote, waterfront plan still divisive." 

At the hearing, Timothy O'Connor, representing the South Bay Task Force, and Mark Wildonger, representing Scenic Hudson, both criticized the proposed zoning amendments for not doing enough to protect South Bay or "promote the creation of a vibrant waterfront." Speaking in support of the zoning amendments, according to the article, were the usual suspects: Linda Mussmann, Bill Hughes, and Rick Scalera. 

It's pretty obvious to most that the LWRP is being railroaded through so it can be Scalera's legacy. What's interesting is that he seems already to be engaging in some revisionist history. He's quoted in the article as saying, “There was never this divide. Bring the cooperation back, bring the community back, build up your waterfront . . . take the plan that was originally in the spirit of cooperation that people wanted to see down there and once again we could be proud of.” When was this fabled time of cooperation and community of which the mayor speaks? Was it back in 1994-1995 when the community met regularly to envision what Hudson and its waterfront could be--a vital and energizing process, remembered fondly by those who participated, which produced the 1996 Vision Plan, still embraced as a kind of blueprint for waterfront development, and was shut down by Rick Scalera in the fall of 1995 when he perceived a comment by the chair of the Vision Plan Task Force, published in the group's monthly newsletter, to be an endorsement of his opponent in the 1995 mayoral race?

Meanwhile, the process of adopting the LWRP marches on. At the Common Council meeting on Tuesday, four proposed new local laws were placed on the aldermen's desks. The first contains all the LWRP zoning amendments, which affect the Waterfront Revitalization Area; the second is a zoning amendment creating a local Coastal Consistency Review Board; the third is the charter amendment required to create a local Coastal Consistency Review Board; and the fourth is a charter amendment creating the position of harbor master

According to the proposed legislation, the Coastal Consistency Review Board, also called the Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (LWRP) Consistency Review Board, "shall be responsible for coordinating review of actions in the City's coastal area for consistency with the LWRP, and will advise, assist and make consistency recommendations to other City agencies in the implementation of the LWRP, its policies and projects, including physical, legislative, regulatory, administrative and other actions included in the program." The board will be made up of three members appointed by the mayor, one of whom can hold another public office in the City of Hudson. One wonders who the mayor has in mind for this board, for surely he will make the appointments before he leaves office on December 31.

Absent a clear harbor management plan in the LWRP, the creation of the position of harbor master seems both unexpected and unnecessary, but the duties of the harbor master as described in the proposed law seem to be the same duties assigned to Guy Falkenheimer when he was made "dock master" a few months ago, so this may just be a title change.  

The Common Council will vote on these four proposed local laws in a special meeting on Wednesday, November 30, at 6:15 p.m. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Hudson Mayoral Election

Tom Casey reports in today's Register-Star that Hudson Democrats have requested that Republicans "meet in court tomorrow to discuss ground rules" for counting absentee ballots and recanvassing votes: "Hudson Dems serve papers on GOP." 

The action is not sitting well with Republican mayoral candidate Bill Hallenbeck, who is quoted in the article as saying, "Trying to have lawyers and judges decide this race, not the people who voted, it’s a real act of desperation as far as I’m concerned. I’m real dissatisfied with what is going on here with these absentee ballots.” Unless Gossips has missed something--which is entirely possible--nothing is "going on here with these absentee ballots" except that the Democrats thwarted in court the Republicans' attempt to have the ballots turned over to the care and keeping of the Columbia County Sheriff's Department, which endorsed Hallenbeck.

More News from HCSD

Once upon a time, Steven Spicer was the principal of Hudson High School. Then, when the Alternative Learning Program at HCSD was discontinued and a place was needed for Thomas Gavin, the director of that program, district administration came up with the bizarre solution--doomed to fail--of making Spicer and Gavin "co-principals" of the high school--two salaries for one job. Predictably, that solution didn't work out very well. Spicer and Gavin didn't get along. A year ago, Spicer charged Gavin with second degree aggravated harrassment for an incident that took place in the hallway while a Board of Education meeting was going on. Eventually, the charges were dropped, and some degree of peace was restored. As luck would have it, Carol Gans, principal of John L. Edwards Primary School, had retired at the end of the previous school year, and although she was still doing her job for $1,000 a week over and above her pension, her job could be and was given to Spicer.

Now the fragile peace is disrupted once more. Spicer has filed a complaint alleging that "the  Hudson City School District and the Board of Education have racially discriminated against him on several occasions." You can read all about it in today's Register-Star: "Principal files racial complaint against district."

Photo from the Hudson City School District website.

Community Meeting Tonight

The eagerly awaited Acres Co-op Market holds its monthly community meeting tonight at 6:30 p.m. The meeting takes place at 704 Columbia Street--the space that Acres hopes will be its future home. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Capital Region Strategic Plan

W. T. Eckert reports in today's Register-Star that the Capital Region Economic Development Council presented its five-year strategic plan for the Capital Region on Monday: "Regional council unveils 5-year strategic plan." 

The key goals of the plan for Warren, Washington, Saratoga, Schenectady, Rensselaer, Albany, Greene, and Columbia counties seem innocuous enough: "to leverage and collaborate, open new doors, prepare for tomorrow, build a superhighway, bring cities to life, celebrate and optimize surroundings, showcase regional beauty, and spotlight strengths." We're assuming, of course, that the superhighway mentioned is an "information superhighway" and has to do with the Internet, and that there are no plans to destroy farmland, habitat, and scenic vistas to create an actual superhighway.

The strategic plan includes a specific project for Columbia County: a "transloading facility." As described in the article, the project will "allow businesses to transfer products from trucks to rail cars for outgoing purposes and to move incoming products from rail cars to trucks." Oddly, the first thing that came to mind when reading about this project was "Lone Star Industrial Park," the old Cycletech plant purchased back in April 2009 by Paul Colarusso, Scott Patzwahl, Michael Bucci, and "other investors." If there's any validity to Gossips' kneejerk reaction, it would mean a lot more activity on the ADM spur through Hudson, moving goods through Seventh Street Park and down behind Allen Street to the main tracks along the river. And then there's the question of how trucks would access the site on Route 23B.  

District in Need of Improvement

Over the weekend, Lynn Sloneker reported on her blog, Unmuffled, that the Hudson City School District has now been officially designated a "District in Need of Improvement" by the New York State Department of Education. On the same day, Sloneker published some statistics about the salaries that were paid in the 2010-2011 school year to administrators, teachers, and business staff who, one would imagine, have to accept some responsibility for the dismal academic performance of the students at HCSD. In the 2010-2011 school year, forty-five employees were paid more than $85,000 and eighteen were paid more than $90,000. By contrast, the median income for 2009 in Columbia County was $49,795 and in Hudson $36,241.

The discrepancy between what we get and what we pay for in public education seems only to get more staggering, but the statistic that may be most grating to people struggling to pay the property taxes that finance our expensive and underachieving district is that 83 percent of the people receiving salaries from HCSD don't live here. The profligate budget decisions made by the district impact them only positively, and they suffer none of the consequences of their own failures.

So let's recall a simpler time--more than a half century ago--in the good old days when public education, according to all reports, accomplished what it set out to do. This is from Alan Sugarman's memoir, Jewels of Moments, quoted here before.  
In September of 1958, there were about seven-hundred students enrolled in the high school. The teaching staff numbered thirty-four and together with all non-teaching members, forty-eight adults were employed. The curriculum was basic and my biggest advantage was that I had taught or knew most of the student body. . . . The office staff was as slim as it could possibly be for a school the size of Hudson High. There was no administrative assistance of any kind. . . . Further, there were no department heads, so administratively and curricularly the principal was it. So far as guidance was concerned, there was one full-time counselor who was assisted by a part-time member of the English Department.
I had a secretary assigned to my office and a second person reported to the guidance area--and that was the merry little band what would meet the needs and requirements of the seven-hundred-pupil high school and the thirty-four teachers who composed the faculty.
In 1956, the principal of Hudson High School earned $6,500. In 2010-2011, the salary for the high school principal Thomas Gavin was $118,002.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Hudson in J. Jill

The current J. Jill catalog, which hit mailboxes sometime last week, contains photographs taken right here in Hudson--in front of the Hudson Opera House and Ca Mea. If you're looking at the catalog online, see pages 13, 49, 52, and 61. If you've got the actual catalog in front of you (assuming you received the same version that was delivered to Gossips Central), look at pages 37, 51, 56, and 65. There may be more photographs with Hudson settings that we've missed, so look carefully. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Mayoral Results

Sam Pratt has an analysis of the results thus far in the Hudson mayoral race on his blog: "Dead heat in Hudson mayoral race." Keep checking sampratt.com for updates.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Return of Gossips

There's every indication that Gossips will be back tomorrow--in time for Election Day! I'll be happy to leave my vantage point here at the top of the city and be back where I belong, down by the river and South Bay, in the First Ward. I appreciate so very much all your expressions of concern and good wishes.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Gossips on Hiatus

Much is going on in Rivertown, and not everything is good.
  • It appears that the original Orphan Asylum in Hudson at State and Seventh streets is being dismantled. A portion of the building--an addition--was demolished in February. Now the building is surrounded by scaffolding, and the roof is gone. The building is owned by Eric Galloway, and it is located in a locally designated historic district.
  • The public hearing on the proposed Local Waterfront Revitalization Program and its proposed implementing laws, which include the zoning amendments, will be held on November 10, 2001, at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall.
  • Another meeting about the dog park will take place this Saturday, November 5, at 10 a.m. at the Hudson Area Library.
  • New Bradford pear trees have been planted to replace the missing ones in Thurston Park. The trees were planted thanks to the efforts of First Ward Alderman Sarah Sterling and paid for by a newly established beautification fund at HDC. Ben Eaton of the Secret Gardener, who planted the trees and agreed to tend them through their first year, also mulched the existing trees as his gift to Thurston Park. 
Sadly, with all this to report on and much more, Gossips must take an unexpected and involuntary hiatus. We hope to be back soon. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Of Interest

The Register-Star finally gets around to publishing Tom Casey's account of last Thursday's special Common Council meeting at which the Council voted to accept the GEIS findings statement: "Waterfront plan advances, with controversy."

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Dog Dispute in Stuyvesant

The Register-Star has an article today that blames Glencadia Dog Camp in Stuyvesant for a $80,000 shortfall in the Town of Stuyvesant's proposed budget for 2012: "Dog camp digs $80 hole in budget." Will Pflaum, the proprietor of the dog camp, protests the allegation that the dog camp is responsible to the town's budget woes on his blog, explaining, "The town spent $100K to harass me and now they are blaming me for the expense. Outrageous." He is demanding that the paper print "a retraction or correction or clarification in tomorrow's paper," calling the article "absolutely irresponsible journalism." The article in question is attributed to Barbara Reina.  

More on the Great Greenport Dog Debate

In September, the Greenport Town Board passed a resolution recommending that dogs be banned from the Greenport Conservation Area. The Columbia Land Conservancy, which manages the conservation area, however, wasn't willing to accept that recommendation. In a letter to the editor in today's Register-Star, Peter Paden, executive director of CLC, restates the organization's policy regarding dogs in the ten conservation areas it manages and confirms that dogs will always be welcome at the Greenport Conservation Area, so long as they are leashed and their human companions pick up after them: "CLC welcomes dogs."  

Monday, October 31, 2011

Hudson Mayoral Debate

If you missed it live last week, you can now watch Dan Udell's videorecording of the Hudson mayoral debate between Democrat Nick Haddad and Republican Bill Hallenbeck online.

Not to Be Missed

Sam Pratt has a summary of R. Mary Wend's 1963 master's thesis on Hudson, entitled The Administrative Effects of the Breakdown of Law Enforcement in Hudson, New York, on his blog: "Hudson's Breakdown."  As Pratt points out, "Her paper is chockful of telling but largely forgotten details" of Hudson's history. In 1963, Pratt notes, Wend called Hudson "a stagnant city beset by many problems," chief among them:  
  1. a high tax rate
  2. a declining population
  3. slum areas and substandard housing
  4. lack of a public library
  5. lack of a sewage disposal system
  6. lack of imaginative leadership

Absentee Ballots

If you need an absentee ballot for the upcoming November 8 election, you can download an application here. If you hand deliver your application to the Board of Elections, you have until November 7--the day before the election--to do so. If you mail your application, it must be postmarked no later than tomorrow, November 1. If you submit the application by mail, your absentee ballot will be mailed to you.

If you return your ballot by mail, it must be postmarked no later than the day before the election, November 7, and it must be received no later than November 15. If your ballot is delivered by hand to the Board of Elections, it must be done before the close of the polls on election day, November 8. 

NOTE: The Board of Elections has advised that absentee ballots returned to them on election day must be returned by someone other than the voter. If you are in Columbia County on election day, you must vote at your polling place.

Oh, for the Good Old Days

A reader recently gave me her copy of Jewels of Moments: An Educator's Fifty-Year Recollection: 1950-2000. It was written by Alan W. Sugarman, who, after being discharged from the army after World War II, finishing college, and getting a master's degree from Teachers College, Columbia, started his teaching career right here in Hudson. His interview with the superintendent of schools took place only weeks after state troopers had raided Hudson and shut down the brothels. 

Sugarman's memoir contains this reminiscence:
A few years after, having secured the position and having moved on to a principalship, I remember a meeting with parent representatives of the Hudson community, many of whom profited from the business with the "Houses." At one point in the discussion, reference was made to the raid and the wife of a grocery storeowner asked me what I thought about closing down those "houses of  ill repute." I responded that prostitution is illegal and that there was no other option, to which she responded--"yes, I know, Mr. Sugarman, but then you always knew where the children were!" I had no answer to that critical concern.
Copies of Jewels of Moments can be purchased at the Hudson Opera House.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

No More Snow Emergency

Gossips just received the following message from Common Council President Don Moore: "The snow emergency is rescinded as of 8 p.m. tonight. There also should be no enforcement during the remainder of today."

This means that tonight--as would have been the case anyway--cars should be parked on the odd side of the street, but during the daytime tomorrow cars may park, without fear of retribution, on either side of the street, until the witching hour of midnight, when they must be on the odd side until morning.

Gossips Apologizes

The boiler here at Gossips Central gave up the ghost in the night, so I'm having to deal with that problem instead of creating today's post. Gossips will be back as soon as the situation is dealt with. 

Hurra, Tortillaville!

Word just in: Tortillaville will be open today--Sunday, October 30--from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., and they will also be open on Monday, October 31. This may be your last chance to get tacos and burritos from the shiny food wagon until next spring. 

William's Song

This collar comes off tomorrow,
So I gotta hang on ‘til tomorrow, come what may.
Tomorrow, tomorrow, no collar tomorrow,
It's only a day away!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Snow Emergency

The mayor has declared a snow emergency for 48 hours beginning at 8 p.m. tonight, Saturday, through 8 p.m. Monday. Vehicles must be parked on the even side of the street from 8 p.m. tonight until 8 p.m. on Sunday night and then moved to the odd side where they must remain until 8 p.m. on Monday night. 

Remember the draconian ticketing and towing that went on during last winter's snow emergencies and be prepared to comply with the letter of the law, even when to do so seems to defy logic.   

For William's Friends

At first, William was so humiliated by having to wear an Elizabethan collar--a.k.a. the "collar of shame"--that I was reluctant to photograph him, but now that he is actively and shamelessly soliciting sympathy from total strangers on the street, I have no compunction about sharing this picture. 


Despite his woebegone look, William is doing fine. We're on Day 10 of the twelve-day ordeal, he's on his second collar (having bashed the first one to bits), and he's healing nicely. The stitches come out on Monday. Hooray!

Adios, Tortillaville

This was to be the last weekend for Tortillaville in Hudson, but because of the abysmal weather forecast for today, Brian Branigan has announced that Tortillaville will be closed today and possibly tomorrow as well.


Alas. We've ordered our winter stash of burritos, but we were hoping for a couple more fish tacos before the long, bleak winter began. 

Beware!

This weekend is the last weekend that alternate side of the street rules are suspended for overnight parking. Next weekend--the first weekend in November--it's back to the old rules: if the next day's date is odd, park on the odd side of the street; if the next day's date is even, park on the even side of the street.

There are some holidays coming up for which alternate side of the street parking will be suspended. They are :
  • Thanksgiving (the night before to Thanksgiving Day);
  • Christmas (overnight from Christmas Eve to Christmas Day); 
  • New Year's (overnight from New Year's Eve to New Year's Day).  

DA and County Judge Races

Today's Register-Star has Audra Jornov's coverage of last night's debate between the two candidates for Columbia County District Attorney, Democrat Gene Keeler and Republican Paul Czajka: "Czajka argues leadership, Keeler change in debate."

If that doesn't give you enough information about these two, Jornov's articles based on the interviews with the two candidates were also published today: "Keeler is for a team approach" and "Czajka would be hands-on D.A."

Also in today's Register-Star are Jornov's interviews with the two candidates for Columbia County court judge: Democrat Richard Koweek--"Koweek has experience arguing and hearing cases"--and Republican Beth Cozzolino--"Cozzolino would bring 26 years in law to bench."    

Friday, October 28, 2011

Two Meetings--One LWRP

The Common Council
At a special meeting on Thursday night, the Common Council, predictably, passed a resolution "Adopting the findings statement for the City of Hudson Waterfront Revitalization Program and Implementing Laws." The vote was ayes: Don Moore, Geeta Cheddie, Robert Donahue, Richard Goetz, Abdus Miah, Wanda Pertilla, Sheila Ramsey, Sarah Sterling, Orhine Stewart; and nays: Ellen Thurston and Chris Wagoner. 

In spite of the fact that this was billed as a special meeting of the Common Council to "consider" the GEIS Findings Statement, very little considering went on. Council President Don Moore made an opening statement in which he read the section about findings statements from the SEQRA handbook and then explained that "once a positive findings statement is accepted, the LWRP can proceed." The aldermen were asked, for the record, to affirm that they had all read the findings statement, and they all did so. 

Third Ward Alderman Ellen Thurston expressed her concern that none of the agreements in the LWRP about easements or land transfers has been negotiated with Holcim and there are no guarantees that things outlined in the LWRP are actually going to happen. She called the two-phased plan for moving truck traffic to the waterfront "a problem" and said she had no faith that Phase 2 would ever happen, pointing out that the City has no way of making Holcim/O&G stop running trucks through South Bay. She concluded by saying the LWRP and GEIS were "flawed documents" and she could not vote yes on the findings statement.     

In response to Thurston's criticism, Cheryl Roberts talked about the triggers that would require Holcim to obtain a conditional use permit from the City of Hudson Planning Commission. She noted that the "causeway" is not currently being used because of damage to the roadway as a consequence of Hurricane Irene and noted that "if this [LWRP] gets passed within the next month, they would have to get a conditional use permit to fix it." She also noted that the "triggers," which she seemed to consider "hair-triggers," although she never used the term, were proposed by the Department of State, and Roberts said, "DOS has promised to defend if the City gets sued by Holcim."

Moore then declared: "This document gives us what we need to control what we want to control. . . . I personally am proud of what we've gone through." He went on to say that he hoped "the groups"--by which he meant Scenic Hudson, Friends of Hudson, The Valley Alliance, and the South Bay Task Force--"don't feel excluded, because I don't think they have been." Interestingly, yesterday Scenic Hudson sent a letter addressing the findings statement to Moore, intended for the full Council. There was no mention of the letter at the meeting and no evidence that it had been distributed to the aldermen before they were called upon to vote on the resolution. The South Bay Task Force has also produced extensive comments about the findings statement. Roberts dismissed the comments and criticisms of "some of these groups," saying they were "full of misunderstanding of the document."

The Planning Commission
The special Common Council meeting adjourned at 6:50 p.m., and at 7:00 the "workshop" meeting of the Planning Commission was called to order. Although, it had been described as an opportunity for the members of the commission to ask questions about the proposed zoning changes, none of that happened. Roberts talked them through the Coastal Consistency Review Law, which among other things creates a three-member LWRP Consistency Review Board to be appointed by the mayor; led them through the answers to the five questions, described as "threshold questions," submitted by Friends of Hudson; and then coached Planning Commission chair Don Tillson as he went through the criteria outlined in Chapter 325.40 of the City Code. No one on the commission, except for Tillson himself, seemed more than occasionally engaged in this process. In fact, one member appeared to be dozing off.  

In the end, needless to say, the job was done, and Roberts, who had said earlier that she would have a draft of their report ready for this meeting, said she would have the draft prepared for the commission's review at their next regularly scheduled meeting. 

The LWRP marches on.