At the Planning Commission on Wednesday night, David Robinson, Commissioner for Public Works for Columbia County, presented the plans for alterations to the Columbia County Courthouse. There had been some question about whether or not the City of Hudson had jurisdiction over county projects, but Cheryl Roberts, attorney for the Planning Commission, clarified that the City "has jurisdiction until the City says that it doesn't." Robinson had originally indicated that he would seek a Monroe decision from the Common Council to exempt the project from review and approval by the Hudson Planning Commission and the Hudson Historic Preservation Commission, but on Wednesday night he seemed to willing to seek site plan approval from the Planning Commission and a certificate of appropriateness from the Historic Preservation Commission.
The principal goal of the courthouse project is to achieve compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and provide handicapped access to all parts of the building and handicapped restrooms. To achieve this, two major changes will be made.
On the facade of the building, two ramps will be created, beginning at the east and west edges of the building and leading up to the main entrance. The balustrade on the ramps will replicate the detail along the base of the building, now masked by overgrown foundation plantings, with elements that continue the vertical line of the pilasters. The existing entrance steps will be moved forward and the depth of the porch extended to create a landing for the ramps. In the process, the torcheres that flank the stairs will be removed, restored to their original appearance, and reinstalled.
The second major change will be that the brick wing at the back of the courthouse, which according to Robinson is a remnant of the Moul courthouse that was destroyed by fire at the winter of 1906, will be demolished and a new addition will be constructed on its footprint. Elevators and handicapped accessible restrooms will be located in this addition. Robinson explained that in the design for this addition they could have tried to "absolutely match" the style of the existing building or complement it, and they elected to complement the Beaux Arts design.
The architect for the project is John Cutsumpas of Lothrop Associates in Valhalla, New York, and the project is expected to cost between $8 and $10 million. Robinson noted, "We could have done it on the cheap, but we didn't go that way." Thank you, Mr. Robinson!
The courthouse plans will be presented at the Historic Preservation Commission tomorrow morning at 10 a.m. It's an opportunity to see these drawings larger and clearer than they are reproduced here.