The depot can also be seen in the background of this historic post card image of the Public Square, a.k.a. Seventh Street Park.
At the Historic Preservation Commission meeting on Friday morning, Mark Schuman of Mountainview Masonry and Landscape Supply presented the application for a certificate of appropriateness to demolish 708 State Street--the former Hudson Upper Station on the Albany & Boston Railroad. As justification for the demolition, Schuman explained that the owner has had the building for ten years, and it is now in need for a lot of work. The owner, Van Kleeck's Tire, is not interested in maintaining the building and wants to demolish it to get "a little more staging area"--in other words, to park trucks there.
Schuman, whose company demolished the Old Brick Tavern at the intersection of Routes 66 and 9H in 2011 and "disassembled" 900 Columbia Street earlier this year, wants to salvage the materials from the depot and resell them. He told the HPC, perhaps in an effort to make what he does sound like historic preservation, "Buildings we take down let other buildings live on." Indeed, bricks from the Old Brick Tavern found their way into the rebuilt brick veneer front wall of 211 Union Street, General Worth's birthplace.
Obviously thinking that it somehow made a difference, Schuman pointed out that the current owner had purchased the building in 2004, two years before the locally designated historic district that includes the building was established.
HPC chair Rick Rector seemed ready to put the application to a vote, informing Schuman, "If we do vote and deny this, you can appeal to the Common Council." Carl Whitbeck, now counsel to the HPC, cautioned against voting immediately. "You don't have any facts," he told the HPC and advised them to "make appropriate findings on which to base your judgment." Whitbeck described the depot as "a structure that is significant in its own right." He recalled that Smith Tire, the previous owner of the property, had received a grant from the federal government in 1980 to rehab the depot and other nearby buildings for commercial use, among them what remained of the Gifford-Wood Foundry.
In the end, the HPC voted unanimously that the application was incomplete. After this decision was made, Craig Haigh, Hudson's newly appointed code enforcement officer, reported a sentiment he had heard expressed, although it wasn't entirely clear by whom, that the owner could just take down the building and suffer the consequences. He defined the consequences as a $250 fine and 10 days in jail and concluded that "the consequences are not onerous enough."
Whitbeck commented that municipalities had to decide to enforce their statutes and suggested that action might be taken in the New York State Supreme Court to prevent demolition or to require people to put something back if it was destroyed without a certificate of appropriateness, intimating that the $250 fine could apply for every day from the time the demolition began to the time the building was returned to the way it had been.
COPYRIGHT 2013 CAROLE OSTERINK
Post card image courtesy Byrne Fone; photo of Gifford-Wood Foundry from Mirrored Memories, Columbia County Historical Society, 1991.