Thursday, February 28, 2013

Dog Tale 3: William's Doppelganger

In the early years, there was another dog in Hudson who bore a striking resemblance to William. At the beginning, I only deduced his existence. A neighbor up the street once spoke almost approvingly of how I let William out in the early morning for a solo run through the neighborhood but didn't seem to hear me when I said, "I never do that." Once another neighbor called me to ask if William had gotten out because she had just seen him in her backyard. I assured her that William was lying at my feet and had been all morning. Then one afternoon, when we were walking in the 500 block of Union Street, a man stopped his car to ask if "that dog" had been running around loose earlier in the day. I assured him that the dog at the end of the leash I held never left my property unless he was tethered to me.

One night I had my own encounter with William's doppelganger. I was coming home from somewhere, and it was dark. As I pulled up to park in front of my house, I saw a black dog--the spitting image of William--in front of the house next door. Now I knew that dog was not William. I had left William safe inside a locked house, and there was no way he could have gotten out on his own. Still the remarkable similarity compelled me to pursue the dog up the street until the furtive way he moved convinced me this was not William. 

Feeling foolish, I went back to my house and let myself in. There was William, lying on the couch, waiting for me to come home.

Gossips Googles So You Don't Have To

I was struck by David Luck's statement last night that the incidence of rape had been reduced by 90 percent in Orlando, Florida, when women were encouraged to buy guns and learn to use them. Although Luck indicated when this happened, I didn't catch it, and since I spent a year of my life living in Orlando, I was curious to know more. 

It turns out that this happened more than forty-five years ago. In 1965, there were 12 rapes per 100,000 people in Orlando; in 1966, the number of rapes per 100,000 people increased to 36; and in 1967, after women received gun training, there were only 4 rapes per 100,000 population. Gun advocates point to this as evidence that guns are good, but discussion on ScienceBlogs questions the validity of seeing this as simple cause and effect: "Did Orlando gun training reduce rapes?" 

About the Land Swap

The Valley Alliance has weighed in on the transfer of nine acres of waterfront land from Holcim to the City of Hudson: "12-point objection to wrongheaded land deal." The objections were submitted to the Planning Commission this afternoon, in advance of the public hearing, which begins at 5:30 p.m. in City Hall.

Defending the Right to Carry Guns

Most everyone who uses email has had a message escape unintentionally, but seldom are the consequences as disastrous as they were for Alderman David Marston (First Ward). Since the word got out that the Common Council Legal Committee was, in the aftermath of the tragedy in Newtown, CT, contemplating banning guns in city buildings and city parks, the members of the Legal Committee reportedly have heard from a lot of people--all of whom oppose restrictions on gun ownership and none of whom live in Hudson. For Marston, an email from Joanna Johnson-Smith from New Lebanon, the New York state organizer of Gun Rights Across America, was the straw that broke the camel's back. Johnson-Smith told him, among other things, that he "spit on in the Constitution" and "couldn't give a donkey's behind about individual rights."

Joanna Johnson-Smith
Marston let loose in an email that he never intended to send but did. The gist of Marston's email to Johnson-Smith is well summarized on the Washington-based news and opinion site The Daily Caller. The instant Marston realized the email had been accidentally sent, he sent an apology to Johnson-Smith. As he explained last night, "my lesser self got the best of me." But, although she demanded a public apology from Marston last night, Johnson-Smith refused to accept the private one. She distributed his email as widely as she could. In current parlance, it "went viral," and hundreds of gun owners descended on the Legal Committee meeting. 

Anticipating the turnout, Council Common president Don Moore announced yesterday afternoon that the meeting would be held not at City Hall but at the Central Fire Station. Once there, the assembled crowd had to be moved again--from the meeting room to the giant truck bay, which had been emptied of trucks.

The crowd was not happy with Marston or with Hudson. The white T-shirt worn by the man in the center of this picture bore the handwritten message "David Marston--a Psychotard is WAITING to beat you up," and the sign held by the man seated next to him read: BOYCOTT HUDSON UNLESS YOU NEED ANTIQUES SOCIAL SERVICES WELFARE DRUGS.

[Gossips Note: I have been told that I misquoted the T-shirt, which I readily admit is a possibility. I only saw the full text of the shirt once, before the man wearing it started trying to allude me--or so it appeared to me--because I had pulled out my camera. A commenter has informed me that the message on the shirt was actually "David Marston--This psychotard is WAITING for his beating"--a reference to a statement made in Marston's runaway email.]   

Alderman John Friedman (Third Ward), who chairs the Legal Committee, clarified that the goal in considering the gun legislation was to "ensure the safety of the people who work in city buildings, who visit City Hall, and who recreate in city parks." He made it clear the legislation was still the subject of research and discussion and mentioned both the City's policy on workplace violence, already in place, and New York State Penal Law Section 400. Saying that the conversation about the gun law "is going to be over in just about ten minutes," he explained that he would allow one pro-gun person to speak for five minutes and one anti-gun person to speak for five minutes.

The spokesperson for the pro-gun position was David Luck, who carried a wooden replica rifle with a little American flag stuck in the barrel. He introduced himself as a CPA in Chatham who attends the Rock Solid Church here in Hudson. The basic theme of his presentation was that guns prevent violent crime. He told the audience that rape had reached epidemic proportions in Orlando, Florida, until women were encouraged to buy handguns and learn to use them. When this happened, there was a 90 percent reduction in the incidence of rape. He challenged people who oppose gun ownership to put signs outside their houses declaring "This is a gun-free home" (that statement drew applause) and claimed that schools are targets of violence because they are gun-free zones.

There was no one present who wanted to speak for the anti-gun position, but Mayor William Hallenbeck announced that "the City" had a position on the gun law and asked city attorney Cheryl Roberts to explain it. Roberts reported her research, stating her legal opinion that the local law being considered would be preemptive of New York State Penal Law Section 400 and "if the Council passed this law, the City would be sued." Roberts' statement was greeted with thundering applause from the audience.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Dog Tale 2: William and the Boots

During William's first year in Hudson, I decided, as winter approached, that he needed boots to protect his paws from the salt and deicer strewn on the streets and sidewalks. So I bought some from a dog fancier's mail-order catalog. They were black--the color chosen on purpose so they would not be conspicuous on a black dog. 

The first time it snowed, I set out to put William's boots on for our morning walk--a task that turned out to be far more difficult than I imagined. By the time I got to the fourth boot, the first two were already off. After several frustrating revolutions, I finally managed to work fast enough and efficiently enough to get all four boots on before William got a single one off, and we were out the door.

But alas, at the bottom of the stoop, William cowered on the sidewalk, trying to hide all four paws at the same time. With stubborn humiliation, he refused to move. He looked at me pleadingly, as I probably looked at my mother when in elementary school I didn't want to wear my boots to school, but unlike her I relented. The boots came off, and we went on our way.

I may have tried putting the boots on again, but I never succeeded in getting William to wear them on a walk. Two years later, in the fall of 2001, we donated William's boots to the search and rescue dogs working in the rubble of the World Trade Center.

The State of the Police

Yesterday was Ellis Richardson's last day as chief of the Hudson Police Department, and in today's Register-Star, Richardson speaks about his nearly fourteen years of being chief: "Richardson looks back on his days as police chief."

Today, too, the Register-Star confirms predictions reported by Sam Pratt on his blog yesterday that Sergeant L. Edward Moore of the New York State Police is likely to become Hudson's new police chief: "State Police sergeant could be next Hudson chief." For those interested in Moore's qualifications for the job, his resume can be viewed at SamPratt.com.

Of Interest to Kayakers

It was reported this morning on WAMC's North Country News that a state supreme court judge has upheld the Department of Environmental Conservation's position that if a stream is navigable, paddlers have the legal right to use it. The decision came in a lawsuit brought by the Brandreth Park Association against Phil Brown, the editor of the Adirondack Explorer. In 2009, Brown wrote an article for the not-for-profit magazine recounting his experience canoeing in the Adirondacks, from Lake Lila to Little Tupper Lake. His route took him across Brandreth land, where "No Trespassing" signs had been posted and a cable had been stretched across the stream. With the article as evidence, the Brandreth Park Association sued Brown for trespassing, but the judge maintained that Brown had the right to paddle on the Adirondack stream and ordered the landowner to stop posting signs to deny access to the waterway. Click here to listen to the entire report.

The decision obviously has relevance for kayakers who venture into Holcim-owned South Bay and take photographs like the one reproduced here.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Hudson and Fashion

In November 2011, Hudson was the setting for many of the photographs in the J. Jill catalog. This year, Hudson was the backdrop for photographs that appear in the winter catalog for Brooklyn Tweed

Wayward Car on Warren Street

It's not clear if it was a failed attempt to parallel park, a U-turn gone wrong, or something else altogether, but a car ended up on the sidewalk in the 500 block of Warren Street at about 3 o'clock this afternoon.

Photos provided by a Gossips reader

Acquiring the Nine Acres

On Thursday, February 28, the Planning Commission will be holding a public hearing at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall. The purpose of the hearing, as stated on the City website, is "to accept and consider public comment on a preliminary and final application submitted by the City of Hudson on behalf of Holcim (US), to subdivide parcels having Tax ID Parcel Nos. 109.11-1-24 and 109.15-1-1." 

This hearing appears to be connected with the transfer of nine acres of land from Holcim to the City of Hudson--a transfer that involves conditions that will be in force for the next fifty years. The Planning Commission obviously doesn't expect the public hearing to take very long. They have scheduled a special meeting on the same topic fifteen minutes later at 5:45 p.m.

Of Interest

Sam Pratt makes a prediction about who will be Hudson's new chief of police: "New sheriff in town?"

Dog Tale 1: William and the Children

William's actual birthday is unknown to me, as is his breed mix, because he had been a stray when I adopted him. We've always celebrated his birthday on March 11, and Monday after next, we will celebrate his fifteenth birthday. A couple of years ago, in the week prior to William's special day, I shared five stories of our life together. When I suggested to someone that I might do it again this year, I was told that since William was achieving the esteemed age of 15, worthy of note for a big dog, he deserved to have fifteen stories told about him to celebrate his birthday. We're a day late getting started, but with our readers' kind indulgence, here's the first one.

William had a black mark on his record when I adopted him. The Lancaster County Humane League, the shelter where I found him, subjects dogs in their care to a number of tests to evaluate their temperament, and William had failed one of them. This was his downfall: he had growled when a chew toy was offered and then snatched away. Because of this, he was not approved for adoption by a family with small children. This little character flaw didn't bother me, of course, but remembering it struck terror into my heart the first time I took William for a walk here in Hudson.

It was summertime--August 1999. On the morning after we'd arrived home together for the first time, William and I were heading out on our first walk in Hudson. As we approached Third Street, a group of six or seven children--all four- or five-year-olds--came running toward us, eager to pet the dog. Remembering William's alleged temperament defect, I held my breath. In seconds, the whole disastrous scenario played out in my fevered imagination--growling and snapping, torn flesh, children screaming, cursing parents appearing from nowhere to castigate me. My words of caution about approaching an unfamiliar dog went unheeded as the children crowded around William, petting him from all directions. One child even threw his arms around William's neck and held his face close to William's muzzle. As I watched with dread and terror, William turned his face toward the child's face and gave him a big sloppy dog kiss. 

William had been subjected to Hudson's own test of his temperament and had passed with flying colors.

What Oft Was Thought Makes Headlines

The notion that the Hudson City School District might close John L. Edwards School--now a primary school for K-2--has been around for years, but today it made headlines in the Register-Star: "District may close John L. Edwards school."

HCSD superintendent Maria Suttmeier is quoted in the article as once again referring to what goes on in the school district as "doing business," and Taghkanic resident Mary Udell called for raising school taxes to avoid having to close JLE. It will be remembered that just four years ago, in 2009, $36.6 million was spent on building construction and part of that was used to build a new wing on JLE.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Barrett to Be at Grazin'

Assemblymember Didi Barrett is repeating her Diner Stop Tour, taking her mobile district office to various diners in the district. She will be here in Hudson at Grazin' Diner on Friday, March 1, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Anyone interested in scheduling a chat with Barrett can do so by calling (845) 758-9790. Click here for the full schedule of diner stops, which includes the Plaza Diner in Greenport on April 5.

The Word on the Water

The attention paid to fracking brine and its potential to contaminate Hudson's water supply at the Churchtown Reservoir in Taghkanic--or anywhere along the way--prompted Rob Perry, superintendent of Public Works, to contact Gossips. He provided the text of New York Codes, Rules and Regulations (NYCRR) that relates to the City of Hudson water supply, which is repeated in Chapter A334 of the Hudson City Code, "Watershed Rules." 

Perry also had this to say about Hudson's water system, which has existed for more than 130 years:

It all started in c. 1880 with an act of the NYS Legislature that created the City of Hudson Water Commission. This created the foundation for the issuance of debt to establish easements/rights of way, property acquisition, riparian rights, construction and the creation of laws.
It's a magnificent system made even more awe-inspiring when one considers it was created in the Edwardian Era, with contrasting technologies: horse and buggy and steam shovel. Maintaining this system is much more than a material or regulatory obligation, it is a labor of love and true stewardship.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Photoshopping Your Fears

The notion that there could be an elevated conveyor over the railroad tracks inspired a reader to doctor a photograph to show what such a conveyor might look like and send it to Gossips. It's not exactly how I envision it, but who knows? This could be it.

More About the Ferry Street Bridge

Gossips' attention to the Ferry Street Bridge prompted a reader to provide the link to HistoricBridges.org, which features photographs and technical information about our bridge over the railroad tracks. HistoricBridges.org indicates that the bridge was built in 1905 and rates its historic significance, on a scale of 1 to 10, as 7 for both local and national significance. (Shaw Bridge in Claverack is rated 10 for local and 9 for national historic significance.)    

Getting There

As has been reported here on Gossips, the City of Hudson is moving ahead with its efforts to take control of the Ferry Street Bridge and pursue grant money to replace it. The reasons for doing so are compelling. The City wants to develop the waterfront, which, of course, is located on the other side of the railroad tracks. At present, there are only two ways to get across the tracks: the Ferry Street Bridge and the Broad Street crossing. In the past few years, the Ferry Street Bridge has been closed for months at a time because it was deemed unsafe and in need of repair. Even in the best of times, the weight limit on the bridge prohibits anything but passenger cars from crossing. Firetrucks must use the grade level crossing on Broad Street.

Adding to the urgency to the desire to take control of the bridge is the incipient rumor that CSX may be contemplating closing the Broad Street crossing for safety reasons, which would make the Ferry Street Bridge the only access to riverfront park and the boat launch. If this were to happen, having a new bridge that belonged to the City and was sturdy enough to bear the weight of firetrucks would be critically important.

There has been concern about losing the historic bridge, which has been in place for at least a hundred years. Common Council president Don Moore seemed to be acknowledging this concern when he mused aloud at the Economic Development Committee meeting on Thursday night about the possibility of incorporating the visible trusses of the existing bridge into the new bridge.

If the Broad Street crossing were to close, a new and sturdier Ferry Street Bridge, whose safekeeping were in the hands of the City, would solve the problem of getting passenger cars and pedestrians--and emergency vehicles, when necessary--over the railroad tracks to riverfront park and the boat launch and whatever else gets developed down there, but what about the gravel trucks? Hudson can't seem to make plans for its waterfront without making accommodation for the rock coming out of the quarry, so in a scenario that eliminates the grade level crossing, how would the dump trucks get to the port? The City certainly will not want enormously heavy, aggregate-laden dump trucks rumbling over the new bridge and past Henry Hudson Riverfront Park.

The recently released revised zoning map holds a clue to what may be an inevitable solution. The area of lighter green labeled "R-C" is the Recreational Conservation District that is South Bay. The rat tail of emerald green cutting through it is the causeway. Note how the tail attaches to the emerald green body labeled "C-R"--Core Riverfront District--right about where the port is located. It continues uninterrupted over the railroad tracks. If CSX were to close the Broad Street crossing, would it mean that the City would have to accept a conveyor over the railroad tracks at this point to allow gravel to get from the end of the causeway to the port?

Comment 3.1.32 on the Generic Environmental Impact Statement, made by John E. Franzen of the Athens Waterfront Advisory Committee (see pages 3-34 and 3-35 of the FGEIS), expresses concern about "port enhancements" and mentions specifically "elevated conveyors." The response to that comment seems emphatic enough: "The Draft LWRP does not mention, contemplate or countenance an 'elevated conveyor' at the riverfront."

But Hudson seems never to have much control when it comes to the movement of rock through our city, and the path chosen is always the lesser of two evils. In the 1870s, it was a choice between mule-pulled wagons making their way from the quarry to the river along Worth Avenue, Union Street, West Court Street, and Allen Street or a railroad that bisected South Bay. A hundred and forty years
later, we bemoan the evil that won out.

If CSX were to close the Broad Street crossing, Hudson will find itself once again between a rock and a hard place, having to choose between allowing gravel trucks across the Ferry Street Bridge--assuming the City has built a better, stronger bridge that can support their massive weight--or permitting an elevated conveyor at the western end of the causeway.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

What's in the Water?

At last Tuesday's Common Council meeting, Alderman John Friedman (Third Ward) made the point that, since Hudson's water supply originates in the Town of Taghkanic, what is done in Hudson to protect the citizenry from the negative effects of fracking waste may be of little consequence. In the report on the meetingGossips quoted Friedman as saying, "If they use fracking waste on their roads, it's going to migrate into our water supply."

A comment on that report explained that in November 2012 the Taghkanic Town Board had passed an 18-month moratorium on all drilling and hydraulic fracturing to give its zoning commission time to study the potential impacts. The story was reported in the Register-Star, and Gossips has gotten confirmation from two reliable sources that the Town of Taghkanic is concerned about the potential degradation of natural resources.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Tomorrow at Hudson Chautauqua

The Hudson Chautauqua is a new phenomenon in town, but the lecture series that has been going on there has so far been excellent. Last month, Hudson Valley historian and raconteur Paul Barrett shared his knowledge of the mansions that once surrounded Lyndhurst during the Gilded Age of Tarrytown. Among the stories and information he shared about the opulent houses that used to be was this remarkable tale of research and serendipitous discovery.

One of the lost mansions of Tarrytown was Millbrook, a blue granite mansion reminiscent of a 17th-century castle. It was built in 1888 and demolished in 1957. From an obscure 1891 article in the New York Times, Barrett learned this previously unknown detail about the once grand mansion. Elihu Vedder (1836-1923), an American Romantic painter and illustrator, had designed a magnificent stained glass window for Millbrook. Measuring 6 feet by 15 feet, the window had dominated the landing of the mansion's main staircase. It depicted a woman drawing aside the curtain of night to reveal the first hint of dawn, and it was entitled Morning.

The second amazing discovery Barrett made was that Morning still existed. In 2008, fifty years after Millbrook had been demolished, Doris Cultraro, a stained glass artist and the owner of DC Studios in Rhinebeck, was asked to restore a large stained glass window for a client in Cold Spring. The client and her husband had purchased the window in 1960 from a salvage yard in Yonkers. They paid $100 for it, hauled it away in a pickup truck, and installed it in a new house they were building. All they knew about the window is what they had been told at the salvage yard: it had been commissioned in the late 19th century for a mansion in Tarrytown which had since been demolished.

Cultraro recognized that the quality and detail of the window was consistent with the work of Louis Comfort Tiffany and the other great studios of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but she could discover no information about it. Stories about the mystery window appeared in the local papers, and one of these stories came to the attention of Barrett. The article was accompanied by a photograph of the window, and Barrett realized that the window matched the description of Morning in the 1891 article he had discovered about Elihu Vedder. Barrett contacted Cultraro, and, in Barrett's own words, "after more than fifty years, the window and its provenance were reunited."

Tomorrow, Saturday, February 23, Cultraro will be at the Hudson Chautauqua to tell, with slides, the intriguing story of the discovery and restoration of Morning. Samples of the original glass and custom-made replacement glass will be on display. The event begins at 3 p.m., and attendees are advised to come early to ensure getting a seat. The Hudson Chautauqua is located at 49A Eighth Street.

In Memoriam

Edward Gorey would have been eighty-eight today. 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

World Attention to Hudson's Hidden Gem

Tucked away on the grounds of the Hudson Correctional Facility, the Dr. Oliver Bronson House, Hudson's own National Historic Landmark, remains out of sight and out of mind for most Hudsonians. Not so for the rest of the world. The house was a setting for the film The Bourne Legacy. Now it is the subject of a six-page feature in the March 2013 issue of The World of Interiors Magazine.


Images of all six pages can be seen on Historic Hudson's Facebook page.

The restoration of the Dr. Oliver Bronson House is, of course, the project of Historic Hudson, which five years ago entered into a thirty-year lease with the State of New York that gives the not-for-profit legal stewardship of the house. Working with Mesick Cohen Wilson Baker Architects, Historic Hudson has completed Phase I of the restoration project and is soon to embark on Phase II. Phase I, which involved restoring window sash, repairing and replacing the roof, reframing part of the north wall, repairing floor and ceiling beams in the northeast parlor, and fixing the gaping hole in the floor of that parlor, has been documented by Peter Watson on his blog Dr. Oliver Bronson House Daybook. Phase II, which is expected to begin this summer, concentrates on the south side of the building and involves the removal of the 20th-century addition, sometimes known as the "goiter kitchen" because of the way it violates the symmetry of the house's design.

Phase II is being funded with a $300,000 Environmental Protection Fund grant, which requires a $100,000 match. To learn more about the project and make a contribution to the restoration effort, visit the Historic Hudson website

An opportunity to experience the Dr. Oliver Bronson House for yourself and view the progress of the restoration is coming soon. The house will be open in the early summer for Path Through History Weekends (formerly Heritage Weekend) on June 1 and 2 and June 8 and 9.

In the Zone

The new revised zoning map for Hudson, including the zoning changes to the Waterfront Revitalization Area that are part of the LWRP, is now available and can be viewed and downloaded on the City of Hudson website.

Another Step Forward

Hudson's new hotel, The Barlow moved a step closer to being a reality last night. A variance was required for the canopy that will extend from the hotel entrance to the street, and last night the Zoning Board of Appeals held a public hearing on the request. During the hearing, which lasted less than five minutes, Council president Don Moore called the canopy "an elegant solution" and declared his support for the hotel project, and mayor's aide Eugene Shetsky, offered the mayor's support.
 
During their regular meeting, which followed the public hearing, ZBA members Lisa Kenneally, Kathy Harter, Geeta Cheddie, Mary Ellen Pierro, and Phil Abitabile voted unanimously to grant the variance. ZBA member Russell Gibson, who owns the hotel with Duncan Calhoun, recused himself during the public hearing and for the vote. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Last Night's Council Business

The Common Council meeting last night ran for two hours, and in that time a lot happened. Gossips will cover the most significant actions taken by our legislative body.

Ferry Street Bridge  The resolution authorizing the mayor to seek the transfer of easements for the bridge from CSX to the City and to pursue a STEP [Strategic Transportation Enhancements Program] grant to demolish the historic bridge and install a new one passed with only two aldermen voting against it: David Marston (First Ward) and Chris Wagoner (Third Ward).
 
The Weighted Vote  On the issue of the weighted vote, there were two resolutions: one which adopted Plan 433642 for the simple majority; the other which adopted Plan 433626. In the discussion that preceded the vote, Alderman John Friedman (Third Ward) reminded his fellow aldermen of the oath they all had taken to uphold the Constitution and made the point, as he had before, the Plan 433626 came closest to the constitutional norm of one person–one vote. Alderman Robert Donahue (Fifth Ward) asked of Friedman why, in 2000, when the Third Ward aldermen had a strong weighted vote because the prison population was counted in that ward, the Constitution was never invoked and the word democracy never mentioned. Friedman answered simply that he wasn't here in 2000.
 
Council president Moore made the statement that "insofar as the Fourth Ward is smallest, having both aldermen have same number of votes is preferrable." (In Plan 433626, one Fourth Ward aldermen would have 95 votes, the other 94.) He also mentioned the possibility of a charter review commission which could be tasked with considering charter change to amend the current imbalance of election districts.
 
For reasons that were not entirely clear of this observer, voting on the issue of the weighted vote required a letter of necessity from the mayor, which city attorney Cheryl Roberts and the mayor left the chamber to compose.. It also required a two-thirds majority. When the vote was finally taken, the resolution to adopt Plan 433642 came first. Alderman Nick Hadded (First Ward), Marston, Friedman, and Wagoner voted no; Moore and all the other aldermen (Abdus Miah and Wanda Pertilla (Second Ward), Sheila Ramsey and Ohrine Stewart (Fourth Ward), Donahue and Cappy Pierro (Fifth Ward) voted aye. A two-thirds majority required 1,003 affirmative votes; there were 1,300. 
 
This chart shows the new breakdown of the weighted vote.
 
The Senior Center  Architect Jane Smith of Spacesmith and engineer David Crawford of Crawford & Associates were present at the meeting to talk about the proposed senior center and the bids that came in far in excess of the $780,000 that was budgeted for the building. Enumerating some of the things that might be altered or eliminated from the original design--the wood floor, the clerestory windows--Smith assured the Council that she was "reasonably sure that we can deliver this building for $1,080,000."
 
An apparent surprise for Moore last night was that the $83,570 in design fees, which presumably were part of the original $780,000 budget, are not included in the new $1,080,000 budget, which means that, even with the $300,000 offered by the Galvan Foundation, funding for the project is still $83,570 short.
 
Marston expressed concern about "materials, means, and methods," commenting that the changes required to reduce the cost might "change the very nature of the building." Haddad wanted to know why the architect and engineer hadn't delivered a building that was within the City's budget and suggested that the concept was overpriced. While Pierro urged that "we go back out to bid" as quickly as possible, Pertilla and Wagoner wanted assurances that the money from various sources, in particular the $400,000 Community Development Block Grant, was still in place.
 
Mayor William Hallenbeck, from the audience, weighed in with his opinion that "the project has not changed financially for the City," stating that he was "not willing to throw this project in the dump and go look for something else." He shared his conviction that the City is getting a million-dollar building for only $130,000. 
 
Friedman explained that he had supported the proposal before it became known that St. Mary's Academy was available. He called the possible acquisition of St. Mary's "an opportunity for us to do something stunning" and expressed that opinion that he didn't understand "why anyone [meaning the current sources of grant funding] wouldn't want to contribute to a better project."
 
Although concerns remained about the terms of the Galvan Foundation's offer of $300,000 and the resolution before them assumed that the design fees were part of the $1,080,000, the Council proceeded to vote on the resolution authorizing the mayor to accept funds from the Office of Community Renewal ($400,000), Hudson Community Development & Planning Agency ($100,000), Hudson River Bank & Trust Foundation ($150,000), and the Galvan Foundation ($300,000) for the development of the senior center. Friedman, Marston, and Haddad voted no; all the others voted aye, and the resolution passed.
 
Ban on Fracking Waste  There were two documents before the Council having to do with hydraulic fracturing and the waste from such activity. The first was a resolution declaring that such a ban would have no negative environmental impacts and directing the city attorney "to seek a referral for this proposed action from the Columbia County Planning Board and City of Hudson Planning Commission"; the second was the proposed law itself.
 
In December, the ban was proposed and defeated, for what many believe were purely political reasons. Last night, the only objections came from Hudson resident Cheryl Stuart who believed that the fines for violating the fracking ban, which had been increased from $250 a day to $2,500 a day, were still not enough and suggested that they should be $25,000 a day.
 
In the discussion of the proposed law and its efficacy to protect the health and safety of the people of Hudson, Friedman made the point that the real threat to Hudson from fracking was in the Town of Taghkanic, which is the source of our water. "If they use fracking waste on their roads, it's going to migrate into our water supply," said Friedman. Of the proposed local law before them, Friedman concluded, "We can only do what we can do. If we attempt to exceed our power, we will be litigated against."
 
The resolution passed unanimously in a roll call vote, and by a unanimous vote, the proposed law was placed on the aldermen's desks.

Curious Stance

Last night, when the Pledge of Allegiance was recited in the Council Chamber at City Hall, Alderman Robert "Doc" Donahue (Fifth Ward) didn't place his right hand on his heart, as is customary, but instead raised his right arm out in front of him, as the children in this picture are doing. If I remember correctly what I read in Peter Meyer's book on the history of the Pledge, this posture for saluting the flag while pledging allegiance was abandoned in favor of hand on heart in the late 1930s, about the time that Donahue, who is now 75, was born. It probably wouldn't have been what he learned in school. One wonders why he was moved to resurrect it last night.     

It's Only Money

Nathan Mayberg reports today in the Register-Star that the $629,000 the Columbia County Board of Supervisors has agreed to offer for 15 acres of the Meadowgreens Golf Course, in order to expand the runway protection zone at the Columbia County Airport, is more than the assessed value or the market value of the entire 96-acre golf course: "Airport offer more than assessed value."

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Bridging Past and Present

A comment on an earlier Gossips post about the Ferry Street Bridge pointed out that our much maligned bridge to the waterfront is indeed a historic bridge, one of very few structures at the waterfront that have survived demolition during the 20th century. The comment inspired a reader to create this montage, showing the bridge as it was when the waterfront was filled with hotels, warehouses, and an active steamboat landing and as it is now.


Must the price of creating safe access to the waterfront be the demolition of this remnant of Hudson history? 

The Bridge Not Taken

Tonight the Common Council will be voting on a resolution authorizing the mayor to seek the transfer of easements for the Ferry Street Bridge to the City of Hudson and to apply for a Strategic Transportation Emhancement Program grant to demolish the current bridge and install a new one. Seventy years ago, the Common Council was asked to approve another action having to do with bridges that cross the railroad tracks to the waterfront. Back then there were two bridges: the one that carried Ferry Street over the tracks and another that carried Fleet Street, the continuation of Partition Street west of Front Street, across the tracks. This item appeared in the Hudson Evening Register for October 8, 1942.

 
RAILROAD IS ASKING CHANGES IN BRIDGE

The Common Council did not meet last night in special session, as scheduled. The meeting was canceled after a caucus of the members, and the matters for which the session had been called will come up probably at the coming regular meeting.

The New York Central Railroad Co. has requested the city's permission to abandon their Fleet street bridge, which spans the tracks that parallel the riverfront, and also seeks permission to elevate the platform of the Ferry street bridge, which spans the railroad tracks a short distance south of the Fleet street bridge.

The railroad company seeks these changes, claiming that it is in the interest of safety in carrying freight materials.

As the abandonment and removal of the Fleet street bridge would require a dead-end to that street, it is believed that an amendment or change of charter is involved, and because of this the matters were left for a later decision after the legal technicalities have been smoothed out.




Yet Another President in Hudson

Yesterday, on Presidents' Day, Gossips recalled the Presidents who have visited Hudson. A reader pointed out that we had overlooked Harry S Truman's whistle stop here in 1952, while campaigning for Adlai Stevenson. This morning we discovered another, albeit brief, presidential visit which had been omitted. On Saturday, November 11, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson's train stopped here on his way back to Washington from Williamstown, Massachusetts. The following account appeared in the Hudson Evening Register for Monday, November 13, 1916.
 
MANY HUDSONIANS SAW THE PRESIDENT
Crowd of About 500 at Station to Greet Him as Train Stopped Here.
 
On his way back from Williamstown, Mass., President Wilson found crowds waiting for him at every station Saturday night. At Albany about 3,000 gathered to meet his train, the reception committee being headed by ex-Governor Glynn, P. F. McCabe, former Sheriff Hathaway and A. Page Smith, and also Mayor Lunn of Schenectady, who is Congressman elect.
 
When the President's private car attached to the regular train reaching Hudson at 8:38 pulled in there was a crowd of nearly 500 people waiting to get a glimpse of the President. The car was on the end of the train and it came to standstill on the tracks under the Ferry street bridge, where the crowd hurried, with red fire lighting the way. Two secret service men came out on the platform as they heard the cries "Hurrah for Wilson," "We Want Wilson," etc. One of them stepped inside and came out saying that the President would greet them in a moment. Then as the President came out the train started off. Mr. Wilson was greeted with loud cheers, and he waved his hand to the people in salutation and he was smiling. He remained on the rear platform until the car passed the Hudson station. Several people had the opportunity to grasp his hand.
 
The big crowd was an unexpected one, as many people did not know that the President was coming, and others thought that he was going through on a train which would not stop. He went to Rhinebeck, where he boarded the President's yacht, the Mayflower.
 


 
 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Another President in Hudson

A reader just informed me that a fifth president visited Hudson: Harry S Truman. President Truman made a whistle stop here in Hudson on October 10, 1952, while campaigning for Adlai Stevenson. Click here to listen to the remarks he made from the rear platform of the train.


This photograph, found on the Truman Library website, was taken on October 10, 1952, but since there were a dozen stops and a dozen speeches that day, there is no reason to believe it was taken in Hudson, although it may have been.

Presidents in Hudson

On this Presidents' Day, Gossips recounts the Presidents who have paid visits to Hudson over the years.

MARTIN VAN BUREN
Martin Van Buren visited Hudson at midterm on July 19, 1839. Van Buren was a Democrat, the city leaders of the time were Whigs, and the President's reception--in the seat of his home county--was anything but enthusiastic. The following excerpts are from the Columbia Republican.

It was supposed that Mr. Van Buren's advent into his native State would be marked by peculiar demonstrations of joy and that as he approached his native county, where he was reared, and where in youth and in manhood, he laid his deep and dark scheme of ambition, that he would be greeted by a pageant, brilliant, glorious and unprecedented in the history of Presidential tours. Such were some of the bright anticipations of our "Democratic fellow citizens"--but alas! how far removed from reality.

After the Common Council had wisely refused to squander the people's money in defraying the expense of Mr. Van Buren's electioneering tour, and had indignantly refused to degrade their official stations, by doing personal homage, the Fire Department, (whose splendid appearance on gala days have won for them an enviable reputation) were requested to turn out--but they too by a vote of 10 to 3, refused to be used. Thus in effect, did the City of Hudson refuse to receive Mr. Van Buren; not because she is inhospitable--but because her people are too patriotic to give countenance to such gross departures from Republican usages as have disgraced every step of the President's progress. . . . 
 
ABRAHAM LINCOLN
In February 1861, Abraham Lincoln made his inaugural journey from Springfield, Illinois, to Washington, D.C. Hudson was one of the eighty-three stops on his route. An incident that occurred during Lincoln's brief stop in Hudson is mentioned in the second volume of Carl Sandburg's biography of Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln: The War Years. Soon after this volume was published, the following item appeared on the front page of the Hudson Daily Register, on February 9, 1940. 
 
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."
 
THEODORE ROOSEVELT
Theodore Roosevelt visited Hudson in 1914, five years after he left the White House. He was here to speak at the Hudson Opera House, and this story discovered in the Boston Globe for October 8, 1914, and often retold by HOH executive director Gary Schiro, tells what happened when Roosevelt was here.


Roosevelt Unwilling to Speak in Hudson Opera House Until Friends Get Food for Him
 
Hudson, N.Y., Oct. 7--Col. Roosevelt likes the soup they make in Hudson. He proved it yesterday when he called for a second bowl of vegetable soup as he stood in the wings of the Opera House. So the crowd waited 10 minutes while his nephew, Theodore Douglas Robinson and two local Progressives chased to a lunchroom across the street and returned with a big bowl of vegetable soup. One was not enough so the colonel had a second bowl. "Now that'll do til dinner time," he said as he climbed into the motor car to resume his tour, "I have to be fed. I want man-sized victuals from this time on or I'll strike."
 
FRANKLIN DELANO ROOSEVELT
Recently Lisa Durfee discovered this photograph of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and published it on her blog The Tainted Lady Lounge. A notation on the photograph gives the date 1932, the last year that FDR was governor of New York, and provides this identification: "Gov. Roosevelt at Dedication (Firemen's Home)." As Durfee points out, the Memorial Hospital at the Firemen's Home that was completed in 1932.
 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Of Interest for a Holiday Weekend

Gossips has been combing the newspapers at Fulton History for more information about our current interests: The Home for the Aged and Captain Warren Robinson. In the process, this curious feature, which appeared on the front page of the Chatham Courier for Tuesday, May 13, 1890, was discovered--containing some interesting facts about Hudson.

WITH THE NEWS GLEANERS
WHO TOIL IN COLUMBIA AND ADJOINING COUNTIES
Things Seen and Done in Villages and
Hamlets Around about Us
  • Horses in Hudson are suffering from distemper.
  • Hudson will have 11 polling places under the new ballot law. . . .
  • The present population of the Hudson House of Refuge is 202 women and 12 infants. . . .
  • Horseback riding is becoming quite popular among Hudson lawyers. It is a healthful exercise.
  • Hon. Benj. Ray, of Hudson, has been appointed an assistant inspector of steamboats for the New York district. . . .
  • It has been definitely arranged that the fair for the Hudson Home for the Aged will be held during the second week of next November.
  • Two sharks were seen in the Hudson river near Cornwall a few days ago. They generally arrive about the same time small boys open the swimming season. . . .
  • The Hudson Iron company last week elected the following trustees: Jacob W. Hoysradt, John E. Gillette, Frank B. Stott, Milton Martin, Augustus McKinstry, Samuel R. Rainey, Albert Hoysradt. At a subsequent meeting of the trustees, J. W. Hoysradt was re-elected president and Sydney Seymour secretary and treasurer.