Saturday, April 22, 2017

A Thought at the Close of Earth Day

Regular readers know that day by day I am searching the newspapers from 1917 for items that provide insight into life on the home front--specifically Hudson--during the U.S. involvement in the Great War, World War I. Sometimes, though, I stumble upon fascinating things that are not related to the war but to the influenza pandemic that no one in the spring of 1917 could have known would happen in the late fall of 1918. This is an example--an image that appeared in the Hudson Evening Register for April 18, 1917.

It was not an advertisement for a painter, a paint store, or a particular brand of paint. It was a public service announcement. Ironically, the paint believed in 1917 to kill all germs is today a major public health hazard because it contained lead.

Happy Earth Day

Photo: NASA/NOAA/Goes Project

This image of the Americas was captured on Earth Day, 2014, by the NASA/NOAA Goes Project at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

Friday, April 21, 2017

What It Says

For anyone curious about the amicus brief submitted to the Zoning Board of Appeals on Wednesday by the South Bay Coalition regarding the appeal of the Order to Remedy, that document is now available on the City of Hudson website. Click here to access it. The following illustrations are from the document.


Today at the Youth Center

Right now, the Greater Hudson Promise Neighborhood is having a fundraising dinner at the Hudson Youth Center. It started at noon and will go on until 6 p.m., or until they run out of food, so get yourself to the Youth Center for a fried chicken dinner for just $10. You can dine there or take your food home. They are even offering home delivery if you call 518 828-0017.

Also happening at the Youth Center today, at 2:30, the kids of Kite's Nest will march from their headquarters on South Front Street to the Youth Center for the official unveiling of the mural they created on the side of the building. Those who show up at Kite's Nest shortly before 2:30 can view the hand-built snake museum before the parade to the Youth Center steps off.

Photo: Kite's Nest
Join the fun, get some good food, and support a worthy community cause.

A Hundred Years Ago in Hudson

While combing through old newspapers looking for items that reveal life in Hudson during the Great War, I came upon the following report in the Evening Register for Wednesday, April 18, 1917, and I could not resist sharing it. It has no particular relevance to the declaration of war that happened two weeks before, but it does involve Officer Miller, a Gossips obsession in 2015.

The story teaches two lessons that are still relevant to us in the 21st century: don't make phone calls when you've had too much to drink; and don't use indecent language when you are phoning the police.

Hudson vs. Colarusso: The Dock

On Wednesday night, Colarusso's appeal of the Order to Remedy came before the Zoning Board of Appeals. The OTR was issued on January 27 by code enforcement officer Craig Haigh because work had been done by Colarusso on the dock without approval from the Planning Board, in violation of city code. A month later, on February 23, Colarusso, through their attorney John Privitera, appealed the OTR, arguing that what was done was a "minor action" which did not require review by the Planning Board.

City of Hudson Code Section 325.17.1D specifies that "no building shall be erected, moved, altered, rebuilt or enlarged, nor shall any land or improvement thereon be constructed, altered, paved, improved or rebuilt, in whole or in part, for any purpose in the Core Riverfront C-R District, except that the following conditional uses are permitted, subject to the approval of the Planning Board. . . ." On Wednesday, Privitera argued that Haigh had misinterpreted the law and made a factual error in issuing the OTR. He maintained that what had been done at the dock--stabilizing the shoreline south of the dock with riprap and replacing the bulkhead on the north side of the dockconstituted a "minor action" and was therefore exempt for the following three reasons: (1) it was maintenance and repair that involved no substantive change or improvement; (2) the replacement of the bulkhead was "in kind"Privitera defined "in kind" as "similar" and claimed that replacing a wood and concrete bulkhead with a steel bulkhead was "in kind" because they replaced a bulkhead with a bulkhead; (3) the work involved fewer than 4,000 square feet. Privitera asked the ZBA to reverse the Order to Remedy, saying that "the project cannot be undone, because it was fully done and approved by the Department of Environmental Conservation and the Army Corps of Engineers."

To hear all of Privitera's argument, Haigh's response, and assistant city attorney Mitch Khosrova's comments, you can watch Dan Udell's video of the proceedings, which is now available online. A report on the meeting also appears today in the Register-Star: "Colarusso appeals bulkhead violation." This report includes information contained in an amicus brief submitted to the ZBA by the South Bay Coalition.

It is up to the ZBA to decide if the code enforcement officer's decision was legal and correct. Before making that judgment, they will conduct a public hearing on the issue, to take place on Tuesday, May 9, at 6 p.m.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Meanwhile, Back in Hudson

While many of us were in Greenport on Tuesday night, at the special informational meeting about Colarusso's proposed haul road, the Common Council held its regular monthly meeting. At that meeting, the Council passed a resolution, which originated with the Conservation Advisory Council, opposing the proposed Pilgrim Pipeline. Rosa Acheson has a report about it in the Register-Star: "Council votes to oppose Pilgrim."  

Map source: A Pipeline Runs Through It
The proposal is for two pipelines--one carrying crude oil and other carrying refined oil--between Albany and Linden, New Jersey. Seventy-nine percent of the pipelines would be located in the right-of-way of the  New York State Thruway, which George Pataki once called "New York's Main Street." The resolution passed by our Common Council on Tuesday calls upon the New York State Thruway Authority to reject the use of its right-of-way for the purpose of transporting gas and oil by pipeline and urges Governor Andrew Cuomo and the State Legislature to oppose construction of the Pilgrim Pipeline. 

If you are not sure why the proposed pipeline is a bad idea and opposing it is a good thing, watch this video by Jon Bowermaster: A Pipeline Runs Through It. 

Relive the Experience . . .

or watch it for the first time. Dan Udell's video of Tuesday night's informational meeting conducted by the Greenport Planning Board on the proposed Colarusso haul road can now be viewed online.


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Get Yourself a Piece of Local History

A month ago, Fairview Cinema 3 screened The Last Picture Show on its final weekend of showing movies. Today, Bruce Mitchinson announced that this Saturday, April 22, from noon until 5 p.m., he is having a "lobby sale." He must turn over the keys to the building to TRG on Monday, and everything must go.

Among the things for sale are the commercial popcorn popper, the vintage neon "HOT POPCORN" sign, movie reels, lobby stanchions and velour ropes, the doorman ticket stub box, cash registers, movie standees, paintings and prints, file cabinets, room air conditioners, electric heaters, and other small items. Mitchinson offers this invitation: "If anyone wants to do their American Pickers impression, look around and make an offer." 

This is your golden opportunity--one that won't come again--to get yourself something to commemorate Fairview Cinema 3 and its forty-four years of showing movies, so don't miss it. The sale is Saturday, April 22, from noon to 5 p.m.

Of Interest

Roger Hannigan Gilson, who is still listed as reporter on the Register-Star website although he seems no longer to work for the paper, has a post on his blog, The Other Hudson Valley, of particular interest to me and others like me, who have chosen Hudson as their home but are still considered "outsiders" by the HBBs (Hudson by Birth): "Columbia County vs. The Cidiots."  

Thanks to Trixie Starr for bringing this to our attention 

Last Night in Greenport

For some, last night's "Special Informational Meeting" conducted by the Greenport Planning Board was reminiscent of the many hearings that took place more than a decade ago surrounding the proposed St. Lawrence Cement "Greenport Project"--same place, same conflict between preserving South Bay and the Hudson waterfront for aesthetic and recreational uses and using them for heavy industry, same sense of a divided community, heightened by the Colarusso people handing out chartreuse vests to anyone who would sign this statement of support for the haul road:

After Greenport Planning Board chair Ed Stiffler called the meeting to order and reminded everyone of its purpose, Virginia Benedict, counsel to the Greenport Planning Board, read from the statement of "Authority, intent, and purpose" of New York State's Environmental Conservation Law:
In adopting SEQR [State Environmental Quality Review], it was the Legislature's intention that all agencies conduct their affairs with an awareness that they are stewards of the air, water, land and living resources, and that they have an obligation to protect the environment for the use and enjoyment of this and all future generations.
The basic purpose of SEQR is to incorporate the consideration of environmental factors into the existing planning, review and decision-making processes of state, regional and local government agencies at the earliest possible time. To accomplish this goal, SEQR requires that all agencies determine whether the actions they directly undertake, fund or approve may have a significant impact on the environment, and, if it is determined that the action may have a significant adverse impact, prepare or request an environmental impact statement.
It was the intention of the Legislature that the protection and enhancement of the environment, human and community resources should be given appropriate weight with social and economic considerations in determining public policy, and that those factors be considered together in reaching decisions on proposed activities. Accordingly, it is the intention of this Part that a suitable balance of social, economic and environmental factors be incorporated into the planning and decision-making processes of state, regional and local agencies. It is not the intention of SEQR that environmental factors be the sole consideration in decision making.
With that, Stiffler defined the rules of conduct for the hearing: anyone wishing to speak must have previously signed up to do so; each speaker would have a maximum of five minutes; there would be no clapping or booing; speakers were to address the board not the applicant.

Before members of the public were given a chance to speak, Pat Prendergast, the engineer for Colarusso, made a presentation of the project, in which he defined the benefits to the applicant as "less interaction with vehicles and pedestrians" and the benefits for the public as "a lot less trucks, less impact to infrastructure, and less noise and dirt." He also alleged that the proposed haul road was "consistent with the City of Hudson 'master plan' and its zoning."

Of the seventeen people who spoke at the hearing, only three spoke in support of the proposal. Bernie Kelleher, highway superintendent for Columbia County, called it a win for the City of Hudson and a win for Colarusso, saying it was a "no-brainer to get the trucks out of the city." Joe Mormando, who identified himself as a member of the Power Boat Association, declared that he didn't understand "why anyone could be against this" and continued, "I still haven't heard a reason why it shouldn't be done." Roddy Niesen attested, "The Colarusso family are good people."

Among those having concerns about the proposed haul road, the first to speak was David Clouser, the new engineer for the Hudson Planning Board. He began by noting that the Town of Greenport and the City of Hudson had similar concerns when it came to the application and also different concerns. Traffic was a concern shared by both municipalities. What was different was that South Bay is a rare ecological resource, and the City "has taken great care to look at what they want to do with the riverfront." As his associate Ryan Weitz had done last Thursday at the Hudson Planning Board meeting, Clouser summarized the findings of a study of the proposed project, reiterating that to exclude the dock from consideration would constitute segmentation, asserting that the proposal is not consistent with community plans, and indicating that more information is needed, specifically about the culvert, the number of truck trips, the trestle.

Julie Metz told of a flyer being distributed along the Columbia Street truck route, suggesting that Colarusso is trying to "pit neighborhoods against each other" and alleging that "Colarusso wants to bully and rush their way through the process." She questioned the benefits of the proposal by noting that only about 20 percent of the trucks on Hudson streets are Colarusso trucks and Colarusso is "requesting the haul road in addition to continuing to use Columbia Street." She asserted that the economy of Hudson that would be negatively impacted by the haul road employs more people than Colarusso does. (Colarusso, it was noted by Prendergast, employees 150 people.)

Peter Jung, representing The Valley Alliance, expressed concern that the volume of the activity that would be enabled by making the road through South Bay two lanes would "impede other development on the waterfront." He mentioned in particular the $25 million proposal to redevelop the Kaz warehouse site, the RFP for the Dunn building, and the existing enterprise at Basilica Hudson. Like Metz, he pointed out that "people suffering truck traffic will only see a little relief" from the haul road and that Colarusso has made "no commitment to take all their trucks off the street." Jung urged the Greenport Planning Board to make a positive declaration.

John Lyons, an environmental attorney representing a Hudson citizens' group, said he was glad to hear the statement of the purpose of SEQR read aloud and told the board, "Now is your time to fulfill your responsibility as lead agency." He urged to board to "mitigate impacts before we start reviewing plans" and asked them to be "stewards of the land, air, and water," to look at the haul road and the dock together, and to make a positive declaration.

Jonathan Lerner, chair of the Hudson Conservation Advisory Council, defined two environmental concerns about the proposed alterations to the haul road through South Bay: the impact on habitat and species and restricted tidal flow and fish passage. 

Barbara Dague, identifying herself as representing the human species, asserted that "our waterfront cannot support the industrial activity" enabled by the Colarusso proposal and urged the Planning Board to make a positive declaration.

Adam Weinert spoke of the growth of tourism in Hudson, noting that "the river and access to it" is regularly cited as the major reason people visit Hudson. He predicted what is proposed would be "a blight to the community and a detriment to businesses that rely on tourism." He asserted that the proposal was "inconsistent with the Vision Plan, the Comprehensive Plan, and the LWRP." 

Stephen Kingsley, remarking that last time he was at Columbia-Greene Community College was for the cement plant, urged collaboration: "We're all in this together. We have to figure this out together. . . . Let's do this in a smart way that works for everybody. We have a chance to do this right for our children."

John Rosenthal asked the Greenport Planning Board to consider Hudson zoning. As others before him, he noted that the proposal does not solve the truck problem in Hudson and suggested that Colarusso could alleviate the truck problem by taking their trucks off the streets right now if they chose to. He reminded the board that the haul road was a nonconforming use and Hudson zoning does not allow for expansion and asked for a positive declaration.

Virginia Martin noted that Hudson had one of the county's few accessible waterfronts. She spoke of tourism and stated that tourism accounted for $130 million spent in Columbia County and was responsible for a 7 percent increase in tax revenues. She warned that the haul road would "likely bring an expansion of industrial activity," which would discourage other kinds of businesses and seriously damage Hudson's quality of life and economy. "We can't have Hudson's good sacrificed for Colarusso's good."

Elsa Leviseur also expressed concern about the impacts on the economy and worried about expansion: longer hours and more trucks. She asked if there could not be "a way for the City and Colarusso to work in collaboration," but she said thought "they are cutting corners and going behind people's backs." She too urged the board to make a positive declaration.

Sophie Henderson, who works at Basilica Hudson, expressed concern about the impacts on the character of Hudson, noting that the impacts of dust, fumes, and noise are already significant, and called for a positive declaration.

Mitch Khosrova, counsel to the Hudson Planning Board, was the last to speak. He told the Greenport Planning Board, "I'm sure tonight you realize the burden that you have as lead agency [in the SEQR process]." He reminded the board that the Hudson code "specifically states that the dock and the causeway are a nonconforming use" and expressed the need to "balance Colarusso interests with the City's interests." He told the board, "We need all the information that an application review requires," later saying, "Without all the information you can't know if you have proper mitigation."

Dan Udell was there, videotaping the proceedings, so soon you will be able to view the proceedings and hear exactly what everyone who spoke at the hearing had to say.

The Greenport Planning Board will be accepting written comments on the haul road proposal until Friday, April 21. If mailed, comments must be postmarked by Friday, April 21, and received by Monday, April 24. If hand delivered, they should be given to the town clerk and time-stamped.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Great War: April 18, 1917

On April 18, 1917, page four of the Hudson Evening Register contained a number of interesting things: the score and the lyrics for all four verses of "The Star-Spangled Banner" (although Woodrow Wilson signed an executive order in 1916 designated it as the national anthem for all military ceremonies, "The Star-Spangled Banner" was not formally designated as the national anthem by an act of Congress until 1931); an article urging people to treat "the foreign-born" with fairness; an article warning about speculators "who take advantage of the fact that the country is at war to raise the price of food, fuel, clothing or other necessities"; an item complaining about the excess and waste of dining in a hotel; and this item, urging readers to do their part and "stand patriotically by President Wilson and his administration."


Three Nights of Colarusso--Past and Yet to Come

As people are bracing themselves for tonight's "special informational meeting," conducted by the Greenport Planning Board, Rosa Acheson's report on last Thursday's Hudson Planning Board meeting appears in today's Register-Star: "Haul road gets closer look." 

In addition to reporting on the meeting, Acheson shares the news that Colarusso's attorney John Privitera has informed the City, in a letter addressed to assistant city attorney Mitch Khosrova, counsel to the Planning Board, that his clients believe that it was unnecessary for the City to hire a new engineer to consult on the project. According to Privitera, the engineer's review of the project was complete when Ray Jurkowski was forced, by an ultimatum from the Greenport Planning Board, to recuse himself from consulting with the Hudson Planning Board. The following is quoted from Privitera's letter: "[Jurkowski] has documented that the engineering is complete on the Haul Road Improvement and Truck Traffic Diversion Project, we do not see why the delay or cost of a new engineer for the city is necessary." 

The Register-Star article is also worth checking out for the picture of Planning Board member Carmine Pierro in conversation after the meeting with JR Heffner, Colarusso vice president of operations. It will be remembered that when the haul road proposal first came before the Planning Board in July 2016, Pierro, who is still on the Planning Board even though he no longer lives in Hudson, claimed that "all the environmental studies were done years ago," and the Planning Board had already approved a different version of the same proposal. None of this was actually true.

Tonight is the public meeting--the first time the Greenport Planning Board will listen to comments from the public. The meeting begins at 6:30 in the theater of the Arts Center at Columbia-Greene Community College. The meeting is being described as "a Special Informational Meeting to receive input on the environmental aspects of the proposed Colarusso Haul Road." What follows is the notice of the meeting as it appeared in the Register-Star.

Tomorrow night, Wednesday, April 19, there is another meeting having to do with A. Colarruso & Sons and its activities on the Hudson waterfront. The Zoning Board of Appeals will be considering Colarusso's appeal of the Order to Remedy (OTR) issued in late January by Hudson Code Enforcement. The violation cited in the OTR is: "Replacement of concrete and wood bulkhead on loading dock without approval from the City of Hudson Planning Board as per Section 325.17.1(d) City of Hudson Code." 

Google Maps
The prescribed remedy was to submit an application for site plan review to the Planning Board. Instead Colarusso, through Privitera, its attorney, appealed the OTR. Tomorrow night, the ZBA, made up of Lisa Kenneally, Myron Polenberg, Russell Gibson, Kathy Harter, Theresa Joyner, Steve Dunn, and Mary Ellen Pierro, must act as a judicial body in the matter. The ZBA meeting begins at 6 p.m. in City Hall.

Monday, April 17, 2017

The Great War: April 16, 1917

In 1917, nearly everyone went to church, and newspapers often reported on church services. On Monday, April 16, 1917, the front page of the Hudson Evening Register ran a story about the service the previous day at Church Christ Episcopal. Because the report gives interesting insight into life and attitudes a hundred years ago, in a country newly at war, it is transcribed below.

The patriotic service which was held in Christ Episcopal church Sunday evening was largely attended, the church being filled to its capacity. During the closing processional, "America" was sung. Special music was rendered during the service of which two of the numbers particular pleasing were "O Worship the King," "Gloria," from Mozart's Twelfth Mass. A choir of fifty voices, under the leadership of Prof. Ernest T. Bond, was heard.
Before the close of the service the pledge of allegiance was given to the flag. At the recessional, which concluded the service, a temporary processional cross was carried and the flag in the middle of the line in accordance with an order received by an officer of the United State army. Another flag hung on the epistle side of the altar and the processional flag was placed on the left-hand side of the choir. A large flag also draped the gallery.
The rector, the Rev. Thomas L. Cole, in his sermon outlined the ways in which the church and the State were somewhat alike and also the manner in which they were dissimilar. He touched upon patriotism and declared he could not accept the motto, "My country, may she be right, but right or wrong, my country." A nation should always strive to be morally right, for if it was not it was no better than the Prussian government, who calls upon its citizens and seeks blind obedience whether right or wrong.
The rector referred to the past wars, the War of the Revolution with Washington at its head, the Civil war with Lincoln at its head, and then paid a high tribute to the present leader--President Wilson, referring to him as a high-minded, patient statesmen with a breadth of view and high ideals which were not surpassed by those he had named. The Rev. Cole held up to scorn the theory that the individual must retaliate with a blow if some low man struck him on the street. We were not to stoop to this level of the individual or national life. If we did we were no better than Prussia, which we accuse in its submarine warfare, and which that nation claims is simply in retaliation. The United States enters this war not with an object of gain or any selfish ends, but simply for service to mankind. He did not believe that the flag must follow and subjugate weaker nations because of some capitalists and their ends. Conquering nations have come and gone--Babylon and Egypt, Spain had been humbled, England had been at one time in this conquering colonial path, but had learned better, and now the Prussians were seeking to conquer the world, but the United States were entering this war purely for service and its chief purpose was not only to maintain rights of its citizens but to bring about peace. The preacher predicted that the day would come when the league to ensure world peace would be a reality. . . .
In closing he made a plea for tolerance. We should not speak of a foreigner as a Dago or some like appellation. We should forget the differences as far as possible and remember that we are all one as children of God. God's love is not for one race, it extends to the Japanese, the Chinaman, the German, as well a the Anglo-Saxon. We should overcome any low, bitter prejudices, should be courteous to the foreign born and not descend to the level of the brute tribes of old.
Christ nearly 2,000 years ago had sown the seeds of democracy, and now President Wilson as spokesman of a mighty country for the first time in the history of any great nation stands up and enters the field purely in the interest of humanity.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Also Found in the Newspaper for April 14, 1917

Yesterday, I shared the very long account of the celebration that greeted the boys of "F" Company, Hudson's "crack unit," when they returned home after two months of guarding the aqueduct in Orange County. In that same newspaper, I also found this public service notice and couldn't resist sharing it. 

The warning, which appeared in April 1917, is eerily prescient. In the fall of 1918, when the Great War was coming to an end and peace was in view, the influenza pandemic began. It was a global disaster that killed more people in one year than the Black Death had killed in four years during the 14th century. Ten times as many Americans died from influenza, sometimes called "Spanish flu" or "La Grippe," than were killed in battle during the Great War. The pandemic reduced the life expectancy in the United States by ten years. The following statement appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association, in the final issue for 1918:
The [year] 1918 has gone: a year momentous as the termination of the most cruel war in the annals of the human race; a year which marked the end, at least for a time, of man's destruction of man; unfortunately a year in which developed a most fatal infectious disease causing the death of hundreds of thousands of human beings. Medical science for four and one-half years devoted itself to putting men on the firing line and keeping them there. Now it must turn with its whole might to combating the greatest enemy of all--infectious disease.
Emergency hospital for influenza patients
Happy Easter!
From Joey and me. 

May your day be glorious, with no scary Easter bunnies.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

The Great War: April 14, 1917

I've gotten a day behind in my series about Hudson during the Great War. Lucky for me, in 1917, April 15 was a Sunday, and there was no newspaper, so today is a chance to catch up. 

The most memorable item in the Evening Register for April 14, 1917, was an article that filled an entire column on the front page and an entire column on page five. It recounted the return to Hudson of the boys of "F" Company. Since war had been declared only a week before, one might wonder where they were returning from. As it happens, they were returning from Orange County, where they had spent a little more than two months guarding the aqueduct there. The article provides an amazing snapshot of Hudson a hundred years ago. For that reason, a large portion of it is transcribed below.

Happy and glad to be "Home, Sweet Home" again Company F, of the Tenth regiment, is in Hudson. The men making up that crack unit showed that two months and several days of service along the aqueduct had given them a taste of the systematic military duties that Uncle Sam trains his soldier boys for. The Hudsonians received a royal welcome: an enthusiastic reception that won't be forgotten right away.
Definite news of the Hudson boys' returning was received yesterday in this city, and immediately officers of the 23d Separate company, Veteran corps., and Boy Scouts became active. Citizens, too, began to discuss ways and means of giving the returning guardsmen a great welcome. The demonstration which occurred at the river this afternoon, conclusively indicated what co-operation and concerted effort will achieve.
At 1 o'clock hundreds of persons assembled at the armory preparatory to marching to the river to welcome the home-comers. A few minutes past 1 o'clock start for the river was made. A large band, playing National anthems, was in the lead, followed by about sixty members of the "H" company, Seventy-first regiment, in command of Captain Vogel and Lieutenants Conway and Powers. Following the splendid appearing body of New Yorkers was the 23d Separate Co. Veterans corps, citizens, Sons of Veterans, etc., after which came a fife and drum corps, followed by several scores of Boy Scouts, in charge of H. S. Duncan, Mr. Rossman and Prof. E. T. Bond. The Boy Scouts made an excellent showing, and many remarked: "They look like real comers." Several of the little fellows carried a large American flag. At the City hall a squad of police, in charge of Officer Kennedy, got in line.
A Great Demonstration.  
The demonstration commemorative of the "F" boys' return was inspiring and of remarkable magnitude. It was greater by far than that which occurred when the boys departed. At that time, however, comparatively few persons knew exactly what time the Hudsonians would leave this city.
To-day the streets were thronged with people, and as the "F" boys swung up Warren street, they were greeted on all sides by cheers. In spite of the hard morning that the men had put in, the march to the armory was made in very short time, the guardsmen swinging along with the quick military stride that characterizes the American soldier.
Company Reached Athens at Noon.
It was about 12 o'clock when the Hudson company arrived at West Athens in a special car, which was attached to an express.
Its equipment was quickly detrained, after which the boys started marching toward the river. Athens gave them a rousing reception. Flags were waved and the citizens cheered. 
The company left Athens on the ferry due here at about ten minutes of two. More than 3,000 persons were at the river to welcome them. From the Ferry street bridge all the way up to Warren street the sidewalks were crowded, too.
Captain Rote Busy Man.
The citizens detachment was in command of Louis Rote, former captain of Company F, and it made an excellent showing. Each man carried a flag. As the Hudson boys marched from the dock, the escort "presented arms." The home-comers marched between the lane of men and Boy Scouts to a point beyond Ferry street. Then it was halted. The parade started up-town about 2 o'clock, the "F" boys falling in at the end. Everything worked with remarkable smoothness, and much credit for this is due Captain Rote, Capt. Vogel, and those in charge of the Boy Scouts.
At the end of Warren street there was a halt. This was for the arrival of the company's equipment on the next ferry. When the equipment reached this side of the river, the march up-town was resumed.
Music, Cheers and Gun Shots.
Tanned and rugged were the "F" boys. With heads erect and steady step, their packs thrown across one shoulder and rifles held with firm grip, resting against the other, they presented a fine appearance. That they have seen hard service could be noted.
The music and cheering was inspiring, and as the parade went up South Front street, William H. Broderick fired more than a dozen shots in the air with his trusty shot gun. Automobile horns were blown, and as the parade passed up Warren street the bells on the newspaper offices and in the fire houses were rung.
March Around Park Place.
It was generally expected that the march would be direct to the armory, but such was not the case. It was up Warren street to Fifth, over Fifth to Gifford place, and up Gifford Place to Park, over Park to Warren and thence down to Fifth. The parade then went over North Fifth street to the armory. Arriving at the armory, the escort "presented arms," and the "F" company marched through into the armory. Captain Best and Lieut. Coffin were at the head. After roll was called, the men turned in their guns, etc., and were allowed to go to their respective homes for the night.
Mothers, Wives and Sweethearts
Greet Boys.
After the roll call at the river, for a moment before the men fell in line to march to the armory, mothers, wives and sweethearts of the soldiers improved the opportunity of giving their soldier boy an affectionate greeting.
At the armory, too, this was repeated. It was an hour of great rejoicing.
New Yorkers to Remain in Armory.
Although Company F has returned to its home armory, the headquarters of the "H" company, Seventy-first regiment, in the same armory, will be retained. At least, Captain Vogel to-day said he had received no orders to the contrary.
The New Yorkers are guarding the New York Central railroad between Stockport and Tivoli. As the "F" boys did in Orange county, the New Yorkers are making a big hit here. There is no doubt but that a splendid spirit of good fellowship will exist between the two companies.
Away Since February 6.
The "F" boys left Hudson at 12:43 o'clock on the afternoon of February 6 for Orange county, it being the second time within eight months that Hudson's crack unit was called upon to serve its country. At noon that day the local guardmen marched to the river through snow that was quite deep in places, and after a short stop below the New York steamboat dock proceeded to cross the ice to Athens. First Lieutenant Tristram Coffin and Second Lieutenant Carleton T. Harris were in charge, as Captain Best was in the west on business. A number of weeks ago Lieutenant Harris' resignation was accepted and he returned to Hudson. Arriving in Athens that afternoon, the Hudson boys marched to the West Shore station, and departed for Cornwall-on-the-Hudson at 3:30 o'clock.
Practically without incident has been the "F" boys tour of duty in Orange county. The men have done their guard duty well and are in fine spirits and health. The rugged color in their faces, the agility of their steps and the all-around splendid appearance now displayed, show that they have profited by their experience "down the river.". . .
Three Became Benedicts.
Since the "F" company left Hudson in February, three members took unto themselves a wife, one of whom was First Lieutenant Tristram Coffin. Among the other events, of a social nature, perhaps was the fact that several of the "F" men participated in entertainments in Orange county, making a decided hit each time, and also assisted in various church affairs. . . .
Honorable Discharges.
It is expected that the "F" company will be federalized within a short time, and that before it goes elsewhere, all the married men and those having families dependent upon them will be honorably discharged in pursuance to the order sent out by the federal authorities to the military.
Some Notes: In 1917, City Hall, where a "squad of police" joined the march down to the river to meet the returning guardsmen, was located in the building we now know as the Hudson Opera House. Gifford Place was the name of Columbia Street between Fifth Street and Park Place. It was called so because the home of Elihu Gifford was located at the corner of Sixth, the houses he built for five of this children were directly across the street, and the Gifford Foundry was just up the street. A benedict is a newly married man, especially one who has long been a bachelor.

The Planning Board and the Haul Road

On Thursday night, the members of the Planning Board and the members of the public met the new engineer who will be consulting with the Planning Board on the proposed Colarusso haul road: David Clouser of Barton & Loguidice. Clouser delivered to the Planning Board a ten-page letter reporting his findings about the project, which he and his associates accomplished with remarkable thoroughness in three days' time. That letter can be found on the City website.

David Clouser (left), Ryan Weitz (right)
Photo: Julie Metz
At the meeting, Clouser's associate Ryan Weitz presented a summary of the findings to the board. Of significant interest were the findings regarding segmentation. In the past, the Greenport Planning Board has taken the position that the project--and hence what must be considered in the SEQR (State Environmental Quality Review) process--is only the haul road. The impact of what happens when trucks leave the haul road and complete the journey to the dock and what happens at the dock are not part of the project. Back in December, Mitch Khosrova, legal counsel to the Planning Board, made the case that separating the haul road from the dock was segmentation, but the Greenport Planning Board seemed unpersuaded. On Thursday, Weitz explained that there are eight questions that are a test segmentation. Answering yes is any one of them is evidence of segmentation. In the case of the haul road and the dock, the answer to five of the eight questions is yes. Five of the eight criteria for segmentation are met.

Weitz also talked about the Full Environmental Assessment Form (FEAF), noting that Part 1 is completed by the applicant, and Part 2 is completed by the lead agency, which in this case of the Greenport Planning Board. Weitz indicated that for nine of the eighteen items on Part 2, the appropriate response was "Moderate to large impact may occur." Those nine items were (the number in parentheses is the item number on the SEQR form): Impact on Surface Water (3); Impact on Flooding (5); Impact on Plants and Animals (7); Impact on Aesthetic Resources (9); Impact on Open Space and Recreation (11); Impact on Transportation (13); Impact on Noise, Odor, and Light (15); Consistency with Community Plans (17); Consistency with Community Character (18). Recognizing these potential impacts is sufficient to trigger a positive declaration.

Photo: Julie Metz
Hopes that the trucks coming off the haul road might be able to cross the railroad tracks at the end of the road and not travel on Front Street to cross the tracks were dashed on Thursday when Planning Board chair Tom DePietro and Khosrova reported that a crossing at that point is not possible. Apparently, the City has been in discussion with CSX, and CSX has stated that because there are five tracks at the point, there is no way to cross there except for building a bridge.

Throughout the presentation of the findings, Pat Prendergast, Colarusso's engineer, appeared to be chomping at the bit to respond to various issues, but DePietro would not permit it. At one point, Prendergast said, somewhat demeaningly, "I feel bad for these guys, because they don't have the information." By "the information" Prendergast meant the revised narrative. It seems the Zip drive turned over to them from the previous engineer, Ray Jurkowski, did not contain the revised narrative.

The Planning Board was asked to decide if they were happy with the letter and wanted to present it to the Greenport Planning Board. After some discussion, it was decided that the letter would be presented; Clouser and his associates would consider the new information from Prendergast; the board would ask the Greenport Planning Board to postpone the hearing now scheduled for Tuesday, April 18, to give the engineers from Barton & Loguidice more time to review the project.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Faso, the GPO, and the Board of Supervisors

Gossips rarely reports on news from county government and even more rarely publishes a press release in its entirety, so on both counts this is an exception. The following is a press release from the Columbia County Democratic Committee reporting what took place on Wednesday night at the Board of Supervisors' meeting.
At its regular meeting Wednesday, the County Board of Supervisors faced a large and vocal crowd of protesters. Chanting “Shame! Shame!” angry county residents responded to the GOP members’ decision to force a rushed vote resolving to support the “Buffalo Bribe” Medicaid funding bill (H.R. 1871) introduced in Congress last week by Representative John Faso. The protest was organized by the Columbia County Democratic Committee and local activist groups.
Supervisors were notified of a vote on the “Resolution in Support of the Property Tax Reduction Act, H.R. 1871 to Eliminate the Local Share of Medicaid” on Tuesday, but Chairman Matt Murell (R) of Stockport allowed no time in the meeting for debate or discussion. The supervisors voted in favor of the resolution 9-7, falling strictly along party lines. Seven supervisors were absent from the meeting.
After the meeting, Democratic County Supervisors were also vocal, both in affirming their support for property tax reduction, and in denouncing their Republican colleagues’ behavior.
Said Art Bassin of Ancram, “While I certainly support the idea of shifting the county cost of Medicaid to the state, I voted to table the county resolution supporting H.R. 1871, and when that failed, voted against the resolution, because we got it at the last minute, had not had a chance to debate it, did not really know what the impact on health care in upstate New York would be or how the state would fund--or not--some or all of the $2.3 billion. In addition, we have no idea how the downstate congressional and state legislative delegations will react to expanding the removal of county Medicaid funding to include New York City--which could make this a $7 billion issue. We did not have the facts we needed to determine the impact of Faso’s bill, or time enough for an adequate public discussion of this issue and its implications.”
Said Peter Cipkowski of Hillsdale, “There was far too much speculation attached to this resolution. We don’t serve to take risks. Any issue that impacts property taxes and local healthcare services deserves the light of day, open debate, and public participation.”
Said William “Billy” Hughes, Jr., of Hudson’s 4th Ward, “I totally disagree with Faso forcing the issue at the County level. Counties and state should be discussing how this issue should be handled. Congressman Faso should be in Washington advocating on healthcare for all, not trying to shift cost responsibility in the state.”
Said Don Moore of Hudson’s 3rd Ward, “It is disappointing to say the least that the Columbia County Board of Supervisors has become a forum for partisan posturing on health care, health care financing, and especially property taxes. It is very difficult to see John Faso's proposal as seriously intended to either improve health care or end up saving taxpayers’ money. I am unable to separate the congressman's legislation that we are asked to support from the larger context of his support for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and its $387 billion cut in Medicaid funding. How are we to weigh a supposed savings against such a staggering overall reduction? What does this mean for our sick and for our hospital? If we take our responsibilities seriously, we cannot do this piecemeal, which is why I supported the move to put this resolution back in committee for a more thorough review and discussion both by supervisors and the public. If this is a worthy proposal, it, is worth more than a few minutes of our time.”
Said Rick Scalera of Hudson’s 5th Ward, “All the Democratic Supervisors agree there is nothing more important than providing property tax relief. But the resolution deserved to be discussed much more and questions needed to be answered before anybody could have cast a responsible vote. Personally, I needed to hear from the state's budget office and what ramifications we should expect. Instead all we heard from the Republicans was ‘I think this . . . and maybe that.’ Totally unacceptable to me.”
Said Sarah Sterling of Hudson’s 1st Ward, “As a realtor, I hear all the time about how high property taxes are in New York State. I'm all for shifting costs to income taxes or something that would be a more equal burden to all, however, H.R. 1871 is a simplistic ploy for attention and does nothing to fix the problem. I fear that this will also be tied into an attempt to defund Planned Parenthood and who knows what other care we provide for the needy. Meals on Wheels? Medical transportation? By the time this bill arrives for a vote it will undoubtably be much changed, and Columbia County will be tied to something that we didn't even know we were voting for. I'm proud of the Democrats for all voting against this resolution. I'd like to see a proposal that we could all vote for, but that will take time, and the dialogue should be at the state or national level not county. Governor Cuomo has also come out with some proposals, and by voting now, we are just promoting whatever agenda Congressman Faso is promoting today and not an intelligent solution.”
The move by Republicans was particularly surprising given that legislation to eliminate county Medicaid contributions has already been introduced in both the State Assembly and Senate this year, and supported by Governor Andrew Cuomo. Those proposals also provide that all savings be passed along to property taxpayers, which Congressman Faso’s bill and the supporting resolution passed by the Board of Supervisors last night do not.

Ancram:  Arthur Bassin     No 
Austerlitz:  Robert Lagonia    Absent 
Canaan:  Richard Keaveney    Absent 
Chatham:  Maria Lull     Yes 
Claverack:  Clifford “Kippy” Wiegelt   Yes 
Clermont:  Raymond Staats    Absent 
Copake:  Jeffrey Nayer     Yes 
Gallatin:  John Reilly     Absent 
Germantown:  Joel Craig     Absent 
Ghent:  Michael Benvenuto    Yes 
Greenport:  Edward Nabozny    Yes 
Hillsdale:  Peter Cipkowski    No 
1st Ward:  Sarah Sterling   No
2nd Ward:  Edward Cross, Sr.  No 
3rd Ward:  Don Moore   No 
4th Ward:  William Hughes, Jr.  No 
5th Ward:  Richard Scalera   No 
Kinderhook:  Patrick Grattan    Yes 
Livingston:  James Guzzi     Yes 
New Lebanon:  Colleen Teal     Absent 
Stockport:  Matt Murell     Yes 
Stuyvesant:  Ronald Knott     Yes 
Taghkanic:  Ryan Skoda     Absent

How Many Penn Stations?

Late yesterday afternoon, code enforcement officer Craig Haigh returned my call to answer questions about the demolition of the 111-year-old building at the Firemen's Home. When asked why the building was demolished, Haigh said simply, "Because they wanted to demolish it." When I protested, he informed me that there was nothing to protect the building. He had checked. It wasn't listed in the National Register of Historic Places. He was right. In 2004, when the Firemen's Home wanted to demolish all the old buildings, Historic Hudson appealed to the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO). They sent people down to assess the buildings and determined they were "too compromised" to the eligible for historic designation. The surviving building, said Haigh, wasn't locally designated either. But, I insisted, the Firemen's Home promised to preserve this building. They offered its preservation as a concession to the people arguing for the preservation of all the buildings. Haigh said he could find no record of that in the minutes of the Planning Commission.

Finding the claim there was no record of this hard to believe, I checked the Planning Commission minutes for myself and found it recorded twice. In the minutes for May 12, 2004:

This commitment was reiterated in the minutes from the public hearing, which took place on June 9, 2004:

When confronted with this evidence, Haigh was quick to inform me that it was insufficient to stay the demolition of the building, and, of course, he's right.

In a perfect world, the Historic Preservation Commission would have acted immediately in 2004 to designate the building as a local landmark, making a certificate of appropriateness from the HPC necessary if the building were to be demolished, but, alas, in 2004, the HPC was a fledgling commission, trying to navigate uncharted and hostile waters. A few months later, then mayor Rick Scalera suspended the preservation law that created the HPC after the commission tried to designate the courthouse and 400 State Street as individual landmarks. As a consequence of that action, the preservation law was revised to require Common Council approval for all historic designations--districts as well as individual properties. As a consequence of that revision, all the designations that now exist, with few exceptions, were made during a two-year period--2006-2007--when Scalera was not the mayor and the combination of the weighted votes of the Common Council president, the First and Third Ward aldermen, and one Second Ward alderman who was willing to go along with historic preservation so long as it did not affect his ward were sufficient to approve designations proposed by the HPC.

In years that have passed since the Firemen's Home stated they would preserve the 1906 building, there was ample time to get the building some legal protection, but taking the Firemen's Home at its word and considering it a small battle won, the self-appointed guardians of our architectural heritage moved on to other things.

Photo: John Peterson
This needs to be a lesson. Vigilance is always required. How many more losses of our historic architectural character can our city endure before it becomes part of the geography of nowhere? (Pace James Howard Kunstler)

Under New Management

A frequent complaint heard from the previous executive director of Bliss Towers was there wasn't enough money to maintain the building properly. Now, with the new executive director of the Hudson Housing Authority (HHA) in place, it's been revealed that the total of $42,490.90 is owed in rent and fees, and the tenants in 74 of the 129 units--more than half--are in arrears. At a meeting of the HHA Board of Commissioners on Wednesday, it was also revealed that the two people arrested for running a child pornography studio in their apartment in the low-rise building (one of whom has since been convicted) owed $2,000 in rent and kept a big fishing boat parked on the property, in violation of their lease. Rosa Acheson has the story in today's Register-Star: "Bliss Towers pursues evictions."