Thursday, July 18, 2024

The Work Has Begun

Last week, Gossips reported that work on the DRI project known as Hudson Connects would begin this week, with the Second Street stairs, which descend from Allen Street to Cross Street. 

This week, as announced, the work indeed has begun, and the stairs are currently closed.

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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Happening This Saturday

On Saturday, July 20, there is to be a "Community Joy Day," from 2:00 to 6:00 p.m., at the Hudson waterfront. 


The event will feature free food, healing, herbal medicine, acupuncture, live music, capoeira, sound bath, kid's zone, tarot, performance, and arts & crafts. There will also be an Engagement Station, hosted by the Dunn Team, a.k.a. CGS Group, which will be workshopping outdoor uses for the historic Dunn Warehouse. 

There is a survey that seeks community input about the potential uses of the Dunn warehouse. It seems the existence of the survey was made known primarily on Instagram. For those who missed it on Instagram, the survey can be found here. The deadline for completing the survey is Saturday, July 20.


Gossips urges readers to complete the survey before Saturday. It is expected that the survey results will be shared on Saturday at the Engagement Station.

Again, the survey can be found here.

Back to Colarusso

The Register-Star reports this morning that Acting Supreme Court Justice Richard Rivera has annulled the Planning Board's positive declaration in its environmental impact review of Colarusso's dock operations on the Hudson River: "Judge rules in favor of A. Colarusso and Sons in dock replacement lawsuit."


The Planning Board made the positive declaration on November 18, 2021. Colarusso filed its lawsuit against the Planning Board on December 17, 2021. The judge's decision has handed down on Friday, July 12, 2024.

Tuesday, July 16, 2024

HDC and JLE

In March, the Hudson City School District (HCSD) Board of Education passed a resolution accepting an offer from the Hudson Development Corporation (HDC) to purchase John L. Edwards (JLE), the elementary school building constructed in 1964 which has been vacant and for sale since 2018. 

Photo: Jonathan Simons
Yesterday, HCSD signed a contract for HDC to purchase the building. Under the terms of the contract, there is a six-month due diligence period before the sale actually happens, during which time HDC can exit with a total refund if circumstances, for any reason, make it impossible for HDC to purchase the property. The sale requires the approval of the voters in the Hudson City School District.

At the Common Council meeting tonight, the Council will be asked to vote on two resolutions approving and endorsing grant applications being submitted by HDC. The first resolution is in support of an application for a $675,000 matching grant from the Environmental Protection Fund: Parks, Preservation and Heritage Grants, which would be used for playground improvement, site work, renovation of the gym, and renovation of the kitchen as a culinary training facility. The second resolution supports an application to Homes and Community Renewal in the Downtown Anchor Project category for $300,000 for streetscape improvement and building renovation.

HDC is also applying for a third grant, this one from Empire State Development: Strategic Planning and Feasibility Studies, for $100,000 for professional fees, including architectural, structural, civil, and mechanical, electrical, and plumbing.

The presentation of HDC's vision for the building, which was made to the HCSD Board of Education in March, can be viewed here, beginning at 45:41.

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Update: Both resolutions of support for HDC's grant applications were passed unanimously by the members of the Common Council present at tonight's meeting. Three members were absent from the meeting: Gary Purnhagen (First Ward), Dewan Sarowar (Second Ward), and Lola Roberts (Third Ward). Rich Volo (Fourth Ward) attended the meeting virtually.

Monday, July 15, 2024

A Modest Proposal

At the June meeting of the Planning Board, Lou Pierro, the principal of the group proposing to construct an apartment building on Fairview Avenue between Parkwood and Oakwood boulevards, noted that the project had been before the Planning Board for a year, and there was still no decision. Walter Chatham, the architect for the project, reviewed the changes that had been made to the project based on requests from the Planning Board. The project, as currently proposed, has 30 one- and two-bedroom apartments; one commercial space, which Pierro intends to use as his law office; and 26 offstreet parking spaces intended for tenants.


At the most recent meeting of the Planning Board, which took place on July 9, the Planning Board had more recommendations for change to the project, suggested by a subcommittee made up of Planning Board members Gini Casasco, Susan Foster, and Ben Forman. Their report can be found here. Their recommendations, which were presented at the meeting by Foster, are as follows:
  • Reduce the number of apartments from 30 to 15 and make 5 of them three-bedroom units
  • Make the 26 offstreet parking spaces assigned spaces--15 for tenants, 6 for workers in the commercial space, and 5 for visitors
  • Add sidewalks and crosswalks to Oakwood, Parkwood, Paddock Place, and Glenwood and add a sidewalk on Fairview Avenue from the proposed building to Aldi's at Fairview and Healy Boulevard in Greenport.
  • Five more apartments, bringing the total to 20, would be acceptable if the last five were designated "affordable," which was defined as affordable to households with incomes of 80 percent of the area median income (AMI).
It is highly unusual for a Planning Board to make suggestions for such dramatic and extensive changes and to do it so late in the review process. It seems the recommendations would make the project financially unviable and would change the demographic for which the proposed building is intended: young professionals, specifically, according to comments made by Michele Pierro, Lou Pierro's sister, at the April meeting of the Planning Board, new teachers in the Hudson City School District. Since Pierro was not present at the meeting on July 9, it is not known how he will respond to these suggestions.
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A Reason to Cross the River

On Friday, July 19, a group show called "Capturing Furgary: Artists views of the vanishing fishing shacks" opens at CREATE Council on the Arts, 398 Main Street in Catskill. The exhibition, curated by Chris DeMarco, is made up of photographs and paintings made beginning in 2012, when the shack owners were evicted, to more recent work created in 2024.


Included in the exhibition are works by Robert Coppola, Joan Damiani, Chris DeMarco, Laura Garramone, Gerald Cooley, Karen Anne Hummel, Peter Keitel, David Lesako, Cynthia Mulvaney, Robert Near, Cecelia Sinclair, Tim Slowinski, and John Whipple. 

There will be an opening reception on Friday, July 19, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. A special artist talk, which is free and open to the public, will be held during Catskill's First Fridays event on August 2. The exhibition continues through September 1, 2024. Gallery hours are Fridays from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. and on Saturdays and Sundays from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. For more information, click here.

Sunday, July 14, 2024

Meetings and Events in the Week Ahead

As the heat wave continues, here's what is happening in Hudson this week.
  • On Monday, July 15, the Hudson Housing Authority Board of Commissioners holds its monthly meeting at 6:00 p.m. As always, the meeting may provide more information about HHA's redevelopment plans. The meeting is a hybrid, taking place in person in the Community Room at Bliss Towers, 41 North Second Street, and on Zoom. Click here to join the meeting remotely.
  • On Tuesday, July 16, the Common Council Finance Committee meets at 5:15 p.m. The meeting is a hybrid, taking place in person at City Hall and on Microsoft Teams. Click here for the link to join the meeting remotely.
Update: Gossips has received word that the Finance Committee meeting for July has been canceled.
  • At 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, July 16, the Common Council holds its regular monthly meeting. The meeting is a hybrid, taking place in person at City Hall and on Microsoft Teams. Click here for the link to join the meeting remotely.
  • On Wednesday, July 17, the Zoning Board of Appeals meets at 6:00 p.m. The agenda for the meeting includes applications for area variances needed for Mill Street Lofts and State Street Lofts, projects being proposed by Kearney Realty and Development Group. The meeting takes place in person only at City Hall.
  • On Thursday, July 18, the Housing Trust Fund Board meets at 5:30 p.m. The meeting is a hybrid, taking place in person at City Hall and on Microsoft Teams. Click here for the link to join the meeting remotely.
  • On Saturday, July 20, and Sunday, July 21, Basilica Hudson presents Summer Farm & Flea 2024 from 10:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. Click here for more information.
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Celebrating the Lighthouse

A segment of last night's Hudson Festival Orchestra Hudson in Concert: A Community Celebration was dedicated to the Hudson-Athens Lighthouse. A performance of "The Lighthouse," a composition by Miroslav MarÅ¡ik, arranged and conducted by Meghan Mercier, was accompanied by a video produced and edited by Glenn Wheeler and David Oliver, showcasing the lighthouse's architectural beauty, its vital role in navigation of the river, and the peril it faces every day with each passing ship that creates massive turbulence underwater. If you missed it last night or would just like to see it again, the video can be viewed here.  
  

Happening Today

Today, July 14, is Bastille Day. In Hudson, Bastille Day has a special significance. It is the anniversary of the opening, in 1999, of the Red Dot. 

Tonight, at 8:00 p.m., the Red Dot will be celebrating its 25th anniversary. There's no telling what frivolity is in store, but for a sampling of what happened in 2009, when the Red Dot celebrated its 10th anniversary, click here.

Saturday, July 13, 2024

How Many Hotels Do We Need?

The Planning Board meeting on Tuesday went on for 4 hours and 20 minutes. Considering that the meeting started at 6:30, it was 10 minutes shy of 11:00 p.m. when the meeting ended. One of the most interesting and possibly alarming segments of the meeting took place more than three hours in, when the plans for 10-12 Warren Street were presented to the Planning Board.


It will be remembered that this was the building that the City of Hudson sold at auction last August. As Gossips reported at the time, there were two bidders for the building: Alex Freedman, who with his partner, Alex Hammerschlag, restored and renovated 223 and 225 Allen Street and 205-207 Warren Street for market-rate apartments (and two commercial spaces in the Warren Street building); and someone who was bidding on behalf of Benjamin Rinzler, the owner of the Hudson Whaler, at 542 Warren Street, and the Hudson Mariner, at 26 Warren Street. Had Freedman been the winning bidder, the plan for the building would probably have been market-rate apartments, but the winning bidder was the person representing Rinzler, so it should come as no surprise to anyone that the building is to be converted into a hotel. Nevertheless, the first question asked of Walter Chatham, who was making the presentation to the Planning Board, by Theresa Joyner, who chairs the Planning Board, was: "Why a hotel?" Joyner went on to say, "Hudson is in dire need of housing" (a curious statement given that earlier in the meeting a subcommittee of the Planning Board recommended that the number of apartments in the building proposed for 117-121 Fairview Avenue should be reduced by half). 

The plan for converting the building into a 27-room hotel, with no restaurant, involves demolishing two wings at the back of the building and constructing a new three-story addition at the rear.


There would be a landscaped courtyard between the original building and the new addition.

Planning Board member Gini Casasco expressed concern about "overbuilding" (the zoning in this part of the city allows 100 percent lot coverage) and about "multiple hotels in the area." Wm. Farmer and Sons, a little more than a block away on Front Street, has 15 guest rooms, and Hudson Mariner, just up the street at 26 Warren Street, has 5 guest suites. Later Casasco asked, "How many hotels do we need?"

In answer to that question, Gossips looks back at history. In 1905, according to the New York Census for that year, the population of Hudson was 10,290. The Hudson city directory for 1905 lists 25 hotels in the city. Here are their names and locations:
  • Adirondack Hotel, Diamond (now Columbia) and Third Streets 
  • Albany Hotel, 28 South Front Street
  • Barry David, Fountain Head
  • City Hall Place, 330 Warren Street
  • City Hotel, southeast corner of Allen and Front Streets
  • Commercial House, Ferry Street
  • Curtiss House, northeast corner of Allen and Front Streets
  • Everett House, 705 Warren Street
  • Farmers' Hotel, Park Place
  • Fifth Ward Hotel, 624 Warren Street
  • Franklin Square Hotel, 42 South Front Street
  • Germania Hotel, 33-35 South Front Street
  • Hotel Central, Warren and South Fifth Streets
  • Hotel Lincoln, 309-311 Warren Street
  • Hotel Portland, 31 Warren Street
  • Hudson House, Ferry Street opposite Franklin Square
  • McGraw, Timothy, Jr., 22-24 North Second Street
  • Mansion House, 332-334 Diamond (now Columbia) Street
  • New York Hotel, 260 Warren Street
  • Russian Hotel, 39 South Front Street
  • St. Charles Hotel, 737 Columbia Street
  • Stevens House, 420 Diamond (now Columbia) Street
  • The Worth, 213-219 Warren Street
  • The Troy, 11 North Fourth Street
  • Winslow Horace, 453 State Street
Today, with a population of 5,894, according to the 2020 census, Hudson has seven hotels:
  • The Wick, 41 Cross Street
  • Wm. Farmer and Sons, 20 South Front Street
  • Hudson Mariner, 26 Warren Street
  • The Maker, 302 Warren Street
  • Hudson Whaler, 542 Warren Street
  • Rivertown Lodge, 731 Warren Street
  • St. Charles Hotel, 16 Park Place
Four more have been proposed and gotten site plan approval from the Planning Board:
  • Hudson House, 620 Union Street
  • Hudson Hotel, 601 Union Street
  • Pocketbook Hudson, 549 Washington Street
  • Hudson Public, Warren and North Fourth streets
The hotel proposed for 10-12 Warren Street would be Hudson's twelfth hotel.

At one point in the discussion, Chatham defended the location of the proposed hotel by saying, "If you want to organize your city, put your hotels where the train station is." Interestingly, in 1905, eight of the 25 hotels in Hudson--Albany Hotel, City Hotel, Commercial House, Curtiss House, Germania Hotel, Hudson House, Russian Hotel, and Franklin Square--were located within a block and a half of the train station.

Several times during the discussion on Tuesday night, Victoria Polidoro, legal counsel to the Planning Board, reminded the members that if the zoning law allows the use, they cannot question it. She responded to Casasco's question "How many hotels do we need?" by saying, "That's not something the Planning Board has control over." Casasco, however, was not to be deterred, suggesting that there should be a moratorium on development until a new comprehensive plan was completed and new zoning was in place. Joyner called for a committee to look into the zoning and decide on the one thing they wanted to "go after." Apparently a committee was formed, but it is not clear who will serve on this committee.

Seeming somewhat dumbfounded, Chatham told the board, "This is a modest little project. This is not the place to draw the line." Joyner, however, assured him, "This discussion is not going to stop us from going ahead on this project."  

The video of the meeting can be found here. The discussion of this project begins at 3:15:02 and ends at 3:55:15.
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Thursday, July 11, 2024

More Restrictions Than Necessary?

It should come as no surprise to regular readers that Gossips is a great fan of The Dogist. In 2021, Elias Weiss Friedman, the street photographer known as "The Dogist," made a visit to Hudson and photographed some dogs at the Hudson Dog Park.


Since then, I have fantasized that The Dogist would return to Hudson to photograph more dogs, not just at the Hudson Dog Park but on Warren Street, where lots of dogs get walked every day.

Sadly, a provision in a new law relating to film shoots in the City of Hudson, which the Legal Committee tonight agreed to forward to the full Council for consideration next Tuesday, might discourage The Dogist from returning to Hudson. 

The modus operandi of The Dogist is this: He spots a dog of interest on the street; he asks permission from the person accompanying the dog to photograph the dog; he asks why the human enjoys the company of dogs; he asks about dog's notable behaviors and/or quirks. All the while, someone not visible is recording the interactions with the dog and its human. An example of these encounters can be found here.


So tonight, the Common Council Legal Committee decided to forward to the full Council an amendment to the code which would regulate the use of our city by "the motion picture and television industries, and those engaged in advertising and editorial in print, broadcast, and digital services." The proposed new law contains this provision:   
Still Photography permit require. No person shall, for commercial purposes, use any kind of public property, facility or residence herein or portion thereof owned and/or controlled by the City of Hudson to cause, direct or conduct still photography activities where a crew of two or more is engaged as defined without first applying for and obtaining a film permit from the City of Hudson.
As I read it, this provision in the proposed new law would require The Dogist, whose income is derived from photographing dogs, to get a permit from the City before conducting his standard "dog on the street" encounters on the streets of Hudson. That seems a bridge too far . . . especially to my dog, Freddy, whose dream it is to be photographed on one of his jaunts around town by The Dogist.
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Update: At the Common Council meeting on July 15, the proposed film law was tabled and sent back to the Legal Committee for more tweaking.

Seven Years Later

It was August 1, 2017, when Governor Andrew Cuomo came to town to announce that Hudson was the Capital Region winner in Round Two of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI). Seven years later, at the informal Common Council meeting on Monday, Rob Perry, superintendent of public works, reported that implementation of the project called Hudson Connects, the largest of the City's four DRI projects, was set to begin next week, July 15. 

Work will commence at Second and Allen streets, with the Second Street stairs that descend from Allen Street to Cross Street. Below is the last rendering of what is planned for the stairs. This was created three years ago by Arterial, the group that did the planning and design for the complete streets connectivity program. Exactly what the current plan for the stairs involves is not known.
  

The schedule for work on the entire project, which apparently is now being called "Hudson Streetscapes," can be found here. The final plans for the project, which require a fair amount of interpretation and do not include renderings, can be found here

A press release issued by the mayor's office this morning contains this information about the project that is about to commence:
Work under the Hudson Connects portion of the overall DRI, the Hudson Streetscapes project, is beginning on July 15, 2024, and will be ongoing throughout October. This work will remedy many of the problem areas from Front Street to Second Street, including, but not limited to, making our streets ADA compliant by creating new curb ramps at corners, fixing existing non-compliant curb ramps, creating new crosswalks, and addressing the Cross Street staircase. Additionally, and simultaneously, the Public Works Board will be commencing work as part of their Sidewalk Improvement District, which will entail fixing many of our city’s sidewalks and tackling curb ramps and crosswalks not covered under the scope of the DRI. The City of Hudson’s Department of Public Works (DPW) will also be working diligently in assisting both projects. 

Only time will reveal exactly what has survived from Arterial's original proposals for enhancing our streets. We can only hope that the proposed street furniture didn't make the cut.

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News from HCSD

Yesterday, the Hudson City School District issued a press release announcing that Willette Jones and Mark DePace had been reelected as president and vice president respectively of the Board of Education. The press release included an account of discussion that preceded the vote to reelect Jones. 

Matthew Mackerer, newly elected to the board, called on Jones to refuse her nomination, which had been made by BOE member Kjirsten Gustavson and seconded by Calvin Lewis, "to demonstrate to the community that the board has a sense of accountability." Mackerer alleged that under Jones's leadership, the board had become distracted. As an example of the distraction, Mackerer cited the June board meeting, when the board spend 40 minutes--more than half of the hour and 16 minutes the board spent meeting in public--grilling the organizers of the Hudson Children's Book Festival. The situation, Mackerer maintained, should have been handled differently and the time could have been much better spent dealing with issues related to the board's core purpose. 

The press release recounts what happened in this way:
When the Board considered nominations for leadership, Mackerer suggested that DePace and Board member Lakia Walker be nominated as Board President and Vice President. He cited their leadership experience and said that the Board, under Jones' leadership, entertained too many distractions and needed a stronger sense of accountability. DePace thanked Mackerer for his perspective, said all Board members bring different skills to the Board, and expressed faith that the Board could work together for the betterment of the District and community. The vote to confirm Jones' re-election as Board President was 5-1, with Mackerer voting no. DePace was unanimously re-elected Vice President. 
The video of the Board of Education meeting, which took place on Tuesday, July 9, can be found here. Mackerer's statement begins at about 10:31.
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