Friday, March 24, 2023

Taking Nothing for Granite

This morning, the Historic Preservation Commission granted a certificate of appropriateness to the plans for converting the buildings at Fourth and Warren streets into a hotel to be called the Hudson Public. The review by the HPC was been going on since the beginning of the year, and the design for the hotel has evolved in that time. It's useful to compare how it started with what it is today.

What was originally proposed

What was approved today

The certificate of appropriateness was granted with these ten conditions:
  1. Any new mortar will be matched to existing mortar in color, composition, and substance on existing buildings.
  2. The original patina of the brick on existing buildings shall be maintained and any cleaning that is done shall be nonabrasive and not debride the finish.
  3. The applicant shall return to the Historic Preservation Commission for approval of specifications and details for all windows, doors, and light fixtures.
  4. The applicant shall return to the Historic Preservation Commission for approval of sign materials and details.
  5. The applicant shall return to the Historic Preservation Commission for approval of cornices over windows on the two new infill buildings. The applicant shall consider a projection of at least 2 inches from the face of the brick to create a shadow.
  6. Materials for stone lintels on infill buildings shall match those on existing buildings.
  7. Building gutters shall be integral; any exterior gutters require approval of the Historic Preservation Commission.
  8. Roof shingles will be asphalt timberline shingles.
  9. The water table on the north elevation is stucco on masonry.
  10. Corrugated metal on new construction at rear shall be unpainted galvanized or ungalvanized metal.
Now for the part of the report that explains the title of this post. At the last HPC meeting, Walter Chatham, the architect for the project, said he thought the surviving stone on the facade of 402 Warren Street was granite, and hence all new stone needed to restore the colonnade on the existing building and for the lintels and sills on the infill buildings would be granite. 

Matt McGhee, steadfast observer and critic of the HPC, maintained that the stone was marble and suggested that it was the same type of marble found on 260 Warren Street, the current location of Lawrence Park.

Photo: Monthie Collection, Columbia County Historical Society

After that meeting, Chatham investigated further and concluded that the stone was indeed marble, an opinion he said had been confirmed by the sixteen people with stone expertise he had consulted. Based on his investigation and research, Chatham posited that the marble on the building was from Danbury, Maine, a specific type now known as White Olympian Danbury marble. According to Chatham, that is the marble that was originally used for the building and that is the marble that will be used to restore the colonnade of the existing building. The columns and entablatures of the infill buildings, as well as the lintels and sills, will also be marble.  

Thursday, March 23, 2023

The Date of the Auction Has Been Announced

In February, the Common Council passed resolutions to sell two City-owned properties: 10-12 Warren Street and 429-431 Warren Street. Today, the date of the auction was finally announced. It will take place on Tuesday, April 25, at 3:00 p.m., at the Central Fire Station, 77 North Seventh Street.

The minimum bid for each property has been set as the value determined by the most recent appraisals of the buildings: $895,000 for 10-12 Warren Street and $595,000 for 429-431 Warren Street. The sale of each building will be subject to a $100,000 penalty in the event that it is not developed for a commercial use within three years of the conveyance of title or if all or any portion of the property is sold within three years of the conveyance of title. 

For more information, click here.

Who Wants to Serve on the Common Council?

Last night, Amber Harris, councilmember representing the Third Ward, released the following statement:
It has been not only a pleasure, but also an eye-opening learning experience to serve as Alder representing the City of Hudson's third ward. I want to thank all of my supporters and mentors that helped bring me this far. In order to allow time for another brave soul with a fresh set of eyes to step up and represent the third ward and the City as a whole, I am announcing that I will not be seeking a second full term this November.
Thank you all for entrusting me to serve in such an important capacity.
The process of getting signatures on designating petitions is now underway. According to the 2023 Political Calendar published by the Columbia County Board of Elections, the dates for filing the petitions are April 3 through 6. There is still time to get petitions signed, and the field appears to be wide open. 

In the First Ward, Margaret Morris is gathering signatures to run for reelection, but Art Frick, because of the boundary changes made to maintain wards of equal population, now lives in the Third Ward and cannot run again in the First Ward. 

In the Second Ward, it seems Dewan Sarowar, who was first elected in 2017, will be seeking reelection, but it is not known if Mohammed Rony, now serving his first term on the Council, will run again. Last week, the Register-Star reported that Kevron Lee intends to run in the Second Ward, with the support of "the HCHC Collective, the C4 arm of the Hudson-Catskill Housing Coalition." "C4 arm" presumably is a reference to a 501(c)4 organization

In the Third Ward, Amber Harris has announced she does not intend to run. Whether or not Ryan Wallace will run again has not been confirmed.

In the Fourth Ward, Malachi Walker, who is in his second term on the Council, has said several times in public meetings that he does not intend to run again. Gossips has heard that Theo Anthony, now serving his first term on the Council, may not be seeking a second term, but that has not been confirmed.

In the Fifth Ward, the word is that both current councilmembers, Dominic Merante and Vicky Daskaloudi, intend to seek reelection.

It appears there may be lots of open seats and lots of opportunities for anyone interested to serve the community.

News About the News

It was reported today that Johnson Newspaper Corporation is selling the Register-Star, the Daily Mail, and the website HudsonValley to the Daily Gazette Holding Company, which publishes the Daily Gazette in Schenectady, the Gloversville Leader-Herald, and the Amsterdam Recorder.

Improvements at Promenade Hill

Last October, after seventeen months of construction, the newly redesigned approach to Promenade Hill was officially opened, and once again folks had access--now universal access--to the bluff that in 1795 had been set aside as a public space for viewing the river and the mountains beyond. This was the view restored to us on that day. 

Photo: Sarah Sterling

In recent weeks, workers from the Department of Public Works have cleared the brush from the escarpment, and this morning, they were scraping the old paint off the fence in preparation for repainting it.

According to Rob Perry, DPW superintendent, the repainting will be done when the weather is a little warmer.

Although Promenade Hill was established as a public park in 1795, nearly 80 years passed before the fence was erected. This painting by Henry Ary, done in 1854, shows Promenade Hill before there was a fence.

According to Anna Bradbury's 1908 book, History of the City of Hudson, New York, the fence at Promenade Hill was erected in 1878.
In the same year, 1878, the authorities took measures to improve the Promenade Hill, by the erection of an ornamental fence along the full length of its dangerous frontage, and by increased attention to its walks and lawn.
The minutes of the Common Council indicate that the Council voted to pay for the fence on Promenade Hill on April 25, 1872. 

Somewhere between 1872 and 1878, the fence was erected, so around this time, it is celebrating its sesquicentennial. Hence, it is very appropriate that the fence is getting some attention now.

On a related topic, at the informal meeting of the Common Council last week, Rob Perry explained why the new stairs leading to Promenade Hill are cordoned off when it snows with signs directing people to use the ramps.

The stairs are made of quarried stone, which cost $400,000. It will last and look beautiful for a long time, but it does not react well with salt. As a consequence, to protect the stone stairs from being damaged by salt, when it snows, people are directed to use the ramps, which are made of composite stone and concrete and can be cleared and salted.

A Vision of Hudson

Back in April 2022, the City of Hudson entered into an agreement with CGI Digital to be part of a Community Showcase Video Program "to create a series of videos highlighting businesses, organizations, attractions, natural resources, and communities within Hudson." Gossips reported on the project in July 2022. 

Yesterday, the videos were released, four of them, with the titles "Welcome," "Parks and Recreation," "Food and Entertainment," and "Organizations." All four of them can be viewed here. A link to the videos is also on the landing page of the City of Hudson website. Appearing in every one of the videos, sometimes more than once, is this stretch of Warren Street.


Wednesday, March 22, 2023

A Uniquely Hudson Sign of Spring

City Hall has announced that, beginning this weekend, at midnight Friday, March 24, alternate side of the parking rules are suspended on weekends. This means that from Friday night to Saturday morning and from Saturday night to Sunday morning cars can be parked overnight on either side of the street without risking being ticketed. The rules are suspended "until further notice," which usually means until winter is approaching and snow is a possibility.

Special Meeting Tomorrow

There is a special meeting of the Common Council tomorrow night, Thursday, March 23, at 5:30 p.m. According to the official call of the meeting, its purpose is "to consider a resolution(s) to pay contractors related to City Hall renovations."

The original plans for the renovations to achieve ADA compliance and satisfy the terms of the settlement agreement with the Department of Justice involved removing 53 feet of pipe wrapped in asbestos. At last night's meeting of the Common Council, Peter Bujanow, Commissioner of Public Works, told the Council that there were 415 more feet of asbestos-wrapped pipe in the cellar of the building, and, while the asbestos removal team was on site and the building was vacated, the Council should consider having that removed and replaced as well. The additional cost would be $51,117.

City Treasurer Heather Campbell warned the Council that this expense would use up most of the contingency written into the budget for the inevitable change orders. Consequently, there would need to be something else in place to cover unanticipated costs. 

In January, it was revealed that the total cost of the project is $669,500. A reserve of $435,000 had been established, of which, at that time, $331,567 remained. In January, the Council passed a resolution authorizing the loan of $337,933 from the General Fund to make up the difference. The amount was to be repaid to the General Fund when the proceeds of a bond authorized in May 2021 were received.

The special meeting will be a hybrid, taking place in person at the Central Fire Station, 77 North Seventh Street, and on Zoom. Click here to join the meeting remotely.

Recognizing Achievement

Photo: Jim Franco | Times Union
Last night at the Common Council meeting, Mayor Kamal Johnson acknowledged the achievement of the Catholic Central boys' basketball team which "just made it to the state championship." Catholic Central is in Troy, but its star player, freshman Darien Moore, is from Hudson. Presenting a certificate of commendation to Moore, Johnson said, "A lotta times we make a lotta noise when our young people are doing the wrong things in our community, so I want to make sure we highlight and acknowledge when they do amazing things, and he has done an excellent job representing the City of Hudson."   

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

A Development Partner for HHA

The responses to the RFQ (request for qualifications) for a development partner for the Hudson Housing Authority are currently being reviewed. The plan is to build new housing to replace Bliss Towers and Columbia Apartments and to demolish those structures, built in the early 1970s. There is no word on how many proposals were received or by whom they were submitted, but some insight is offered by the sign-in sheet for the site tour that took place on December 12, 2022. 

The original schedule, outlined in the RFQ, called for the announcement of the chosen development partner to be made on April 3. At last night's meeting of the HHA Board of Commissioners, Jeffrey Dodson, HHA executive director, said that the announcement would be postponed until the board's next meeting, which is scheduled to take place on Monday, April 17.

The Unveiling Continues

In January, Gossips reported that the metal siding sheathing the 1856 Gifford Foundry Building was being removed.

Photo: Peter Jung

Today, stucco is being removed to expose the original brick.

Photo: Win Jackson
The Historic Preservation Commission granted a certificate of appropriateness to remove the metal siding and restore the brick beneath back in July 2021. At the time, Gossips commented, "It will be interesting to watch this reveal." Who knew the process would take so long? 

The building, which is seen in the historic photograph below, has been owned by the Galvan Initiatives Foundation since 2014.


Monday, March 20, 2023

Movies, Movies, Movies

There are no actual movie theaters in Hudson, but that doesn't mean there are not places to watch movies. Hudson Hall is soon to launch a series called Movies on Mainstreet with a screening of the 1986 neo-noir film Blue Velvet. The mystery thriller is set in a small town in North Carolina, and its screening at Hudson Hall may solve a uniquely Hudson mystery: Who is the creator of The Hudson Wail? The Hudson Wail is hosting the screening of Blue Velvet, which takes place on Wednesday, March 29, at 7:00 p.m., and possibly, if you pay your $5 and go see the film, you'll get to find out who's the mind behind the Instagram account. Click here to purchase your tickets.  

The Hudson City School District is also planning on screening some films as part of its "Hudson Has Heart" initiative. The films will be shown in the Junior/Senior High School Auditorium.

On Thursday, March 30, at 6:00 p.m., the film is Miss Representation, which "exposes damaging, sexist media messages that inhibit young women's happiness, ambition, and leadership." A trailer for the movie can be viewed here.

On Monday, April 17, at 6 p.m., the film is The Mask You Live In, which follows boys and young men "as they struggle to stay true to themselves while negotiating America's narrow definition of masculinity." The trailer for this movie can be viewed here.

Admission to both films is free and open to the public, but parental permission is required for anyone under the age of 18, which is most of the students in junior and senior high school. For more information, click here

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Meetings and Events in the Week Ahead

Tomorrow, at 5:24 p.m., the vernal equinox happens. According to legend, at the exact moment of the vernal equinox you can balance an egg in an upright position, because of Earth's position relative to the Sun. You'll have time to try this before you need to turn your attention to the week's meetings.
  • On Monday, March 20, the Hudson Housing Authority Board of Commissioners holds its monthly meeting at 6:00 p.m. It's possible some information about the responses to the RFQ (request for qualifications) for a development partner to create new public housing to replace Bliss Towers and Columbia Apartments (the low-rise) may be forthcoming at this meeting. The meeting is a hybrid, taking place in person in the Community Room at Bliss Towers and on Zoom. Click here to join the meeting remotely. 
  • On Tuesday, March 21, the Common Council holds its regular monthly meeting at 6:00 p.m. The meeting is a hybrid, taking place in person at the Central Fire Station, 77 North Seventh Street, and in Zoom. Click here to join the meeting remotely.
  • On Friday, March 24, the Historic Preservation Commission meets at 10:00 a.m. No agenda for the meeting is as yet available. The meeting is a hybrid, taking place in person at the Central Fire Station, 77 North Seventh Street, and on Zoom. Click here to join the meeting remotely.
  • On Saturday, March 25, the Robert Jenkins House, chapter house and museum of the Hendrick Hudson Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), will be offering tours from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. The house is located at 113 Warren Street.

It Happened on St. Patrick's Day

Speeding is a concern in our city. In 2021, the speed limit on Union Street and Glenwood Boulevard was reduced from 30 mph to 25 mph. The Common Council Legal Committee has started work on reducing the speed limit to 25 mph throughout the city. But will reducing the speed limit be enough?

On Friday night, at about 11:30 p.m., residents of the 300 block of State Street were startled by "a loud boom and the crushing sound of metal on metal." One of those residents described the incident for Gossips: "A car had completely flipped over and taken out several other vehicles in its path. . . . The incident was a stark reminder of the dangerous conditions we often see on this street by people speeding." That resident also provided these photographs.

Traffic calming is a serious concern for us in Hudson. Received wisdom maintains that enforcement cannot be relied on to curb speeding, but rather the solution is to "create spaces in which it is physically uncomfortable or impossible to drive a vehicle quickly." This solution may seem to make sense when applied to State Street, which is probably the widest street in Hudson, but people also speed on narrower streets. In Gossips' recollection, parked cars have been totaled by speeding vehicles on lower Allen Street and lower Union Street, where the width of the streets should make speeding "physically uncomfortable." Perhaps we need an ad hoc committee, of the Common Council or of private citizens, tasked with studying the issue of traffic calming, researching best practices, and recommending solutions.

An Appeal to HBBs (and Others)

In 1975, there was an initiative to support Hudson businesses appropriately called SPOUT, because of Hudson's whaling roots. SPOUT is an acronym for Society to Promote Our Unique Town. This page from an event program provides insight into SPOUT's mission.
The History Room of the Hudson Area Library is planning an exhibition dedicated to SPOUT and this era in Hudson history. The exhibition is scheduled to open in early May. If you any souvenirs or memorabilia of SPOUT that you are willing to lend to the library for the exhibition, please contact Brenda Shufelt, History Room coordinator.

Gossips Note: HBB stands for Hudson By Birth.

Friday, March 17, 2023

St. Patrick's Day in Hudson, 1873

According to this item from the Hudson Daily Register for March 17, 1873, there was a St. Patrick's Day celebration in Hudson 150 years ago that included a service at St. Mary's Church and a procession through the city, involving more than 200 people, organized by the Father Matthew Total Abstinence Society. The Daily Register declared the celebration "highly creditable to our adopted citizens who took part in it." 

In 1873, St. Mary's Church, which became familiarly known as the "Irish Church," was located at Third and Montgomery streets.

According to the Hudson city directory for 1873, the Father Matthew Total Abstinence Society met at St. Mary's Hall, which was located at Third and Allen streets.