Monday, June 5, 2023

No More Mexican Radio . . . Anywhere

For one brief shining moment, from 2014 to 2017, there were three Mexican Radios--one in Manhattan (the original, which opened in 1996), one in Hudson, and the one (the third and newest) in Schenectady. The Manhattan location closed in 2017. The Hudson location closed in 2019. Today, the Albany Business Review reported that the Schenectady location officially closed on Saturday, June 3: "Mexican Radio in Schenectady closes, building for sale."   

Photo: Albany Business Review

Of Interest

In November, a collection of Joan Didion's possessions was auctioned at Stair Galleries. The auction was the subject of a report on NPR, "Writer Joan Didion's possessions sell for eye-popping prices at auction," and an article in The New Yorker, "Joan Didion's Priceless Sunglasses." The sunglasses sold for $27,000. All together, the auction netted about $2 million.

Last week, New York Magazine's Curbed reported that Didion's eleven-room apartment on the Upper East Side has not yet found a buyer: "No One Wants Joan Didion's Apartment." The apartment went on the market in late January with an asking price of $7.5 million. As Curbed and the New York Post before it reported, the price was recently reduced by a million dollars.

Happening at Olana

On Saturday, June 17, from 11:00 a.m. to 9 p.m., The Olana Partnership and Site-Specific Dances present UNFOLDING OLANA: A Day of Dance, a unique event that "immerses visitors in a captivating celebration of movement and artistry, set against the stunning backdrop of Olana's 250 acres of artist-designed landscape."

UNFOLDING OLANA is led by acclaimed choreographer Michael Spencer Phillips and esteemed architect Dino Kiratzidis. Together they will transform Olana's picturesque landscape into a dynamic stage, presenting a series of thought-provoking dance pieces that pay homage to the vision of landscape artist Frederic Church.

Visitors are encouraged to pack a picnic and spend the day exploring the site, as pop-up performances unfold throughout Olana's breathtaking landscape. From hidden groves to open meadows, every space will come alive with movement and artistic expression. The performances have been meticulously developed through engaging conversations with art historians, ensuring a deep connection to Church's original compositions and the ecological richness of Olana's contemporary landscape. 

Unfolding Olana will culminate at 8:15 p.m. with a final performance as the sun sets behind the backdrop of the Hudson River and the Catskill Mountains. The sunset performance promises to be a memorable experience for all who witness it.

The dance performances will involve eight professional dancers as well as community participants. On Saturday, June 10, at 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m., Site-Specific Dances choreographer Michael Spencer Phillips will be at the Wagon House Education Center for a free community-based dance and movement class for participants of all ages and abilities. Each workshop will bring community members together for an introduction to modern dance and the opportunity to learn choreography for the performances on June 17.

The performances and workshops are part of Site-Specific Dances' June creative residency at Olana in collaboration with The Olana Partnership. Site-Specific Dances receives funding from the Charles E. Culpepper Program of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.

Tickets for UNFOLDING OLANA: A Day of Dance are free and can be reserved online at or in person at the Olana Visitor Center. Availability is limited; early booking is encouraged.

Meetings and Events in the Week Ahead

Last week was pretty much devoid of city meetings. Not so this week. Here is what's happening.
  • On Tuesday, June 6, Hudson Community Development and Planning Agency (HCDPA) meets at 4:30 p.m. 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.
Update: The HCDPA meeting has been canceled.
  • At 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, June 6, the Conservation Advisory Council (CAC) holds its monthly meeting. Very likely the meeting will include an update on the CAC's 2023 street tree planting program. 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 Wednesday, June 7, the Common Council Legal Committee meets at 6:00 p.m. No agenda for the meeting is available, but the amendments to the formula business law now making their way through the process of enactment may be a topic for discussion. 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 Thursday, June 8, the Common Council ad hoc Truck Route Committee meets at 6:00 p.m. (This meeting was rescheduled from last week.) 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 Friday, June 9, the Historic Preservation Commission holds its first of two monthly meetings. 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.    

Friday, June 2, 2023

Keeping an Eye on the Dunn Building

Responses to the RFP for the redevelopment of the Dunn warehouse were originally due next week, on Thursday, June 8, but the deadline has been extended until June 22. 

This past Tuesday, the City issued an
addendum to the RFP, which answers questions from those making proposals and includes some interesting information. 

First, the addendum reveals the entities that participated in the site visit/walk-through which took place on May 18. The site visit was not mandatory, but the list may give some insight into who might be submitting a proposal. Those who came for the site visit are:
One potential developer asked: "Does the proposal eventually have to go through the Historic Commission during the approval process?" The answer was no, which brings up a sore point with regard to this building, the one of a very few surviving historic buildings on our waterfront. 

It has been known for several years that the building was not included in the National Register Hudson Historic District. In 2016, in response to an inquiry from Mayor Tiffany Martin, Weston Davey at the State Historic Preservation Office explained: "Documentation for the Hudson MRA (Multiple Resource Area) was completed in 1985, but the Hudson and Boston Railroad Shop [a.k.a. the Dunn warehouse] was not listed at that time due to property owner objections." (In 1985, the building was owned by Stockport Lumber Company.) In 2016, there was some talk of pursuing National Register listing for the building because it would then qualify for historic preservation tax incentives, possibly making it more attractive to a developer, but that never happened. Around the same time, there was also talk among members of the Historic Preservation Commission about designating the building a local landmark, which would make alterations to the building subject to approval by the HPC. But that was never pursued either. Now, with no historic protections in place, the building is to be leased or sold to be developed for some still to be determined purpose.

Testing the Waters . . . Literally

Thanks to the generous support of the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, Friends of Oakdale Lake and the Columbia Land Conservancy are once again able to test and evaluate the water in Oakdale Lake this summer.

The testing will be done by "citizen scientists," volunteers from the community, and overseen by Vanessa Baehr, volunteer coordinator, master gardener, and Oakdale expert, and by ecologists from Great Ecology

Everyone interested in becoming a citizen scientist can do so on Saturday, June 10, from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. Volunteers will learn how to use a secchi disk to evaluate water clarity, how to capture water lower in the water column, how to test pH, what benthic invertebrates are found in the lake, and more. The event is appropriate for all ages, and there will be snacks.

Hudson and "Chain Stores"

Last summer, the opening of Westerlind's fifth location at 417 Warren prompted the Common Council Legal Committee to revisit Article XIV of the city code, the law enacted in 2018 to preserve the character of Hudson by prohibiting retail sales or service establishments that operate at four or more other locations and have two or more of the following features: a standardized array of merchandise, a standardized facade, a standardized decor and color scheme, uniform apparel, standardized signage, a trademark or a service mark. Some of the issues considered by the Legal Committee were how and when the City determines if a new business proposed for Hudson is in compliance with the law and what action the City should take if a business opens in violation of the law.

On May 15, the eight councilmembers present and Council president Tom DePietro voted unanimously to approve a resolution to amend Article XIV. The proposed amendments are intended to "provide additional clarification as to when a prospective business use shall be deemed a formula retail use and its obligations to affirmatively disclose same to the City's permitting departments." The amendments are a few steps away from becoming law. They are now with the Hudson Planning Board and the Columbia County Planning Board for review and recommendation. There will be a public hearing on the amendments on Tuesday, June 20, at 6:00 p.m.

Meanwhile, a company called Clic, which already has eleven stores--five in New York City, two in East Hampton, three in California, and one in St. Barts--is announcing its newest store, coming soon to 314 Warren Street in Hudson.

Update: The fact that Clic has multiple locations was discovered when they contacted the Code Enforcement Office to inquire about a sign permit. Word is that Clic has since retained a lawyer to review Article XIV to see if there are any exceptions in the law that might apply.

Thursday, June 1, 2023

Update on the City Clock

The city clock, located in the tower of the First Presbyterian Church, a tradition in Hudson that dates back to 1801, has not been tolling the hours for a while now. The clock is keeping accurate time; it's just not tolling the hours. Today, Gossips received an update on the situation from Rob Perry, superintendent of the Department of Public Works. 
The hour chimes have quit working mainly because the pull rods and chains to the bell are disarranged at the top end. This would not be difficult to repair but will require some experimenting to get the best action. The clock mechanism that governs the number of chimes per hour still functions as designed, but it has some worn pins and bushings that may need to be machined. I have shop facilities to do this kind of work.
The weight-driven clockwork mechanism has a 3/16 inch "aircraft" cable that has come off one of its pulleys at the top end. The iron weights will have to be temporarily supported and slack created in the cable in order to reset it. A careful inspection of the cable for wear, damage, or excessive twisting may indicate that it should be replaced. The chime mechanism uses its own set of weights, supported by 1/4 inch cable.
The initial assessment of the problem has been completed. The next step involves scheduling and fabrication of parts. It may be a while before the bells are tolling the hours again, but rest assured that the work to make it happen is underway.

Primary Primer

Postcards from the Board of Elections announcing the 2023 election dates arrived a few weeks ago. Since then, Gossips has gotten some inquiries about what we'll be voting on this year. This is the year for city and county elections, and this post provides some election prep for the Primary Election that takes place later this month.

For the primary election, Election Day is Tuesday, June 27. Early voting starts on Saturday, June 17, and continues through Sunday, June 25. For Hudson, the primary is only for Democrats. Democrats in all of the five wards will be voting to determine which of three candidates--Brian Herman, Mark Portin, Michael Howard--will be the two candidates for county judge whose names appear on the Democratic line in November.

Hudson Democrats residing in the First, Second, and Third wards will also be voting for the two candidates that will appear on the Democratic line in November, running for the two seats for each ward on the Common Council. 
  • In the First Ward, the candidates are Margaret Morris, who is currently serving on the Council; Gary Purnhagen, who submitted designating petitions two years ago, withdrew from the race in July, announced he was running again in October, but lost in November; Randall Martin, who currently serves on the Planning Board and is the vice chair of the Hudson City Democratic Committee. 
  • In the Second Ward, the candidates are Dewan Sarowar and Mohammed Rony, who are both currently serving on the Council, and Kevron Lee, who is running with the support of HCHC Collective, a 501 (c)4 organization affiliated with the Hudson/Catskill Housing Coalition. 
  • In the Third Ward, the candidates are Shershah Mizan, who served for two terms on the Council but did not seek reelection in a timely manner in 2021 and lost as a write-in candidate; Lola Roberts, another candidate, according to Gossips' intel, running with the support of HCHC Collective; and Daniel Schmeder, who is new to Hudson politics. 
In November, the two Third Ward candidates who win in the primary will face a challenge from Bill Huston, strident critic of Hudson government and author of the blog HudseenLast week, Huston submitted designating petitions to run for Third Ward councilmember on his own line, the name of which is not known to Gossips at this time. 

Photo: Hudseen

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Sunday in the Park with Shad

On Sunday, June 4, from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., at Henry Hudson Riverfront Park, the Hudson Sloop Club will hold the inaugural event at the long-awaited Everett Nack Estuary Education Center.  

Called "American Shad Show & Tell," the event gives participants the chance to try out the center's microscopes while learning about American shad (Alosa sapidissima), an important member of the Hudson River's ecosystem. Shad are currently in the beginning stages of their life cycle. During the event, shad larvae will be gathered and checked out under the microscope while participants learn about the shad's historic and ecological importance.

The event will be led by biologist and educator Chris Nack, the grandson of celebrated fisherman and conservationist Everett Nack, whose activism inspired the Hudson Sloop Club's mission of access, education, and stewardship.

The event is free, family friendly, and open to everyone. Pastries and coffee will be provided by Supernatural Coffee.

One Meeting Canceled; Another Announced

The meeting of the Common Council ad hoc Truck Route Committee, originally scheduled for tomorrow at 6:00 p.m., has been canceled. It will be rescheduled for some time in the next week or so.

To satisfy one's appetite for meetings, there is a meeting of the Columbia County Housing Task Force today, Wednesday, May 31, at 4:00 p.m. The meeting takes place in person at One City Centre, Suite 301, and on Zoom. Click here to join the meeting remotely. On the agenda for today's meeting is a presentation by Nan Stolzenburg, principal consultant at Community Planning and Environmental Associates.

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Revisiting the Charles Alger House

This morning, Gossips reported that the drip moulding that formed an arc over the tripartite window at 59 Allen Street had been removed. (Gossips had previously reported that this drip moulding matched neither the evidence in the 1858 engraving of the house nor the elevations presented when the project received its certificate of appropriateness from the Historic Preservation Commission.)

This evening, there was a new drip moulding, correctly positioned over the tripartite window.

Happy ending.

Happening This Weekend

With Memorial Day weekend behind us, we have the 14th Annual Pride Festival coming up this weekend, beginning on Thursday, June 1, and continuing through Sunday, June 4. Here is the entire lineup of events. (Click on the image to enlarge.)

The big event, of course, is the parade, which happens at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 3. The parade route is, as always, down Warren Street from the Public Square to Promenade Hill. The theme of this year's parade is "On the Road Again."

There is another event taking place on Saturday and Sunday: "Rainbows and Pride" at the Red Dot.

Enjoy dinner on Saturday or brunch on Sunday while being entertained with song by Terence Law, Kate Medhus, Miranda Moirai, John Philip, Loren Resto, Bronwyn Rucker, and Alana Hauptmann, with Woody Regan at the the piano.

Save This House

There's an old farmhouse on Four Corners Road in Ancram in urgent need of someone's help.

This small, mostly intact eyebrow Colonial is believed to have been built between 1790 and 1820. Its current owners plan to demolish it, but they will sell it for $1 to anyone willing to move it to another location. This rare old house deserves saving. If you are interested and able to be the one who does that, please contact Gossips at I will put you in touch with someone who can provide more information about the house and facilitate making it happen.

Following Up

On Sunday, in a report about last Friday's Historic Preservation Commission meeting, Gossips drew attention, as had Matt McGhee in his comments during the public hearing on 59 Allen Street, to the drip moulding over the tripartite window in the east facade which had been incorrectly done, matching neither the evidence in the 1858 engraving of the house nor the elevations presented when the project received its certificate of appropriateness from the HPC.

This morning, the offending drip moulding was removed.

In historic preservation, as in so many things, God is in the details. Congratulations to Walter Chatham and Galvan for making the correction.

Monday, May 29, 2023

Meeting of Interest in the Week Ahead.

Yep. The singular in the heading is correct. In this week following the long Memorial Day weekend, there is only one meeting.
  • On Thursday, June 1, the Common Council ad hoc Truck Route Committee meets at 6:00 p.m. At the last meeting of this committee, it was suggested that truck traffic passing through Hudson would be reduced if the Route 9G/23B truck route were eliminated, something that could be attainable because this truck route's reason for being, L&B Furniture, ceased to exist more than a decade ago. Thursday's meeting may provide an update on the progress in making this happen. 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. 

Sunday, May 28, 2023

Will There Be a Do-Over?

On Friday, the Historic Preservation Commission held a public hearing on the exterior metal stairs proposed for entrances on the south and west facades of the historic Charles Alger house, 59 Allen Street. 

Before the HPC heard public comment, Walter Chatham, the architect for the Galvan project, presented "an architectural progression" of historical stairways to justify the choice of metal stairs. He argued that, at the time the house was constructed, iron and steel were being introduced as building materials, and since Charles Alger, believed to be the one for whom the house was constructed, was one of the founders of the Hudson Iron Works, it would be completely logical for his house to have metal stairs. Alger himself, Chatham suggested, might chosen to have metal stairs on his house. Chatham also defended the metal stairs by saying that it was the hope that the simple design, with open risers, would make the stairs transparent, to highlight the restored limestone facade below the water table.

Matt McGhee, the only person to speak during the public comment period, said he had done research similar to what Chatham had done to justify the proposed stairs, and in no case did he find such a "stark steel staircase." He argued that the staircases on this house would have been wood or stone. He cited the Gothic design of the railing that survives that the main entrance to house and asserted that this should be replicated on the staircases at the other entrances.

In his comments, McGhee brought up a problem with the restoration as it has so far been completed: the tripartite window in the east facade.

The 1858 engraving of the house shows that the drip moulding was at the top of the three windows, stepped to trace the different heights of the three parts of the window. 

The elevations presented to the HPC, which were the basis for granting the certificate of appropriateness, show the drip moulding at the top of the three parts of the window, just as it appears in the 1858 engraving.

So why does the drip moulding over these windows, as it was recently done, follow the shape of the relieving arch? A relieving arch, also called a displacing arch, is a structural element intended to support the weight of the wall above the window lintels, lessening the weight of the brick wall on the window frames. There is evidence that the relieving arch was not meant to be visible and certainly not meant to be highlighted with a drip moulding.  

Commenting on Friday, McGhee wondered if the window was finished or not. "I don't know what's intended," said McGhee, "but as it stands, it's incorrect." It seems that "as it stands" is what Galvan considers finished, but one doesn't need documentation to recognize that what was done just looks wrong, not to mention the proportions of the new windows are different from what appears in the 1858 engraving. The center section is much taller in relation to the sections on each side. 

It remains to be seen if the HPC will order Galvan to correct the drip moulding to make it match the historic evidence and the rendering that was presented.

A Temporary Silence

Those who are accustomed to hearing the bell of the First Presbyterian Church tolling the hours have probably noticed that the clock has been silent for the past few days. Gossips' investigation has found that, unlike what happened a couple of years ago, the silence this time is only temporary.

Back in 2021, the clock was deliberately silenced by Kathryn Beilke, then pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, because a resident living in close proximity to the church complained that the bell was keeping her awake at night. Because the clock in the church tower is the city clock, a tradition dating from 1801, when the First Presbyterian Church was located at Partition and Second streets, the decision to silence the bell was not Beilke's to make, and because the people calling for the return of the bell tolling the hours far outnumbered the one person complaining, the tolling of the hours resumed. 

The situation today is different from what happened in 2021. The clock, although keeping time, is not tolling the hours because of a mechanical issue with one of the pulleys. (The current clock dates from 1913.) Rob Perry, superintendent of the Department of Public Works, told Gossips that a clocksmith has been contacted to fix the problem and allow the tolling of the hours to resume.