Tuesday, November 28, 2023

The Mayor Giveth, and the Mayor Taketh Away

City Hall has announced that once again this year, in accordance with tradition, meter parking will be free for the entire month of December. It's Hudson's gift to holiday shoppers and merrymakers.

It has also been announced that, starting not this weekend but next, the suspension of alternate side parking rules on weekends will come to an end. Beginning on Saturday, December 9, alternate side of the street regulations for overnight parking will be in force seven days a week. That means on Friday, December 8, your car must be parked overnight on the side of the street where house numbers are odd, because the date of the next day, December 9, is odd.

Monday, November 27, 2023

The Future of the Former Kaz Site

Today, Ben Fain's plans for the former Kaz site were the subject of an article in the Albany Business Review: "'Dream project' would transform site near Hudson train station." The article begins:
What was once an industrial building near the railroad tracks in Hudson where workers made humidifiers and vaporizers could be transformed into an airy, light-filled venue that can host year-round events such as a farmers market.
That vision for the former Kaz Inc. manufacturing site is possible because of nearly $3.5 million in state grants that have been awarded over the past several years and financing from a group of family and friends led by Ben Fain. 

Regarding the farmers market, the article clarifies that the idea that this might be the future home of the Hudson Farmers Market is still just that: an idea.
Fain's dream is to bring the popular Hudson Farmers to the site from its downtown home at North 6th and Columbia streets, but emphasizes it's only an idea at this point.
"I'm crossing my fingers we can build a space around them," Fain said. "They're already an extremely successful organization. We'll see what happens."
The article contains one amusing error that betrays lack of knowledge of Hudson even more than describing Sixth and Columbia streets as "downtown." In talking about recently completed projects in close proximity to the Kaz site, the article says, "The Wick is a 55-room boutique hotel in a renovated candle factory at 711 Warren St." Anyone who knows Hudson the least little bit knows that 711 Warren Street is nowhere near the Kaz site. Anyone who knows Hudson slightly better knows that 711 Warren Street is the location of Poured Candle Bar not a 55-room hotel, but candles figure into both. It seems odd that an article in the Albany Business Review, which reports regularly on projects undertaken by Redburn Development, doesn't mention that it was Redburn Development that transformed the historic industrial building, originally a candle factory, into a boutique hotel called The Wick.

The article includes this rendering of the redeveloped site which we haven't seen before.

It's not at all clear how, in this rendering, the building fits into its context, but my guess is that's the municipal parking lot at the train station in the lower right and Cross Street in the upper left, but I could be wrong.

Sunday, November 26, 2023

Meetings of Interest in the Week Ahead

The long holiday weekend is over, and now it's back to business as usual. In the week leading up to Winter Walk, Hudson's unofficial start of the Hanukkah-Christmas-Kwanzaa season, here is what's happening. 
  • On Tuesday, November 28, the Common Council ad hoc Parking Study Committee meets at 6:00 p.m. At their last meeting, on October 24, the committee heard a presentation from a representative of Duncan Technologies about converting our existing parking meters to "smart" meters. It is expected at this meeting the committee may hear a presentation from another company seeking to upgrade our parking system. 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 meeting of the ad hoc Parking Study Committee has been canceled.
  • On Wednesday, November 29, the Columbia County Housing Task Force holds its monthly meeting at 4:00 p.m. The meeting is a hybrid, taking place in person at Columbia Economic Development Corporation (CEDC), 1 City Centre, Suite 301, and on Zoom. Click here to join the meeting remotely.
  • On Thursday, November 30, the Planning Board is holding a special workshop session at 4:00 p.m., regarding the Colarusso haul road. The meeting is presumably a public meeting, taking place at the Central Fire Station, 77 North Seventh Street, but it apparently will not be a hybrid. Based on the discussion that preceded the decision to hold the special workshop session, it seems the purpose of the workshop is to settle on the conditions agreeable to Colarusso should the Planning Board grant its approval.
  • On Friday, December 1, the Historic Preservation Commission meets at 10:00 a.m. At the November 17 meeting of the HPC, Victoria Polidoro, legal counsel to the HPC, reported a restoration professional had been hired by the applicant to opine on the removal of the limewash from 501 Union Street, where limewash was applied to the brick in violation of the conditions of the certificate of appropriateness. She said a proposed solution to the limewash issue would be submitted on December 1, and the HPC would review that solution on December 15. 
At the November 17 meeting, Phil Forman, who chairs the HPC, reported he had done some investigating and discovered that, although two stop-work orders have been issued on the building, in neither case was that information communicated to the people doing the work. Polidoro opined that there needs to be a public hearing on the matter, because, as she explained, half the people who have spoken to her about the limewashed building love it and half hate it. That hardly seems an appropriate reason for a public hearing. Historic preservation is not a popularity contest. The December 1 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. 

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Imagining What Might Be

As it turns out and was explained by Nick Zachos, who is a member of the Hudson Housing Authority Board of Commissioners, the inability of anyone to access the HHA meeting on Zoom on Monday was not intentional in any way. However, the fact remains that the architects and the board have not been very forthcoming about the plans for the project. What we do know is they are proposing to extend First Street, which now only goes from Union Street to Columbia Street, north from Columbia to State, and to close State Street to vehicular traffic between Second Street and the new extension of First Street. 

We also know that what is being proposed for the current HHA property--the site of Bliss Towers, Columbia Apartments, and the park and basketball courts on the north side of State Street--are buildings that will surround a landscaped courtyard with parking on the perimeter. What we don't know is what those buildings will look like. Since no one is sharing their ideas of what might be, we are left to speculate, based on clues we have been given.

Revonda Smith, who chairs the HHA Board of Commissioners, has repeatedly made reference to 280 North Pearl Street in Albany as a building that should be emulated here in Hudson. At the October meeting of HHA, Claire Cousin, also a member of the HHA Board of Commissioners, supported that notion. This is 280 North Pearl Street.

And then there are the architects, Alexander Gorlin Architects. According to an article found online, this firm has been designing affordable housing in New York City for two decades, but the only affordable housing project featured on their website seems to be this one, completed last year in the Bronx.

Like what is being proposed for Hudson, this building opens onto a courtyard.

This is not to say that these designs will be imposed on Hudson. Rather it is an appeal to HHA and their architects to be more forthcoming about what it being planned for our city. In the absence of actual information, we can only imagine.

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

After the Feast . . .

Thanksgiving is just two days away, and after Thanksgiving thoughts turn to shopping for all the holidays that involve giving gifts. Basilica Farm & Flea Holiday Market, now a well-established tradition in Hudson, is again offering an enjoyable and rewarding alternative to shopping at big box stores on Black Friday, on Small Business Saturday, and on Sunday, which has no particular name--November 24, 25, and 26. All the information about the holiday market and the vendors participating can be found here.

One of the vendors at Basilica Farm & Flea again this year is the Hudson Area Library History Room. If you are looking for gifts that are uniquely and unmistakably Hudson, this is the booth you should seek out. They will be selling familiar merchandise, like the tea towels and tote bags featuring Tony Kieraldo's drawing of the Hudson Armory, the library's home, . . . 

and the SPOUT mugs, designed by Alan Coon and Kelley Drahushuk, and SPOUT vinyl stickers. (SPOUT is the acronym for Society to Promote Our Unique Town, a business and citizens group created in 1975.)

New for the holiday season are ornaments and coasters created by Philmont-based artist Jess Cropper-Alt, which bear the iconic Hudson whale. 

The SPOUT whale logo, affectionately known as "Spouty," featured on History Room merchandise, is the same whale that appears on Hudson street signs. It was designed for the Society to Promote Our Unique Town by Richard Kraham, who in 1975 was the Register-Star design director and the graphic coordinator for SPOUT. Kraham has generously given the library permission to use the logo for display, research, and merchandising.

If you miss out buying your Hudson-themed gifts at Basilica Farm & Flea Holiday Market, you can always shop online at the History Room Shop: historyroom.hudsonarealibrary.org/shop.

Monday, November 20, 2023


I debated about whether I should attend the meeting of the Hudson Housing Authority Board of Commissioners, which was scheduled to happen today at 6:00 p.m., in person or on Zoom. At the September meeting, which I attended on Zoom, the architects working on the project, Alexander Gorlin Architects, never showed the plans they were presenting to the Zoom camera, so in October, I attended the meeting in person. 

At the October meeting, the only one of the architects present assiduously avoided displaying the drawings she was sharing with the Board in a way that would allow me to see them. I got a better view of the materials from watching the video of the meeting the next day.

So tonight, I decided to save myself the bother, stay at home, and attend the meeting on Zoom. That was a mistake. I clicked on the link to the Zoom meeting at 5:55 p.m., and for the next 40 minutes I got nothing but these messages. (They appeared on the screen simultaneously, but to avoid reproducing a lot of white space, I captured each one separately.) 

After 40 minutes, I gave up hope that the host would ever start the meeting or let me in.

It is not clear what happened. I try not to be so paranoid as to think the host, whoever that may be, deliberately excluded me from the meeting. It's more likely that no one thought to turn on the Owl. Still, if a meeting is advertised as a hybrid, it should be a hybrid, and if you are planning a project that is going to have a significant impact on the character of a very small city, little more than two square miles, you should be more open about sharing what you are planning with the people who live in that city and are invested in that city. 

Sunday, November 19, 2023

Meetings of Interest in the Week Ahead

There's not much happening this week in the runup to Thanksgiving, but the meetings that will take place are of some importance.
  • On Monday, November 20, the Hudson Housing Authority Board of Commissioners holds its monthly meeting at 6:00 p.m. As we know, HHA is planning a major redevelopment and significant expansion of its properties. They have renewed their option to buy three parcels now owned by Hudson Community Development and Planning Agency (HCDPA), but exactly what they, their development partner Mountco, and the architects from Alexander Gorlin Architects are proposing has so far been a well guarded secret. Perhaps at this meeting we will learn more about the current plan to transform Hudson, half a century after the last transformation. 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, November 21, the Common Council holds a special meeting at 5:45 p.m. to approve the proposed budget for 2024. At the public hearing on the budget, which took place last Thursday and lasted all of five minutes, the only person to comment was Kristal Heinz, who said she wanted the City to find ways to address its SPDES (State Pollution Discharge Elimination System) issues in order to "keep all this development moving forward." 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.
  • At 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, November 21, the Common Council holds its regular monthly meeting. The agenda for the meeting includes a resolution authorizing the mayor to execute a sale tax agreement with Columbia County. The distribution of sales tax is based on ZIP code, and because the ZIP code 12534 includes Greenport and all its big box stores, the amount of sales tax that comes to Hudson is always a matter of negotiation. 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.