Tuesday, November 30, 2010

When a Good Idea Turns Out Not to Be

When word leaked out on Monday night and Tuesday morning that the Columbia County Capital Resource Corporation was proposing to buy the abandoned Walmart building in Greenport and lease it to the county as the new location for the Department of Social Services, it seemed like a terrific idea. Katy Cashen had suggested it back in July 2008 in a letter to the editor. So had Ben Veronis in a letter to the editor a few months later. The building is accessible to Hudson. There is already bus service in place. It's right next to Price Chopper. People could combine visits to DSS with buying groceries. And there is plenty of room in the building to create a transitional housing facility. Homeless people could be sheltered in the same building where the services they need are provided, and they would be near supermarkets and businesses that might offer employment. It seemed too good to be true that the county was finally considering this idea. As it turns out, it was too good to be true.

This afternoon, Ken Flood, the CEO of CRC, presented the proposal to the Board of Supervisors Space Utilization Subcommittee, and what's being proposed is that all county offices--300 county employees--be consolidated in the old Walmart building. Only the agencies and offices that are required by law to be located in the county seat would remain in Hudson, and those offices would be moved to 325 Columbia Street, putting 401 State, 610 State, as well as 25 Railroad Avenue "out of commission." The proposal also involves leasing the leftover space in the vast old Walmart building to not-for-profits and start-up companies that cannot afford to lease commercial space, to create a business incubator or, as Flood called it, a "job growth center."

Flood talked about the "synergies" created by having all county offices under one roof. Responding to this talk of synergy, Fourth Ward Supervisor Bill Hughes asked "Why not put DSS with a homeless shelter?" and made the point that this seemed to be an obvious synergy.  

When the meeting had been adjourned, Mayor Rick Scalera reiterated the idea that combining DSS with a homeless shelter in the building seemed obvious and would solve a lot of problems. Social Services Commissioner Paul Mossman responded, "You expect the county to own and operate that?" Why not? It makes more sense than the way the concept of "congregate housing" is now being implemented.   

A meeting to solicit public comments about the proposal will be held next Wednesday, December 8, at 5 p.m. at the Elks Club. More details of the proposal are provided in the Register-Star article: "County mulls new home for DSS."

Monday Night at JLE

The Register-Star had an article today about the special meeting of the Board of Education held last night at John L. Edwards: "Crowd turns out to talk solutions to school fights." Although the article includes one unfortunate typo (thank you, Scott Baldinger, for bringing this to our attention) when it reports that Tom Gavin's duties at the District Office, where he is working while on administrative leave from his job as co-principal of the high school, "are commiserate with his tenure area and experience, that is, 'in the discipline area,'” it doesn't include some of the more memorable moments of last night's meeting. That's not surprising, since at least two people last night blamed the Register-Star--especially the headline "Fights erupt at HHS; principal suspended"--for fanning the flames. (Interestingly, in the Register-Star's online archive, that headline has been changed to: "Fights erupt at HHS; principal put on administrative leave.")

There was a lot of reading of statements at the meeting. HSCD Superintendent Jack Howe read a long statement he'd already delivered to students, faculty, and staff, the gist of which seemed to be: "Do the right thing--always!" Bill Hallenbeck, safety officer at the primary school and the intermediate school (and also Third Ward supervisor), read a statement he'd submitted to the Register-Star as a "My View" in which, among other things, he explained the duties of a safety officer. But here are some details of the meeting that may never be published anywhere but here:     
  • At the end of Hallenbeck's presentation, BOE member Peter Meyer asked if he was correct in believing that Hallenbeck was not at the high school when the incidents of violence occurred. The answer was no. Meyer followed up with: "There was a week of pretty intense fighting going on, but you didn't see any of it?" Hallenbeck indicated that he had not.
  • Bob Rochler, the safety officer assigned to the junior high and high school, began his presentation by saying: "Every school has its problems, and every school has its fights. It is the nature of the beast." Major themes of his presentation were that problems begin in the home ("If kids disrespect their parents, it won't be different at school"); having co-principals was a bad idea ("If two principals can't get along, how do you expect kids to get along?); and the Code of Conduct must be enforced ("If you cave to one person, you can kiss the Code of Conduct good-bye"). He also suggested that Hudson Police officers should spend more time in the schools ("After all, the schools are located in the City of Hudson") and that teachers should be mandated to stop fights. (Gossips query: Does this mean martial arts and riot control should be added to the curriculum at every teachers' college?)
  • During the public comment period (when only the fifteen people who had signed up to comment in advance were allowed to speak), audience member Michael Moore started out by recounting a racist incident on the school bus which targeted his biracial son. When he started saying nice things about BOE member Peter Meyer, Safety Officer Bill Hallenbeck was called upon to eject Moore from the microphone. The justification for this action were the ground rules for public comment set by BOE President Emil Meister: Only "observations of a positive nature" would be heard, and speakers were warned that the comment period was "not a soapbox, not a bully pulpit."
The next meeting of the Board of Education takes place on Monday, December 13.                    

"A House Divided Against Itself . . ."

How many ways can our small city be divided? There's "old Hudson" and the newcomers. There's the south side and the north side. There's black and white. There are the perceived "rich" and the poor and working class. But tonight at the special meeting of the Board of Education, two new ways to divide us emerged. 

On the one hand, there are those who think Steven Spicer is a gentle and humane leader and should be the principal of the high school; on the other, those who think Tom Gavin is fair and well-respected and should be the principal of the high school.

And then there are those who believe, like Bill Hallenbeck who is one, that the fact that HCSD is the only school district in Columbia County with "safety officers" (retired law enforcement officers who seem to be a combination of truant officer, EMT, and riot police) is something to be proud of, and those who think, as Alan Skerrett does, that "if we're the only school district in Columbia County with safety officers, there's something wrong."

Which side are you on?   

Monday, November 29, 2010

Hudson's Lost Historic District, Part II

Gossips continues with the inventory of buildings that were part of the 1970 National Register Front Street-Parade Hill-Lower Warren Street Historical District but no longer exist. Today we feature the buildings that once stood on either side of North Front Street and on Prison Alley east of Front Street. 

NORTH FRONT STREET East Side (Between Warren and Columbia Streets)

4-6  Three-story brick dwelling, five bays wide, wood lintels and storefronts, bracketed cornice.

16  Three-story wood dwelling and store, gabled roof, first story brick, four bays wide, bracketed cornice, one dormer, pent roof over storefront.

18  Three-story brick dwelling, three bays wide, steep gabled roof, flemish bond brickwork, splayed stone lintels over windows, Federal style.

20  Three-story wood dwelling, three bays wide, flat roof, modern siding.

22  Three-story wood dwelling and store, five bays wide, flat roof, bracketed wood cornice, modern siding.

NORTH FRONT STREET West Side (Between Warren and Columbia Streets)

15  Two and one-half story dwelling, four bays wide on North Front Street, three bays wide on west Prison Alley, gabled roof, wood cornice, modern siding, simple Federal Stair railing on interior.

17  Two-story brick store and dwelling, three bays wide, flat roof, first floor storefront with cornice.

19  Two-story wood dwelling and store, three bays wide, gabled roof, first floor storefront, bracketed stoop.

PRISON ALLEY North Side (East of North Front Street)   

14  Two-story wood dwelling, raised basement, three bays wide, steep gabled roof, side hall plan, modern siding.
Tomorrow we'll look at Promenade Hill and the buildings immediately adjacent to it, which the National Register application described as "crucial for the definition and containment of the public open space, as well as its scale."

REMINDER: Special Meeting Tonight

A special meeting of the Board of Education to discuss the problems of bullying and violence in our schools will be held TONIGHT, Monday, November 29, at 7 p.m. in the cafeteria at John L. Edwards Primary School, 360 State Street, behind the Hudson Area Library.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Hudson's Lost Historic District, Part I

In the National Register of Historic Places, there are two entries for the Front Street-Parade Hill-Lower Warren Street Historic District. In the first entry, added in 1970, there were 95 buildings; in the second entry for the same district, added in 1986, there were only 25 buildings. 

Recently Gossips obtained from Bill Krattinger at the State Historic Preservation Office copies of the documents from the 1970 National Register application. Here's how the district was described in that application:
The Front Street-Parade Hill-Lower Warren Street Historic District includes buildings along both sides of Warren Street between Second Street and Parade Hill; both sides of North and South Front Streets between Diamond Street and Allen Street (Ferry Street); both sides of Prison Alley between North Front Street and the edge of the bluff; the north side of Fleet Street; and Parade Hill and Franklin Square. 

This area includes a number of late eighteenth, nineteenth and early twentieth century buildings, which were built in a variety of architectural styles and for a number of uses. A common building type is one with a store or other commercial use on the first floor with dwelling space above.

Along South Front Street which connects Warren Street (originally Main Street) on the top of the bluff with the Hudson River landing area to the south are a number of late eighteenth century commercial structures.

The area also includes two public open spaces, Parade Hill and Franklin Square.  

The inventory of buildings in the district contains thumbnail descriptions of every one. What follows are the descriptions of the buildings that once stood on the west side of South Front Street. Read them and use your imaginations. The photographs that accompanied the application have yet to be discovered.

A few things to bear in mind: Pennoyer Street was the continuation of Union Street on the west side of Front Street; Fleet Street was the continuation of Partition Street; there was once an alley running west of Front Street between Pennoyer and Fleet streets.

(Between Warren and Pennoyer Streets)

Three-story brick structure, gabled and semi-hip roof, five bays wide on West Warren Street, three bays wide on Front Street, flemish bond brickwork, brick flat arches, fan windows in gable.

This structure was built in the late 1780's or early 1790's and used as store by Marshall Jenkins, who was one of the original proprietors.

Three-story brick dwelling and store, three bays wide, gabled roof, stone lintels, flemish bond brickwork.

Three-story wood dwelling four bays wide, gabled roof, remodeled first floor.

Three-story brick dwelling and store, three bays wide, flat roof, flemish bond brickwork, stone trim, original arched doorway trim intact, modern storefront.

Three-story frame dwelling, three bays wide, gabled roof, bracketed cornice, remodeled first story, modern asbestos siding.

23  Two and one-half story brick dwelling, five bays wide, hip roof, flemish bond brickwork, splayed brick flat area, remodeled doorway and porch.

(Between Pennoyer and Fleet Streets)

27  Three and one-half story brick dwelling, five bays wide, gabled roof, bracketed cornice, flemish bond brickwork, splayed stone lintels, central arched doorway with original stone trim, fan windows in gable.

29  Three and one-half story brick dwelling and store, three bays wide, gabled roof, two dormers, splayed stone lintels, flemish bond brickwork, remodeled first story.

31  Three-story brick dwelling and store, two bays wide, gabled and flat roofs, common bond brickwork, remodeled first floor store front.

33  Two and one-half story brick dwelling and store, four bays wide, gabled roof, common bond brickwork, brick flat arches, first floor bracketed store front.

35  Three-story brick commercial and residential block, three bays wide on Front Street, seven bays wide on Fleet Street, flat roof, common bond brickwork, bracketed and paneled cornice, first floor store front.

FLEET STREET North Side (From river east to Alley)

Two-story wood dwelling, gabled roof, three bays wide, wooden porch extending width of house on first floor.

Three and one-half story brick dwelling, three bays wide, gabled roof, bracketed cornice, common bond brickwork, wood lintels, enclosed first floor porch.

ALLEY West Side (Between Fleet and Pennoyer Streets, west of Front Street)

Three and one-half story wood dwelling, five bays wide, gabled roof, modern siding.


This square is the site of the first settlement made by members of the Proprietors' Association. On the north side of the square were located the houses of Seth Jenkins and John Alsop built in the fall of 1783. Ravaged by fire in 1838, the block was declared a public square by the Common Council four days after the fire. Now a playground, the area almost certainly contains archeological remains of the original buildings constructed in Hudson.
Tomorrow we'll begin publishing the descriptions of buildings on North Front Street that were part of the original 1970 Front Street-Parade Hill-Lower Warren Street Historic District.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Backing the Right Horse

The Albany Business Review reported today that a thoroughbred horse farm called Vinery Ltd., based in Lexington, Kentucky, is taking over the Empire Stud farm on Routes 9H and 23 not far from Hudson: "Kentucky farm horse expands into NY."  Here's a quote from the article: "David Crawford, president of Columbia Economic Development Corp., said Vinery’s expansion into New York will help strengthen the Columbia County business community."  

Catching Up with the Original Gossips

I was reminded last night by loyal readers of Gossips that it's been almost two months since we published an excerpt from the original Gossips of Rivertown. So today, on this long Thanksgiving weekend, we offer a pleasant diversion. There's no gossip or slander in this passage, just a little fun at the expense of Hudson's gossips of yesteryear.

"By the way," said Miss Martin, suddenly, "who do you think I saw to-day, Harriet ?—Adeline Mitchell, your particular friend," for all present were aware of the new antagonism.

"Ah!" said Harriet, with a most contemptuous wreathing of her thin lips.

"Yes; and she had on the sweetest new silk dress. I wonder who made it!"

"It's likely that people who can afford new silk dresses every fall, have them made in New York. I do like to see people get above themselves now and then!"

There was plainly no hope that the "breach of peace" could ever be closed. Adeline Mitchell's extravagance created quite a diversion from Mrs. Jackson. Miss Martin stitched away industriously with terribly long "needlefulls" of thread. Mrs. Folger now and then had a little chase for the unfortunate thimble, and Mrs. Smith, as usual, talked a great deal and sewed very little. As the days were very short, lights were introduced soon after Miss Martin's arrival, when a new difficulty ensued.

There were but two flat-bottomed candlesticks in the house; these Hannah had that morning rescued from the threatened oblivion of the "closet under the stairs," and had spent much time and labour in polishing. Two lights were not sufficient, and the expedient of a lamp set upon a large plate was mentioned. The plate would not do, there was too mnch danger of its upsetting.

At length, Miss Martin suggested that the little tea-tray would be just the thing; and this, when tried, was found to answer admirably.

"Now, Harriet, I'll take your place, and you give us a tune. I haven't heard a bit of music this age. Do you know a piece called 'Flow Gently, Sweet Afton?'" asked Mrs. Smith.

"I haven't played it I can't tell the time when," responded the fair musician; "but I 've got a beautiful new thing called Norma," she added, taking up a simple arrangement of the Druid's march in that celebrated opera.

"Norma!—I suppose that's a girl's name," said Mrs. Folger, complacently.

"Well, let's have that, then," continued Miss Martin.

Harriet forthwith commenced in a loud, dashing style, in which forte and piano, diminuendo and crescendo passages were so mingled, as to be entirely undistinguishable.

Mrs. Folger nodded her head to keep time, while Mrs. Smith, glad of an excuse for open idleness, laid down her needle and rested her elbow on the quilt-frame to listen, while Miss Martin's notes of admiration, as "Ain't that a sweet strain?"—"Don't that put you in mind of 'Bonaparte crossing the Rhine?'" were continued at intervals.

Animated by such "distinguished applause," Harriet played still more loudly as she neared the conclusion; but alas for the finale!

The [Folger] twins [Susan and Sarah Ann], favoured by the noise, and animated by a purely feminine instinct, discovered that under the quilt was a capital place for playing "keep house," and had accordingly emigrated thither from the window-seat, where they had formerly resided. As they crept carefully under the opposite side, they were, at first, undiscovered; but growing more venturesome, Susan, who was a little the tallest, tried if she could "stand up straight" under the centre of the quilt.

Most unfortunate undertaking!—for, her head came in contact with the tea-tray; the lamp which it bore was upset; and, at the same moment, her sister, in trying to move one of the supporting chairs, brought the whole establishment once more to the carpet.

Harriet sprang from the piano, and snatched the lamps; one of the heavy candlesticks struck Sarah Ann in its descent; while Susan, completely enveloped, thought she was smothering in the centre of the quilt, and screamed in harmony. Of course, for a moment or two, there was total darkness, and when Hannah opened the door to announce tea, the whole room was a scene of unprecedented confusion.

Sketch the Fourth. Mrs. Harden's Quilting. Chapter I.

Good News from an Unexpected Quarter

An article in this morning's Register-Star announces that the tax levy increase in 2011 budget for Columbia County has been reduced from 2.1 percent to no increase: "Budget now boasts a 0% increase." It seems that the zero tax increase was achieved by taking $2.75 million from the fund balance and by increasing the amount of revenue expected from sales tax--from purchases made at T.J. Maxx and Kohl's, which has yet to open, and from the anticipated repeal of the county sales tax exemption on clothing and footwear costing less than $100.  

Too Late to Help Hudson?

Yesterday the Register-Star printed Scenic Hudson's press release announcing the publication of Revitalizing Hudson Riverfronts: Illustrated Conservation & Development Strategies for Creating Healthy, Prosperous Communities--a 100-page illustrated guide to help local officials, planners, developers, citizen activists, and other stakeholders enhance and preserve the unique qualities of the Hudson River waterfront. The guide can be downloaded it HERE, or you can request a print copy by contacting Jeffrey Anzevino at Scenic Hudson. Get it and read it before it's too late.  

Friday, November 26, 2010

Farewell, Rhiannon

Rhiannon Leo, library manager and the friendly face of the Hudson Area Library for the past five years, who can deliver unwelcome news--"The computer room is closed"; "This book is overdue"; "You're making too much noise"--with a little lilting giggle that makes everything all right, is leaving us to take a new job as the library director in Millerton. Next Friday, December 3, there's to be a farewell reception for Rhiannon at the library at 5:15, just after the library closes for the night. Come by to say good-bye to Rhiannon and wish her well.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Hudson in the News

Yesterday's New York Times had an article about the auction of items owned by author and journalist Dominick Dunne at Stair Galleries: "Trading on Sentiment at Dominick Dunne's Estate Sale." I sure hope they got Audrey, the 1994 Jaguar XJS, out of the street before it got ticketed for double-parking. 

UPDATE: 226-228 Warren Street

The siding is now on, and it appears that what this is the best that can be achieved with components available at Home Depot. 

From the beginning, the prefab box windows seemed to be the major problem with these "storefronts." The crude elevation drawing submitted to the Historic Preservation Commission shows these windows extending all the way to the doors at left and right. The notations on the drawing give the actual measurements of the box windows. So the question is: Did the drawing misrepresent the dimensions, or are the windows that were actually used smaller than the ones the owners said they were going to use?

In the early hours of Thanksgiving morning when no one was about, Gossips went to the building to measure the windows. It turns out that they are exactly the dimensions indicated in the notations on the drawing, but those dimensions are significantly misrepresented in the drawing. For example, the actual dimensions of the window at the left--50"W x 61"H--indicate a window that is almost a foot taller than it is wide, but that's not how it appears in the drawing. For the Historic Preservation Commission to have gotten an accurate idea of what these storefronts were going to look like, they would have had to have gone to the building and measured for themselves. With building owners trying to flout the Historic Preservation Commission at every turn, perhaps this is the level of distrust and vigilance the HPC needs to adopt. 

"Be True to Your School"

On this Thanksgiving morning, the Register-Star has three articles related to the recent violence at Hudson High School. There's an excellent article by John Mason announcing a special meeting of the Board of Education at 7 p.m. on Monday, November 29, at John L. Edwards, to discuss the problem. It also provides more information about the recent incidents of violence and explores how other school districts in Columbia County deal with bullying and violence: "HCSD to meet to discuss recent violence." 

There's also a second article by Mason in which Second Ward Alderman Wanda Pertilla tells how her daughter, now graduated, was the target of bullying throughout her high school years: "Not a new problem for HSCD."

Finally, there's an article by Lindsay Suchow reporting that Steven Spicer has filed a complaint of second-degree aggravated harassment against Co-principal Tom Gavin and has petitioned the court for an order of protection: "Spicer files charges against Gavin."

Gossips encourages readers to attend the special Board of Education meeting on Monday night. You may not have children attending schools in the district, but your property taxes support HCSD and the quality of our local public schools affects the well-being of our community as a whole. This is a problem that demands the attention of all of us.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Fish in Our Backyard

There was an article yesterday in the New York Times' Dining & Wine section about Local Ocean, which talks about its environmental impact and as well as the fish it produces: "Seafood Raised on Land." 

Gossips thanks Chris Reed for bringing this to our attention.

Musical Chairs at HCSD

Yesterday morning we read in the Register-Star about an altercation between high school co-principals Steven Spicer and Tom Gavin in which Gavin allegedly threatened Spicer with bodily harm in the hallway during a Board of Education meeting. This morning we can read about the possibility that Steven Spicer may replace the retiring Carol Gans as the principal of John L. Edwards, the district's primary school: "Spicer in the running for JLE principal."   

While taxpayers can breathe a sigh of relief that the school district may not be contemplating elevating yet another person to the highly paid status of administrator and Jack Howe may have found a convenient way to defuse the untenable and, it would now seem, volatile situation created by the "co-principal" scheme that gave Gavin a job after the Alternative Learning Program was scrapped, if Spicer goes to JLE, who ends up being the principal of Hudson High School? 

In yesterday's Register-Star article,  a quote from Mary Udell blames Gavin for the problems of violence in the high school: "After witnessing Gavin’s dropping of the coat, Udell said, 'This man [Gavin] does not belong in this school. All this stuff [in-school violence] was when Mr. Spicer was in the hospital. . . .'" A comment by Spicer quoted in the article--the one that seems to have incited Gavin--also implies his culpability: “'Let’s enforce the code of conduct. Kids don’t understand—if you let them break rules, they don’t understand you can’t break other rules. There has to be one rule for everybody.'”

If Spicer can't be absent from the high school for three weeks without things descending into chaos, how will this story end? 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Not to Be Missed

There's an article in today's Register-Star about last night's school board meeting: "Fight erupts at HHS; principal suspended." It's a little hard to nail down the sequence of events from John Mason's blow-by-blow account of the mayhem in the hallways and the discussion at the meeting, but the story makes interesting reading for taxpayers in the Hudson City School District and calls to mind once again Alexander Woollcott's experience in Hudson a hundred years ago.    

Monday, November 22, 2010

Book Signing at Rural Residence

After the excesses of Thanksgiving dinner and the start of the holiday shopping season, take time out to be inspired by the breathtaking images and elevating prose of Sacred Landscapes: The Threshold Between Worlds. On Saturday, November 27, photographer Lynn Davis and author Tad Mann will be signing copies of the book they collaborated to create from 6 to 8 p.m. at Rural Residence, 316 Warren Street. Click HERE to read what Rural Residence proprietor Timothy Dunleavy says about the event.       

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Hudson Farmers' Market

Yesterday was the last Saturday of the season for the Hudson Farmers' Market, but the Register-Star reports that there's talk of continuing the market indoors: "Hudson Farmer's Market ends, plans to continue indoors." In order to measure interest in an indoor winter market, there's going to be a "test market" at the Reformed Dutch Church of Claverack on Saturday, December 11, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Although a market in Claverack doesn't seem to be a very good way to predict the success of a market in Hudson, if you'd like Hudson to have a year-round farmers' market, go out to Claverack on December 11 to show your support.     

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Lexicology of the Register-Star

Reporters for the Register-Star seem to have an odd relationship with words. As writers, they should recognize that words are the basic material of their craft. Choosing the right word is important for many reasons, but, when reporting the news, accuracy of meaning should be the most compelling. 

There have been many examples over the years of Register-Star reporters writing what they thought they heard--apparently without stopping to wonder if what they were saying made any sense. Favorite examples are quoting the owner of Blue Stores in Livingston as saying that he wanted to restore the building to its "terra-like" splendor (that should have been Tara-like) and reporting that the Common Council voted to send a "seeker" (instead of SEQR) to Albany. The latter evokes the wonderful image of Diogenes wandering the state capital, lantern in hand, searching for an honest man, but that image has little to do with the action taken by the Common Council that night. 

Then there are the many confused homophones--"Doctors Without Boarders" (instead of Borders); a "sweet of incentives" (instead of suite); "a challenge to duel residents" (instead of dual)--and near-misses, for which spell check might be partially to blame--reporting that an "escarole account" (instead of escrow) might be established and that someone would "defiantly (instead of definitely) do it again." 

In today's Register-Star, there's a different kind of word wizardry. In the article about Wednesday's public hearing on the 2011 budget, Lindsay Suchow coins a new word and cleverly attributes the coinage to Council President Don Moore. According to Suchow, "Common Council President Donald Moore said he took 'some cumbrance' with [Deborah] Kinney’s suggestion that the council was not familiar with the budget." What Moore really said (Gossips was at the hearing) was that he took umbrage ("offense" or "resentment") at Kinney's suggestion, but the use of the heretofore nonexistent word cumbrance raises the question of what the word, if it were a word, might mean. 

Like any viable coined word, cumbrance is related to words that already exist: cumber, "to weigh down or hinder"; and encumbrance, "a burden or impediment." So what would it mean to take "some cumbrance"? One possibility, given the context, is that Moore is assuming some of the burden for the Council's alleged unfamiliarity with the budget. This interpretation is neither likely nor true, since effort was made to familiarize the aldermen with the budget, and most of them seemed quite knowledgeable about its content. So what would the reader who wasn't there to hear what Moore actually said make of this statement?     

NOTE: My thanks to Sam Pratt's Typo Phile for documenting some of the lexical missteps mentioned in this post. To be fair, the "escarole account" error, originally spotted by me, appeared not in the Register-Star but in the Chatham Courier--another Hudson-Catskill Newspaper publication.   

Friday, November 19, 2010

Gellert Gallery

In yesterday's Register-Star article about the county's plan to lease a building from Phil Gellert to provide congregate housing, Hillsdale Supervisor Art Baer was reported to have said that Gellert "lives two doors down from the building and would be able to address any suspicious activity or problems." It seems unlikely that Gellert lives on Columbia Street. What is more likely is that Baer was referring to the fact that Gellert has an office at 524 Columbia Street, two doors up from the house in question.

Baer's confidence that Gellert would address any problems that arose inspired Gossips to ask City Assessor Garth Slocum for a list of the properties in Hudson owned by Gellert and to publish this photographic inventory of the buildings, with comments about problems known to have occurred in some of them. 

451 State Street  It was reported in the Register-Star that a man was stabbed in the hallway of this building in December 2002.

102-104 North Fifth Street  

339 State Street

221-225 Allen Street  It was reported in the Register-Star that in March 2010 police chased a suspect to this building, where the suspect's presumed girlfriend obstructed the pursuit to allow him to escape. During the incident, an officer was bitten by the woman's two dogs.

214 Columbia Street

308 Columbia Street

310 Columbia Street

522-524 Columbia Street

520 Columbia Street

518 Columbia Street

514 State Street  It was reported in the Register-Star that this building was the scene of an attempted home invasion in September 2009.

508-510 State Street

29 Eighth Street

2 Fairview Avenue

718-720 Union Street

 Entrance to 718-720 Union Street on Cherry Alley

 408-410 Warren Street

432 Warren Street  It was reported in the Register-Star that this building was the scene of an attempted armed home invasion in October 2009.

86 Union Turnpike

There were two more properties on the list which are not pictured because one lacked a specific address and the other had a property description that did not match what was found at the address. When these two properties can be accurately identified, the inventory will be amended. 

UPDATE: 226-228 Warren Street

We jumped the gun when we announced on Wednesday that it was all over but the siding. Another new element appeared on the building yesterday: the little "roof" over the center door. 

Not to Be Missed

Al Roberts is renovating the Old Dutch Inn in Kinderhook, hoping to re-create it in the image of the Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge. Read all about it in today's Register-Star: "Bring back a piece of history; revitalize a downtown."

Trojans and Spyware and Worms (Oh My!)

Yesterday, the ancient Gossips computer fell victim to cybernasties that could have prevented the continued publication of posts on this blog. Jonathan to the rescue! He purged the computer of viruses and a vicious sham "security" program and had it ready to come back home by the end of the day. Gossips is back in business thanks to him. That's Jonathan of Jonathan's Computers, 315 Warren Street--a Gossips local hero.       

Thursday, November 18, 2010

LICK Morphs into LOAF for the Winter

Hudson has been without LICK and its scrumptious ice cream for more than a month, but help is on the way for those who crave an occasional sweet indulgence. LOAF, a shop offering the wares of bakers Rachel Sanzone and Sissy Onet, is about to open in LICK's space.

This Saturday, November 20, LOAF is offering what Simple Simon never got from the pieman in the nursery rhyme: a free sample of pie! From noon to 5 p.m., you can taste their wares and decide which of six varieties of pie--pumpkin, apple, banana cream, coconut cream, chocolate cream, or pear almond tart--you want as the culmination of your Thanksgiving dinner. So stop by 253 Warren Street on Saturday, sample, and decide. They're taking orders for Thanksgiving pies through Sunday, November 21, at loafhudson@gmail.com.      

Calliope at Club Helsinki

The second concert in the ClaverackLanding series, the classical music series at Club Helsinki, takes place this Saturday at 8 p.m. The inaugural concert on October 2--"Tango Meets Classical"--thoroughly delighted a standing-room-only crowd, and this Saturday's concert, featuring the Renaissance band Calliope, promises no less. The evening offers a "wildly inventive" and "metamorphosing concert from 13th century dances to 20th century jazz, blues and swing," all played on ancient instruments with captivating names--sackbut, crumhorns, cornetto, viols, recorders, tabor, shawn.

Calliope, named after the Muse of heroic poetry, "more than lives up to its name," says the Washington Post, "which means beautiful-voiced. As performers on more than forty different instruments, they are Renaissance musicians in every sense of the word."  

Gossips recommendation for a sumptuous Saturday: sample the pies at Loaf in the afternoon and then go hear Calliope in the evening. Reserve yourself a table and enjoy a small plate and a glass of wine before the rich musical tapestry begins. Secure your tickets online or call 828-4800.

Not to Be Missed

This morning's Register-Star has a report on the Board of Supervisors' Human Sevices Committee meeting at which the plan to lease this building for use as congregate housing was discussed: "Women, children to be 1st tenants."  It gives a blow-by-blow account of the meeting Mayor Scalera reported to the Common Council about on Tuesday night.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Not to Be Missed

The Register-Star reported today that Holcim, once known as St. Lawrence Cement, has laid off seventy workers at its Catskill plant--the one that was supposed to be replaced by the gargantuan new plant once proposed for Greenport: "Holcim to temporarily cut 70 positions." What if we had that huge pollution-belching plant in our backyard and still no jobs?

The image--a yard sign from the successful battle against SLC--is from the archives of the Friends of Hudson website.

UPDATE: 226-228 Warren Street

It appears to be all over but the siding, and this building continues to fall short of what the Historic Preservation Commission thought they were approving. See for yourselves.

The biggest problem is that the drawing approved by the Historic Preservation Commission mispresents the size of the box windows in the "storefronts." The dimensions are given in notations on the drawing, but in order for the HPC to know if the drawing accurately reflected those dimensions, they would have had to have gone to the site and measured the building. Note too that the chimney, which was demolished without a certificate of appropriateness and which the owners were ordered to rebuild, is still missing.

So what are the consequences for building owners who flout the City's preservation laws and destroy the historic integrity of Warren Street with such an incompatible eyesore as this?

Congregate Housing in Hudson

Last night, at the end of  a lackluster Common Council meeting during which aldermen unanimously approved every resolution before them with little or no discussion, Mayor Richard Scalera reported on the county's progress in creating congregate housing as an alternative to housing homeless people in motels. 

Scalera reported that the Department of Social Services has entered into an agreement to lease 518 Columbia Street, a building owned by Phil Gellert, for congregate housing. According to Scalera, DSS made the decision to lease the building and had already started moving the furniture in before seeking permission from city government to locate such a facility in Hudson.

The building, which is being renovated after a fire, will have two apartments, one on each floor. Each apartment has three bedrooms with a common area and a kitchen. The intention is to house four people in each apartment. The original plan was to house eight single men in the building, but Scalera indicated that on Monday night the Board of Supervisors ordered DSS Commissioner Paul Mossman to make the two units available to single women not men. 

The move to congregate housing was one of the recommendations of a recently completed efficiency study done on the Department of Social Services. The goal is to reduce the cost of providing transitional housing for homeless people, but, as Scalera noted, there is "no indication that this [cost-saving measure] is better for the people." It's also not clear how cost efficient it is. The county is reportedly paying $2,300 a month for the two apartments and, according to the lease agreement, started paying rent on October 1, even though the apartments won't be ready for occupancy into until sometime in December. 

At the end of the discussion, Scalera made the point that, because the building is being renovated after a fire, a certificate of occupancy from City of Hudson Code Enforcement Office will be required before people can be moved into the apartments.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Peter Markou Resigns

The Register-Star reported today what some have known for a while now. After being elected treasurer of Greene County, Peter Markou has resigned his position as executive director of the Hudson Development Corporation (HDC) and the Hudson Community Development and Planning Agency (HCDPA): "City bids farewell to Peter Markou." Markou's departure raises questions about the future of projects that he has been shepherding: in particular, the renovation of the Washington House firehouse and the development there of a small business incuberator; the sale of the surviving building of the Hudson River Knitting Mill compound; and the acquisition of the old Kaz warehouses on Cross Street.     

Monday, November 15, 2010

UPDATE: 226-228 Warren Street

One of my all-time favorite movies is Bedazzled--the 1967 version with Peter Cook and Dudley Moore not the 2000 remake. In the film, the Dudley Moore character sells his soul to the Devil (Peter Cook) for seven wishes, but no matter how carefully Moore states his wishes, the Devil manages to give him something less than what he was hoping for. I'm reminded of this movie whenever I see what's happening to 226-228 Warren Street.

A few weeks ago, Gossips reported that Code Enforcement Officer Peter Wurster had spoken with the owners of the building and the contractor, and together they had agreed on a way to make the building conform to the plans that the Historic Preservation Commission had approved. Today, however, it seems that once again the HPC is getting something less than what they'd wished for. 

At Friday's meeting, Cheryl Roberts, counsel to the Historic Preservation Commission, advised the HPC that they should no longer be discussing this building. They had made their ruling, and it was now a matter for enforcement. What this building is going to look like is up to Peter Wurster, acting at the behest of Mayor Rick Scalera. 

What Mrs. Bradbury Didn't Say

Yesterday, Gossips featured Anna Bradbury's account of improvements to the Public Square, now Seventh Street Park, and Promenade Hill which were made in 1878. What Mrs. Bradbury didn't mention, which Gossips discovered quite by accident, is that the improvements to Promenade Hill--in particular the construction of the stone retaining walls that separate the grassy areas from the paths--were the subject of an investigation by a Common Council committee. It seems that for the period from April 4 to April 20, 1878, the City was overcharged--billed for more masons and laborers working more hours than was actually the case, or so it was alleged. 

An article that appeared in the Evening Register on Wednesday, July 24, 1878, provides what is almost a transcript of the proceedings of a committee meeting held the night before. It picks up the story in the middle of things, but it makes interesting reading--providing insights both into Hudson government in the 1870s and into the life of tradesmen at that time. Click to read the actual newspaper or a transcript of the article

Gossips will share the articles that tell the beginning and the end of this story as soon as they are discovered.          

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Hudson's Historic Parks

There is persistent talk about restoring Hudson's two historic parks--Promenade Hill and Seventh Street Park, once known as the Public Square. Back in 1878, there was an effort to improve both public spaces. Here's what Anna Bradbury had to say, thirty years later, about those improvements, in The History of the City of Hudson.

"The improvement of the Public Square," is alluded to. This as we have seen was intended for a public park by the donor, but for some inscrutable reason it was denuded of its fine old forest trees, and paved with cobblestones. To complete the devastation, the Hudson and Berkshire Railroad was allowed to cross it, and thus it remained until 1878, when the matter was taken up by a resident on the upper side of the Square. Subscriptions were solicited and a sufficient sum was raised, together with the gifts of the coping and trees from individuals, to transform the treeless desert into a refreshing little oasis. The Boston and Albany Railroad Company atoned in a measure for its presence, by generously furnishing sufficient gravel to fill in the whole surface of the Park.

In the same year, 1878, the authorities took measures to improve the Promenade Hill, by the erection of an ornamental iron fence along the full length of its dangerous frontage, and by increased attention to its walks and lawn.

More on Washington Hose

A comment on yesterday's post questioned if this turreted building really is the same building we know as Washington Hose. A response from another reader pointed out that there is an aerial photograph in Byrne Fone's book Historic Hudson: An Architectural Portrait that shows the building in its turreted form. Here's a detail from that photograph. Washington Hose is at the center. Move right and slightly down from the flagpole on Promenade Hill to locate it.

According to the commenter, the "unturreted" design may be a result of the preservation efforts made to a select number of buildings on Front Street and lower Warren Street during Urban Renewal.  

Saturday, November 13, 2010

UPDATE: Washington Hose

On Friday morning, the proposal to restore Washington Hose came before the Historic Preservation Commission. At the outset, Cheryl Roberts, counsel to the HPC, advised that the proposal was coming before them for recommendation only since Washington Hose was owned by the City of Hudson and therefore the HPC that not have the power to grant or deny approval. 

According to Dan Proper from the engineering firm of Crawford & Associates, who appears to be overseeing the project, two significant changes are planned for the building. The first involves the truck bay, which, in the building's new life as the offices of Hudson Development Corporation and the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce, will become a conference room. The roof on the truck bay, which is now a flat roof with a parapet, will be changed to a gable roof with asphalt shingles. The second significant change involves the frieze, which will be made "more Greek Revival" in style. 

According to Proper, the building has undergone "so many morphs" that it doesn't make sense to retain any of the windows except the arched windows at the front, which fill openings that were originally the engine bays, and the metal windows in the truck bay. The new windows will be wood, with true divided lights, four over one to match the configuration of the few existing windows believed to be original.  

The Historic Preservation Commission made only one recommendation: to retain the little round windows in the gables on either side of the main part of the building. In the architect's rendering of the building, the window was missing, and in the drawings presented to the HPC, the round window reportedly had been replaced with a square window. 

Among the materials submitted to the HPC were historic photographs of the building, including this amazing image. The building has been so altered over time that it's barely recognizable as the same building. 

This photograph is remarkable not only because it reveals that the building once had this extraordinary turret but also because at includes three fire-wardens dressed exactly as dictated in a resolution passed by the Common Council on July, 22, 1794:

"That so many firemen shall, from time to time, be appointed as the Common Council shall deem proper, and shall be called fire-wardens, whose duty it shall be, immediately on notice of fire, to repair to the place where it shall be, and to direct the inhabitants in forming themselves into ranks for handing the buckets to supply the fire-engines with water,-- . . . and the citizens are hereby enjoined to comply with the directions of the fire-wardens upon such occasions. . . . And in order that the . . . fire-wardens may be readily distinguished at fires . . . each of the fire Wardens shall, upon all those occasions, carry in his hand a Speaking-Trumpet painted white, to be used as occasion may requires; . . . shall wear, a Leather Cap with the crown whited white."