Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Demolition Opposition Update

Jennifer Arenskjold's letter protesting the plan to demolish 900 Columbia Street appears in today's Register-Star: "Leave 900 Columbia." 

The Save 900 Columbia Street petition now has 278 signatures, but many more are needed. The petition "went viral" yesterday when Enid Futterman, publisher and co-editor of OurTown, put the link to the petition on her Facebook page, along with an appeal for the building that ended with this quote from Joni Mitchell's "Big Yellow Taxi": "Don't it always seem to go /  
That you don't know what you've got till it's gone / They paved paradise and put up a parking lot."

If you haven't already done so, please sign the petition.


  1. Carole,

    Where is the Preservation Commission? Where is Historic Hudson? Isn't this exactly the kind of thing that they were formed to do? Protect our historic buildings?


  2. To answer your question, Peter, the Historic Preservation Commission will tell you that this house is not in a locally designated historic district so they have no jurisdiction. Two members of the HPC, however, have so far signed the petition: David Voorhees (who garnered a number of new signatures when he put the link to the petition on his Facebook page) and Tom Swope.

    Historic Hudson is taking action. They have written a letter to the editor which has not yet been printed, and all but two of the members of the board of directors have signed the petition. There may be further action as well.

  3. Doesn’t Historic Hudson doesn't have an attorney on retainer? If not, why not? Because letters to the editor will only go so far if City Hall is willing (or even eager) to let this building fall, as it has many times before.

    The usual pattern is that first there is an outcry; Historic Hudson expresses concerns; the Preservation Commission says it is powerless to act; the Building Inspector lets it happen; and then people lament the passing of another historic structure. The missing element is legal muscle.

    So long as those who don't share preservationists goals know that such concerns are not backed by legal muscle, they'll continue to feel these destructive actions have no consequences. After all, larger petitions (some running into the thousands) have had little effect on some City "leaders."

  4. Actually, Hudson, it's not City leaders we are trying to influence; it's the Board of the Mental Health Association. Since the building is not in a historic district and is not a locally designated landmark, there is nothing in Hudson code to protect it. It was acknowledged at the Planning Commission meeting that the project didn't even require a site plan review.

    The people in the Greenport neighborhoods along Fairview Avenue got MHA to abandon its plan to locate a facility in two duplexes on Arthur Avenue by protesting that the clients served by MHA posed a threat to their children. The current plan, which involves the demolition of a historic building, is apparently the alternative to that plan. We can only hope MHA will be as responsive to public opinion in Hudson as they were in Greenport. There are more people unhappy about this plan than there were people unhappy about the Arthur Avenue plan, albeit for different reasons.

  5. What is the timeline on the proposed demolition?

  6. Janet--What I do know is that the historic building will not be demolished until the new building they intend to build behind it is finished. As was done with the Firemen's Home, they're going to keep the residents in the current building while the new one is constructed, and when that's done, they will move them into the new facility and demolish the old building.

    At the Planning Commission meeting on February 9, they made it clear that they were eager to begin as soon as weather permitted, but they also indicated that a "state agency needs to commit to the financing" before they can start.