Thursday, June 30, 2011

Environmental Alert

The New York Times reported at 1:58 p.m. this afternoon that Governor Andrew Cuomo intends to lift the ban on hydro-fracking in New York State. The ban would remain in place for New York City's watershed and the watershed for Syracuse, but the process would be allowed in other parts of the state. 

The Latest Word on Parking

Yesterday, Gossips reported that alternate side of the street parking would be suspended on weekends, beginning this weekend, July 1, and continuing through October 31, but, according HPD chief Ellis Richardson, the suspension did not apply to Monday, the Fourth of July. A call to Common Council Police Committee chair Chris Wagoner and a second phone conversation with Council President Don Moore finally yielded, last evening, the information that alternate side of the street parking would be suspended for the entire three-day weekend--Friday to Saturday, Saturday to Sunday, and Sunday to Monday. But since there's been so much confusion and so little clarity, the Gossipsmobile, just to be safe, will be parked overnight as if alternate side of the street parking were still in effect.   

More Habitat Houses for Hudson

Last night, at an event at Gallery 135, Columbia County Habitat for Humanity revealed the elevation drawings for two attached houses to be built in the 200 block of Columbia Street, on a parcel of vacant land donated by the City of Hudson. During the planning for these houses, there was much talk about design and compatibility with the neighborhood--a daunting challenge since the original architecture of that block survives in some state of alteration, has been replaced by Urban Renewal Era housing, or is missing altogether. At a gathering last winter, Brenda Adams, executive director for Habitat, gave every indication that they were taking the challenge of compatibility seriously, assembling a team with the expertise necessary to give the issues of design and neighborhood character the consideration they deserve. Given that, the design on display last night was somewhat surprising.

Basically, it's the same house they built farther up on Columbia Street--the same off-center placement of windows and doors, which ignores what is essential in 19th-century facade design, and the same attempt to achieve what passes for compatibility in some quarters with a few vaguely imitative details. 

What's different in the plans for the new houses is the wood siding on the Columbia Street facade, which appears in the drawing to look like shingles or shakes. The sides and rear of the buildings will have vinyl siding.    

Not to Be Missed

Scott Baldinger comments on the variety of food currently on offer in Hudson in his new blog post, "Glutens for Punishment."

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Cry Me a River

Holcim is suing the City of Hudson, and tonight, at the end of its meeting, the Legal Committee of the Common Council went into executive session to discuss strategy. But before that happened,  Common Council President Don Moore revealed the nature of the lawsuit and his opinion of it. Holcim wants the property tax on its holdings in Hudson to be reduced from the $95,000 a year currently paid to zero. Holcim contends that the corporation is realizing no profit from the activity now going on at the dock and therefore should not have to pay any property tax. Moore's opinion of the situation (paraphrased by Gossips): "If you're not making money shipping gravel from the dock, stop doing it." 

Some Good News About Parking

Common Council President Don Moore announced this morning that alternate side of the street parking will be suspended on weekends, from 8 p.m. on Friday to 8 p.m. on Sunday, beginning on July 1 and continuing through October 31. From November 1 through March 31, because of the possibility of snow and the need to plow, alternate side of the street regulations for overnight parking as we now know them will be reinstated. 

The suspension goes into effect this weekend, which means that cars can legally be parked overnight on either side of the street from Friday night to Saturday morning and from Saturday night to Sunday morning. However, on Sunday night, according to HPD Chief Ellis Richardson, even though Monday is a legal holiday, all cars must be parked overnight on the even side of the street or risk being ticketed. 

Das Boot

At 4 p.m. on Thursday, June 30, Mayor Richard Scalera will hold a public hearing on Hudson's newest local law, enabling the Hudson Police Department to "boot" the cars of drivers with three unpaid parking tickets. After the public hearing, Scalera will likely sign the law, making it effective, so anyone with unpaid parking tickets is advised to pay them today. 

Currently, the HPD is empowered to impound the cars of drivers with five or more unpaid parking tickets, but to the frustration of the Parking Ticket Bureau, nothing can be done--beyond adding surcharges to the original fines--to people with unpaid parking tickets who have not yet reached the five-ticket threshold. So now we have the boot, which presumably will have the effect of eliminating impounding altogether, since cars will be booted and people forced to pay their parking tickets long before they accumulate five unpaid tickets.       

Still, it's better than the way things used to be. Not too many years ago, nonpayment of a parking ticket could result in a criminal summons, and offenders were taken from their homes and marched in handcuffs to the city jail.  

A Story So Nice They Printed Some of It Twice

Jamie Larson reports today in the Register-Star that the Hudson Police Department is demanding compensation for two snow days last winter--December 27 and February 2: "Police, city dispute pay for snow day." The HPD and its union argue that, since the City's nonemergency workers got the two days off and were paid for those two days, everyone on the police force should be compensated for the two days as well--those who worked should be paid a second time, and those who weren't scheduled to work should be paid anyway. It is estimated that giving the officers the compensation they seek will cost the City $10,000, and Mayor Richard Scalera is quoted as saying the demand is "exceptionally greedy." It will be remembered that, about a year ago, the Register-Star reported that six of the seven City employees getting more than $70,000 a year were members of the police force. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Not to Be Missed

Jamie Larson has an article in today's Register-Star about weddings performed and anticipated since the Marriage Equality Act passed late on Friday night: "Local gay couples launch wedding plans." In the article, Larson mentions the wedding of Dini Lamont (sic--whoops, Jamie, that should be Lamot) and Windle Davis, which took place on Saturday night during Musty Chiffon's concert with the Flesh Magnets at Club Helsinki, and the wedding being planned by Linda Mussmann and Claudia Bruce, to take place at the stroke of midnight on July 24 at TSL with Mayor Richard Scalera and LWRP attorney Cheryl Roberts officiating.      

Monday, June 27, 2011

What's on the List?

Capital Tonight reports that Governor Andrew Cuomo will soon be announcing which prisons in the state will be closing. When asked on Talk 1300-AM this morning when the list will be out, Cuomo said, "Literally the next week or so. It’s within the next ten days or so. We can turn to more organizational matters and this is at the top of the list.” So, we'll soon find out if the Hudson Correctional Facility, a.k.a. Maybelle Medium Security Prison, is slated for closure, or if it dodged the bullet once again.

All Quiet on the Western Front

Last week Mayor Scalera predicted that the new surface on the haul road through South Bay would be “as hard as concrete” in a couple days, and there was concern in some quarters that, with or without site plan approval from the Planning Commission and all the other approvals needed to run gravel trucks through a sensitive wetland, O&G might start sending their dump trucks along that route. But this morning, except for an idling CSX train, all was quiet at the waterfront. There's an already loaded barge at the dock, and until that gets towed out and an empty one towed in, we won't know for sure which route the gravel trucks will take.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

'Tis a Puzzlement

Back in May, John Mason did a feature article in the Register-Star about class size in Columbia County school districts: "Class sizes on the mind." In it he reported that, from 2007 to 2010, average class sizes in the Hudson City School District stayed at 18 to 19 in the primary school, 22 or 23 in the intermediate school, and between 15 and 24 in the high school. 

Recently Gossips received some statistics about the number of students, teachers, and aides in the Hudson City School District from 1996 to 2011. In 1996, there were 2,513 students in the district, 185 teachers, and 56 aides. That's one teacher for every 13.6 students and one aide for every 44.9 students. In 2011, there were 1,921 students in the district, 185 teachers, and 71 aides. That's one teacher for every 10.4 students and one aide for every 27 students.

A few questions arise. Why, if the number of students decreased by 24 percent, did the number of teachers remain unchanged and the number of aides increase by 21 percent? And why, if the ratio of students to teachers is something like 10 to 1, is the average class size something like 20? Are 50 percent of the district teachers not working in classrooms but involved instead in some kind of special "pull-out" or "push-in" instruction? 'Tis a puzzlement.   

Not to Be Missed

There's article in today's New York Times that explores how the Marriage Equality Act came to pass: "The Road to Gay Marriage in New York."

The Orphan Asylum Fair

Today, we continue the account, from the original Gossips of Rivertownof the preparations for the fair in aid of the Hudson Orphan Asylum. I have to confess that I do not know what building was the setting for the fair. City Hall, which we know as the Hudson Opera House, was not built until 1855, so the building referred to has to be its predecessor. I'd like to think that the Rivertown Hotel mentioned in this chapter, with its "large dining-parlours," was the General Worth Hotel.         

Preparations progressed rapidly. The excitement was really wonderful. There had been fairs before, frequently; Presbyterian fairs—Baptist—Episcopalian; but none in which all could meet on harmonious grounds—and the display was expected to be particularly brilliant.

The last meeting, or sewing circle, had been held. If the ground had not been already occupied by one whose descriptions are Hogarthian in their graphic humour, we should be tempted to trace them through to their completion. But the "malice and uncharitableness" of sewing societies in general, have been placed before you by the inimitable author of the Bedott papers, and our feebler descriptions would fall far short of those she has so clearly painted.

The fair—they do not call them "bazars" as yet, in Rivertown—was to be held in the large hall, which served variously for "twenty-five-cent concerts"—(those with an entrance fee of fifty were more genteel, and invariably held in the large dining-parlours of the Rivertown House)—temperance lectures, and exhibitions of giants or dwarfs, as the case might be.

This building had once been the county jail, but afterwards had been modernized by some speculators, and the front being covered with cement in imitation of marble, it was thenceforth known as the "City Hall"—an ambitious title that provoked more than one allusion to "whited sepulchres."

In the upper room of this edifice, our committee were now assembled. It was in the morning of the day they had announced the festival to open, but it was an "undress rehearsal;" and matters looked dismal enough. The bare white-washed walls seemed ashamed of their very blankness, and impatient to be decorated by the evergreen wreaths and branches, in process of preparation by a band of younger ladies. Here, Adeline Mitchell presided, and thitherward were directed many withering and contemptuous glances from Miss Harriet Harden, who seemed more bitter than usual toward her ci-devant friend. Perhaps it was that she now considered herself quite above such an acquaintance, having succeeded, to all appearance, in getting up an astonishing intimacy with Miss Seymour, who called her "you dear creature," in the hearing of them all, numberless times. The Smith faction declared it was just a way Miss Seymour had of getting things out of people, and Harriet Harden would find, they guessed, that both she and Mrs. McCloud would alter, after all this fuss was over. But it remained yet to be proved, and meantime Harriet Harden was extremely confidential with her new friends, never seeming to mind that they managed to make her do thrice as much as any of them.

"Just run over and get some tacks from Mr. Williams, there's a dear soul," said Mrs. McCloud, who, with her hair in curl papers, seemed the presiding genius of the hour. "Tell him they're for us, and he won't charge you anything. Oh, and stop into Rosine's and mention that she needn't put quite so many eggs into the ice-cream; I shall want two or three dozen, I find, to finish icing that cake. Mrs. Morrison promised to lend me her cake-basket, and astral lamp—you won't mind fetching them just from there, will you? Oh, and Miss Harden, do stop at our house, and tell Susan that I shan't be home to dinner!"

So her "obedient servant" departed on errands which, under any other circumstances, she would not have stooped to perform; and returned weary and breathless to hear, "I shall depend on you to count all the spoons as they come in, and to furnish lamps for the supper table; where shall you go to borrow them?" Mrs. McCloud's friendship, like that of other ladies we have met, required the return of constant and wearisome service. She was one of those people who are Napoleons in a small way, and like all power or none. Here, for instance, although there was no nominal president of the committee, she invariably acted as such, and when requesting the other ladies to do anything, always said—"Just do this for me, won't you?" as if she was responsible to a fearful extent, and all assistance was regarded in the light of a personal favour.

The others smiled at so plain a demonstration of her well-known disposition, and came good-naturedly to the conclusion, "To even let her hold the reins, while they showed her the way to go;" a species of management long ago recommended by advice and example with regard to the masculine portion of the community.

As usual, disputes had arisen with regard to the various stands or stalls. All wanted, in the first place, to be at the "fancy table"—pronounced by general consent the best situation in the room—and no person was found willing to undertake the books, or the kitchen department. Here Mrs. Jackson's tact was admirably displayed. She pointed out to the malcontents that the ice-cream was sure to be patronized most by the gentlemen; that, though one couldn't sell much at the book-table, the confinement was less than that of either of the others, and there was more time for a grand promenade. But the crowning stroke of her policy was whispering to a pretty school-girl, that gentlemen (whatever they might say) always looked for a wife who understood housekeeping; and to the astonishment of all, she shortly after professed herself perfectly ready to undertake the depository of towels and tin-ware, and was noticed for her particular zeal and success in vending those uninteresting commodities.

Miss Barnard and Mrs. Jorden had succeeded in arranging a picturesque tent with the assistance of a variety of "firemen's banners," which were the pride and boast of as many companies. These banners were frequently in demand for the decoration of ball-rooms, etc.

This tent was to serve as the post-office—and at the head of this department Mrs. Jorden had been unanimously appointed. Miss Brown, a young lady who pleaded guilty to the authorship of various poetical effusions, contributed to one of the Philadelphia Saturday papers, was her assistant. Miss Brown's assumed signature was "Rosalie de Nugent," and she blushed very deeply when addressed as Rosalie, by the young law-students who were in the secret, and said "Oh, don't!" in the prettiest expostulating tone imaginable.

"When do you think your picture will appear in the magazines?" whispered one of these gentlemen as he sorted the various mysterious-looking missives, that had been contributed by impromptu Lady Montagues, and modern Sevignes.

"Mine? oh, Mr. Van Allen! how could you dream of such a thing?"

"Why not, Rosalie? I'm sure you've been writing these two years. Does not Mr. always call you 'our graceful and accomplished correspondent,' and did not 'Hector' ask the colour of your eyes some time ago? I've noticed that last is an infallible sign that the editor intends asking an authoress to sit for her picture. Why shouldn't yours appear as well as Mrs. Ellet's and Mrs. Osgood's, and all the rest of you literary ladies?"

The last pleasing association of her name with actual writers, was quite too much for good-natured little Miss Brown. She returned an inexpressibly grateful look, and was observed to commence practising her autograph at once. She resolved that it should not be the ungraceful scrawl she had seen appended to more than one published portrait.

Order at length began to spring from the chaos of house and storekeeping furniture, that had been steadily accumulating since morning. The rough pine tables were covered with snowy damask, and their contents arranged with neatness and taste. Even the aforementioned kitchen-table had become absolutely ornamental by a picturesque arrangement of bright tin-ware, and the addition of some few lighter articles to its legitimate store. Mrs. McCloud called upon the rest to admire the general effect, as if she was the main-spring and immediate cause of all they saw, while the young ladies, wearied and pale from incessant and unusual occupation, were almost too tired to be pleased with anything, and wondered how they should ever accomplish a becoming toilette, and return by seven o'clock.

One after another departed for an hour of rest and refreshment, and the hall was left to the care of the door-keeper, until the illumination of the lamps so liberally distributed, should disturb the twilight shadows.

Sketch the Sixth, and Last. Retaliation. Chapter II.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Good Things Come in Inappropriate Packages

Gossips spent last fall and early winter critiquing the frighteningly inappropriate storefronts being created at 226-228 Warren Street. Our opinion of their design and its execution hasn't changed, but we're thrilled by the businesses that will soon be opening there.

Last month, Gossips reported that The Dakota, the women's clothing store on Main Street in Chatham, was poised to open a Hudson branch in the 228 side of the building.

This week, Gossips noticed that a dog grooming salon called Pampered Pooch will soon be opening in the 226 side of the building.

Regular Gossips readers will recall that the beloved William doesn't like riding in the car. He also doesn't tolerate his human's attempts to bathe him in the shower or with a hose in the backyard. So Pampered Pooch is an answer to prayer. With a grooming salon right on our regular dog walk route, William can be well-groomed and dapper in his old age. Now all we need is for a vet to locate within the city limits of Hudson.  

More on the "Causeway"

Jamie Larson has a follow-up on the paving in South Bay in today's Register-Star: "Clash over causeway resurface heats up." One fascinating bit of information reported in the article is that Mayor Scalera is now saying that "he was given the legal opinion by City Attorney Cheryl Roberts that O&G did not have to go to the city Planning Commission to get approval to repair the previously pothole-dotted dirt causeway." This a direct contradiction of what Roberts told Ken Faroni of O&G in a letter dated October 19, 2009: "The the City [of Hudson] has steadfastly maintained that O&G will require site plan approval from the City of Hudson Planning Commission prior to undertaking this action." This action was defined earlier in the letter as "the construction of a roadway beginning in a mine owned by Holcim, LTD, in Greenport, New York, and terminating at the deep water port located in Hudson, New York."

Judging from what Scalera is quoted as saying, Roberts' new opinion seems to be based on the familiar but questionable claim that driving trucks along the old rail bed through South Bay is a "pre-existing use." Back in the bad old days, when a conveyor--a remnant of which can still be seen crossing over Route 9--ran along the path of the old rail bed, pickup trucks used the path below and beside the conveyor to deliver workers to parts of the conveyor in need of repair and maintenance. Ten or so years ago, the road was used on an emergency basis to haul contaminated sludge from the waterfront when Niagara Mohawk was cleaning up the site, in the 19th century, of the Hudson Gasification Works. Whether or not that is adequate to constitute a "pre-existing use" seems questionable. 

On the issue of whether or not a site plan review by the City of Hudson Planning Commission was required, the City now seems to be splitting hairs. The opinion now attributed to Roberts by Scalera is that site plan review and approval were not required for O&G/Holcim to pave the path through South Bay, but O&G "would likely need approval to begin actively trucking on the causeway."

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Latest from Albany

The Marriage Equality Act just passed in the New York State Senate. The vote: 33 aye; 29 nay.

This Just In

The New York Times reports that our own Senator Stephen Saland says he will vote for the Marriage Equality Act: "Gay Marriage Bill Gains Key Vote in N.Y."

Irrigating the Food Desert

Even though Hudson is celebrated on the website Serious Eats as a destination for some truly remarkable food, the USDA considers Hudson a "food desert" because there's not a supermarket within our borders. The Acres Co-op Market initiative is determined to change that. 

There's a second listening meeting and forum about the co-op scheduled for Tuesday, June 28, at 6:30 p.m., in the Fellowship Hall of the First Presbyterian Church, but for those who want to be part of the effort to make a food co-op in Hudson a reality--to serve on a committee, to strategize, to formulate plans, to offer their expertise, energy, and passion--there's a work session tomorrow morning--Saturday, June 25--at 9 a.m., at 757 Columbia Street, at the corner of Columbia and Eighth streets.

Food, Glorious Food . . .

A website called Serious Eats has an article about food in Hudson. Check it out. It's always so nice to know that others appreciate the things we hold dear.

The Road Not Taken . . . Yet

On Thursday morning, Gossips reported activity on the old rail bed through South Bay. At 10 a.m., the heavy equipment, moving west, was still visible from 9G. By 2 p.m., the work was complete. A new compacted gravel roadway stretched from 9G west to the railroad tracks, then made a right turn, and continued to the paved area of the R&S lot. All was in readiness for the gravel trucks to start rolling.

Jamie Larson has the story in today's Register-Star: "Trucking company paves South Bay causeway." Although the move on the part of O&G took many by surprise, Larson reports that Mayor Richard Scalera knew this is going to happen, and it seems that Common Council President Don Moore may also have had some inkling. [ADDENDUM: Gossips has received word from someone who was with Moore when he learned what was happening on the causeway attesting to the fact that he was genuinely surprised. Truth be told, although Gossips has spoken with Moore about the paving of the causeway, the issue of who knew and when they knew was not been fully explored.] 

According to Scalera, O&G received a permit to do this work from the Department of Environmental Conservation in October 2009. In December 2009, however, Scenic Hudson appealed the permit to the Freshwater Wetlands Appeals Board, and the stipulation agreed to by Scenic Hudson and DEC as a consequence of that appeal does not permit the extent of work that was done in South Bay yesterday. Gossips learned that Scenic Hudson has notified DEC, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the Department of State and is investigating the situation to determine if the stipulation has been violated. The Valley Alliance issued a formal complaint to DEC, DOS, ACE, as well as to the City of Hudson Planning Commission and Code Enforcement Officer. Several citizens called the DEC TIPP hot line to report an  environmental violation.

Among other things, the work was being done without delineation flags or markers to prevent encroachment into sensitive wetland areas. Apropos that, this picture shows the new roadway crushing butterfly-weed, considered an "exploitably vulnerable species" by DEC and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

In the context of city government, what's most interesting is that this project never came before the City of Hudson Planning Commission. (Curiously, mayor's aide Carmine Pierro is a member of the Planning Commission.) In October 2009, when O&G initially presented its permit application for the Greenport section of the haul road to the Town of Greenport Planning Board, city attorney Cheryl Roberts sent a letter to Ken Faroni at O&G stating: "Though the City [of Hudson] has steadfastly maintained that O&G will require site plan approval from the City of Hudson Planning Commission prior to undertaking this action [i.e., "the construction of a roadway beginning in a mine owned by Holcim, LTD, in Greenport, New York, and terminating at the deep water port located in Hudson, New York"], the City Planning Commission has not received a permit application from O&G to date. In addition, it appears that the NYS Departments of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Transportation (DOT) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers also may be involved agencies in this action." Roberts goes on to warn that "seeking approval from the Town of Greenport Planning Board in advance of a declaration of lead agency and undertaking a coordinated review . . . amounts to segmentation in violation of 6 NYCRR 617.3(g)." So what does constructing half the road without a coordinated review or a review by the Planning Commission of municipality in which it is located amount to?     

You Get What You Pay For: Testing the Adage, Part 4

The Albany Business Review released its annual "Schools Report" this morning, ranking school districts in the Capital Region by overall academic performance. How does the Hudson City School District stack up? At the bottom--83 in a field of 85. That's just below Troy, which dropped a notch this year, where they had to close an elementary school because of budgetary problems and then paid their outgoing superintendent $250,000 in unused sick time and unused vacation time. 

So let's review the rankings for HCSD: teachers' salaries: 10th from the top; superintendent's salary: 56th from the top; academic performance: 3rd from the bottom. At least we're not Albany, which has the highest paid teachers and the lowest performing students.      

Thursday, June 23, 2011

What's Happening on the "Causeway"?

Acting on a tip from a fellow journalist, Gossips snapped this picture at about 10 a.m. this morning of activity on the old rail bed connecting Route 9G to the waterfront.

It appears that that the "road" is being widened and resurfaced.

At the Common Council meeting on Tuesday night, amidst the agonizing about gravel trucks on city streets, mayor's aide Cappy Pierro asked rhetorically, "Why don't we just ask O&G to use the causeway?" Could this new activity on the causeway be somehow connected to that? 

You Get What You Pay For: Testing the Adage, Part 3

The Albany Business Review continues to release data from its annual "Schools Report." Today's topic is dropouts and graduates. In 2010, Hudson High School had 125 graduates and 26 dropouts. Of the graduates, 34 headed to four-year colleges and 78 headed to two-year colleges. This was an improvement over 2009, when there were 109 graduates and 30 dropouts. Of the graduates that year, 26 went to four-year colleges and 64 went to two-year colleges.  

Historic Marker Resurfaces

Today's Register-Star has a little photo feature about the ongoing work on General Worth's birthplace: "A house Worth renovating." The text accompanying the photos tells how mason Tim Smith, described as a "tireless advocate for work rehabilitation for at-risk youth," declared, after reading the text of the historic marker he had just dragged out of the garage, "Worth was a graduate of Hudson High School." Nice thought, but not true. Hudson High School didn't exist until 1879, and by that time, General William Jenkins Worth had been dead for thirty years. General Worth, celebrated military tactician and fourth commandant of cadets at West Point, attended a common school in Hudson called Lenox Academy and had finished his formal education by the time he was fourteen.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

You Get What You Pay For: Testing the Adage, Part 2

The Albany Business Review continues to release data from its annual "Schools Report." Today's topic is superintendent's salaries. The Hudson City School District ranks farther down on this list--56th out of 93. HCSD Superintendent Jack Howe gets $135,000 a year in annual salary and $24,002 in benefits. As Howe rather petulantly pointed out at a recent HCSD budget workshop, he is the lowest paid district superintendent in Columbia County. 

Endangered Species, Endangered Humans

Jamie Larson has two articles of related interest in today's Register-Star. The first focuses on South Bay Task Force member Timothy O'Connor and his study of the ecology of South Bay: "Tracking the science of South Bay." The second covers Tuesday night's Common Council meeting, where Linda Mussmann called the recent proposal to designate major portions of South Bay a Significant Coastal Wildlife and Fish Habitat a "delaying tactic" to prevent the "causeway" through South Bay to be used as an industrial haul road and aggravated chronic rifts in the community with her demands for environmental justice: "Citizens demand end of truckway."  

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Another Kind of Stealth Gardening

Last summer, Gossips reported on the good kind of stealth gardening: planting and maintaining a garden on land that belongs to someone else. The setting for that happy tale was lower Union Street.

This summer, Gossips must report on the bad kind of stealth gardening: stealing plants, under cover of darkness, from other people's gardens. The setting for this tale, too, is lower Union Street.

Gossips has received word that on Monday night someone removed plants from a garden in the 200 block of Union Street. The culprit was accosted by a homeowner a bit farther up the block, who heard her digging up one of his rosebushes. An altercation ensued when the plant thief wanted to leave her tools in the victim's yard so she could come back for them later.   

You Get What You Pay For: Testing the Adage, Part 1

On Friday, the Albany Business Review will release its annual "Schools Report," which ranks public school performance throughout the Capital Region. In the meantime, they are releasing some of the data from that report. Today's topic is teachers' salaries. Of the 93 school districts included in the report, Hudson City School District is 10th highest in teacher pay, with a median salary of $60,997.  

Monday, June 20, 2011

Democrats Reshuffle

Victor Mendolia, chair of the Hudson City Democratic Committee, announced this evening what has been a topic of speculation and gossip for more than a week: changes in the Democratic ticket.

It all began with Eileen Halloran's announcement a couple weeks ago that she intended to seek reelection as city treasurer and was prepared to force a primary. Back on June 9, the day after Halloran unsuccessfully petitioned the Democratic Committee to change its endorsement, the Register-Star reported Mendolia as saying that "all of the committee's endorsements are final." Tonight's developments seem to put the lie to that statement.  

In a press release issued at 7:33 p.m., Mendolia announced the following endorsement changes: Halloran replaces Don Moore as the Democrats' candidate for city treasurer; Moore replaces Sarah Sterling as the candidate for Common Council president; Sterling replaces Michael O'Hara as the candidate for First Ward supervisor; and O'Hara, it seems, won't be running for anything this election season.   

Two out of three of the Democrats' citywide candidates have changed since the endorsements were first announced on March 27, and two out of three of the candidates in the First Ward have changed. At the end of May, the beleaguered Tim Rodgers withdrew from the race, and in his place, David Marston got the Democrats' endorsement as a candidate for alderman. Now Sarah Sterling replaces Michael O'Hara as the candidate for supervisor. The only candidate who has not been replaced is Larissa Parks, who was endorsed as a candidate for alderman. But there seems to be a change there, too. Tonight's press release refers to her not as Larissa Parks but as Larissa Thomas. What's in a name? No one in the First Ward seems to know who she is anyway.         

Not to Be Missed

Scott Baldinger's tribute to Hudson Pride 2011: "Our Hearts Were Young and . . ."

Take Action for South Bay

The Valley Alliance has created an action page for comments on the proposed designation of major parts of South Bay as a Significant Coastal Fish and Wildlife Habitat (SCFWH). 

Gifford's Grave--Before and After

It's only a matter of time before the grass grows in and the restoration of Gifford family grave site is complete. Thanks to Peter Jung for providing the photographs and the initiative to undertake this project in Hudson's historic cemetery.  

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Highlights from Family Pride Chalk Fest

New Status Proposed for South Bay

The South Bay Task Force and Friends of Hudson announced yesterday that on June 15, 2011, the Department of State proposed to designate major portions of South Bay as a Significant Coastal Fish and Wildlife Habitat (SCFWH). This designation would give South Bay the same level of protection now provided for Stockport Creek and Flats SCFWH and 250 other designated habitats throughout New York State. 

This map of the proposed SCFWH boundary was prepared by the South Bay Task Force, which has been working toward this outcome by providing ecological field data to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), the New York Natural Heritage Program, and the Hudson River National Estuarine Research Reserve. The South Bay Task Force reports that the proposed boundaries "follow the South Bay creek, connect the West and East basins of the South Bay, cross a large section of the earthen dam (variously known as the former railroad right-of-way and "causeway"), extend to the southern edge of the L&B property and beyond, and integrate marshland on both sides of Route 9[G]." 

The proposed designation is the culmination of efforts by several groups, in addition to the South Bay Task Force: the Valley Alliance, which has raised the importance of this designation on several occasions with State officials; Scenic Hudson, which has been pushing for this designation for years; the Preservation League of New York State, which has provided valuable assistance; and Hudsonia Ltd., which has been studying the area for more than a decade.

A public comment period on the proposed designation began on June 15 and continues through July 15. Comments should be submitted to:

Stephanie Wojtowicz
Department of State
Division of Coastal Resources
99 Washington Avenue, Suite 1010
Albany, NY 12231
(518) 486-7641

Click to access to access the draft memorandum that makes the proposal.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Highlights from the Pride Parade

The State of the Act

It's Hudson Pride Weekend, and Stephen M. Saland, our state senator for the past two decades, has still not decided how he will vote on the New York State Marriage Equality Act. Jamie Larson has an article about it in today's Register-Star"Saland still undecided on marriage bill."

Status of the Food Co-op

Peter Pehrson thanks the 114 people who attended last Tuesday's meeting about the food co-op and summarizes the status of planning in a letter to the editor in today's Register-Star: "Great turnout." As a consequence of the first meeting, 68 people have pledged membership; the goal before opening is 200. Another meeting will take place in two weeks.

Friday, June 17, 2011

In Case You Missed It . . .

Tom Roe's interview on WGXC yesterday with South Bay Task Force members Timothy O'Connor, Christopher Reed, Michael O'Hara, and Patrick Doyle can be heard online. Topics of discussion: Hudson's waterfront, the ecology of South Bay, and the current LWRP and GEIS.   

Not to Be Missed

Lynn Sloneker has a week's worth of important posts on her blog, Unmuffled, including the story of how several of HCSD's highly paid administrators sold unused vacation days back to the district, effectively giving themselves bonuses totaling $47,700.  

Artist Brings New Color to JLE

Gossips doesn't usually print press releases, but we liked this story and wanted to share it, just as it was received. The photographs are by Jesse Turnquist.

One spring morning a couple months ago, local artist, Ieva Mediodia, dropped her six-year-old daughter off for a day of school at John L Edwards Primary School in Hudson. As she walked the halls of smiling children, she started to feel that the walls somehow didn't fit the dynamic energy of their inhabitants.

As she walked home through the blossoming trees of downtown, Ieva (pronounced Yeh-vah) pondered on how, with all the recent budgetary issues, could she get some color on those walls. The answer would lie within herself, in fact the answer was herself. She could donate her time and skills to liven up the school.

It so happened that on the other side of town local promoter and graphic designer Andrew Nelson of Down In The Valley was sealing a deal to work with Hudson Paint, a local company whose flagship product is chalkboard paint offered in a bold array of colors. When Ieva met with Andrew for coffee shortly thereafter and shared her idea, it was a no-brainer to get Hudson Paint involved. It wasn't long before Ieva was armed with the tools she needed to get the job done. She had the will, the brushes, and the paint, now she only needed permission. Off to the principal's office she went.

It was then, after little convincing, that Principal Steven Spicer opened the doors to Ieva and her brushes to what turned out to be several after-hours painting sessions. The end result was a colorful revamp of murals in the cafeteria and select hallways and stairwells.

What started as a simple gesture of kindness has become a truly interactive experience. Since the murals were done with Hudson Paint's Chalkboard paint, the children have taken to the cafeteria with chalk and have started to freely expand their creativity. The largest of Mediodia's contributions, a floor to ceiling tree in the entrance of the cafeteria/auditorium, has been decorated with squirrels, stars, and swirls drawn by children and their classmates. Teachers have embraced this creativity as well by adding handprint cutouts made by their classes as part of an out-of-classroom project.

Ieva's efforts are a shining example of how one person's positive energy can bring about positive change and motivate and inspire members of a community. There is hope that she will be the first of many other artists who will contribute to splashing color to the now flat walls of JLE Primary School . . . now that the lid is off the proverbial can.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Chance to Catch Up

For anyone who missed The Valley Alliance's meeting last week at Basilica Hudson, Rob Johanson of Mid-Hudson Media has created a video of Peter Jung's and Sam Pratt's presentations, which can be viewed by clicking here.  

Tonight's the Night

Our Town: Hudson airs on WMHT at 7:30 p.m. Early reports suggest the documentary is everything you love about Hudson, and some things you don't, reduced to the formulaic, but tune in tonight and see for yourself.     

Not to Be Missed

Scott Baldinger comments about Hudson's status as a "food desert" and the plans for a new food co-op in his blog post "Ode to ShopRite." 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Welcome to the Friendly City

Gossips has learned that Tim Rodgers, one-time candidate for alderman in the First Ward, was arrested this afternoon at his SEIU office on Warren Street by the Hudson Police Department and charged with filing a false document--a misdemeanor--as a consequence of current First Ward alderman Geeta Cheddie's complaint against him. Rodgers was arraigned before Judge Richard Koweek, who made it known that he planned to recuse himself from the case because he knows many of the parties involved but offered to conduct the arraignment if Rodgers had no objections. Rodgers was then released on his own recognizance and ordered to appear again on July 6 before Judge Mark Portin.

It will be remembered that Rodgers applied to become a commissioner of deeds, using as his home address 15 Allen Street, a building where he expected to be leasing an apartment. The agreement with the building's owner fell through, and because Rodgers did not immediately think to withdraw it, his application went forward, giving Cheddie cause to file the complaint. Rodgers, who was endorsed by the Hudson Democratic Committee as a candidate for First Ward alderman--an endorsement Cheddie sought and was denied--recently withdrew from the race, ceding his place on the ticket to established First Ward resident and homeowner David Marston. Last week, it was announced that Cheddie has been endorsed by the Republicans.    

Theater for a Midsummer Night

In Hudson's own version of Shakespeare in the Park, the Hudson Teen Theatre Project, sponsored by the Hudson Opera House, will perform A Midsummer Night's Dream on three midsummer nights next weekend in the PARC Park, just across the street from the Hudson Opera House. Read all about it in today's Register-Star: "Teen theatre turns park into stage."

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Sanford Gifford's Grave

The restoration of the Gifford family gravesite is nearing completion. All the stones have been repaired and cleaned, and today fresh topsoil was laid down and grass seed spread.  

Remember Bill Loewenstein?

His last service to Hudson was to try to bring Americlean, a toxic PERC (perchloroethylene) recycling plant, to our waterfront in the late 1990s. You can catch up on Loewenstein's latest enterprise--at Yankee Stadium--in this Reuters report. Thanks to Columbia County News for bringing this to our attention.

A Resolution to Oppose

At Monday night's informal Common Council meeting, a resolution was introduced "directing the Mayor to oppose the relocation out of the City of Hudson of county agencies to Walmart." Attached to the resolution was a copy of John Mason's June 2, 2011, article from the Register-Star: "Scalera, Hughes take aim at plan for Walmart." The proposed resolution would authorize Mayor Scalera to "send a letter to the Board of Supervisors of the County of Columbia opposing the Walmart relocation plan, its cost to taxpayers, and its negative economic impact on the City of Hudson, and its potential for dislocation of our neediest citizens."

Fourth Ward Supervisor Bill Hughes, whom Common Council President Don Moore identified as "integrally involved in the resolution," was in the audience and asked to comment. He began by acknowledging that "early on we were optimistic" but said his and Mayor Scalera's opinions have changed "now that facts have come to light." He alleged that the county is "in a feverish rush and cutting corners" because "they didn't notify Concra that they wanted to extend the lease" on 25 Railroad Avenue and are now desperate to relocate the Department of Social Services as soon as possible.

Hughes made the point that the former Walmart building "has a fifteen-year life expectancy, and it's now seventeen years old." He also said that the $16 million it would cost to purchase the building and convert it into office space represents a 1.7 percent increase in the tax levy and observed that if Governor Andrew Cuomo's proposed 2 percent tax cap goes into effect, it would leave only an additional .3 percent to meet the county's rising costs.   

First Ward Alderman Geeta Cheddie made the observation that the move to Walmart would "free up some pretty nice buildings in Hudson," possibly thinking of Club Helsinki and Etsy and seeing a silver lining for Hudson in the proposed move. 

There was lots of talk about transportation, with Hughes pointing out that DSS clients are "sanctioned" and lose their benefits for a month if they are late for an appointment. Third Ward Alderman Ellen Thurston pointed that lack of adequate transportation was a weak argument against the move because "it can be corrected."

The discussion ended with Fifth Ward Alderman Robert "Doc" Donahue delivering one of his classic dismissive comments: "We're all going to vote yes, so why all this rhetoric?"

You can find out if Donahue was right on Tuesday, June 21, when the Council votes on the resolution at its regular meeting. The issue of the Walmart purchase comes before the Board of Supervisors on July 11.

Monday, June 13, 2011

More About the Orphan Asylum

Yesterday, after reading the excerpt from the original Gossips of Rivertown, which talked about the founding of the Hudson Orphan Asylum and the preparations for a fair to raise money for its support, a reader sent me a page from the Hudson Daily Evening Register for January 26, 1882, containing these two items. 

By 1882, the Hudson Orphan Asylum had been in existence for almost forty years.

Mrs. James Gifford was married to Sanford Robinson Gifford's youngest sibling and lived on the northeast corner of Sixth and Columbia streets, in a house that survives today. The new asylum mentioned in the ad was 400 State Street, purchased in 1881 with funds left to the asylum by Sanford Gifford at his death in 1880. The legacy to the Hudson Orphan Asylum was the artist's only charitable bequest. Prior to 1881, the orphan asylum was located in this building at the corner of State and Seventh streets.