Tuesday, February 21, 2012

News of the Senior Center

Last Monday, at the informal Common Council meeting, a resolution was introduced that (1) named the Common Council lead agency in the New York State environmental quality review; (2) declared that the proposed project would not have significant environmental impacts; and (3) authorized the use of $130,000 from the General Fund to make up the shortfall in grant funding if the new building were constructed with a second floor half the area of the first floor. Tonight, at the regular Common Council meeting, there was no vote on that resolution, and Council President Don Moore offered three reasons why: 

  • A commitment had been made to do a structural evaluation of the historic building that houses the Youth Center before money was spent to attach a new building to it, and that evaluation could not be completed prior to the meeting.
  • It was brought to the attention of City Attorney Cheryl Roberts that the proposed project was in a National Register-listed historic district and that status makes the project a Type I action, requiring a long form environmental review instead of the short form that was being used.
  • A new issue had been raised about the historic importance of the site which would require an opinion from the State Historic Preservation Office. 
Moore and Roberts did not explain the nature of the new issue that required an opinion from SHPO, but Gossips has an idea of what it might be. The Youth Center stands on the site of the original Friends meeting house in Hudson, built in 1794 by the city's Quaker founders. In 1853, the Quakers swapped properties with the Methodist Episcopal Church, which then owned a building on Diamond Street (now Columbia Street). Of this exchange, local historian Margaret Schram comments in her book Hudson's Merchants and Whalers: "What we do not know is whether the Methodists demolished the Quaker meetinghouse or remodeled it to meet their needs." 
Some who know of such things have suggested that the unusual configuration of the building and its dimensions are similar to those of Friends meeting houses in places like Philadelphia where there were large Quaker congregations. The historic significance of the site could require some archaeological investigation before a new building is constructed there. 

A special meeting for the purpose of discussing and voting on the resolution for the proposed senior center has been scheduled for March 6 at 7 p.m.               

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