Monday, April 1, 2013

Discovered While Looking for Something Else

Over the weekend, a reader sent Gossips this detail from a 1889 Sanborn map of the Hudson waterfront. It shows a Standard Oil facility located on the 2.4-acre parcel that is part of the 9.968 acres being conveyed to the City of Hudson.

Wanting to learn more about Standard Oil's operation on our waterfront, I did some online research and discovered the Industrial Directory and Shippers' Guide, published in 1921 by the New York Central Lines. Close to a thousand pages long, this compendium of information, advertising, and self-promotion for the New York Central railroad system provides a fascinating look at industry in the United States at the beginning of the 1920s. Of particular interest is this description of Hudson.

HUDSON, NEW YORK, the head of deep water navigation of the Hudson River, a rapidly growing city of 11,745 population, offers many features of location and enterprise.
Hudson is 114 miles from New York, 33 miles from Albany, 324 miles from Buffalo and 195 miles from Boston.
Hudson has superior transportation advantages with rail, river and road service. The city is on the main line of the New York Central Railroad, giving service to New York City, the south, Export, the west, or Canada. The Boston & Albany Railroad is the outlet to New England.
This city is the real head of navigation of the Hudson River, with a twenty-eight foot channel from New York to Hudson. It is a New England rail and water transfer point.
The Albany Southern, an electric and freight line, runs from Hudson to Albany.
Hudson is a center of the New York State Highway System, with improved highways leading in every direction.
The State Board has recommended the construction of a large canal terminal, fully equipped for loading and unloading barges carrying all kinds of freight, to cost $300,000.
Besides numerous freight and passenger trains each day on the New York Central and the Boston & Albany, there is a 45-minute ferry service across the Hudson and an even hour trolley service to Albany.
Leading Industries
The present industrial activity of the city centers in fifty industries; two of the largest cement plants in the world; large conveyor and ice tool concern; marine life saving equipment plant; railway car wheel company; three large textile mills; beverage-making plants; lumber yards; immense brick plants; furniture, paper box, cut glass, mattress, garment and other factories of varied nature. Annual shipments of products close to one million tons. Recently a large builder of automobile bodies has located there, and other firms are considering the city. The Chamber of Commerce of the city is now developing a tract of 175 acres for industrial purposes.
Labor and Housing
The predominant nationality is American, the majority of residents being descendants of the early Dutch settlers and Nantucket whalers.
The city is open shop, free from labor disturbances.
Houses rent from $14 to $40. A housing project will give a six-room brick house, modern, at approximately $33 per month on rental purchase basis. Building and Loan Association to finance individual home ownership.
With products grown at the doors of the city, living costs are low.
Water supply is from large reservoir, with filter plant furnishing pure mountain water at all times. No residential charge. Industrial rate, 5 cents per thousand gallons, with large discounts.
Located on land sloping to the Hudson River and swept by water breezes, Hudson has an agreeable temperature, is unusually healthful and free from epidemics.
Two national banks, one trust company and a savings bank. Resources over $15,000,000.
Hendrik Hudson landed at this point from his ship, the Half Moon, in 1609, and ascended the river in canoes. Hudson was then and is today, the natural head of navigation. A lighthouse marks the landing point.
This fascinating account of Hudson as a vibrant hub of industry and transportation in 1921 raises some questions. Did the construction of a "large canal terminal" ever happen? Where were the 175 acres the Chamber of Commerce was developing for commercial purposes? Where was the "housing project" consisting of modern six-room brick houses built? And, of course, there remains our original question about Standard Oil and its activities on the waterfront. 


  1. Gossips, don't expect Hudson's favorite title agency, "Sneeringer, Monahan, Provost and Redgrave," to answer any of your excellent questions, at least not when they're asked to conduct a "title search" by the Common Council.

    "Resolution No. 2 September 18, 2012 - A Resolution Authorizing the Preliminary Studies for Holcim Land Transfer ..."

    "WHEREAS, prior to undertaking the action to accept this parcel from Holcim, the City must first conduct preliminary studies and examinations of this action including conducting a title search ...

    "WHEREAS, upon consultations with professional title companies and engineering firms, the Council estimates that title search and insurance should not exceed $3,200.00 ...

    "Ayes: President Moore, Aldermen Donahue, Friedman, Haddad, Marston, Miah, Pierro, Stewart and Wagoner.

    Nays: None."

    I FOILed the "title search," which included documents up to a few weeks ago. It is strictly an inquiry into rights-of-way, nothing more.

    The corruption in Hudson is out of control, and no one is accountable.

  2. Yes, this is a testament to Hudson's industrial past, but let's not forget this line: "With products grown at the doors of the city, living costs are low." Indeed, as the rust-belt rusted, Hudson has been able to rebound better than many cities and towns wedded to smokestacks because it remains a transportation hub -- and because of its stock of historic houses, the surrounding natural beauty, and the fact that we still can grow products at our doorsteps. The cleanup of the riverfront and the preservation of the South Bay, though, remain (unfortunately) tenuous propositions.

  3. Excuse me - there's so much confusion around this waterfront - but isn't this the same parcel cheryl roberts poo pooed to let slip through the door ?

    This is one worthless mess do remediate!

    What will the Council sell Galvan next to cover THAT COST ?

    1. You are correct Vincent!

      It was at the Common Council's July 12, 2010 "full council work session" for the GEIS that Cheryl Roberts poo-pooed the petroleum history down there, saying that a 1st or 2nd phase contaminants "reconnaissance" had already been conducted, and that there was nothing detected of any concern.

      More than two years later at the 9/18/12 council meeting (already mentioned above), Ms. Roberts was asked whatever became of the contaminants survey previously cited?

      After the required badgering she answered that there hadn't been a contaminants study and that the city "was misinformed." (Yeah, I'll bet.)

      Meanwhile Mr. Moore, busy running his usual interference by answering before Ms. Roberts had a chance, stated that he didn't "see the relevance of that question." All of the aldermen nodded in agreement, every one of them.

      Is it possible they are beginning to see the relevance today?

    2. Can someone please tell me why Cheryl Roberts is still in office? She was appointed right? Can she be fired? I recently read about what the Valley Alliance had to say and now this. is there any immediate action without long process? I'm just wondering out loud. Can Mr. Moore "run Interference" now that we have evidence of her actions and that her actions look like they are in violation of the city charter?

  4. Good work, Carole - certainly a lot of heavy industrial activity took place in that area. It seems a no brainer that the City should have an environmental study done before proceeding with any such commitment.
    It would be foolhardy not to. After all there was a study for the waterfront park and there was remediation. Why would this piece not be treated in the same way? Some 'gift'.

    1. But Jennifer, the city agrees with you, or used to anyway!

      1. Final LWRP: "As part of any agreement with Holcim and before taking title to this parcel, the City should explore any issues of possible environmental contamination on the property" (p. 73);

      2. Resolution No. 2 September 18, 2012: "prior to undertaking the action to accept this parcel from Holcim, the City must first conduct preliminary studies and examinations of this action including conducting a title search and preliminary environmental review on said parcel" (Common Council).

      But what's this:

      3. February 11, 2013: "The Mayor is hereby authorized and directed to enter into all documents and contracts necessary to effectuate transfer of the Parcel [sic] ..." (Common Council);

      4. City of Hudson, March 21, 2013: "This is a response to your first request for access to records dated 2/28/2013 to include the title search and environmental study as authorized in Common Council Resolution No. 2 of 9/18/2012. ...
      "In reference to the environmental study, the Phase I has not been completed therefore the document does not yet exist."

      5. And the "Title Search" is not a real title search, although we've already paid for it.

      6. Finally, despite the promises of the GEIS (at 3.1.18), the acreage in the Resolution was not included in last year's brownfields grant application, an utterly dishonest creation made in secret by the same names who are always at the middle of everything that's wrong with this place.

  5. The 175 acres I believe is where the current industrial tract along Rt 66 "Union Tpke" is, where Canada Dry, Universal Match, V&O Press, Mephisto Tool, Lorbrook and many others once operated. Even though located in Greenport, everyone locally refers as Hudson under the Hudson area umbrella. There is a postcard photo of aerial view of the industrial strip from the 50's.


  6. Interesting map.
    Standard Oil Facility.
    Without a title search , except
    for rights of way..which has more so to with O&G interests.
    With absolutely NO environmental study on either 2.4 Acres .Former Standard Oil Facility OR the 7+ acres,Home to O&G and before, all the Industrial Revolutions experimental with no regulations...chemistry experiment of contaminates of various business , shipping and manufacturing endeavours,
    WE the PEOPLE are supposed to sit down and shut up,and except this 50 YEAR Commitment with Holcim(US)Inc.

    So if this is such a "GREAT Gift Deal" then get a proper title search and Environmental Studies done and Estimates on remediation and show to the Public ,through Planning Commission and any other Committees. Agencies,Cults what is the plan here,exactly?
    Explain what is the advantages to Hudson very clearly, that counter Hudson's concessions.

    To the Public -If there was responsible and certified,legal remediation....Address the safety issues.Explain how there is a plan for a Safe Boat Launch,A Safe Park and Safe accesses road that is all smack up against AMTRAK ,CSX. and an Industrial PORT loading Gravel and other "products" and The HUDSON RIVER., with barges being loaded.

    MAKE CLEAR in writing what concessions Hudson is giving in exchange are...exactly.Including this waver we're giving on a lawsuit..t What are we giving up or into in terms of "Causeway" that in dangers South Bay further ALL OF IT.FULL LEGAL DOCUMENT.

    What is Holcim(US) giving us.ALL OF IT

    For this Resolution and Negotiation with Holcim(US)

    The Resolution that allows Hallenbeck to negotiate with Holcim(US)Inc. Hallenbeck? Hallenbeck with Roberts breathing down his neck and him asking all the right questions to protect us... Like..Where do I sign.. That is who the City of Hudson has left this in the hands of.........Mayor Hallenbeck.

    Pres.Common Council and City ATTY(who we pay to protect OUR
    BEST INTERESTS and the PUBLICS TRUST..Not Holcim's,Not O&G,Not D.Moore's Not Roberts Not Hallenbeck's and his associates). just want us to take this "Gift" "Deal" blindly, because our Alderman,with exception of Marston..voted this resolution through.

    It is quite likely D.Moore will not be Pres. Common Council in 8 months and with any luck Roberts will be gone as City Attorney.
    And this is a 50 year Commitment
    So is this just some LEGACY thing for Moore ..Like Rick's Point?

    SLOW THIS THING DOWN What's the rush?

    And who would hate Hudson more than Holcim(US) Inc?
    Hudson the people that stopped their Cement Plant?

    I'm doubtful they have any interests but their own in mind.

    I am going to ask one of my uncontested 2nd Ward Alderman, Abdus S. Miah, who voted for this ...who is on legal committee and helped put forth fracking ban and then voted against it, because he thought it meant banning Gasoline...since he owns 2 gas stations in green Co. He is standing behind Holcim (US) "Deal"resolution with Legal Committee and voted for it as well on Feb 19th., no questions asked.
    I am going ask him as my WARD representative and member of legal explain this
    "Deal" "GIFT" throughly,
    so I can understand why he felt this was right for the people of the 2nd Ward he represents. HIS VOTE becomes MY VOTE and also for the CITIZENS OF HUDSON he represents by being on Legal committee.

    I will get back with what he has to say.

  7. The fact is, that the Common Council led by Don Moore and City Counsel, Cheryl Roberts, one elected (what were we thinking) the other appointed by the Mayor, are not protecting our interests AT ALL. They have their own agenda. As far as Ms. Roberts is concerned, the City Charter clearly states, “The Mayor shall...have the authority to retain such legal counsel as he may deem necessary and expedient for the preservation of the rights or the protection of the interests of the City”. TO PROTECT the interests of the CITIZENS of Hudson, not the Interests of the Common Council, the Mayor or Big Business. This entire group has failed us miserably in this end; they've not only done a terrible job of due diligence, but have shown absolute contempt for the Citizens' right to know what is going on. No environmental testing on land deals that they are entering into in our behalf, incomplete Title searches and continuous efforts to minimize the environmental impact that this horrendous deal with Holcim will bring down on us. How is it that our "Representatives" just put up the appearance that they will do the right thing and when we keep our eye on them, we find out that they have done NOTHING! We're just getting smoke and mirrors here. They deliberately tried to “slip” in the 2.4 acres of Land into the original 7 acres proposed by Holcim thinking that we wouldn’t notice. They covered it up real well by trying to pull it off as 1 parcel of land… Oooh now it is over 9 acres, wonder how that happened? Could they be so careless with our money (for just a start) that they would not check out environmental issues, potential hazardous cleanup responsibilities, and had no knowledge that this site belonged to the former Standard Oil Company, most likely contaminated?
    Ms Roberts' continuously covers for their errors and inadequacies, decisions to do nothing, failure to investigate. She has not provided appropriate guidance to PROTECT OUR interests, rather than the multinational Swiss Company at the root of this situation. Her actions sure look like a violation of the terms of the City Charter. Mayor Hallenbeck doesn’t seem to be aware of any of this. Mayor, time to take action and pay attention to what your constituents are saying. No rubber stamping on these deals which don’t pass the smell test under conflict of interest, Open Government regulations, or downright corruption. Ms. Roberts has been the front runner in defending these bad actions of both herself and the Common Council. Ms Roberts was not elected; YOU appointed her, and she is making you look real bad. Your not challenging what is coming down from the Common Council and allowing Ms. Roberts to run the City is not an attractive cloak to wear coming into elections.

  8. Agreed! Standing Strong.

    So what is the collective interest of these aldermen, except never to be inconvenienced? (Do we need to look deeper?)

    The aldermen rubber stamp Resolutions written by an attorney who knows they won't read them. She enjoys an absolute faith that no aldermen will ever present any materials to any constituent, ever.

    But after enough suspicion has been raised and the public asks to see an "attached map" to the 9/18/12 Resolution (see 1st comment above), oh well, hmm ... there mustn't have been any map because they can't find one in their house. And that's an end to it!

    Another alderman, the Chairman of the Legal Committee, sent around the city's current map supposing it was what I was looking for. That was a map revised October 1st which applies to the current, 2/11/13 Resolution (NB., it was first made available to the public on February 28th, at 10:40 AM).

    Cheryl Roberts also received a copy of that map that the Legal Chair sent around, and she positively identified it as "the map" in her reply.

    Whoa, not so fast, I answered. The map for the 9/18/12 Resolution looks nearly identical to its revision - thus Ms. Roberts' mistak - but the map "attached" to the 9/18 Resolution was made on June 9, 2012.

    The Chairman of the Legal Committee then instructed me that I was being "abrasive," "hide-bound," and either "provocative or are simply ignorant."

    Maybe I had been a little abrasive after the NYS DOS Committee on Open Government told me that Roberts must hand over the 6/9/12 map on demand, as an attachment to the Minutes.

    The Chair of the Legal Committee thinks anyone who demands anything can simply go to hell.

    But the council and Ms. Roberts are legally in the wrong. The council is hiding something on her behalf when all they have to do is demand the map for us. (Ms. Roberts even suggested that I not bother the Committee on Open Government!)

    So do we really suppose we'll ever get to see things like the wording of the order for the fake "title search," considering their evident disregard for state laws designed to protect the public from abuses of power?

    This council and these officials are verging on criminality, or have already passed over into it.

  9. I must argue with myself at once!


    We're caught in an avalanche of wrong-doing by our officials.

    We have only the protection of Gossips. Thank you CO for making this possible.

    (Register Star: nowhere to be seen.)

  10. For years I've wondered why elected officials in Hudson place so little value on our waterfront. There are various explanations, I suppose-- for those who were born and raised here, the waterfront as it exists now is much improved from what it used to be, so they are probably thinking, "Hey, it's looking good compared to 1962, so what are all you newcomers grumbling about?" Their vision doesn't extend to the point where they realize that if we got rid of Holcim, re-sited the subsidized housing on Promenade Hill, and removed the National Grid powerlines from the river, we could have a waterfront that would be the envy of any community in the world. And in the bargain we could generate a lot more tax revenue for the City and improve citizen access to the Hudson River. The shortest and best route to economic development is to make your town an attractive place to live. Do that, and plenty of investment will follow.

    For some on the Common Council, the volume and complexity of the legal and zoning issues associated with the waterfront might be daunting, so they are inclined to discuss matters in executive session and then vote 'aye' just to get it off their desk. This saves them the embarrassment of airing out these matters in front of their constituents, which would reveal just how woefully ill-informed and disengaged they are.

    And since Hudson has a long tradition of being a blue-collar factory town, there is a sort of unwritten rule that nobody should have the nerve to stand up and challenge The Man. Big corporations like Holcim enjoy tremendous deference in a place like Columbia County, because the political patronage system here has operated in brutal fashion for decades; if you speak out against a cement plant, your daughter might not get that $24,000 clerk job down at the Motor Vehicle office. This is the way of the good ol' boy culture around here, and despite all the change in recent years that dynamic still persists.

    The story of the bungling of our LWRP deserves a full-length book-- it's almost impossible to imagine that we could end up with an outcome this bad after 27 years of planning and $400,000 in consultant & legal fees. We have allowed an absentee foreign landholder to lease its acreage to an out-of-state gravel hauling outfit, given them a direct thoroughfare through our minority neighborhood and our business district, yet we are getting absolutely nothing in the way of new jobs or enhanced tax revenue in exchange for all the abuse to our infrastructure and quality of life.

    To the extent that our local government has failed to represent the best interest of its constituency in developing a good waterfront plan, I don't think it's because of outright corruption. As tempting as it might be to believe that sacks of money are changing hands in a dark alley somewhere, I'm inclined to think that the root of the problem remains low community self-esteem. There are still way too many folks in this town who just don't grasp the fact that Hudson is uniquely endowed with extraordinary resources that should be developed to the benefit of all. Very few small towns in this country are blessed with such wonderful fabric, and it's heartbreaking to watch our civic leadership squander the opportunity to get it right, especially when so many other things in Hudson are headed in a good direction. If I was a potential new investor taking a look at Hudson,
    I would be very discouraged by the failure of the local government to
    operate in the best interest of its own citizens.

    1. Articulate, accurate and heartfelt. Thank you whoever you are.

  11. As a student of engineering in 1987 much thought was given to the problem of limited river access on Hudson’s entrapped shore. Later, while visiting Taiwan, half of the solution was observed. The other half came from a visit to Key West. Both are places where space is at a premium. A simple solution to a complicated problem. Using only what is at hand to produce something never before thought of; unlimited access:American Ingenuity… If only our “council” had asked.

  12. I also know from Key West that a huge waterfront on and off loading facility only needs a little bit of shore to build off from. Think of Hudson's own Powerboat Association docks.
    The notion that if the city owns the 10 acre parcel south of the dock we (the city) will limit Holcim's waterfront loading facility is entirerly wrong.

  13. No thing is impossible if only we could work as one...

  14. Problem with land lubbers; they always look down on the water...

  15. Columbia Cat has it in a nutshell. Thank you.

  16. I should conclude the saga about the surveying map in the same thread.

    Thanks to the involvement of the NYS DOS Committee on Open Government, a survey map is now public which was created in June 2012 for the City of Hudson.

    This map was supposed to be attached to a September 18th, 2012 Resolution, but the attorney who is generally perceived as having commandeered our LWRP saw fit to allow us to request it through the Freedom of Information Law.

    Not so fast!

    The NYS Department of State explained to her that as an attachment to a Resolution already in the Minutes, the map was part of the Minutes and must be available to the public on demand.

    We got our map, but it seems that access to our own city government still hangs on the "learning curve" of an attorney from Austerlitz.

    It is long past time to got rid of her. We should also understand who brought her here in the first place, but one thing at a time.

  17. Columbiacat has it right: "the root of the problem remains low community self-esteem." The flip side of that, for public officials, is to look decisive (that's the mask for low self-esteem.) by acting without regard for facts (e.g. "Hudson is uniquely endowed with extraordinary resources that should be developed to the benefit of all.") I saw this jaw-dropping behavior on the school board all the time: board members perceived their job as making decisions rather than discovering facts; the latter, by definition, was an admission of ignorance, which is a no-no on governing councils around here: you are elected to make decisions not do research. This is why so many governance disputes were little more than food fights and why so many studies and reports were ignored.... Unfortunately, though the cement plant fight uncovered the essential goodness of our citizens, the fact that it took such a Herculean effort to reach them -- doing an end-around the governance councils -- is a reminder of the deep self-esteem problems in our governing bodies.

  18. Wow, very insightful PM. I think you've hit it right on the head.

    I never made a connection between the manic decision-making and low community self-esteem. Hudson's "policy-makers" are tripping headlong over the loose ends of their last grant proposal or rubber stamped Resolution when no one can answer a thing about the ones before that, or why already-secured grant money never got used.

    When I began asking questions about why an attachment to a Resolution wasn't attached, no one could be sure they'd ever asked to see the map or the metes and bounds that the unanimously endorsed Resolution had relied upon. I detected a lot of embarrassment.

    Unfortunately, the state's policy of Home Rule requires community self-governance and voluntary participation. I never thought I'd put democracy in such negative terms, but if residents won't pay attention to their own interests, then other interests an echelon or two up will easily pervert a process which is meant for all.

    Is there anyone left who hasn't learned that lesson in Hudson? People lose heart, which only perpetuates more low self-esteem. I see now, it's a vicious circle.

  19. Following is a superb case in point from the night the GEIS was accepted as final by the Common Council, on September 26, 2011.

    First, it's crucial to understand that the matter of "easements" was introduced that night, that these easements continue to be pivotal for the entire LWRP, and that they are conjoined with Holcim's current demand of 50-year conditions.

    Alderman asks question of GEIS Legal Advisor Cheryl Roberts (33:32 on WGXC audio): "What is an easement? All these words ..."

    Same alderman 1 hour later (1:36:18): "I don't see nothing in here that is so different that is going to make the difference in this vote tonight. I could see if there were some major changes in the law, the zoning. From what I've been hearing tonight they're very minor, and I just think we need to move this on to the next step."

    And so we did.