Friday, April 26, 2013

Defining the Location of Standard Oil

At Wednesday's Common Council Legal Committee meeting, assistant city attorney Carl Whitbeck produced an 1888 atlas map which showed all the buildings in the First Ward and along the river but did not show anything labeled "Standard Oil." Indeed, it did not even include the area where Standard Oil is believed to have been. Still, the 1889 Sanborn map shows a cluster of structures on the river labeled "Standard Oil Co."

A Gossips reader provided the clue: a little news item from the  Hudson Evening Register for November 14, 1888, which defines the location of Standard Oil and provides the evidence that construction at the Standard Oil site did not begin until close to the end of 1888.


  1. Gossips ought to refrain from posting factual information. It will only confuse our city attorney.

  2. Yesterday at dusk I was at the Standard Oil site when I noticed an unusual and tiny wading bird overhead.

    Flying upriver, about 120 feet up, a migrating Least Bittern circled twice and then descended into the South Bay.

    It is a first record in the South Bay for this species (for anyone).

    Least Bittern is listed as Threatened in New York state, and thus has legal protection.

    For years I've searched the South Bay for this species during the nesting season, which is when they're territorial and thus less likely to melt into the cattails on approach.

    A nearly impossible bird to see, but we finally have a record for South Bay.

    The DOS Rating Form for the newly-designated "South Bay Creek and Marsh Significant Coastal Fish and Wildlife Habitat" (2012) listed no state-protected "resident" fauna for the South Bay, which is something Roberts improperly exploited in her environmental impact statement (EIS) for the LWRP.

    Even though the stated purpose of SEQRA (which required the EIS) is to protect "air, water, land, and living resources," Roberts' utilized the state's draft Rating Form for the new habitat (2011) - which lists only fish and wildlife - to downplay the ecological significance of the South Bay.

    An impressive number of state-listed plants is certainly "resident" in the South Bay, but Roberts found a way to trick the system. The only thing that could have stopped her was us (c.f. NYS's "Home Rule").

    Ask yourselves, who elevated this attorney to her position in Hudson? She obviously doesn't give a damn about the ecology; she wreaks havoc over the natural world; she imposes chaos and self-serving waste over our political system; she appears as nearly all-powerful in relation to our elected aldermen (who nevertheless do not read the wording of her resolutions very closely).

    The overwhelming impression that we the people are nearly powerless to effect the outcome of this absurdity, combined with the fact that only self-interested lawyers remain who will still insist that Standard Oil was never in the South Bay, is nearly Dickensian in its nascent corruption.

  3. Whitbeck and about Pillars of Clowntown. We deserve much better than their antics.

  4. Is the location of Standard Oil really still in question after the April 25th posting here on Gossips of the 1932 map ?
    We (the city) need to move on and make the decision :
    Do we want this polluted land or not ?
    If we do not want to own this land will it then be available to others who might make it unaccessable to us ?
    Will We The People have a say in this ?

  5. I'm starting to wonder how much money this 10-acre adventure is costing the City of Hudson? A lot of legal time has been invested, plus the cost of a Phase I environmental review, a title search, and possibly more expenses yet to come. If Holcim sells its property to another entity and walks away from its deal with the City, there is going to be plenty of egg on the faces of some at City Hall, and the taxpayers will be left holding the bag once again.

  6. The City has paid I believe $3500 for the title and phase 1. Cheryl's time is covered by her firm's retainer (so, the opportunity cost), and Gif's time the other night was pro bono. He clearly has a real love for the history of Hudson and has quite a few relic-like maps of the city going back a lot of years. It's too bad there were so few in the audience for the Legal Committee (which admittedly tends to the rather dry and long meeting) -- it was fascinating stuff to see.

    1. @Alderman Friedman 3rd Ward and Chairman of Legal Committee:
      Fascinating stuff.
      Was this work,competitively bid out?
      If $3,500 covered PHASE I ESA by Crawford & Assoc.,
      AND title search by SMPR Title Agency,
      how much was paid to each company ,that was paid by citizens of Hudson..hired by"City"officials?
      Where is Phase I ESA report, of the 9.968 acres?
      What do we pay as a retainer to"Cheryl's" firm?
      How much do we pay"Cheryl",that was appointed,not elected.
      Why is this "Gif" suddenly working"pro bono"
      against the citizens of Hudson's simple and
      most reasonable request to have a PHASE II ESA
      done on BOTH parcels of the 9.986 acres,
      before we are locked into 50 yrs. of Holcim(US),Inc.'s "Conditions" and own property that must be accepted AS IS, per Holcim(US) Inc.'s

      AND, the party of the first part makes no covenant or warranty with respect to the title to the Property, or the environmental conditions of the soil or ground water on or beneath the Property.

      IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the party of the first part has caused this instrument to be executed by its duly authorized officer this____ day of ________,2013.


      Also in a letter addressed to
      Donald A. Moore,President
      Hudson Common Council
      June 2, 2010 from O&G
      [(on )signed by both
      Kenneth J. Faroni ,
      Director of Planning &Permits,O&G Industries,Inc.
      AND Donald W.Stever,
      Attorney for Holcim(US),Inc.]

      on pg.3 section#2 reads:"....and because we have no knowledge of the historic use or condition of the South Bay,or the composition of the waste or fill dumped into it by City or third parties,if title(as opposed to a conservation easement)
      is conveyed,we will have to deed the property
      "as is where is".
      As citizens have done the real " due diligence "required of a Phase I ESA ,
      We are simply asking for Phase II ESA to be conducted, by a disinterested party.

      from WikipediA
      "The actual sampling of soil, air, groundwater and/or building materials is typically not conducted during a Phase I ESA. The Phase I ESA is generally considered the first step in the process of environmental due diligence. Standards for performing a Phase I site assessment have been promulgated by the US EPA[1] and are based in part on ASTM in Standard E1527-05.[2]

      If a site is considered contaminated, a Phase II environmental site assessment may be conducted, ASTM test E1903, a more detailed investigation involving chemical analysis for hazardous substances and/or petroleum hydrocarbons.[3]"
      Thank you.

  7. But is the additional title search part of the $3500?

    I wish that someone who's never done it before would head to the county Real Property library behind the DMV, and then time how long it takes to pull book 85 from the shelf and turn to page 376.

    If it takes more than 5 minutes from walking through the door I'll eat my hat.

  8. Yeh; and ten years ago Giffy said he owned the middle ground flats...Latest r
    umor has it that Mayor Rick is a silent partner in the Spirit of Hudson. Yup, got a graft/grant for Mayors without second homes…

  9. John, it's a shame you weren't here to see Don Christiansen's curated exhibition of the history of the South Bay which was held in the Opera House during the fight against the cement plant era. It covered everything, maps, prints, paintings from the Hudson River School painters, some on exhibition from Giffy I believe. It was extremely comprehensive. I don't doubt that Giffy loves the South Bay since his house overlooks it and is featured in a several Hudson River Paintings,
    but it would be nice if those who so love the bay and Hudson would
    care about the ecology, hydrology and overall sensible development of the riverfront instead of catering to an overseas conglomerate.

    1. Well said Jennifer, and thank you for naming Don Christensen. (I wasn't sure he'd welcome it, but then I never met him.)

      So many of the recently revealed documents it's been our privilege to see at Gossips were thanks to Don's original research. And what an amazing job he did.

      Unfortunately it turned out that some of the things that I was required to research on my own, some of which has taken months, was already done by Don years ago. The deeds for instance. Well, I guess there was some satisfaction finding them on my own, but that was cancelled out by the later frustration of realizing that we had to reinvent the wheel when we're trying to defend the truth in the face of such fiendishness.

      I can't name all of the people who continue to help from afar (for the same reason I never named Don), but if I agree with you that the hydrology of the South Bay is truly unique, I think you might guess who I mean.

      But hydrology to Roberts? She made herself a hydrological expert for the length of time it took to dismiss the subject in her GEIS (she knows NOTHING about hydrology), instead of asking experts at the state, the county and even the city level!

      If we'd been able to raise the money for an Article 78 legal challenge, the GEIS would have been dead in the water.

      Instead, the lessons learned from outwitting the public in Hudson will be applied around the state. You know who said that? Oh shoot, I can't say that either, but the answer would knock your socks off.

  10. I second "our city attorney" ..

  11. Am I mistaken, but aren't the city attorney and Mr. Whitbeck from the same law firm?

    1. And I notice that he lists "environmental law" among his areas of practice.

      It was Ms. Roberts' direct reply to the doubts of the council on April 16th to bring in her colleague, Mr. Whitbeck. His presentation was one and the same as Roberts' reply.

      From this it's fair to surmise that the firm's "title search" addendum isn't making much headway. Since it only takes a matter of minutes to look up a citation (book 85, p. 376), their lack of progress tells us that they haven't even tried.

      Mr. Whitbeck's irrelevant story-telling was their first priority and order of attack, and not the title search that Roberts promised the council on the 16th.

      The Emperor has no clothes, but these attorneys are the last to give in? Why?

      Obviously they're buying time.

      They know the outcome already, and if Roberts ends up with even more egg on her face why would she care?

      They couldn't care less that they won't do what we ask them, and they don't care that we know. They ride our helplessness like a wave, and we continue to pay them for the privilege. (Then they run for higher office!)

      Before the next meeting is manipulated by lawyers who do not do what we ask and who waste even more time, perhaps an alderman will trouble him or herself to look at book 85, p. 376 at the corner of Warren and 6th Street.

      Why we are waiting for Ms. Roberts or Mr. Whitbeck to do that for us? Why aren't we pushing back?

      I'd like to hear an alderman tell Roberts how quickly they found the reference, and then really push it in her face: how dare she run out the clock?! (That's only for our sake since she doesn't care.)

      Anyone can go look at that book on any day that the county offices are open. You don't need to ask anyone for anything. The procedure is self-explanatory. The elevator opens looking right at book 85!

      It's free parking on 6th St. across from the church and you're back in your car in under 10 minutes.

      It would be beneficial for people to experientially grasp the simplicity of the thing that Roberts refuses to do for us.