Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Hunt Is On!

About mid-afternoon, I decided to drive out to Holmquest to buy some plants. As I crossed Third Street heading east onto the stately homes block of Allen Street, I noticed my neighbors' car ahead, traveling very slowly--somewhere between 10 and 15 mph. I stayed patiently behind, wondering what was going on. After a bit, the car pulled over to the right side of the street so I could pass, and as I did, the driver, through the open window, held up the Gossips' Historic Detail Hunt walking list!

So I'm back home planting my newly acquired flora in front of the house when another pair of readers drives by . . . very slowly. Alluding, I thought, to my efforts to deter speeding on lower Allen Street, the driver calls out, "Is this slow enough for you?" At the same time, the passenger holds up the Gossips' Historic Detail Hunt walking list!

Earlier in the day, I was out walking William, hoping to encounter people with list in hand, but, alas, I didn't. People seem to be doing the hunt today by car or maybe by bicycle, which is probably a good idea since, by design, the hunt takes the hunter somewhat far afield. Maybe next year Gossips should provide special "slow moving vehicle" symbols for folks to display on their cars as they drive the streets of Hudson, scanning their environs for architectural details.

In Memoriam: Harold Hanson

On Tuesday, June 3, family and friends of Harold Hanson, a familiar and loved fixture on Warren Street, will gather in the Parish Hall at Christ Church, 431 Union Street, from 5 to 7 p.m. to remember our dear friend and celebrate his life among us. 

Photograph by Everett McCourt

Something to Do Tonight

When it gets too dark to be hunting for architectural details in Hudson, here's an excursion beyond our two square miles you may want to consider.

Ear to the Ground: 449 Warren Street

In this case, it's not an ear but an eye, and it's not Gossips' eye but Seth Rogovoy's. He reports this morning on the Rogovoy Report that it appears Citarella, which Gossips remembers as a fish market at Broadway and 75th Street but which now bills itself as "The Ultimate Gourmet Market," may be opening a northern outpost in Galvan's Hudson Arcade: "Is NYC's Citeralla Opening a Store in Hudson?"  

Mind Your Latin Phrases

The Register-Star reports today that Board of Supervisors chair Pat Grattan cast the deciding vote on a resolution that could result in the sale of the county nursing home: "Committee narrowly OKs Pine Haven RFP." According to the article, "Grattan said Thursday that he is an 'ad hoc member' of every committee as chairman of the board." Let's hope Grattan meant to say he was an ex officio member of every committee--that is, a member by virtue of his position as chair. Ad hoc has the meaning "done for a particular purpose only," which could suggest that Grattan becomes of a member of every committee for a specific purpose--in this case, to ensure the success of the resolution.

Gossips Celebrates National Preservation Month: Historic Detail 31

We have come to the final architectural element in this year's Historic Detail Hunt. For those who haven't yet found all the others, a walking list of all thirty-one details can be downloaded here. Here's the drill: Locate the architectural details on buildings in Hudson. Make a numbered list identifying each detail by the address of the building on which it is found. Submit your list to Gossips before midnight on Friday, June 6. Besides receiving praise and recognition on Gossips, there are prizes for the first four people to identify all the details correctly and "consolation cookies" for everyone who makes a good effort and identifies at least sixteen of the thirty-one details.

Here is the last detail.


Friday, May 30, 2014

Summer Break for Alternate Side of the Street Parking

Gossips learned for the first time on Tuesday night, at the Police Committee meeting, that alternate side of the street parking has been suspended on weekends since May 1. 

For the past four weekends we could have parked overnight on either side of the street, on Friday and Saturday nights, without fear of punishment. So, whichever side of the street your car is parked on now, it can stay there tonight and tomorrow night, too. 

Although we missed out on four weekends of free and unfettered overnight parking, we still have four months of it to look forward to. The suspension continues until the end of September.

Gossips Celebrates National Preservation Month: Historic Detail 30

We've reached the penultimate detail in the 2014 Historic Detail Hunt. Before we get to that, though, let's review the rules and reveal the prizes. Early tomorrow morning, on the last day of May, Gossips will publish the final detail and provide a walking list, which you can download, of all thirty-one details. Participants are asked to submit a numbered list, identifying each detail by the address of the building on which it is found. Your lists must be submitted to Gossips before midnight on Friday, June 6--a deadline that gives you plenty of time to find the details and win a prize.

To motivate you to look, here are the prizes: 
  • The first person (or team) to submit a list identifying the locations of all thirty-one details correctly will receive a $50 gift certificate from the Red Dot
  • The next three people (or teams) to submit their lists identifying all the details correctly will receive a $25 gift certificate from Look, Olde Hudson, or Park Falafel & Pizza
  • Everyone else who submits a list before midnight on Friday, June 6, identifying at least sixteen of the thirty-one details correctly will receive "consolation cookies" from Trixie's Oven, and there are few things as consoling as Trixie's cookies.
Now that you are properly incentivized and eager to complete (or begin) the hunt, here is the detail for today.


The Public Hearing That Wasn't

Late Thursday afternoon, there was a public hearing about the City of Hudson's latest CDBG (Community Development Block Grant) application. If memory serves, there are typically two public hearings connected with a CDBG application: the first, at which ideas for projects are solicited from the public; the second, at which the project being pursued is presented and the public is invited to comment. Citizen participation is an important part of the application process. The following is quoted from the HUD website:
A grantee must develop and follow a detailed plan that provides for and encourages citizen participation. This integral process emphasizes participation by persons of low or moderate income, particularly residents of predominantly low- and moderate-income neighborhoods, slum or blighted areas, and areas in which the grantee proposes to use CDBG funds. . . .
The purpose of the public hearing last night, as it was explained on the City of Hudson website, was "to give citizens an opportunity to discuss proposed activities relative to the City's request for $600,000 under the Public Infrastructure element to undertake sewer separation activities in the area of State Street and Columbia Street." 

The proposed project, as briefly explained by DPW superintendent Rob Perry, involves replacing old stone sewer mains, which allow ground water to get into the waste water treatment plant, with new impermeable sewer mains that would carry the ground water into North Bay and lessen the volume of water passing through the waste water treatment plant and into the river. Perry described the project as "one step toward separating the system entirely"--that is, separating storm water runoff from the sanitary sewer system to eliminate CSO (combined sewer overflow) events, when the waste water treatment plant is overwhelmed and untreated sewage is released into the river.

The one person at the public hearing who wanted to comment on the proposal was Timothy O'Connor, tireless advocate for South Bay and the river. He began by pointing out that the City's CSO Long Term Control Plan (LTCP), which is required by the Environmental Protection Agency's CSO control policy and is part of DEC's CSO control strategy "to reduce the frequency, duration, and intensity of CSO events," had been developed without public participation. "We have to go back," O'Connor urged, "and look at the LTCP." He predicted that because the LTCP had been developed without public participation--a federal requirement--the CDBG application would fail.

Council president Don Moore, who was chairing the hearing, told O'Connor his comments were "going far afield." O'Connor protested, "I'm telling you how you can perhaps fix it." He said of the the project being proposed, "This is not separating it properly. This is piecemeal." He cautioned that storm water runoff is "nearly as contaminated as sewage."

O'Connor didn't have the chance to say all he wanted to at last night's public hearing, but early this morning he published his thoughts on the topic on Imby: "Excluded Public Participation Dooms Hudson's Latest Sewer Grant Ambitions." It is recommended reading.

Who Got the Money?

On Thursday night, the Common Council Arts, Entertainment & Tourism Committee made decisions about City funding for public events in Hudson. They had before them fourteen applications and a pot of money amounting to $20,250--the lion's share from the City of Hudson budget, a sizable contribution from HDC (Hudson Development Corporation), and $250 from Columbia County Tourism. Here are the awards that were made, arranged from the greatest to the least.
  • Flag Day, Hudson Pride, and Winter Walk were each awarded $3,300
  • The Black Arts Festival was awarded $2,575
  • The Hudson Music Festival will receive $1,900
  • The Bangladeshi Festival was awarded $1,700
  • ArtsWalk will receive $1,000
  • The Hudson River Exchange was awarded $825
  • Promise Neighborhood's Community Block Party was awarded $700
  • The Bindlestiff Summer Cirkus will receive $45o
  • The Chili Festival, Taste of Hudson, and the New Year's Eve Ball Drop proposed for Promenade Hill were each awarded $400
The event that applied for funding but did not receive it was the Hudson Area Library's Ghostly Gallop. The rationale for the decision was that the event was not so much a community event as it was a fundraising event for the library.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Gossips Celebrates National Preservation Month: Historic Detail 29

The month of May is drawing to a close, and so is the Historic Detail Hunt. After today, there are only two more details left to be revealed, but there is still a whole week left for you to locate them. The best news is that your efforts will be rewarded by more than just being acknowledged on Gossips. There are PRIZES! Those will be revealed tomorrow. In the meantime, here is the detail for today.


When a Perceived Problem Could Be a Solution

On Wednesday night, at the Common Council Public Works Committee meeting, Alderman Bart Delaney (Fifth Ward), who was the first to raise objections to repealing the prohibition on dogs in Henry Hudson Riverfront Park, brought up the problem of geese in the cemetery. He wanted to know if Canada Geese were protected (they are under the Federal Migratory Bird Act of 1918), complained about goose poop fouling grave sites, and spoke of wanting to "humanely do away with them." It wasn't entirely clear what he had in mind.

There are definitely lots of geese in Cedar Park Cemetery. On a visit there this afternoon, Gossips counted seven goose-and-gander couples, five of whom had offspring.

Interestingly, for those opposed to dogs in the cemetery, one of the most effective ways to get rid of unwanted geese is border collies trained in harassing and hazing geese--in other words, chasing them away.

We're in luck! There are border collies trained to harass and haze our geese right here in Columbia County. Wild Goose Chase NE, a wild goose control service that provides a humane way to manage wild geese, is headquartered in New Lebanon. Although Gossips' firsthand knowledge of Wild Goose Chase is limited to watching the border collies put through their paces at the annual Sheep & Wool Showcase at Clermont, it is hoped that DPW superintendent Rob Perry will give Wild Goose Chase a call and request a consultation before taking any other action against the geese in the cemetery.

Preservation Information

It's impossible to calculate how many original windows in Hudson's historic buildings have been removed and trashed in the pursuit of promised energy efficiency. The practice is still going on, a notable example being the Columbia County courthouse. Meanwhile, there is growing evidence that original windows can be just as energy efficient as replacement windows, the life expectancy of replacement windows does not compare with that of original windows, and replacement windows do not pay for themselves in energy savings before they have to be replaced again. Joining the body of evidence is a report from the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Preservation Green Lab  entitled Saving Windows, Saving Money. 

Earlier this week, the National Trust published, in its Preservation Tips and Tools series, useful information about preserving old windows in a feature entitled "Retrofitting Historic Windows."

Gossips Celebrates National Preservation Month: Historic Detail 28

There are four more details in the Historic Detail Hunt and eight days in which to identify all thirty-one. The parade of details ends on Saturday, but the hunt continues through Friday, June 6. So put on your walking shoes or dust off your bike and hit the streets in search of the architectural elements that make Hudson architecture so rich. Here's the detail for May 28. 


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Have You Noticed?

PolicyMic published a list of "15 Cities for Creative 20-Somethings That Aren't New York or Los Angeles." No surprise, Hudson made the list, along with Kingston, Newburgh, Rosendale, and Beacon, grouped together in position 6 as "Hudson Valley, N.Y."

Time and Again

The realtor who had the listing posted the news yesterday on Facebook that 201 Allen Street had sold for "well above" the asking price. (You can consult the realtor's website to find out what the asking price was.)

This information sent me back to the cache of snapshots I uncovered back in March, taken almost two decades ago in 1996 or 1997. Back then, 201 Allen and its companion 201½ Allen had the reputation of being the sites of all manner of illicit activity.

The pink and green color scheme, which was fairly new at the time the picture was taken, was an improvement over the houses' previous appearance. The fate of these houses provides yet more evidence of the amazing future old houses can have. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Gossips Celebrates National Preservation Month: Historic Detail 27

The days of the Historic Detail Hunt are dwindling down to a precious few, but there's still time to join the pursuit. The month of May ends on Saturday, but you have until Friday, June 6, to identify the details and submit your answers. Unlike last year, when the only reward for identifying all the details correctly was having your achievement acknowledged on Gossips, this year there will be prizes! News about those prizes will follow. Meanwhile, minutes before the day is over, here's the detail for today.


Nothing Is Ever Easy, But . . .

sometimes the ease at which things can be accomplished takes your breath away. The following is very hyperlocal news, but there's a message in it for all Hudsonians. 

For years, I have been trying to get stop signs placed on Allen Street at Second. (Gossips Central is just a few doors up from there.) Every east-west street in Hudson has a stop sign at Second except Allen, and the absence of stop signs encourages people to speed on Allen from Front Street to Third Street (a.k.a. Route 9G) and from Third Street (a.k.a. Route 9G) to Front Street and the train station.

When I was an alderman for the First Ward (2006-2009), I figured getting stop signs at this corner was something I could easily accomplish for my constituents. Besides encouraging speeding, the absence of stop signs made turning onto Allen from Second very precarious. Cars approaching from the east were often not visible to people turning onto Allen from Second because of the parked cars on the north side of the street. (As a resident of that block, whose car has no alternative to being parked on the street, I don't want the sight lines improved by extending the yellow lines because that would eliminate needed parking spaces.) 

I imagined that, since I was an alderman, getting stop signs at this intersection would be a slam dunk, but it wasn't. Former police chief Ellis Richardson was unsympathetic. Former alderman Sheila Ramsey (Fourth Ward), who chaired the Police Committee at the time, checked out the corner and reported that, because Second Street dead ends at Allen, there was no place to put a stop sign on Allen heading east.

Fast forward to this evening, at the Police Committee meeting. A discussion about speeding on Allen and Union streets (and an incident earlier in the day when I had to drag my aged and feeble William out of the path of a car speeding up from Front Street) emboldened me to suggest that there should be stop signs on Allen at Second Street. Police commissioner Gary Graziano was receptive to the idea and immediately made a note of it. An hour or so later, Graziano called to say that he had visited Allen and Second streets and while there, by pure happenstance, had encountered DPW superintendent Rob Perry. Graziano made the determination that stop signs were needed on Allen at Second Street, and Perry agreed to have them installed. It is anticipated that the stop signs will be in place by the end of the week.

How terrific is that?

Everything Must Change. Nothing Stays the Same.

When the proposal for the conversion of the Hudson Armory into the Galvan Community Center came before the Historic Preservation Commission in August 2013, there was concern about the design for the "medical wing" that would be built on the footprint of the mid-20th century garage and also the design for the entrance to the library on the State Street side of the building.

The HPC was looking for greater modernity in the design and was troubled that not enough had been done to differentiate the new construction from the original building. Speaking of the "medical wing" in particular, HPC member Phil Forman wanted to know why the architects had not taken a "more aggressive approach to differentiation." HPC member Tony Thompson commented that the design for the addition "seems to be taking architecture from a different period--a 1930s civic building." 

The portico planned for the entrance to the Hudson Area Library also drew criticism. Thompson questioned the rationale for having a Classic Revival entrance instead of continuing with "the modern feel of the courtyard." HPC member Scott Baldinger declared the proposed portico "not in the spirit of the building," and Thompson concluded that "adding two historic styles to the building turns it into a mongrel."

The proposal for the Galvan Community Center faced different objections on October 2013 when it was the subject of a Planning Commission public hearing. Residents were concerned about parking and the impact of a walk-in clinic on the surrounding neighborhood.

It turns out all the angst was for nothing. Gossips learned recently that the "medical wing," the library entrance with its Classic Revival portico, and the plaza on State Street have all been dropped from the plan. The garage on Short Street will still be demolished, but nothing will be built in its place. The library and the senior center will be entered from North Fifth Street, and the plaza, originally planned for the State Street side of the building, will now be on the Fifth Street side. The following is a quote from the library's website: "Facing our entrance on Fifth Street will be a large plaza, with a stone surface, shade trees, benches, chairs and tables, bluestone 'seating steps' and grass where people can sit and read." 

Work on the Fifth Street plaza is well underway, but one wonders why, since the original plan for this side of the building involved nothing more than the addition of a handicapped ramp, the revised plans did not come before the Historic Preservation Commission for a certificate of appropriateness.     

More About the Stalled Elevator and the Rescue

On Sunday, the Register-Star reported that "Hudson Fire Chief Craig Haigh was in command at the street level and coordinating efforts." Gossips spoke with Haigh this afternoon, and it turns out he wasn't there. Assistant Fire Chief James Schermerhorn was in command. A report on the incident and the fire fighters' response to the emergency can be found on the Hudson Fire Department website.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Gossips Celebrates National Preservation Month: Historic Detail 26

The Historic Detail Hunt for 2014 is coming to an end. Although there are only a few days left, there is still plenty of time to join the pursuit. The daily presentation of details will end on the last day of May, but you have until midnight on Friday, June 6, to locate them and submit your answers to Gossips. Here is the detail for today.


What's Happening for 260 State Street

Many's the time I have contemplated this house while waiting for the light to change at the intersection of Third and State. It intrigues me.

Articles like "Private Residences," which appeared in the Hudson Evening Register in 1867, give the impression that all the domestic architecture worthy of note in Hudson in the 19th century was located either on Warren Street or south of Warren Street, on Union and Allen streets. This rather grand house with its mansard roof (which may not have been built yet in 1867, since the heyday of mansard roofs didn't start until the 1870s) suggests that State Street was not without its houses of distinction in the 19th and early 20th centuries. 

Although in the mid-20th century this house suffered some indignities--windows were moved or eliminated, aluminum storm windows were installed, and the house was covered with vinyl siding--we learned over the weekend, from an article in the New York Times, that something good is happening for this house: "Plan B: Open a Country Hotel in Upstate New York."

Applications Revisited

Two weeks ago, the Historic Preservation Commission decided that two applications before them were incomplete: one for a fence at 241 Allen Street; the other for a portico at 113 Union Street. On Friday, these two projects came back before the HPC, with positive results.

On May 9, the application for a certificate of appropriateness to replace the stockade fence at 241 Allen Street with a five foot high picket fence was deemed incomplete because no rendering was included showing what the proposed fence would look like in place. HPC member Peggy Polenberg raised the question of whether or not a rendering was required, which  ultimately provoked fellow HPC member Phil Forman to observe, "What makes us look perverse and not very clever is not being able to visualize a white picket fence."

On May 23, the project was back before the HPC, this time with quite amateurish renderings of what a four foot picket fence and a five foot picket fence would look like. The proposed fence was approved, but not unanimously. HPC member Tony Thompson declared himself "partial to a fence matching [in height] the existing fence on the side" and voted against granting a certificate of appropriateness. A site visit might have simplified things. A new white picket fence of the proposed height has already been constructed along the side of the property.

Another project returning to the HPC last Friday was 113 Union Street. On May 9, a proposal identical to a proposal made almost a year ago was presented to the HPC. Nothing had changed except the depth of the portico, which had been reduced from 5 feet 9 inches to just 5 feet to conform with code requirements.

As before, the HPC objected to the configuration of the windows and the metal railings on the portico and expressed concern about rainwater runoff from the roof of the portico. Last Friday, Charles Vieni, representing Galvan, returned with a new proposal that addressed all the concerns.

The windows will now be (appropriately for the period of the house) two over two instead of the originally proposed four over four; the portico railings will be constructed of wood; the portico roof will have a slight pitch to accommodate rainwater runoff.

Another issue worthy of note before the HPC on Friday was 234-238 Warren Street. Many preservation watchers were somewhat alarmed to see a rather elaborate door surround being constructed at the entrance to the building. This design for the doorway had not been given a certificate of appropriateness; indeed no proposal for this doorway had ever come before the HPC.

It turns out that the owner of the building had not been present when the work was done--work that exceeded the scope of both the certificate of appropriateness and the building permit. The added ornamentation is coming off, and the entrance is going back to what was originally presented.

Elevator Crisis Update

Adam Clayton reports the story of the stalled elevator at Bliss Towers and the outcome in today's Register-Star: "Nine trapped in Bliss tower elevator." The nine people in the elevator when it stalled between floors were all children, who were described as "shaken up but unharmed" when they were finally freed from the car. When reached for comment at 11:35 p.m., Jeff First, property manager at Bliss Towers, was quoted as saying, "I just got down here, all I know is the fire department's here and they cut the damn door down and the system's shut down and I have to deal with it."

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Breaking News

Around 10:45 tonight, Bliss Towers was surrounded by firetrucks and other emergency vehicles. The word was that people were trapped in an elevator, and members of the fire department were using the Jaws of Life to try to open the elevator doors and free them. 

Gossips Celebrates National Preservation Month: Historic Detail 25

The final week of the Historic Detail Hunt begins. Last year, the hunt ended before some people had a chance to submit their answers. So this year, although the details will stop at the end of May, the hunt will continue until midnight on Friday, June 6. Here is the detail for today. 


Let the Restoration Begin

At the annual meeting of the Friends of the First Presbyterian Church on Saturday morning, nothing but good news was announced. The best of the news is that work on restoring the church's principal stained glass window may begin as soon as next month thanks in large part to a $50,000 grant from the New York Landmarks Conservancy Sacred Sites Program.

James Brodsky, a member of the board of directors of the Landmarks Conservancy, presented the award to Phil Forman, president of the Friends of the First Presbyterian Church. The grant is a Robert W. Wilson Challenge Grant, which Forman explained is one of the more difficult and prestigious grant programs, with a "challenging set of criteria" focused on the historic importance of the project and the applicant's commitment to preservation. Brodsky, who lives in Hudson and serves on the deliberation committee, called the restoration of the major window in the church's facade important to Sacred Sites and to him personally.

After the award had been presented, Forman did the math. The restoration of the stained glass window and the wood tracery, excluding engineering, will cost $163,900. Thus far, $157,000 has been committed to the project--$80,000 from the Galvan Initiatives Foundation, $50,000 from the Sacred Sites Program, and $27,000 from individual donations--leaving $6,900 still to be raised and another $6,000 for engineering costs. Forman asked the audience for a show a hands on whether or not the project could be done this year. In the audience made up primarily of members of the Friends of the First Presbyterian Church and other members of the community committed to the preservation of the historic church at the corner of Warren and Fourth street, all hands went up.

Work on the window is expected to start in June or July. The wood tracery and the stained glass will restored as independent systems. The wood tracery with be re-created at Kress Workshop in Claverack. The stained glass will be restored by Architectural Stained Glass in East Chatham, which has done stained glass restoration for such buildings as Universal Preservation Hall in Saratoga Springs, St. Thomas Episcopal Church on Fifth Avenue in New York City, and Trinity Parish House in Lenox, MA. The wood tracery is expected to be back in place by the end of September. The stained glass would then be reinstalled, and the project could be complete by Thanksgiving or Christmas.


Saturday, May 24, 2014

Gossips Celebrates National Preservation Month: Historic Detail 24

Today doesn't promise the best weather for the Hudson Walkabout, but whether the skies brighten or if you have to make your way from venue to venue under the shelter of an umbrella, take your Historic Detail Hunt walking list with you and keep your eyes peeled for architectural details. The walking list can be downloaded here. It shows all the details presented thus far, including the one for today.


The News Surrounding 449 Warren Street

In the past week, there have been two items in the news relating to the "Hudson Arcade," the building at 449 Warren Street, which is being developed, in fits and starts, as the "shell" for a food market.

Last Saturday, the Register-Star reported that Filli's Claverack Market was closing, after being in business for 57 years. The original tenant for 449 Warren Street was to be Filli's Fresh Market, a Hudson outpost of the Claverack Market, but after months of discussion with the Galvan Initiatives Foundation and hope in the community, that plan was abandoned a little more than a year ago.

The current tenant in discussion with the Galvan to take over the space is the Hawthorne Valley Farm Store. Since last fall, Hawthorne Valley has been researching the possibility of opening a store in Hudson and discussing locating the store at 449 Warren Street with Galvan, but it seems nothing is settled yet.

This past Thursday, according to an article that appeared in the Register-Star today, the Hawthorne Valley Association issued a press release announcing plans to expand the Hawthorne Valley Farm Store in Harlemville, but it seems a Hawthorne Valley store in Hudson is still on the radar. Martin Ping, executive director of the Hawthorne Valley Association, is reported to have said that a November opening of a store in Hudson is a possibility.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Gossips Celebrates National Preservation Month: Historic Detail 23

There's a long weekend before us--ample time to ferret out the architectural elements presented thus far. Tomorrow morning, Gossips will publish a new walking list which you can take with you on the Hudson Walkabout. In the meantime, here is the detail for today, May 23.