Sunday, January 31, 2016

Speaking of Lincoln in Hudson

The period in the life of Abraham Lincoln that was the subject of the 2012 movie Lincoln is also the subject of a recently published book: Lincoln's Gamble: The Tumultuous Six Months That Gave America the Emancipation Proclamation and Changed the Course of the Civil War. The book, which was written by journalist Todd Brewster, is a well researched exploration into what was happening in Lincoln's life and what was going on his mind in the period preceding signing the Emancipation Proclamation. A review in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette commented: "Brewster's greatest achievement in this book is to bring nuance back to a story that is often paved over with heroism . . . transforming Lincoln from an American saint back into a man."

Brewster will be at the Hudson Opera House on Saturday, February 6, at 4 p.m., to read from his book and to sign copies.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Cocktails and Capitalists

In June 2014, Gossips reported that the first known definition of the word cocktail appeared in The Balance and Columbian Repository, published right here in Hudson on May 13, 1806.

Asked by a reader what a cocktail was, Harry Croswell, the editor of The Balance, explained: "Cock-tail . . . is a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water, and bitters--it is vulgarly called bitter sling, and is supposed to be an excellent electioneering potion, inasmuch as it renders the heart stout and bold, at the same time that it fuddles the head. It is said, also to be of great use to a democratic candidate: because a person having swallowed a glass of it, is ready to swallow any thing else." (The Balance and Columbia Repository was a Federalist newspaper.)

Recently, while exploring a book called Farm, Shop, Landing, by Martin Bruegel, Gossips learned that an early appearance of the word capitalist was in another Hudson newspaper. The following passage is quoted from that book:
When the Hudson Northern Whig pondered the conditions of economic development by the second decade of the nineteenth century, its editor hoped that the city of Hudson on the west bank of the river would capture the commerce of "the almost boundless western country." The problem was geography because "the Merchants of Athens . . . will stop that trade on their side of the river. Have they the Capital to do this?" the writer wondered, only to produce a short answer. "No. But Capitalists may move there.'" Still, his city held an advantage. "Merchants will rarely be induced to settle in Athens at all, as the city of Hudson must hold out greater inducement to capitalists."
The quotes from the Hudson Northern Whig appeared on March 7, 1815, and on September 17, 1816.

Farm, Shop, Landing, subtitled The Rise of a Market Society in the Hudson Valley, 1780-1860, studies the social and economic evolution of the Hudson Valley, particularly Columbia and Greene counties. Needless to say, Hudson plays a prominent role in the story.

Columbia County Democrats Opt for Yandik

This morning, at a meeting of the Columbia County Democratic Committee in Valatie, Zephyr Teachout and Will Yandik each addressed the committee and other Democrats present and answered questions. After that, it was reported, the committee took a straw poll and then endorsed Yandik. Sam Pratt shares the news: "Reports: County Dems endorse Yandik over Teachout." 


Learn About the Water

At the next meeting of the Conservation Advisory Council, Andrew Meyer, shoreline conservation specialist with the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, will present a draft water resources summary of Hudson. The summary will address our natural water features, as well as the City's fresh water, storm water, and sewer infrastructure. The water resources summary, along with reports on habitat and climate issues, will be incorporated into the open space and natural resources inventory that the CAC is engaged in.

The CAC meeting takes place on Tuesday, February 2, at 6 p.m. at City Hall.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Only in Hudson

Yesterday, someone posted on Facebook that an "extremely friendly cat" had followed him for ten blocks, from Baba Louie's to his home. He sheltered the cat overnight but concluded that the cat was so friendly and well-behaved it had to belong to someone. He sought guidance in getting the cat back to its home.

A barrage of responses provided the information that the cat in question was Tux, a very charming, independent, and resourceful cat, who lives primarily around Warren and Fifth streets, has dozens of people looking out for him, hangs out at Nolita, is very adept at couch surfing in inclement weather, checks into The Barlow from time to time, and even visits City Hall.

Today Tux, dubbed "the Official Feline of Hudson," has his own Facebook page.


What's Happening at the Hospital

The United Healthcare Workers East1199 SEIUand Columbia Memorial Hospital are in the process of negotiating a new four-year contract. Being advised that the negotiations were open to the public, Gossips headed up the the American Legion Hall (where the negotiations are taking place) on Thursday afternoon to observe the proceedings.

In the two hours I was there, I was fortunate to witness a significant moment in the negotiations, when Ray Jones, former vice president for human resources at CMH, who retired to North Carolina recently but returned for these negotiations, stated: "We don't want any of our employees to suffer in terms of the pension plan and its going into default." Up until that moment, it seems CMH employees had reason to be worried about their pensions. This statement was also was the first indication of progress in the negotiations.

The workers are concerned about wages and health insurance (one member of the negotiating committee attested that he had to work 20 hours to make his monthly contribution to health insurance), but there are two other issues, spoken of as "conceptual issues" and both relating to job security, that are of particular concern to union members: subcontracting and successorship. The union has proposed two articles to be included in the new contract intended to protect jobs in the event that services now provided by the hospital are subcontracted to another entity or in the event that the hospital is sold. So far both articles have been rejected. 

CMH recently entered into an affiliation with Albany Medical Center which allows CMH to "maintain its own employees, continue to determine its own salary and benefit structure, maintain its own employment policies, and negotiate and continue to maintain its own union contracts." Hospital workers, however, are concerned about the possibility that the hospital may be sold. On Thursday, Jones stated before the 100 or so union members gathered at the American Legion: "The employer is confident that the hospital will never be sold." On the one hand, if the hospital will never be sold, an article addressing successorship is unnecessary; on other hand, if the hospital will never be sold, there should be no reason to object to including an article addressing successorship in the contract.

When Gossips left the proceedings on Thursday evening, both sides were acknowledging finally being "in the same ocean," perhaps even in the same Great Lake, in their negotiations. The negotiations resume on February 24. The current contract has been extended through the end of February. 

"We Can Make It If We Try"

The bids for the adaptive reuse of 701 Union Street as the Hudson Police & Court Center were opened this morning before an audience of bidders, elected officials past and present, and the media. 

Unlike the last time, when only a single bid was submitted, for $1.5 million more than the City had to spend, this time there were five bids for general construction, eight bids for plumbing, eleven bids for HVAC, and eight bids for electrical work. The lowest bids total $2,824,100--$228,400 under the amount approved by resolution of the Common Council after the value engineering was completed.

The sad information revealed today--sad for those of us who care about such things--is that paving and landscaping was not included in the primary bids for general construction but were submitted as "alternate costs." These bids ranged from $247,000 to $428,000, with the lowest bidder for general construction submitting a bid of $360,000 for these "alternate costs."

The next step is for the mayor, the city treasurer, the city attorney, and the project manager to review the documents, which will happen on Monday morning.

A Good Time to Be an Elder in Hudson

On Wednesday morning, Amanda Henry, newly appointed Commissioner for Aging (who confessed to being a tad over 60 herself), held a meeting to talk about plans for senior programming and to solicit more ideas. Henry declared that it was her goal "to have something amazing going on for seniors every day in March." Unrealistic? "If you don't shoot for the moon," Henry avowed, "you'll never get out of the neighborhood."

Among the volunteer programs Henry has already lined up or is envisioning are the following:
  • Pet care provided by pet friendly volunteers for the pets of elders who are hospitalized or recovering from hospital stays
  • In conjunction with the Hudson Area Library, a "Tell Me a Story" program, in which first graders read and elders tell stories from their life
  • Middle school and high school students teaching elders to use social media
  • "Make, Do, Mend," a program in which elders teach basic sewing skills
  • Elders telling junior high school students about their college experience
  • A knitting group to do charity knitting
  • A writer's workshop for memoir writing
  • Community acupuncture and massage
  • A program to provide surplus vegetables from local farms to seniors, along with directions for preparing them
  • A lecture on beekeeping by a local beekeeper
  • Events exploring the diverse cultures that make up Hudson
  • Art programs conducted by local artists
  • Instruction offered by a nationally recognized photographer in taking photos with your iphone
  • Foreign language programs--instructors for Spanish and Italian have already been lined up, someone to teach French is still sought
  • Classes in aerobics, chair yoga, Tai Chi, and meditation
  • A Columbia Memorial Hospital lecture series on topics of concern for elders
  • A book club hosted by The Spotty Dog
  • A music program by the proprietors of 2 Note
  • Programs for senior cyclists and motorcyclists
More ideas came from group gathered, which numbered about 40, was made up primarily but not exclusively of people beyond the age of 60, and included (representing the younger crowd) Mayor Tiffany Martin Hamilton, her aide Lisa Walsh, and prospective Congressional candidate Will Yandik.
  • Leo Carlin, who confessed to having been "around the block" several times talking of plans for a senior center, suggested a program to teach seniors to prepare nutritious food simply with new and different seasonings.
  • A woman who identified herself only as Kathy from Mellenville suggested trips, which prompted Henry to state that she wanted the senior center to be a "traveling senior center," making jaunts to Saratoga Springs and European trips for those seniors learning foreign languages.
  • Susan Schultz, who described herself as "a chef and a teacher and a fitness professional," offered herself and her husband, Skip, to teach ballroom dancing.
  • Sharon Stevens, who disclosed that she had just moved to Hudson, objected to the term senior, suggesting such alternatives as elder or vintage. (The mention of vintage reminded Henry that a wine tasting course has been offered by a local wine merchant.) Stevens explained that she is a retired sculpture teacher and would like to offer courses in sculpture and ceramics if a dedicated art space could be found.
  • Pam Badila, cultural director for Perfect Ten, which will have space in the Galvan Armory, suggested that driver training programs enabling seniors to qualify for discounts on their insurance premiums be offered in Hudson.
  • Former Third Ward supervisor Ellen Thurston stressed the senior center's potential for advocacy, particularly in addressing crosswalk issues in Hudson.
  • Roy Ford, of Camphill Hudson, mentioned "We Are Hudson," program already underway with Perfect Ten in which people of different generations sit in a circle and share stories of their lives in Hudson. He also offered a monthly lunch at Camphill Solaris and "playback theater," drama based on community storytelling.
Henry described the space that will be the senior center at the Galvan Armory: a lobby, where there will be a desk staffed by an administrative volunteer, adjoins a balcony, which Henry hopes in summer can be furnished with wicker furniture; a room with a fireplace, which is fitted out like a living room; a large community room--suitable for such activities as chair yoga and Zumba Gold--which the senior center shares with the Hudson Area Library and Perfect Ten; a kitchen, utility rooms, and bathrooms. Henry explained that it will take a while to "kit out" the space, because the program is short of money, and she wants the space "to look lovely."

A second meeting to gather ideas is scheduled for Wednesday, February 3, at 6:30 p.m., at Camphill Hudson, 360 Warren Street.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

A Curious Development

Six years ago, when The Gossips of Rivertown was just getting started, Holcim/O&G proposed creating a haul road, following the path of the old railroad bed from the waterfront to the quarry. The part of the road east from Route 9G to Route 9 was then before the Greenport Planning Board for review and approval. Exactly six years ago today, on January 28, 2010, Gossips published this report, which included the photograph below.

The project foundered, or so it seemed. Several months earlier, in October 2009, Cheryl Roberts, then city attorney for Hudson, had sent a letter to O&G, which at the time, in a lease agreement with Holcim, was extracting aggregate from Becraft Mountain and shipping it from the dock on the Hudson waterfront. The letter stated: "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." The letter went 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)." The project never came before the Hudson Planning Commision (now the Planning Board), and, to Gossips' knowledge, it was never approved by the Greenport Planning Board.

Still, in the summer of 2011, two years after Roberts sent the letter, the road from 9G west to the waterfront was widen and improved, without the review and approval of the Hudson Planning Commission. 

Now, six years after the project was before the Greenport Planning Board, improvements have been made to the road going east from 9G--improvements that have happened within the past year, since the property has been owned by A. Colarusso & Son.

This may seem like Greenport's problem not Hudson's, but the first part of this road--what appears in the picture--is in Hudson not Greenport. The Hudson/Greenport line is about at the road's disappearing point in the photographs. What's more, this road is located in a part of the Waterfront Revitalization Area that has been designated a "Conservation District" in the City's Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan.

To Gossips' knowledge the plan to improve this abandoned railroad bed never came before the Planning Board for review and approval. How do these things happen?

Hudson in the New York Times

A Hudson B&B is featured, along with properties in Tucson and Honolulu, in the Real Estate section of the New York Times: "$950,000 Homes in New York, Arizona, and Hawaii."


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Hear and Meet the Candidates

Next week, on WGXC's @Issue, Victor Mendolia and Debby Mayer will be interviewing both Democratic hopefuls in the race to represent New York's 19th Congressional District. On Wednesday, February 3, at 10 a.m., they will be speaking with Zephyr Teachout for a full hour, and on Thursday, February 4, at 10 a.m., in a special episode of @Issue, they will be speaking with Will Yandik for a full hour.

Tomorrow night--Thursday, January 27--at 6 p.m. at Mexican Radio in Hudson, Shaun Francis is expected to announce his candidacy for state senator in the 43rd Senate District. Francis, the Democrat, will be challenging Republican Kathy Marchione, who was elected in 2012.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Meeting Reminder

Tomorrow morning--Wednesday, January 27--at 11 a.m., Amanda Henry, commissioner for aging, is holding the first of two meetings to conceptualize a program for senior citizens in Hudson. The goal is to bring together seniors with ideas about the kinds of opportunities that interest them and volunteers of all ages willing to offer their talents to create programs. The meeting takes place at Camphill Hudson, 360 Warren Street.

If you can't make tomorrow's meeting, another one is coming up on Wednesday, February 3. This one will take place at 6:30 p.m., also at Camphill Hudson.

A New Board Member for Historic Hudson

After the untimely death of Timothy Dunleavy, its principal founder and longtime president, Historic Hudson took some radical measures to help the organization refocus and rebuild. The board of directors was reduced to five members--all of whom were officers: Alan Neumann, president; Dorothy Heyl, vice president; Phil Forman, treasurer; Melissa Gavilanes, secretary; Carole Osterink, preservation advocate. Now, a year later, having emerged from the crisis revitalized, Historic Hudson has elected a new member to its board of directors: architectural historian Peter A. Watson, Jr.

Watson, who has served on Historic Hudson's Dr. Oliver Bronson House Committee since 2011, is the author of the Dr. Oliver Bronson House Day Book, a blog about the history and ongoing restoration of the Dr. Oliver Bronson House, the National Historic Landmark for which Historic Hudson has stewardship. The photograph above shows Watson discussing the findings of the recently completed historic paint analysis with visitors to the Bronson House last November.

In February and March, Watson will be presenting a two-part lecture, cosponsored by Historic Hudson and the Columbia County Historical Society. Part I, "Picturesque Transformations: A. J. Davis Reinvents Hudson Valley Architecture," will take place on Saturday, February 20, at 4 p.m., at Stair Galleries in Hudson. Part II, "A Tale of Two Houses: Two Centuries of Change at the Bronson and Vanderpoel Houses," will be held on Saturday, March 12, in Kinderhook.

Monday, January 25, 2016

The Race for NY-19

Around noon today, Zephyr Teachout officially announced that she was running for Congress in the 19th District of New York. Less than an hour ago, Will Yandik announced, with the statement that appears below, that his website is now live.

Curious News from the Past

With most cars now equipped with daytime running lights, this news item from the Hudson Register seems most bizarre. It reports that back in May 1915, the Columbia County Automobile Club came to a consensus that "Warren street is so well lighted that there is no need to have the big headlights on motor cars burning." It also reports that "in most of the cities in the country it was a violation of the law to have these glaring light burning on main streets."   

Also of interest is the second item, which reports the difficulty in securing jurors because "most of the farmers are experiencing an exceedingly busy season . . . and many ask to be excused."

Teachout Announces

Although she was still only just thinking about running for Congress when the chairs of the Democratic committees in the 19th Congressional District of New York voted last week to give her their support, Zephyr Teachout made the official announcement today that she is seeking the seat vacated by Chris Gibson and launched her campaign website

Filling the Vacancies

The Planning Board now has a full complement of seven members. The board was faced with four vacancies entering 2016, but former mayor William Hallenbeck, in the eleventh hour, reappointed Carmine Pierro and appointed his former aide, Gene Shetsky, to the board, and current mayor Tiffany Martin Hamilton reappointed Laura Margolis and appointed Rob Bujan. 

Now the Zoning Board of Appeals, which had been one member short for several months, has the requisite seven members as well. Gossips learned this weekend that attorney and Second Ward resident Stephen Dunn was appointed to the ZBA by Mayor Hamilton on Friday.

The only regulatory board now understaffed is the Historic Preservation Commission. Although his term expired at the end of July, HPC chair Rick Rector, on the advice of counsel, continues to serve in that capacity, awaiting reappointment or the appointment of someone to take his place. Since summer, the HPC has also been without an architect member, who by law must be a preservation architect.  

Hudson on the Local News

Yesterday, Hudson's new ice rink on the basketball court at Oakdale Lake merited mention on Channel 6 News.


Sunday, January 24, 2016

A Local Footnote on Woman Suffrage

Note: Gossips is on the hunt for information about the origin of Oakdale Lake, which, as we discovered recently, is an artificial lake that was created in 1915. As always happens during such a search, many things of interest, irrelevant to the purpose at hand, are stumbled upon along the way, and it is one of those chance finds that inspires this post.    

New York can be thought of as the birthplace of woman suffrage. The Seneca Falls Convention, held in July 1848, was the first women's rights convention ever to be held in the United States. Women won the right to vote in New York three years before the 19th Amendment, which gave women throughout the country the right to vote, was ratified in 1920. 

Hudson played its own part in the struggle for woman suffrage. Readers will recall that when General Rosalie Jones and her army of suffragettes made their epic march from New York City to Albany in December 1912, they stopped to spend Christmas in Hudson, and after the mission had been accomplished, General Jones returned to Hudson, as the guest of Mrs. Morgan Jones, "to organize suffragettes in this district." (Before their marriage, Mrs. Morgan Jones's husband built his Jacobean and Dutch inspired his dream house at 317 Allen Street).

Not only suffragists visited Hudson. Our little city attracted prominent anti-suffragists as well. On May 18, 1915--six months before a statewide referendum on woman suffrage was defeated--this story appeared on the front page of the Hudson Register.


Lucy Price, who worked as a newspaper reporter in Cleveland, was reportedly the youngest and one of the most effective crusaders against suffrage. The Ultimate History Project recounts her achievements: "When Ohio was adopting a new constitution in 1913, giving voters the opportunity to include a clause that would give women the vote, [Price] handled the fight. She presented her side so well that suffrage was defeated in a conclusive manner. Like military leaders going from one battlefront to another, Lucy Price and others traveled the country voicing their opinions." In the spring of 1915, Price was in New York, working to defeat the 1915 referendum on woman suffrage.

The National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage officially formed in 1911 and was headquartered in New York City. The "antis" believed that women were the equals of men but saw the role of women to be in philanthropy and social betterment. In a letter to the New York Times, dated February 11, 1915, Alice Chittenden wrote: "Opposition to woman suffrage is not merely an effort on the part of a few women to keep other women from voting, as is sometimes foolishly said, but that it is based upon principles which are so fundamental that women have organized a movement which is daily growing in strength, and which is directed wholly against the enfranchisement of their sex. The Woman Suffrage Movement is, in fact, the only woman's movement in history which women themselves have banded together to oppose one another."

The women who opposed suffrage believed that by voting and becoming involved in politics, they would surrender the moral high ground they claimed, so it is interesting to see who were the "vice presidents" for the anti-suffrage meeting in Hudson. All of them were men.

The group included a judge and seven lawyers, five doctors, eight merchants, two druggists, a cigar manufacturer and a pork packer, two of the principals of the Gifford-Wood Company, two bankers, the publisher and the assistant editor of the Columbia Republican, one of the sons of the brewery C. H. Evans & Sons, one of the developers who created Oakdale Lake, and the minister of the First Presbyterian Church. One wonders how their wives felt about getting the vote. 

Making the Case for the Track

The $19.9 million capital project proposed by the Hudson City School District will include "safer and more useful athletic facilities for school and community use." What's proposed is described in the flier distributed by HCSD last week: "A standard 400-meter, all weather track and multi-purpose turf athletic field facility would be constructed on the High School campus. A new baseball field would also be built at the High School."

The flier also points out that "Hudson is one of only two school districts in Columbia County that does not have a track that meets NY State Public High School Athletic Association standards" and that a project to improve the track facilities "was originally started nearly 50 years ago."

Additional (and more compelling) information about the track was provided to Gossips recently by city judge and former city attorney Jack Connor, who shared his firsthand experience with the track facilities at Hudson High School. Below is what Connor had to say: 
I've been involved with the Hudson track program for fifteen years as a volunteer coach, assistant coach, and head coach. Clearly there is a need for a new track here in Hudson. I can speak with a high degree of confidence in saying it is the worst track in the United States.
The track was constructed in approximately 1935 and is one of the few cinder tracks left in operation east of the Mississippi River. The track is still a yard track when all other tracks were converted to the metric system in 1979. It is almost certainly the only track in the United States that has a baseball field inside of it. Home plate is 15 feet from the side of the track. There are no barriers or fences between the plate and the track. When our students practice, they need to time their run around the track so they don't pass behind the plate when a ball is pitched or they risk being hit by a baseball thrown 75 miles an hour. Likewise, the long jump pit is directly behind first base. When we practice the long jump, we need to post a student as spotter so that if the first basemen misses a throw to first (which happens a lot more than you think) kids can scatter without being hit. Our high jump pit sits directly on the foul line in left field. Again, we need to post a spotter in case a foul ball heads our way. The pole vault facility was abandoned years ago because it ran directly along the third base line with the pit 10 feet from third base. Because the baseball field also isn't to regulation, on game day the school installs a snow fence across the track so we are limited to using only 40 yards of the track.
When the "new" high school was built in 1972 a track was also supposed to be built but was cancelled due to cost overruns. Yet, with all that, we have run a remarkably successful track program in the last six years--a high school All American, seven state champions, and multiple state medalists, sectional, and Patroon champions. Many of our athletes continue to compete in college. Sprinter Winston Lee is attending Syracuse on a track scholarship. Ali Bartolotta attends Marist in September, also on a track scholarship. These athletes work hard and are dedicated and deserve a level playing field to compete with every other track athlete in New York State.

Cybercrime Targets HCSD

The Register-Star reports today on a phishing attempt made on the faculty and staff of the Hudson City School District: "HCSD victim of email phishing scam."

More News About the New Ice Rink at Oakdale

The reports are that, on its inaugural weekend, the new ice skating rink at Oakdale is getting good use. One detail that was left out of the original report of its creation is that officers in the Hudson Police Department donated $1,600 to the Youth Department toward its construction.


Saturday, January 23, 2016

Addressing Climate Change

In just a few hours, at 3 o'clock this afternoon, the local chapter of the Citizens' Climate Lobby will be hosting an open house at the Hudson Opera House, 327 Warren Street. The event is an opportunity to hear energy expert A. W. Allstadt speak about the clean energy transition and to learn about the Citizens' Climate Lobby and its "achievements toward a livable world." 

To learn about the mission of the Citizens' Climate Lobby, in preparation for attending the open house, watch the video on the CCL website.

"The Eyes of the Nation Are on NY-19"

If you missed meeting Congressional hopeful Will Yandik at TK Home & Garden on Thursday, you can view a videotape of the event, provided by Dan Udell, by clicking here.


Friday, January 22, 2016

If You Want Something Done Right . . .

The discovery yesterday that Oakdale Lake was an artificial lake created in the summer of 1916 inspired further investigation. So far, that investigation has uncovered two articles of interest. 

The first, which appeared in the Hudson Register for October 15, 1913, reports that Arthur Farrand and Walter J. Watson, the owners of the property previously known as Power's Woods, intended to extend the water main from Sixth and Washington streets to the building lots they planned to develop. The article indicates that the entire cost of installing 2,200 of water main would be borne by Farrand and Watson. 

The second article, which appeared a little more than a year later in the Columbia Republican for December 18, 1914, reports a break in that very main, which lowered the water level of the reservoirs on Mt. Ray by three feet, threatened the entire city with a "water famine," and "caused such a great loss of water that still greater efforts must be put forth to use water sparingly or the situation will become more serious, if not alarming."


Armory Renovation Declared Complete

Daniel Kent of the Galvan Foundation issued the following press release today:
Galvan Foundation is pleased to announce completion of Galvan Armory, located on the northwest corner of Fifth and State Streets in the city of Hudson, NY.
Designed by Isaac G. Perry and built in 1898, the Armory building has long served as a community gathering space and as one of Hudson's most architecturally significant buildings. Prior to acquisition by Galvan Foundation, the building was mostly vacant and little used for many years. Construction began May 2014 and involved gut renovation of the entire 18,000 square feet structure. Galvan Foundation, as project sponsor, is responsible for financing, design, development, and construction activities. The project was also supported by generous contributions from Coastal Enterprises New Markets Tax Credit allocation, Hudson Area Library, the City of Hudson, and Hudson River Bank and Trust Foundation. The project was constructed using local project management, engineers, and contractors.
Galvan Armory has entered into long-term leases with Hudson Area Library, Hudson Senior Center and Perfect Ten Afterschool at nominal, below market rates. Initial occupancy is set for February 15, 2016.
T. Eric Galloway, Galvan Foundation President, spoke of the project saying, "Galvan Foundation is pleased to complete the restoration of one of Hudson's most prized architectural assets. The adaptive reuse of the building as a permanent community center providing a comprehensive array of educational and social services in a single location is most satisfying for us all."
Galvan Foundation is a private grant making and operating foundation that began operations in January 2012. The mission of Galvan Foundation is to improve the quality of life of the people and communities of Hudson, especially those most vulnerable and economically disadvantaged. Galvan Foundation made capital investments in Hudson over $30 million and developed 33,500 square feet of commercial and community rental space and 35 units of housing. Galvan Foundation currently operates 181 residential units, 7 commercial spaces, and 11 nonprofit spaces. Galvan Foundation's grant making program has contributed $1,790,000 to nonprofit organizations serving Hudson.

Skating Is Fine at Oakdale Lake

Gossips is borrowing a head that appeared in the Hudson Evening Register a hundred years ago.

It's not exactly accurate for 2016, but it's close enough. Mayor Tiffany Martin Hamilton just issued this announcement:
It's time to dust off the ice skates! The ice-covered basketball courts at Oakdale will be open for skating starting tomorrow at 9 a.m. Please be sure to use caution and skate with appropriate protective gear, and understand that there will be no attendant on duty. Thanks to the DPW and the Youth Department for making it all happen! 

Relive the Moment

Dan Udell's video coverage of Tuesday's Common Council meeting can now be viewed on YouTube.


A Week from Today

Mayor Tiffany Martin Hamilton announced this morning that the bids for the redevelopment of 701 Union Street as the Hudson Police & Courts Center will be opened in Council Chambers at City Hall on Friday, January 29, at 10 a.m. The public can be present to witness the bids being opened and read aloud.


Thursday, January 21, 2016

A Clue to the Origin of Oakdale Lake

A few days ago, Gossips did a post about the 1913 investigation, conducted by the New York State Department of Health, into complaint about sewage pollution in Underhill Pond. That post prompted Jonathan Lerner, chair of the Conservation Advisory Council, to pose these questions in a comment:
In your exploration of Hudson history, what have you learned about the construction of the two roadways, which also function as the dams establishing (or perhaps enhancing) Oakdale Lake and Underhill Pond? Did the ponds actually preexist the dams, or were they instead part of a natural watercourse down through that canyonlike topography?
Tonight, quite by accident, Gossips discovered, in the Hudson Evening Register for January 9, 1916, the first bit of evidence to answer that question.

This little news item, which appeared on the last page of the newspaper that day, not only announces that skating is fine on Oakdale Lake and promotes skating on the lake, where the ice is "as smooth as a piece of glass," as superior to skating on the river, where it is "rough and windy," or on Underhill Pond, "where there is an open spot where ice is being taken out," but also, incidentally, reveals the origin of Oakdale Lake: "It's the artificial lake which was made this summer on the Farrand & Watson building tract just above Underhill pond."

Some sleuthing through the newspapers from the summer of 1915 seems in order.

Thank You, Didi Barrett!

Yesterday, on the occasion of Gossips' sixth anniversary, Assemblymember Didi Barrett tweeted this on Didi's Diner Dialogues.

I was so wildly flattered that I couldn't resist sharing.

The Waiting Will Soon Be Over

The deadline for submitting bids for the adaptive reuse of 701 Union Street as the Hudson Police & Court Center is a week from today, on Thursday, January 28.

The bids will be opened the following day, on Friday, January 29, at a time as yet to be announced. The public will be able to witness the opening of the bids.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The School District and the City: Part 3

Maria Suttmeier, superintendent of the Hudson City School District, was present at the Common Council meeting on Tuesday night, accompanied by four members of the Board of Education (Maria McLaughlin, Sage Carter, Carrie Otty, and Sumayyah Shabazz), John Sharkey of Rhinebeck Architecture, Jeff Budrow of Weston & Sampson, HCSD buildings and grounds superintendent George Keeler, and HCSD attorney Virginia Bendict. Suttmeier began by summarizing the proposed capital project but explained that her primary reason for being present was to answer the aldermen's questions.

Speaking of the project, which has been dubbed "K-12 Vision 2020," Suttmeier explained that its goal was "improving educational quality and experiences on our campuses," noting that the graduation rate had increased in the 2014-2015 school year from 59 to 77 percent. She asserted that it was a "sound financial decision to do a capital project now"  and spoke of "right sizing" the district. She then explained the proposed grade-level reorganization. 
  • In the school year 2016-2017, Grade 6 will move from Montgomery C. Smith to the Junior High School--into space already available.
  • In the school year 2017-2018, Grade 2 will move from John L. Edwards to Montgomery C. Smith.
  • In the school year 2019-2020, PreK, Kindergarten, and Grade 1 will move to a new 18,000 square foot addition to be built on the south side of Montgomery C. Smith.
Speaking of the acquisition of adjacent City-owned land for tha addition at Montgomery C. Smith, Suttmeier explained, "We don't need the property, but acquiring it would enhance the project."

When the discussion turned to the erosion on that City-owned land caused by the storm water system at the school, Suttmeier said, "We can't fix what is on City-owned property, but if we can acquire it, we could." At which point Alderman John Friedman (Third Ward) asked, "Would the district commit to remediating it if they acquired it?" The answer seemed to be yes.

Alderman Henry Haddad (Third Ward) wanted to know what the proposed addition would look like. John Sharkey, from Rhinebeck Architecture, explained that the building had not been designed yet and drawings that "gave an idea of the building's footprint" were "as far as we've gotten." He expressed his admiration for the original school building, constructed in 1937 as a WPA project, and noted that if the school district could get the land from the City of Hudson, he would like to "push the addition back and over" so that it would have a lower profile and less impact on the historic school building.

Jonathan Lerner, chair of the Conservation Advisory Council, brought the conversation back to the erosion caused by storm water runoff from school district property onto City property. He maintained that the erosion was "the result of negligence of the part of HCSD, and the district has an obligation to remediate it." Suttmeier reiterated that if the parcel acquired included the erosion, HCSD could fix it.    

Alderman Rick Rector (First Ward) wanted to know what the academic benefit of spending $20 million was. In answer, Suttmeier spoke reducing transitions (moving from one school to another), which have been shown to have a negative effect of academic performance, aligning the curriculum (from grade level to grade level), and professional development.

Responding to Rector's concerns, Friedman said he shared a concern for academics but went on to say, "A lot of students that go to that school are not interested in the academic route." He continued, "The condition of the school is a reflection of how the community feels about the school, and the track is a reflection of that." Although Hudson High School has a successful track team, track meets cannot be held at Hudson High because there is a cinder track which is "not safe for our students." The proposed capital project includes a new athletic field behind the high school with a 400-meter track, a field for soccer and football, and accommodation for pole vault, shot put, and discus.

Hudson resident Peter Frank inquired about the sale of John L. Edwards, asking if the City and the community would have any input into its repurposing and suggesting that it might be used for affordable housing. He was told that the sale of the school building, which would not happen until the 2019-2020 school year, would be subject to referendum.

Before the meeting adjourned, former mayor and now Fifth Ward supervisor Rick Scalera thanked Friedman for his comments, called the upcoming referendum a well-kept secret, said the capital project was an opportunity that would not come again, and urged the aldermen to support the referendum and get their constituents to vote.

The meeting was videotaped and will be aired on Mid-Hudson Cable Channel 11 at 7 p.m. on Friday.

Gossips Is Six Years Old!

Six years ago today, on January 20, 2010, The Gossips of Rivertown published its first post. Six years, 5,577 posts, and close to 4 million pageviews later, Gossips has established itself as a valued source of hyperlocal news and tales of the history of our quirky little city.

As always, the anniversary of Gossips is the occasion for celebration and thanksgiving. Gratitude goes to all the readers who make Gossips the most widely read and recognized blog in Hudson. In each of the past two years, Gossips has logged close to three-quarters of a million pageviews, and so far in 2016, Gossips is on track to exceed 800,000.

Very special thanks are reserved for the readers who, in the past year set their own subscription rate--anywhere from $25 to $500--and became "voluntary paid subscribers" to The Gossips of Rivertown and the fifty businesses, organizations, and events that have, during the past year, used Gossips to get their message to the community of Hudson and beyond.

Gossips invites you to join the celebration of six years of sharing news, history, and gossip about the events, machinations, troubles, and triumphs right here in our little river city by adding your name to the list of 2016 Subscribers. Just click on the "Donate" button at the top of the right column. Your support--in any amount--is crucial to keeping Gossips going and is enormously appreciated.

Gossips' glorious sixth anniversary cake is the creation of the very talented Michele Delage, the baker at Park Falafel & Pizza. The top of the cake features Gossips' iconic ear trumpet and front page news rendered in fondant. The sides of the cake recall Gossips' masthead, W. H. Bartlett's 1840 engraving of Hudson. The cake (which underneath all the artistry is chocolate) will be at the Red Dot, 321 Warren Street, tonight. As long as it lasts, everyone who dines at Red Dot tonight will get a piece of the anniversary cake for dessert, compliments of The Gossips of Rivertown. Come by and help celebrate Gossips' sixth anniversary.