Sunday, July 31, 2016

Learn More About Fair & Equal

In recent days, the Fair & Equal campaign has added two new features to its website: The first explains how the group went about the task of redrawing the ward boundaries: "How We Created Wards of Equal Population."  The second provides answers to some frequently asked questions: FAQ. Both are recommended reading for Hudson residents.


Saturday, July 30, 2016

An Olana Puzzlement

In 1886, Frederic Church's son, Frederic Joseph Church, created, in watercolor and ink, a master plan for Olana. A detail of this map is the inspiration for a most intriguing exhibition, which will open on August 14 in the Coachman's House Gallery at Olana.

A tiny red square appears on the map, on the southern slope from the main house, with the words "summer house." No further reference was ever made to it, and there is no evidence that it was ever built, but 130 years later it inspired twenty-one architects and landscape architects to imagine what the summer house could be. An article that appeared in the New York Times yesterday tells all about it: "Dreaming Up a Summer Idyll for Frederic Edwin Church."

Ribbon Cutting on Warren Street

Yesterday afternoon, there was a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Warren Street Academy, and Dan Udell was on hand to videotape the proceedings. Click here to listen to the speeches, learn about the program, and witness the ribbon being cut. 

From left to right in the picture above (a screen capture from the video) are Bruce Potter, superintendent of the Berkshire Union Free School District; Maria Suttmeier, superintendent of the Hudson City School District; Dan Kent, director of Foundation Initiatives for Galvan Foundation; and Michael Sadowski, director of Bard in Hudson Civic Academy.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Strip Mall Aesthetic

A few weeks ago, the trees that bordered the entrance to the strip mall where Price Chopper is located were cut down, allegedly because they were obstructing the view of the stores from the street.

Increased visibility from the street seems also to be the goal of the facade changes that are about to happen at Fairview Plaza, although mercifully they don't involve the elimination of trees. There are no trees in Fairview Plaza.

On Tuesday, the Greenport Planning Board gave unanimous approval to a plan to resurface the parapet on the buildings in the mall and increase its height from 21 feet to 25 feet. The signs for the individual stores will be mounted on the heightened parapet. The facade of Jo-Ann Fabrics and Crafts was cited as an example of what the rest of the mall will look like when the facade changes have been completed.


Student Journalism Project

Gossips has been asked to share the following message.

We are a group of students participating in the Hudson City School District Summer Boost Up Academy. With the help of Peter Meyer of School Life Media, we are learning what a journalist does and how to write a story for a publication. Our first story involves the history of Hudson. We are looking for answers to the following questions:
  • Were there ever any movies filmed in Hudson?
  • Are there any people born/raised in Hudson who became famous?
  • What were the schools like in the past?
  • Why is the Hudson City School District's mascot a Blue Hawk?
  • Were different neighborhoods (within Hudson) established by ethnicity, during the early 1900s?
  • How was Hudson involved in the Underground Railroad?
  • How and when was Hudson founded?
  • Are there any historic buildings in Hudson that have been demolished? (Photos appreciated.)
  • What is Promenade Park?
  • Who were the first settlers in Hudson? When was it founded?
  • Why are there whale pictures all over Hudson?

There's a very good chance Gossips readers know the answers to these questions. In fact, the answers to many of them can be found in Gossips posts. If you are willing to help the students out, you email your responses to The information you provide will be read by the students.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Sunday at the Bronson House

This Sunday, July 31, Historic Hudson invites you to relive an exceptional 19th-century experience: listening to chamber music in the elegant suite of octagonal rooms, designed by Alexander Jackson Davis, at the Dr. Oliver Bronson House.

Photo: lizcnyc|flickr
This Sunday, at 2 p.m., Historic Hudson presents Program II of its Chamber Music Series. Musicians from The Orchestra Now of Bard College return to the Bronson House to perform chamber music by Beethoven: the String Trio in G major, Op. 9, No. 1 (1797), and the String Quartet No. 5 in A major, Op. 18 (1798). 

Seating is limited, but there is still space if you act now. The weather on Sunday promises to be cooler--in the 70s--with a possibility of rain. But don't let the chance of rain deter you. The roof at the Bronson House no longer leaks. So, go to to purchase your tickets for what promises to be a remarkable and memorable musical event.

On the Desk, Off the Desk

At the last Common Council meeting, when the aldermen were voting to put the proposed Fair & Equal legislation on their desks, City Attorney Ken Dow questioned the Council's custom of voting to put legislation on their desks (to accept it for consideration) and then voting again, after the legislation had "ripened" for ten days, to remove it from their desks (to enact it). He argued that the requirements for the Council to consider the proposed legislation had been met, and it was on their desks. A vote was not required to put it there. Nor was a vote required to put proposed legislation on the aldermen's desks when the legislation comes from committee, which is how most new laws originate. Dow said he would research the necessity and validity of the practice and report back to the Council.

Last night, at the Common Council Legal Committee meeting, committee chair Michael O'Hara reported Dow's findings. As with the weighted vote itself, the practice of voting on new legislation twice--to put it on the desk and to remove it from the desk--appears to be unique to Hudson. Dow could find no other municipality that did that.

The outcome, in the case of the Fair & Equal proposal, may be that the vote taken on July 19  is deemed invalid because it was unnescessary, and the Council will have to vote on it again--this time to decide whether or not to enact it. Unfortunately, since most of the aldermen think they have nipped the proposed law in the bud, what's supposed to happen between accepting legislation for consideration and voting on it--at least ten days of serious consideration and discussion with colleagues and constituents--won't happen.

News About Greenport Gardens

Gossips did not follow the review process for Greenport Gardens, the controversial Mental Health Association housing project to be constructed on Joslen Boulevard at Green Acres Road, but since I was the only member of the press present at Tuesday night's Greenport Planning Board meeting, it falls to me to report what transpired at that meeting relevant to this project.

Christa Construction
The project was conditionally approved by the Planning Board on January 26, 2016. The conditional approval was for six months, during which time the project, because it would house people with mental disabilities, had to be reviewed by the New York State Dormitory Authority (DASNY). During that review process, changes were requested which, on the final day of the six-month period, were being presented to the Greenport Planning Board. The most significant change seemed to be eliminating the basement, making it necessary for all the mechanicals and planned storage space for tenants to go elsewhere. Eleven air conditioning units would go on the roof, and an additional 1,100 square feet for storage would be added to the project. In addition, there would be a 6,000 square foot reduction in patio space.

The Planning Board had to decide if the changes were significant enough to require a new application and a new review, or if they were insignificant, and the Planning Board could grant final approval. Virginia Benedict, legal counsel to the Planning Board, explained there was one other option: the applicant could ask the board to extend the six-month period and agree to a permissive public hearing. The applicant was unwilling to do this.

There was concern about noise from the rooftop air conditioning units, but it was determined that ambient noise levels would be within what was permitted by the Town of Greenport's noise ordinance. There was consternation that the applicant had waited until the last minute to present the changes in the site plan to the Planning Board. There was unease, given the contentiousness provoked by the project, that the public could not be informed of the changes before the Planning Board approved them. In the end, however, the board voted four to one that the changes did not require a new application and a new review, and the project was approved as amended.

Happy Birthday, John Ashbery

Today is John Ashbery's birthday. How do I know? Garrison Keillor told me on today's Writer's Almanac

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Hudson in the New York Times . . . Again

Tony Cenicola|New York Times
There's an article in today's New York Times by Amy Thomas that makes me glad to be here now and thrilled to have been among those who witnessed what she calls the city's "remarkable and elegant transformation": "Hudson, N.Y.: An Elegant Transformation."

The Waiting Is Over

Mayor Tiffany Martin Hamilton announced this morning that the Hudson Senior Center at the Galvan Armory will open on Monday, August 1. The center's hours will be 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Morning programming will be managed by the Columbia County Office for the Aging; afternoon programming will be managed by the City of Hudson. Lunch will be served daily. After the first day, those wanting to have lunch at the senior center must make a reservation a day in advance on a sign-up sheet or by telephone. Yoga and aerobics classes now offered at the Hudson Youth Center will, starting next week, be held at the new location.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Fair & Equal According to Whom?

"Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people." That quote is traditionally attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt. In this scheme of things, whether Roosevelt's or not, there is no category for those who are reluctant to consider an idea unless they know whose idea it is. For folks in this category, the Fair & Equal campaign to eliminate the weighted vote and bring the principle of one person, one vote to Hudson has identified everyone involved in the initiative on their website: "Who We Are."

This Saturday at Basilica Hudson

For everyone who is missing the Ramp Fest and Taste of Hudson, there's a new food event making its inaugural appearance this year: Read & Feed. This Saturday, Basilica Hudson partners with CLMP (Community of Literary Magazines and Presses) to present a festival that brings together artisanal makers of food and artisanal makers of literature.

The event, which takes place from 5 to 11 p.m. on Saturday, July 30, will feature panel discussions that bring together writers, farmers, and chefs, cooking and mixology demonstrations, a marathon reading of John Cage's Diary: How to Improve the World (You Will Only Make Matters Worse), and a marketplace featuring more than twenty small press publishers, artisanal food makers, and spectacular eats and drinks.

This morning, on WAMC's Roundtable, Joe Donahue spoke about Read & Feed with people involved in organizing it: Jeffrey Lependorf, executive director of CLMP; Lisa Pearson, publisher of Siglio Press; and Michael Albin, proprietor of Hudson Wine Merchants. That interview can be heard here

To learn more about the event and purchase tickets, click here.

Monday, July 25, 2016

An Anniversary Gossips Missed

Little did I know that July 7, aside from being the day my mother was born in 1912, was the day when, in 1802, The Wasp was first published. Gossips has written about this early Hudson publication a few times, but it wasn't until this morning, when a reader brought it to my attention, that I realized The Wasp was considered to be the first comic book or The Wasp and its editor, Harry Croswell, had gotten the attention of the History Channel: "First Comic Fuels Political Feud." The item is recommended reading. One thing that's left out, however, is that Croswell, as the editor of The Balance, wrote what is considered to be the first definition of a cocktail.


If You Go Down in the Park Today . . .

you're sure of a nice surprise. Mayor Tiffany Martin Hamilton informed Gossips this morning that the bathrooms have been open and accessible to park visitors since Friday.

It is not clear if there is any causal relationship between the discussion of the bathrooms being closed at the Economic Development Committee meeting on Thursday night (which Gossips reported on Saturday), and the situation being remedied the next day, but all who spend time in the park should be relieved.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Council Initiatives

In the previous Council, when Alderman John Friedman (Third Ward) chaired the Legal Committee, initiatives tended to come from that committee. Now the role of originator seems to have shifted to the Economic Development Committee, chaired by Alderman Rick Rector (First Ward). At that committee's meeting on Thursday, the pursuit of two goals were discussed.

The first was the development of the Dunn building at the waterfront. Rector made the point that a year has passed since Saratoga Associates had completed its study on the adaptive reuse of the building. He concluded, "It's time to act. The building is crumbling."

Friedman, a member of the Economic Development Committee, said of the Saratoga study, "It's a good plan. It will bring people down there [to the waterfront] in the middle of day." He proposed that the City "lease the whole space to a developer, with adequate covenants." The right developer, he posited, "can preserve the building for us." He originally suggested a 99-year lease but conceded that a 30-year lease would be long enough.

Rector proposed "making it part of historic preservation"--presumably getting it listed in the National Register of Historic Places as well as designating it as a local landmark. It was agreed that the committee would use the adaptive reuse study as the basis for preparing a request for proposals. They spoke of holding a special meeting of the committee to work on the RFP.

Rector introduced the second issue by telling the committee that the fears expressed by some that the hotel proposed for 41 Cross Street could end up becoming a Holiday Inn Express had inspired him to think about the need to ban "formula businesses" from Hudson. He cited San Francisco and the Village of Red Hook as municipalities (along with 25 to 30 others in the United States) where such businesses are prohibited in order to maintain the unique character of the place. Friedman observed that formula businesses, whose store designs are homogeneous, are "antithetical to the value this community places on its architecture." He also suggested that such an ordinance might "dampen the enthusiasm for escalating rents if people knew there was a class of tenant you couldn't have."

The committee considered briefly if a ban on chain stores would apply only to certain districts--for example, historic districts--or to the entire city. They spoke of how the homogeneity of storefronts contributed to the "geography of nowhere." The committee, made up of Rector, Friedman, Henry Haddad (Third Ward), and Alexis Keith (Fourth Ward), was unanimous in its support for banning chain stores and other "formula businesses" from Hudson.

Seen on Warren Street

The sign is up at LICK's new location at Warren and Seventh streets. Can ice cream be far behind?

Courtesy Virginia Martin

A Preview of the Ramp

A ramp will soon be constructed to provide universal access to Promenade Hill. Although no one wants to deny anyone the access to Hudson's oldest public space and the spectacular views it affords, there is concern about the appearance of the ramp and its compatibility with the 18th-century design of the promenade. The illustration below shows the design now being considered.

The ramp would begin in the parking lot behind 1 North Front Street and proceed north to the edge of the boundary with Hudson Terrace. Then it would continue along the northern edge of the park west to the existing path along the bluff, with a landing at the playground. A rendering showing the ramp in context, from the perspective of someone standing in the parking lot, is being developed and will be submitted soon. 

Saturday, July 23, 2016

The Battle of Waterfront Loo

It's nicely designed to echo the historic train station behind it. Its amenities (according to legend, since few have ever seen them) include shower rooms. When it was built more than a decade ago, it cost $250,000. But today, the comfort station at Henry Hudson Riverfront Park is a perennial cause for complaint because it is never open, and its facilities are never available to park visitors.

In October 2015, Alderman Henry Haddad (Third Ward) introduced a resolution in the Common Council to install a security camera at the entrance to the facility to deter vandalism, which is the reason given for why the building is perpetually locked, and to keep the restrooms open every day from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. during warm weather months--from April 1 to November 1. Although introduced, that resolution was never voted on. The following is quoted from the Common Council minutes for October 20, 2015:
President [Don] Moore stated Proposed Resolution No. 8 which would approve the opening of bathroom facilities at Henry Hudson Riverfront Park has been discussed at the Finance Committee Meeting earlier in the evening. He stated the proposed resolution would be deferred until there had been a more detailed plan which would be discussed at the next Public Works Committee Meeting.
This screen capture of the minutes from "the next Public Works Committee meeting" provides evidence that the subject was discussed but no information is provided about "a more detailed plan" or what action was agreed to. (The bathrooms are item 8 in the list of "questions [that] were asked of Supt Perry which he answered to the satisfaction of all.")

At the Economic Development Committee meeting this past Thursday, the subject of the bathrooms in riverfront park came up again. Midway through the summer, the building remains regularly locked. Committee chair Rick Rector pointed out that the bathrooms had been locked, providing no access to the facilities, during the fishing derby the previous weekend. Haddad alleged that Mayor Tiffany Martin Hamilton had decided the bathrooms could not be open on a regular basis until the security camera was installed, and a security camera has not yet been installed.

Meanwhile, I've been taking Joey to the dog park in Germantown almost every day this summer. I've noticed that the restrooms in Palatine Park, where the dog park is located, not only are not locked, but their doors stand open, apparently all the time. These pictures were taken on Friday morning, at about 7:30 a.m.

Of course, Hudson isn't Germantown, and Germantown isn't Hudson. If evidence were needed of the truth of that statement, these scratches which recently appeared defacing the cap stone on the wall outside of the new library provide it.

Jamison Teale|Facebook


Friday, July 22, 2016

Waiting for the $10 Million

Governor Andrew Cuomo has already announced the winners of the $10 million in the Downtown Revitalization Initiative in seven of the ten regions in New York. They are Elmira, Geneva, Middletown, Oneonta, Oswego, Plattsburgh, and Westbury. The winners in three regions--Western New York, New York City, and the Capital Region--are yet to be announced. In the Capital Region, Hudson is competing for the $10 million with seven other cities--Albany, Rensselaer, Cohoes, Troy, Schenectady, Glens Falls, and Mechanicville and two villages--Castleton-on-Hudson and Hudson Falls.

Watch for Yourself

Dan Udell's video of Tuesday's Common Council meeting, which went on for an hour and forty-two minutes, is now available on YouTube. Click here to watch.

City clerk Tracy Delaney calculating the weighted votes on the proposed local law to eliminate the weighted vote

Thursday, July 21, 2016

And the Building Shall Have a New Roof

Alderman Abdus Miah (Second Ward), who seems to have appointed himself as the fiscal watchdog for the police and court project, has repeatedly in the past few months fretted about the condition of the roof and made the dire prediction that it would need to be replaced--something that was not part of the project as it went to bid. The basis of Miah's prediction is unclear, since the architect, the construction manager, and the DPW superintendent all agreed the roof did not need to be replaced. Miah was vindicated on Tuesday when a change order to replace the roof came before the Common Council for approval.

The change order was requested by the general contractor for the project, J. C. Millbank Construction. Joe Rapp, the construction manager, attested that the roof did not leak during all the time that the City owned the building, and it does not leak now. He explained why the contractor was requesting a change order to replace the roof. The work involved in transforming 701 Union Street into the new police and court facility required several penetrations through the roof, and it is the contractor's responsibility to see that those do not leak. If the roof were to start leaking after the rehab was complete, it would be hard to determine if the leak was because of the contractor's work or the age of the roof.

Rapp, who said his job was "to make sure we don't spend one penny more than we need to spend," told the Council that he was not recommending a new roof, although he later acknowledged that "if money were not an issue, you would put on a new roof."

On the issue of money, City treasurer Heather Campbell explained that there was a contingency of $200,550 in the budget for the project. So far, $35,444 of that contingency has been committed. If the Common Council accepted all the change orders being proposed, including $49,000 to replace the roof, the total cost overrun would be $151,545. Campbell recommended that the roof be replaced now "to protect the investment below it."

First Ward aldermen Rick Rector and Michael O'Hara both expressed the opinion that the roof should be replaced now. O'Hara noted that it was a forty-year-old roof. "Given the opportunity we now have, when the building is empty, we should do it," said O'Hara. Alderman John Friedman (Third Ward) was less certain. "We don't have unlimited funds," said Friedman, "and we don't know how much we have." Alderman Henry Haddad (Third Ward) asked Rapp, "Do you still feel good about the contingency?" Rapp said he did, confirming what he had said earlier about not expecting anymore change orders.

When approving the change order for the roof came to a vote, the outcome was 1,294 aye and 734 nay. Those voting aye were Council president Claudia DeStefano and aldermen Friedman, Haddad, Alexis Keith (Fourth Ward), Priscilla Moore (Fifth Ward), O'Hara, Rector, and Lauren Scalera (Fourth Ward). Those voting nay were aldermen Robert "Doc" Donahue (Fifth Ward), Tiffany Garriga (Second Ward), and Miah.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Why It's Controversial

When Planning Board chair Tom DePietro called Colarusso's proposed haul road "controversial" during last Thursday's meeting, Planning Board members Carmine Pierro and Glenn Martin demanded to why. Pierro ridiculed those worried about the haul road by suggesting they cared more about the survival of some obscure wetland creature than they did about the well-being of Hudson residents. South Bay is indeed a wetland that merits protection, but the concern about the proposed haul road is more about how the City's laws are being flouted and City officials and members of its regulatory boards seem to be ignoring or actually enabling that apparent disregard.

On September 26, 2011, there was a special meeting of the Common Council on the subject of the LWRP (Local Waterfront Revitialization Program) and the GEIS (Generic Environmental Impact Statement) done in conjunction with the LWRP. At the end of this meeting, the Common Council voted to adopt the GEIS, but before that happened, city attorney Cheryl Roberts and Bill Sharp, senior attorney with the Department of State, spent the better part of the meeting--a meeting that lasted for an hour and forty-five minutes--explaining the impact of changing the zoning for the dock and the causeway from Industrial to Core Riverfront. Roberts characterized that zoning change and the change from Industrial to Recreational Conservation for the rest of South Bay as being "very protective of the environment." 

In the minutes from that meeting. which happened almost five years ago, Sharp makes the point that "a lot of things are permissible in an Industrial Zone that would not be permissible in an 'as of right' in the new proposed Core-Riverfront District." Sharp goes on to say, "The Core-Riverfront District would not allow a port use as a permitted use," noting that "immediately on the change from industrial zoning to the C-R zoning to the extent that the existing port use is a lawfully permitted use under the Industrial Zoning, it would actually become a non-conforming use under the C-R Zone." He explains the port use would be allowed to continue without modification of any of the structures, uses on the property and the causeway, but "should there be any changes to either a building on the property, or a new building being constructed, or changes to the roadway it will require that the owner get a conditional use permit, and there is an extensive list of requirements in the conditional use permit section for an existing commercial dock operation."

Speaking about the requirements for a conditional use permit, Sharp gives some examples: "hours of operation, levels of noise, dust or other obnoxious, bothersome uses that would be generated on site." He concludes, "There's a recognition that if there is going to be continued commercial dock operations down there, that they try to co-exist, and exist well with the other kinds of uses that are happening in the City of Hudson."

That night the Common Council passed a resolution adopting the final GEIS. At another special meeting on November 30, 2011, the Common Council passed a resolution amending the city zoning code to implement the zoning set forth in the Local Waterfront Revitalization Program. South Bay became zoned R-C, Recreational Conservation, and the dock and the causeway--including that part of it that continues on the east side of Route 9G--became zoned C-R, Core Riverfront.

In spite of the fact that the Common Council was assured five years ago that "any . . . changes to the roadway . . . will require that the owner get a conditional use permit," earlier this year, the "roadway" going east from 9G was transformed from a rutted path to a gravel road capable of accommodating two-way dump truck traffic. Our code enforcement officer allegedly accepted this change as "routine maintenance" of an existing roadway.

Now there is a proposal before the Planning Board not only to widen the causeway going west from 9G, through South Bay to the river, but to move it several yards south. Not only has the term "conditional use permit" never been heard uttered by anyone on the Planning Board, but one member--Carmine Pierro, who once chaired the Planning Commission/Board--has stated his opinion that the proposal should be considered an amendment to a plan that was already approved by the Planning Board. It is not known when that approval was granted, but Gossips hasn't found any record of it in the minutes of the Planning Commission/Board, certainly not since the LWRP zoning was enacted in 2011.

New Architect Member for the HPC

Hudson's historic preservation ordinance, Chapter 169 in the city code, makes it clear that the Historic Preservation Commission shall be made up of seven members, at least one of which "shall be an architect experienced in working with historic buildings." The need for this expertise on the commission is considered to be so important that the architect member is the only member of the commission who does not have to be a Hudson resident--professional expertise being of greater importance than residency. The critical need for an architect member notwithstanding, the HPC has been without a qualified preservation architect member since September 2014, when Mayor William Hallenbeck chose not to reappoint the well-qualified preservation architect Jack Alvarez and appointed instead Chris Perry, an architect with no experience in historic preservation. During the time he served on the HPC, Perry had a record of nonattendance, which led to his resignation, and for the past year, the HPC has been functioning with only six members and with no architect of any stripe.

Today, Gossips learned that Mayor Tiffany Martin Hamilton has appointed Kate Johns as the architect member of the HPC. Johns is the principal of Kate Johns AIA, an architectural firm specializing in new traditional architecture and historic preservation. The firm's website has this to say about its historic preservation philosophy:
The term "historic preservation" encompasses many levels of intervention with en existing building. From strict "preservation" of an historic structure according to the Secretary of the Interior's standards, to renovation, adaptive reuse, and additions, our firm has many years of experience with them all.
We approach renovations with a lifetime's knowledge of historical architecture and an eye to preserving as many important original features and finishes as possible while upgrading the structural stability, energy efficiency, and modern-day use of the building. Our additions strive to respect the design intent of the original architect or that of the most prevalent style of architecture the building maintains. As in our new construction, we strive to harmonize rather than to make a "design statement."
Johns will join the HPC at its first meeting in August, which takes place on Friday, August 12, at 10 a.m.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Fate of Fair & Equal in the Council

Early on in tonight's Common Council meeting, the aldermen accepted a communication from city clerk Tracy Delaney certifying that the petition filed by the Fair & Equal campaign "complies with all the requirements of law." Later on, when it came time to vote on laying the proposed legislation amending the ward boundaries on the aldermen's desks, the outcome was predictable: 550 in favor (John Friedman, Henry Haddad, Michael O'Hara, Rick Rector); 1,383 opposed (Claudia DeStefano, Robert Donahue, Tiffany Garriga, Abdus Miah, Priscilla Moore, Lauren Scalera); 95 abstained (Alexis Keith). The outcome was summed up by Alderman Friedman (Third Ward), "And so the weighted vote perpetuates itself."

When casting her nay vote, Council president Claudia DeStefano said she appreciated the work done by the people involved in the Fair & Equal campaign but called the process "not open enough or transparent enough." Obviously not having read this morning's Gossips post about the Political Corruption Walking Tour in Chicago, where one of the modern-day "shenanigans" cited was "local politicians who still draw their own electoral maps," DeStefano complained that elected officials had been left out of the process. She called for making the process "fair and equal." (It will be remembered that in January, at the Council's first meeting of the year, DeStefano announced her intention to establish a "bipartisan committee to examine ward boundaries" with the goal of making a proposal to be presented to voters in a referendum in November 2016. Some of the people involved in the Fair & Equal campaign expressed interest in serving on that committee, but when it was never formed, they took the initiative themselves.)

Every alderman voting against the proposed legislation and the one who abstained paid lip service to the notion of doing away with the weighted vote but quibbled about the proposed new ward boundaries. The one exception was Alderman Robert "Doc" Donahue. Before casting his nay vote, Donahue, who has been a Fifth Ward alderman since 1994, declared that he was "not about to vote to break up the Fifth Ward."

Despite the Common Council, the proposition to amend the ward boundaries to create five wards of equal population and hence to achieve the constitutional standard of one man, one vote will be on the ballot in November. The Fair & Equal campaign has enough petition signatures to bring it directly to the Board of Elections. Addressing his fellow aldermen, Friedman proclaimed tonight, "Gnash your teeth all you like. The weighted vote is over."

News from Galvan

Galvan Foundation issued the following press release this morning.

Galvan Foundation is pleased to announce the creation of Hudson Venture Fund, an investment and revolving loan fund supporting entrepreneurs in the City of Hudson, New York.
Hudson Venture Fund provides local entrepreneurs access to alternative financing at lower costs and more flexible terms than conventional lenders. The Fund actively encourages applications from businesses that, in part, address social and economic inequality in Hudson. Loan amounts range from $10,000 to $100,000 and Fund size depends on both continuing need and performance of the loan portfolio.
Hudson Venture Fund starts accepting funding applications in Fall 2016. Please contact us at to learn more.
Galvan Foundation is a private grant making and operating foundation which 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.

Heard on the Radio

Marketplace this morning had a feature about a popular walking tour in Chicago: "Hot new attraction: Chicago's corruption walking tour." The tour, presented by a man named Paul Dailing, takes visitors to such historic sites as the Workingman's Exchange, a tavern that was, a century ago, the political headquarters of two aldermen known to trade beers for votes, and to locations associated with the politician known as "Al Capone's man in City Hall." The examples of political corruption included on the tour aren't confined to history. There was reference to "today's shenanigans": "local politicians who still draw their own electoral maps." Unbidden to my mind came the complaint heard recently here in Hudson that elected officials were not involved in drawing the proposed new boundaries to achieve voting districts of equal population and the suggestion that the Common Council might propose its own boundaries.

Monday, July 18, 2016


House Beautiful, in its list of "The 50 Best Small Towns for Antiques" (one for each state), gives as its choice for New York our own dear Hudson. 

What took so long? This was already the case twenty years ago. 

A 75-Year-Old Cheese Visits Hudson

Thomas J. Campanella|The New York Times
In Friday's New York Times, Thomas J. Campanella told a charming story about his grandparents, a neighborhood in Brooklyn, and a 75-year-old cheese that culminates with a visit to Talbott and Arding Cheese and Provisions right here is Hudson: "After 75 Years, the Cheese Stands Alone."

Thanks to Michael O'Hara for bringing this to our attention

Expendable Trees

Many of us think trees are an enhancement, but there are others who have different opinions. Since the strip mall where Price Chopper is located was built in 1995 or thereabouts, trees bordered the main drive approaching the stores. Granted they were Bradford pears, the unofficial tree of shopping malls and housing developments, but they provided a nice relief from the barrenness of the giant parking lot, and after twenty years of growth, they were developing into nice substantial trees.

Google Maps
However, on Sunday morning, all but four of them were cut down. Gossips took these pictures about eight hours after the devastation took place.

A woman who was there in the morning when the trees were coming down asked the men doing the deed why this was happening. She was told it was because the trees obstructed the view of the stores from Route 9.

Two years ago, Price Chopper embarked on a $300 million rebranding campaign to ditch the name that focused on low prices and adopt a new one, Market 32. In the Albany Business Review, Jerry Golub, president and CEO of the Price Chopper chain, is quoted as saying they wanted a name that reflected "the type of shopping experience our customers are looking for now and in the future." Shopping at a store with a parking lot denuded of its original landscaping hardly seems like the shopping experience anyone would want.

Thanks to Annik La Farge for providing the Google image of the trees as they were before Sunday morning

Saturday, July 16, 2016

A Moment in Fairly Recent Hudson History

Tonight, while searching the Common Council minutes for something else altogether, I stumbled upon the minutes from a special meeting that took place on June 10, 2003. It was the mayor's public hearing on Local Law No. 5 for 2003, which enacted Hudson's preservation ordinance and created the Historic Preservation Commission. You can read it for yourself, by clicking here.

Since that day, Rick Scalera, the mayor at the time, has gone on record more than once (and been quoted by Fifth Ward alderman Robert "Doc" Donahue numerous times) as saying that signing this legislation into law was the worst mistake he ever made. I, on the other hand, only regret that the city clerk at the time went a bit overboard in adding final e's to my name and that I went a bit overboard saying it was a "very monumental occasion." Monumental means "of great importance," which it certainly was. To add very was only redundant

Tomorrow Is Mrs. Greenthumbs Day!

The Mrs. Greenthumbs Day Garden Tour takes place tomorrow, July 17, and the weather forecasts promise a sunny day. From 11 a.m. until 4 p.m., fourteen urban gardens in Hudson will be open for visitation. The gardens are located all over Hudson--south side, north side, upstreet, downstreet. The pictures below are a preview of what you will see.


Click on the map below to enlarge it and then print it. Send an email to Gossips to request a pdf of the map. Pick up a map tomorrow at Nolita (454 Warren Street), Red Dot (321 Warren Street), or The Secret Gardener (250 Warren Street). Or wander into any of the gardens tomorrow (the entrances will be marked with purple and green balloons) and pick up a map that will lead you to the rest of the gardens. The map is all you will need to chart your course from garden to garden. 

The tour is free and open to all, but if you are inspired to show your appreciation, you are encouraged to make a contribution at any (or all) of the gardens to the Mrs. Greenthumbs "Hedge Fund." The fund is dedicated to restoring and enhancing Hudson's public parks. In the past, the fund has replaced dead trees in Thurston Park and gone toward hiring a landscape architect to design a ramp to provide universal access to Hudson's historic Promenade Hill.

Photographs by David W. Voorhees