Thursday, September 29, 2016

Something to Do First Thing Tomorrow

The City of Hudson is applying for a $500,000 grant from the Restore NY Communities Initiative program to stabilize the Dunn building on the waterfront.

On  September 13, the Waterfront Advisory Steering Committee held a public forum about the Dunn building. There were many ideas expressed about how the building should be used--everything from a bowling alley to an aquarium and educational center--but there was consensus on the building's significance as the last surviving 19th-century industrial building west of the railroad tracks on Hudson's waterfront and the need to preserve it. A half million dollars would stabilize the building and ensure its survival for whatever use the community agrees upon in the future. A half million dollars would also stabilize the building for some immediate use--like a year-round farmers' market or bicycle and kayak rentals.

If you think the grant application is a worthy effort, you can write a letter of support stating that the building is important to the future development of our waterfront and stabilizing it is critical. Your letter should be addressed to Mayor Tiffany Martin Hamilton and emailed to Sheena Salvino, executive director of the Hudson Development Corporation (HDC), before the end of the day tomorrow, Friday, September 30. The grant application is due on Monday, October 3.

A Consequence of Monday Night's Action

Yesterday, the Register-Star ran an article by Roger Hannigan Gilson with the headline: "Garriga's removal from committee whips up firestorm." The headline was titillating, but the article was just an expanded rehash of what had happened at Monday's night Common Council Police Committee meeting. At last night's Legal Committee meeting, however, there was some consequence of Council president Claudia DeStefano's public announcement that she was removing Alderman Tiffany Garriga (Second Ward) from the Police Committee for reasons she did not fully explain, except to speak at some length about the "blessing and curse" of Facebook.

Both Garriga and DeStefano are members of the Legal Committee, and both were present at last night's Legal Committee meeting. Midway through the meeting, Garriga asked for help from city attorney Ken Dow in drafting a resolution to change the rules of order that the Council had adopted at its organizational meeting on January 11, 2016. She reported that several aldermen had caucused the previous evening and agreed to propose that the second sentence in the third paragraph of Rule #4 Standing Committees be stricken from the document. That sentence states: "The President may change Chairs and members at his discretion."

This paragraph was the subject of concern back in January, and at that time, the final sentence, giving the Council president the power to change the seating arrangement of the aldermen, which may have seemed to some like the desire of a teacher to be able to break up students who whispered and disrupted the class, was deleted. Garriga explained that she and some of her fellow aldermen were now seeking to delete the second sentence because they did not want what happened to her on Monday night--being removed, in public, from a committee with no explanation given for why the action was being taken--to happen to other members of the Common Council.

Garriga made reference to something she had posted on Facebook months ago, which seems to have been the reason for DeStefano's action, and compared her post with Gary Graziano's statement on Facebook which brought about his resignation as police commissioner. She pointed out that Graziano had expressed a personal opinion in an official press release from the Hudson Police Department posted on the department's Facebook page. Her post, on the other hand, had been made on her own Facebook page. "As politicians," Garriga maintained, "we are paid to be opinionated and to represent our constituents." She then asked DeStefano for a "reason to justify [her] removal other than a personal one."

At this point, Alderman Michael O'Hara (First Ward), who chairs the Legal Committee, suggested that Garriga and DeStefano "work it out between them," because what Garriga was proposing "takes power away from the Council president." Garriga insisted that the Common Council adopted the rules of order and could therefore amend them. City attorney Ken Dow concurred, pointing out that it was only the first sentence of the paragraph in question--"The President shall appoint Committee Chairs and members"--that could not be deleted or altered, because that power was granted in the city charter. O'Hara then advised Garriga to "write up the gist of the resolution" she was proposing and have Dow frame it into a resolution.

Returning to O'Hara's recommendation that Garriga and DeStefano work things out, Garriga stated, "I'm open to discussion. I have no qualms about talking, but I don't think it will go anywhere." DeStefano told Garriga, "I will call you."

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Urban Forestry in the Nineteenth Century

Often when looking at 19th-century photographs of Hudson, one is struck by the number of trees lining the streets.

Many of the trees in these old photographs appear to be American elm trees, and it's possible to assume that the trees were lost to Dutch elm disease in the 1950s. It has also been suggested that the trees were lost in the early 20th century, when streets were widened to accommodate automobiles. This little item, discovered in the Hudson Daily Evening Register for October 31, 1889, suggests that 19th-century theories about trees in cities may have been the reason that trees were removed.


Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Design Phase Continues

Last week Monday, there was a special meeting of the Hudson City School District Board of Education. It was held in the cafeteria of Montgomery C. Smith Intermediate School so that board members and the superintendent could explore the site of the proposed addition to the 1937 WPA school building. As a consequence of that meeting, HCSD superintendent Maria Suttmeier asked the architects for some alternative designs. She shared those designs with the board at its regular meeting this past Monday night, September 26. As a reminder to readers, this is the design that was under consideration at the time.

The first request was to show what the proposed one-story building would look like without the central gable and with a facade that was all brick instead of being part brick and part faux stone. This is the elevation drawing the architects provided, which Suttmeier presented to the board on Monday night.

The limestone banding over the first floor windows of the original building would continue at the same level on the addition.

Because she was concerned about how far out from the original building the proposed one-story addition extended, Suttmeier also asked the architects to explore a way, other than a two-story building which was estimated to cost $1.2 million more than the budget, to keep the new addition closer and avoid the need for a retaining wall. Their proposal, which Suttmeier showed the board on Monday night, involved building first-grade classrooms on top of the existing tech wing and kindergarten classrooms in an addition south of the tech wing. This plan would bring the gymnasium--two stories in height--to the front. These are the floor plans for that alternative.

The architects also provided two elevations to show what the alternative configuration would look like. The first shows the gymnasium with a flat roof.

The second shows the gymnasium with a pitched roof and faux chimneys, which is the architectural element from the historic Colonial Revival building that was replicated in the 1997 addition.

The architects have been asked to calculate the cost of the most recent proposal both with a flat roof on the gymnasium and with a pitched roof and faux chimneys, which is the design element that would tie this new addition with the original building and with the 1997 addition and would also address the compatibility issues of massing, size, and scale.

Last Night at City Hall

Dan Udell's videotape of last night's tumultuous Police Committee meeting is now available for viewing online. Click here to watch and listen.


Celebrating Warren Street

The exhibition of The Warren Street Project, by Lynn Davis, opens at Vincent Mulford Antiques, 419 Warren Street, on Saturday, October 1, with a gala reception. After that, the exhibition will be open to the public, every weekend, for the entire month of October.  

Copyright 1996 Lynn Davis
The exhibition of portraits of every building on Warren Street, taken in 1994 and 1995, celebrates Historic Hudson's twenty years of advocacy for Hudson's historic architecture and twenty years of historic preservation and revitalization on Hudson's main street.

Last Thursday, Alan Neumann, president of Historic Hudson, was on WGXC's Thursday Afternoon Show, talking with hosts Ellen Thurston and Tom DePietro about Historic Hudson and the exhibition. If you missed that interview, you can hear it now by clicking here

Something New on Spook Rock Road

On my way out to Holmquest Farm on Sunday afternoon, I noticed a historic marker that hadn't been there before.

Today, I learned on Facebook that the marker is a Legends and Lore Marker, supplied to the Greenport Historical Society through a grant from the William G. Pomeroy Foundation. The marker was dedicated by members of the Greenport Historical Society on September 18.

A Disturbing Night at City Hall

Citizens and off-duty police officers showed up for the Common Council Police Committee meeting on Monday night to protest the resignation of Gary Graziano as police commissioner. Graziano's resignation came after he made an ill-considered statement, expressing a personal opinion, in an official police department press release announcing the arrest of Quintin Cross on the charge of grand larceny.

During the course of last night's meeting, Alderman Tiffany Garriga (Second Ward) was removed from her position on the Police Committee by Common Council president Claudia DeStefano, presumably for "her inability to be fair and impartial in this committee." Roger Hannigan Gilson reports on the meeting in today's Register-Star: "Garriga booted off police committee."

Monday, September 26, 2016

Another Story from Hudson's Colorful Past

The Hudson Daily Evening Register for October 30, 1889, which provided word on the progress of St. John's Hall, also yielded an account of a bold and enterprising incendiary who seems to have started his career right here in Hudson.

The "Dr. Wardell building," where Abram Rubenstein (a.k.a. Andrew Black, Morris J. Gross, and Isaac Maretzsky) set up shop in Hudson, is this building at 1 Warren Street, which at one time had storefronts facing South Front Street. 


Keeping a Thorny Issue Alive

More than a week after former police commissioner Gary Graziano made an ill-considered statement in an official HPD press release and resigned rather than recant or apologize, and almost a week after Alderman Henry Haddad (Third Ward), who chairs the Common Council Police Committee, expressed his disappointment with Mayor Tiffany Martin Hamilton for the manner in which the situation was handled, Roger Hannigan Gilson has an article in today's Register-Star in which Haddad pretty much repeats the same opinions he voiced at the Common Council meeting last Tuesday: "Haddad responds to police commissioner's resignation." The article is accompanied by a photograph, similar to the one below, showing the message "We Support Gary" chalked on the sidewalk.

Photo: Kenneth Smith|Facebook
A week ago, Gossips received a letter to the editor from someone who grew up in Hudson and follows the goings-on in Hudson from afar. Since Gossips does not typically publish letters to the editor, I chose not to publish it at the time. Today, I'm thinking differently about it and have decided to publish the letter because, I believe, it puts the issue in the proper perspective.
To the Editor: 
While everyone is entitled to have an opinion and many are entitled to voice it, surely, by now, anyone should know that not everyone is entitled to voice it publicly to reporters, on social media or even within emails. There are almost always regrets or consequences when those words are shared. But why is it so important for police in particular to keep their opinions private?
The way our system of justice works is the police protect and serve. They enforce the laws on the books and when warranted, they arrest those believed to have broken those laws. In so doing, they gather evidence pertinent to the case. The District Attorney then reviews the evidence and determines whether or not it is worthy of a trial and then and only then will a judge or jury determine the guilt or innocence of the arrestee. It is called due process and everyone in the country is entitled to it. When the police, in their official capacity, do not stick to the facts of the case and instead express opinions on the character of people they arrest, prior to due process playing out, they undermine the integrity of their work and bypass due process potentially poisoning the entire population from being eligible jurors. What is most important to understand is even the appearance of partiality is as damning as the real thing. This is why it is imperative for police leadership and all of the force to remain professional and stick to the facts of their cases and keep the opinions for off-duty, off the record discussions.
So in the particular events of last week, the commissioner voiced his personal opinion on the case of an individual who had not been given due process and who happened to be active in Hudson politics and had a past with the police where they had arrested him and he was acquitted. It is at these times when the appearance of impartiality is so essential and this did not happen. Whether or not he will be found guilty, and whether or not he is a friend of the mayor is irrelevant. The remarks were inappropriate for the leader of the police force and are not doing the force or city government any favors at a time when the mayor is trying to rebuild trust within the community.
Simply put, no one has ever lost their job for being professional and had the commissioner kept his remarks so, he’d still be the commissioner. Even if he agreed to rescind them, he would still be the commissioner. Sadly, it is the mayor who is being blamed for not watching the police force’s back, when it was the commissioner who decided his own fate.
Christopher Osswald        

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Manufacturing in Hudson: 1913

Recently, Gossips received photographs (with captions) found in the report of the New York State Factory Investigating Commission for 1913. The Factory Investigating Commission was created by an act of the New York State Legislature on June 30, 1911--just three months after the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Company fire in New York City, which took the lives of 146 young women workers. The commission's charge was "to investigate the conditions under which manufacturing is carried on" in New York. The photographs revealed the working conditions at the Knitting Mills in Hudson.

Carding Room--Owing to the absence of ducts and hoods, the whole room is filled with floss [so] that it is difficult to see.

Drying Room--This room is located in the cellar, and owing to inadequate ventilation the temperature ranges between 120 and 130 degrees

Finishing Room--Shows overcrowded condition of workroom: the aisles are constantly blocked by huge piles of underwear in boxes, making escape in case of fire very difficult.

The Finishing Room--Shows overcrowded condition: great boxes of finished goods obstruct the aisles of exits.
Although the report seems only to identify the company as "Knitting Mills," it is possible to infer that this was the Union Mills, which had two locations in Hudson. It's not clear in which location the Carding Room and Drying Room documented in the report were, but the caption accompanying the first photograph of a Finishing Room indicates it was on Fulton Street. In 1913, the street we now know as Columbia Street was called Fulton Street south of Third Street, and this is the building on Fulton Street that was one of the locations of Union Mills.

This building, which stood on the southwest corner of Columbia and Second streets, burned in a spectacular fire in 1979, long after it ceased to be Union Mills. Providence Hall now stands on that site.

The caption accompanying the second photograph of a Finishing Room indicates it was on Washington Street, which means it was located in this building at the corner of Sixth and Washington streets, now known as the Pocketbook Factory.


Gratitude to Andrew Dolkart and Alan Neumann for passing the photographs from the Factory Investigating Commisssion report along to me.

The Story Behind a Little Item in the News

Gossips, in breaks between pressing news stories, has been perusing the newspapers from 1889 in an attempt to learn about the acquisition and development of Cedar Park Cemetery. Along the way, news items of interest are discovered, such as this one, which appeared in the Hudson Daily Evening Register on October 30, 1889.

St. John's Hall, then the Masonic Lodge, is today the office of Mid-Hudson Media, at the corner of Third and Union streets. One can understand the frustration caused by materials not arriving in a timely manner. The contractor's deadline was set in the terracotta delivered at the end of October, leaving only two months--and increasingly colder months at that--to complete the building.

All seems to have turned out well, however. The building was completed, and it survives today. The contractor, who was undoubtedly John F. X. Brennen, who with his younger brother, Thomas, had formed the firm J. and T. Brennen Co., stonemasons and bricklayers, also flourished. He went on to built such notable buildings as the C. H. Evans Hook & Ladder Company firehouse, the cornerstone for which was laid in December 1889 (another reason for him to want to finish St. John's Hall on schedule),

the original Firemen's Home (1893), 

the first Hudson Hospital building on Prospect Avenue (1900),

and 317 Allen Street (1903). 

In  1894-1895, Brennen, the son of Irish immigrants, built a house himself and his wife, Anna, on the fashionable West Court Street. The house was designed by Michael O'Connor.

When he died in 1926, Brennen was entombed in a mausoleum that bears his name in Cedar Park Cemetery. His wife, Anna, who predeceased him, is also entombed there.


Parking Reminder

Summer is over, and with the end of summer comes the end of the weekend suspension of alternate side of the street parking. Last night was the last night during which it was OK to leave your car parked on either side of the street overnight. Next weekend, we're back to alternate side of the street parking in effect for overnight parking (midnight to 8 a.m.) seven days a week. The only exceptions being the eves of such holidays as Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Highlights from the Hudson Bed Races

The day was perfect, the crowd was sizable, and after months and months of planning, the bed races were over in less than thirty minutes. Aside from a few tense moments--when a bed lost a wheel, when two beds careened into each other, when a bed veered toward the spectators lining the sidewalk--a good time was had by all. Going into the race, the word on the street was that the Hudson Sloop Club Viking Bed was the bed to beat. The Sloop Club team performed admirably, but in the end, a late entry called "What Big Eyes You Have," a bed and team inspired by the story of Little Red Riding Hood, won the day. 

Here are some photos of the Hudson Bed Races for 2016.

Beds in Readiness

Former mayor and organizer of the 1980s bed races, Dick Tracy

Beds in Action

The Winning Bed: "What Big Eyes You Have"

Photo: Andy Milford|Facebook