Monday, September 25, 2017

A Modest Proposal and Appeal for Our Parks

Many people in Hudson want more public green space but balk when the question arises of who will maintain those public spaces. The maintenance of our existing parks is woefully inadequate. From trees dying and not being replaced to insensitive pruning of hedges and shrubs to unsightly repairs to walks to alterations and additions undertaken without proper oversight, there's much that could be done better. The Department of Public Works, whose job it is to maintain the parks, has its hands full with the City's critical infrastructure--collecting the trash, maintaining the water and sewer systems, keeping the streets in good repair and traversable. In addition to being fully engaged just keeping the city running, DPW crews, as DPW superintendent Rob Perry has acknowledged on more than one occasion, lack the expertise required to keep the parks artfully manicured and beautiful.

Enter the Mrs. Greenthumbs Hedge Fund. For the past few years, a half-dozen people--Joe Connelly, Mara Estribou, Sarah Sterling, Ellen Thurston, David Voorhees, and Gossips--have been organizing biennial garden tours in Hudson, in honor of Hudson's most famous gardener, Cassandra Danz, a.k.a. Mrs. Greenthumbs. There were tours in 2014 and 2016, and there will be another in 2018. Donations from "garden tourists" and contributions from other sources built a little nest egg, which the group has dubbed the "Mrs. Greenthumbs Hedge Fund." The purpose of the fund is "to enhance and maintain Hudson's public parks." In pursuit of that mission, the Mrs. Greenthumbs Hedge Fund provided the money to hire a landscape architect to design a ramp for universal access to Promenade Hill when it seemed that a $20,000 temporary rampwhich based on information available hardly promised to be an enhancementwas likely to be installed there.

Now the folks behind the Mrs. Greenthumbs Hedge Fund are looking to broaden their effectiveness, and, toward that end, they are seeking guidance from the community. One idea being considered is to morph the small, informal group into a full-blown Hudson Parks Conservancy, taking as its model the Central Park Conservancy, the not-for-profit that raises 75 percent of the annual budget for maintaining Central Park and is responsible for the work required to keep the park beautiful. The Hedge Fund currently has a little money--a few thousand dollars--that could serve as seed money for such a non-profit.

If you are interested in having a Parks Conservancy in Hudson and want to be a part of it, or if you have specific projects you would like to see undertaken to improve the City's public parks and open spaces, please let it be known either in a comment on this post (you'll need to identify yourself so we can follow up with you) or in an email to Gossips. If enough people show interest, the next step will be to bring everyone together to explore the possibility further.

News of the Economic Development Committee

At the Common Council Economic Development Committee meeting last Thursday, several things of interest were discussed and decided. First, the committee voted to move ahead with establishing conditions for acquiring property at the next tax foreclosure auction, which is expected to happen sometime next month. To prevent people from buying property and warehousing it, a condition of the sale would be that the property have a certificate of occupancy and be returned to active use within 24 months. The resolution is expected to be presented to the full Council in October.

Google Street View: Saratoga Springs
The committee also voted to move ahead with legislation that would prohibit formula retail sales and service businesses--in other words, big box stores and chains--from locating in the City of Hudson. The intent of the law is stated in its title: "A Local Law to Preserve Community Character, Local Business Ownership, and Local Wealth." The exceptions recognized in the draft law are: "(a) federally or New York State chartered banking, savings and loan, and trust institutions, (b) pharmacies and drug stores, (c) stores where the overwhelming majority of the foods sold are un- or minimally-processed and intended for preparation and consumption by the purchaser at another location [in other words, supermarkets], and convenience stores that also sell gasoline." 

Although Stewart's Shops, being a convenience store that also sells gasoline, would be exempt from the proposed legislation banning formula businesses, the committee also decided that they would not pursue a zoning change to allow Stewart's to demolish two houses and expand their gas station and store at the corner of Green Street and Fairview Avenue. As Alderman John Friedman (Third Ward), who chairs the committee, explained, "Nobody in the neighborhood wants to see the expansion happen." He did note, however, that everyone wants to see the intersection improved, although it's not clear how that improvement might be achieved.

Also of interest, and related to the first item about conditions for the sale of foreclosed property, some months ago the Economic Development Committee was looking at a draft resolution that would place conditions having to do with future use on the sale of 427 and 429 Warren Street, the former police and court buildings.

Now it seems that, despite a Council resolution committing the City to using the income from the sale of these two buildings to pay down the debt incurred in creating the new police and court building, there is thought of keeping 427 Warren Street, the much maligned building alleged to have serious mold issues, and using it for the code enforcement office, which would be homeless were the two buildings to be sold. The sale of 429 Warren Street, the 19th-century building where the code enforcement office is currently located, could go forward. It should be noted that six months have passed since the police department and the court moved to their new digs at 701 Union Street.

Meetings of Interest in the Next Week

Monday, September 25
The Common Council Police Committee meeting takes place at 6:00 p.m. at City Hall. It's an opportunity to hear from Chief Ed Moore about the recent spate of shootings and burglaries in Hudson.

Tuesday, September 26
At 5:30 p.m. at City Hall there is an informational meeting with representatives of Amtrak and the Department of Transportation about the stabilization project at the escarpment. The project, which was intended to culminate with the application of shotcrete to the rock face below Promenade Hill and Hudson Terrace, was undertaken without the required review by the Department of State and was terminated by a stop-work order issued on July 28 but not enforced until August 5. According to information received, the meeting on Tuesday is intended "to give the community the opportunity to learn more about proposed alternatives for the project."

Thursday, September 28
Affordable Housing Hudson is holding a forum about the proliferation of buildings being used for short-term rentals in Hudson. The forum is called, "Airbnb: Who are you and what are you doing to my city?" A panel of two has been announced: Bill McKenna, town supervisor for Woodstock, "who will speak on the effects of Airbnb on community life and the initiatives he has taken to control and shape how Airbnb is allowed to do business in his town"; and Michael O'Hara, First Ward alderman, who will "report on research into resolutions that can help Hudson follow in the footsteps of other cities around the nation that have been proactive in protecting affordable housing and workforce housing."

The forum was originally scheduled to take place at 5:30 p.m. at the Chamber of Commerce, 1 North Front Street. Last week, Gossips was informed that it was going to be moved to a larger venue, but as of this morning, a change of venue has not been confirmed nor a new venue announced.

Update: Apparently not only the place but the time has changed. It is now being announced that the forum "Airbnb: Who are you and what are you doing to my city?" will take place at 6:30 p.m. at the Hudson Youth Center, 18 South Third Street. The forum is being hosted by Michael Chameides and John Kane.  

Sunday, September 24, 2017

The Common Council in September

The informal Common Council meeting this month, which took place on Monday, September 10, took a record-breaking (record-breaking for its brevity) nine minutes. The regular Council meeting, on Tuesday, September 19, was almost as short, adjourning after only fourteen minutes. In that time, a couple of things of interest were accomplished.

First, the Common Council passed a resolution authorizing the mayor to execute a letter of agreement with GAR Associates, LLC, to delay the citywide revaluation. The reval has supposed to be happening right now with the goal of having the reassessments finalized by July 2018, but since Cheryl Kaszluga, the City assessor, resigned a few months ago, the work is being postponed "until the City has a new Assessor in place and the new Assessor is fully ramped up." The plan is to postpone the revaluation for one year, which would mean that the final revaluated tax roll would be completed by July 1, 2019, for the 2019-2020 tax year.

Also of interest, the Council passed a resolution authorizing the mayor to execute a contract with Tighe & Bond to create the engineering drawings for the ramp to be constructed at Promenade Hill. Tighe & Bond submitted the lowest bid for the work, which was $30,951.  

The funding for the ramp has been an interesting journey. The City twice--in 2011 and 2015--applied for grant funding to make improvements to Promenade Hill, which would have included a ramp to provide universal access to the park and its views. Both efforts were unsuccessful. In 2014, Alderman Tiffany Garriga (Second Ward) insisted that $20,000 be written into the 2015 budget to install a temporary ramp if Hudson's 2015 grant efforts were unsuccessful. In the spring of 2016, when it seemed likely that Hudson's most historic park would be defaced by some kind of temporary ramp, purchased with the allocated $20,000, the Mrs. Greenthumbs Hedge Fund stepped in and hired Barbara Restaino to design a proper ramp. The design had been paid for, but building the ramp was going to cost $170,000, and the City only had $20,000 set aside for that purpose.

In the 2017 budget, the City wisely wrote in $100,000 for legal fees against the possibility of being sued over its arcane weighted voting system if the Fair & Equal referendum didn't pass. When the referendum did pass, and it was believed that $100,000 would not be needed for legal fees, Garriga insisted that the $100,000 be repurposed for the ramp. A resolution reallocating the $100,000 barely passed in the Council in December 2016. The vote was 1,019 aye, 914 nay; 1,011 affirmative votes are needed for a majority. (Ironically, in August 2017, the Council had to take $50,000 from the fund balance for legal fees relating to a different issue altogether.) 

By mid-summer 2017, $120,000 had been set aside for the ramp, but $50,000 was still lacking. Once again it was Garriga who brought up the subject of the ramp. On July, the Council passed a resolution requesting a progress report from the mayor about the ramp. That report was submitted prior to the August meeting, and at that meeting, the Council passed a resolution taking another $50,000 from the fund balance to pay for the ramp. 

With $170,000 now in place--none of it coming from grants, all of it coming from the City of Hudson budget and fund balance--work on the ramp is ready to begin. The first step is creating the engineering drawings. Now that fall has begun, the actual preparation of the site and construction of the ramp will probably not begin until spring.

Can We Talk?

Rick Rector, the only official candidate for mayor of Hudson, endorsed by the Democrats, the Republicans, and the Conservative Party, has announced a series of five "conversational meetings"--one in each ward--to take place in October, in the run up to Election Day on November 7. Rector describes each proposed meeting as "a meet, greet, visit and a great opportunity to get to know each other better," adding "I look forward to hearing your thoughts on our community and sharing mine with you." The date and place for each meeting is listed below.

Thursday, October 5
Hudson Lodge
601 Union Street

Monday, October 30
Chamber of Commerce
1 North Front Street

Tuesday, October 10
House Rules Cafe
757 Columbia Street

Wednesday, October 11
Hudson Area Library
51 North Fifth Street

Tuesday, October 24
Crosswinds at Hudson
15 Rogers Lane (off Harry Howard Avenue)

Every meeting is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. and continue until 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Suit and Countersuit

On August 25, the City of Hudson filed an Article 78 lawsuit against the Greenport Planning Board, A. Colarusso & Sons, and Holcim US "to annul, vacate, and set aside the July 25, 2017 approval by respondent Town of Greenport Planning Board (hereinafter 'Planning Board') of a 'Negative Declaration' under the State Environmental Quality Review Act, ECL Article 8 ('SEQR'), for the proposed widening, relocation, and improvement of an existing 2.33 +/- mile long truck 'Haul Road' (hereinafter 'the Project') by respondents A. Colarusso and Son, Inc. and Colarusso Ventures, LLC (hereinafter collectively "Applicant" or "Colarusso"), and for an order requiring the Planning Board to adopt a 'positive declaration' under SEQR and to require the preparation of an environmental impact statement ('EIS') for the Project."

On September 15, A. Colarusso and Sons and Colarusso Ventures, LLC, filed a countersuit against the City of Hudson, the Hudson Planning Board, and Hudson Community Development & Planning Agency, seeking a judgment:
(1) vacating and annulling the determination of Respondents CITY OF HUDSON AND CITY OF HUDSON PLANNING BOARD to conduct an unlawful SEQRA review of certain repairs that Petitioners/Plaintiffs have already performed to their commercial dock; (2) prohibiting Respondents CITY OF HUDSON AND CITY OF HUDSON PLANNING BOARD from imposing excessive fees on Petitioners/Plaintiffs in connection with Respondents' review of these dock repairs; (3) prohibiting Respondents CITY OF HUDSON AND CITY OF HUDSON PLANNING BOARD from imposing excessive fees on Plaintiffs/Petitioners in connection with Respondents' review of Petitioners/Plaintiffs' application to resurface their haul road; (4) prohibiting Respondents CITY OF HUDSON AND CITY OF HUDSON PLANNING BOARD from further regulating the intensity of Petitioners' use of their commercial dock and haul road; (5) vacating and annulling the determination of Respondents CITY OF HUDSON and HUDSON COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT AND PLANNING AGENCY that Petitioners/Plaintiffs require a development permit pursuant to Chapter 148 of the Code of the City of Hudson before they may resurface this haul road; and (6) granting such other and further relief as the Court deems just and proper.
Paul A. Colarusso, president of A. Colarusso & Sons, announced the company's countersuit yesterday in a meeting with the editorial board of Columbia-Greene Media, a.k.a. the Register-Star. That meeting was videotaped and can be viewed here. At the beginning of the video, Colarusso, responding to a question from Register-Star reporter Amanda Purcell, indicates that the countersuit is "about the SEQR process previously done on the dock repair project." He goes on to say, "The City of Hudson Planning Board wants to redo SEQR on the dock, and we feel that is not appropriate, and our lawyers feel it is not appropriate." He acknowledges that "there's other stuff in there," but the SEQR issue is the reason for the countersuit.

The City of Hudson wants the Greenport Planning Board's negative declaration in SEQR to be annulled, vacated, and set aside, arguing that the Greenport Planning Board "failed to take a hard look at the potential significant adverse environmental impacts of the Project." According to Colarusso, the reason for the countersuit is to prevent the Hudson Planning Board from redoing SEQR on the dock repair project--a project that was completed toward the end of 2016. Gossips is unaware of any plan to redo the SEQR on the dock beyond a comment made by Mitch Khosrova, counsel to the Hudson Planning Board, at the board's last meeting, during a discussion of the quantitative data--traffic volume and noise levels--that is needed for the board to consider Colarusso's application for a conditional use permit for its dock operation. (The need for a conditional use permit for the dock operation, previously a nonconforming use, was triggered by the repairs made to the dock.) In the context of advising the board about its right to have the information it seeks and the possible consequences should the applicant continue not to provide it, Khosrova said--or at least it is so recorded in my notes from the meeting--"You have to do SEQR for the dock." Could it be that this comment prompted the lawsuit?

Then there's the issue of the previous SEQR. Later on in the video (starting at 2:59), Colarusso clarifies that SEQR was done on the dock project with the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) as lead agency. He alleges that the City of Hudson was notified of the project--not by Colarusso but by DEC--and the City "chose not to be an involved agency." If what Colarusso says is true, one wonders when and how this happened. 

The first time Gossips reported on the dock project was in November 2015, when the application submitted to DEC by Colarusso on October 15, 2015, was discussed at an informal Common Council meeting. At that point, the review by the Army Corps of Engineers was already underway, as evidenced by the fact the the Council had received a copy of a letter, dated September 9, 2015, from the ACE requesting more information from the applicant, and a DEC public comment period was about to end, suggesting that DEC was then doing SEQR. If the City of Hudson did indeed deliberately opt out of its role as involved agency, it is not clear when or how or by whom the decision was made. At that time, in November 2015, when asked if the Common Council intended to make a comment during the public comment period on behalf of the residents of Hudson, Don Moore, then Common Council president, said the review was taking place at the state level and indicated that the Planning Board would be the agency of city government that would have jurisdiction in the matter. Ten months later, in August 2016, when the Council received a copy of another letter from the ACE, dated July 18, 2016, which made reference to "the need to obtain any other Federal, State or local authorization required by law for the proposed work," Alderman John Friedman (Third Ward) wanted to know what permits from the City were required. Friedman's question, directed to Council president Claudia DeStefano, went unanswered, but on January 27, 2017, Mayor Tiffany Martin Hamilton announced that the Code Enforcement Office had issued an Order to Remedy (ORT) to Colarusso for the dock because they had failed to seek approval from the Planning Board for the repair project.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Further Update on This Morning's Crime Spree

At about 1:30 p.m., Gossips updated the original post about the early morning burglaries at Nolita, Governor's Tavern, and Wm. Farmer and Sons to report that the suspects were in custody. (For some reason, Wm. Farmer and Sons, which was reported earlier to have been burglarized, is not mentioned in the most recent report.) Bill Williams at 98.5 The Cat is now reporting the identities of the two people who have been arrested for the burglaries: "Two women charged with Hudson break-ins."

More Colarusso News

The Register-Star just reported that Paul A. Colarusso, in a meeting with the Register-Star today, announced that the company is countersuing the City of Hudson, the Hudson Planning Board, and Hudson Development & Planning Agency. The story is reported by Amanda Purcell: "A. Colarusso and Son announce countersuit against Hudson."

Traffic Jam at the Crossing

This morning, shortly before 9 a.m., a parade of railroad equipment heading north caused a traffic jam at the Broad Street crossing. In the few minutes it took for the ten or so pieces of equipment to pass, the line-up of vehicles waiting to cross the railroad tracks included two Colarusso dump trucks heading for the dock and two heading out from the dock.


Early Morning Crime Spree

Three Hudson businesses were burglarized between 1 and 6 a.m. today: Nolita, Governer's Tavern, and Wm. Farmer and Sons. The images of the suspects--two women--were captured by a surveillance camera. The woman in the image at the right is clutching a stolen cash register.

Amanda Purcell has the story in today's Register-Star: "Police seek public's help in identifying suspects in burglaries at 3 businesses."

Update: The Hudson Police Department is reporting on Facebook that the two suspects are now in custody.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

How Things Used to Get Done

It's been a while since I've mined issues of the Hudson Evening Register from 1917 for hints of what life was like in Hudson during World War I. Recently, I returned to the task. The following news item, which appeared on the front page of the paper on August 30, 1917, has nothing do to with the war, but I couldn't resist sharing it. It deals with the sort of problem we still struggle with today, but the solution is achieved in a manner a bit different from what might happen now.


Ceremonies and Serendipity

Next week, the Hudson City School District is hosting two big events--or one big event in two parts. On Wednesday, September 27, at 6:30 p.m., it's the closing ceremony and the annual homecoming bonfire at Barrett Field (behind Montgomery C. Smith School, 102 Harry Howard Avenue). On Thursday, September 28, at 6:30 p.m., it's the grand opening and dedication of the new Bluehawk Sports Complex (behind the Hudson Jr./Sr. High School, 215 Harry Howard Avenue). You can learn more about the festivities being planned by clicking here.

Here's the serendipity. Last week, Cynthia Lambert sent me a photocopy of the program for Hudson's sesquicentennial celebration in 1935. Among the events in the week-long celebration of the city's 150th anniversary were, on Tuesday, July 2, at 3 p.m., the opening of the Rip Van Winkle Bridge, and on Wednesday, July 3, at 2 p.m., the "Dedication of Athletic Field and Athletic Meet by schools of Hudson and other cities." (The dedication of the field was followed that evening by a "Costume Ball at State Armory," which began at 9 p.m.)

The program includes this picture of 102 Harry Howard Avenue, identified simply as "New Hudson High School." It must have been an architect's drawing of the building because construction did not begin until 1936.

Here's what the program had to say about the site where there was an athletic field even before there was a school building.

In 1931, the Board of Education of the City of Hudson took title to a 28-acre tract of land situated on Harry Howard Avenue and extending easterly to Oakwood Boulevard, as a site for the location of a new junior-senior high school and a general school recreation center. The plans for a high school building have been approved, and it is expected work on the construction of the building will be commenced soon.
The plans for the development of this property are the work of leading authorities. Tooker and Marsh, one of the most prominent firms of school architects, have drawn the plans for the building, and the development of the field and play areas is the work of Dr. Laurie D. Cox, head of the Department of Landscape Engineering, State College of Forestry.
Nearly all of the facilities that are usually found in complete "civic centers" will be included in this project. The recreation and play field is already completed. This includes a baseball diamond, football and soccer field, a quarter-mile running track, five tennis courts, ample play grounds for smaller children, park areas with drives, walks, etc. A swimming pool and "outdoor theatre" are included in the complete plans and will be built later.
The entire area lends itself naturally and easily to beautiful landscaping effects. The opinion of authorities is that for accessibility, natural contour and beauty and adaptability to education and recreation use the property is ideal.
So far as I know, the swimming pool and outdoor theater were never built, and eighty-two years later, Hudson is moving on up the street to the artificial turf and gorgeous views of the new Bluehawk Sports Complex. 

Who's the ZEO?

On August 29, the South Bay Coalition submitted a formal request to the "City of Hudson Zoning Enforcement Officer" for "an accurate delineation of all boundaries between the City's Recreational Conservation District and its Core Riverfront district." The request goes on to say: "The requested clarification is a necessary prerequisite for public understanding of a road proposal by A. Colarusso and Son, Inc. . . . " 

As is illustrated on the zoning map below, the Core Riverfront District (C-R)—the darker shade of greenextends like a rat's tail through the Recreational Conservation District (R-C)the lighter shade of greenacross South Bay to Hudson's border with Greenport on the east side of Route 9G. The rat's tail, of course, is the path of the controversial haul road.

It's important to know the exact width and location of the rat's tail as it cuts through South Bay because the proposal to move and widen the roadway may result in the road encroaching on the Recreational Conservation (R-C) District where a roadway for heavy industrial vehicles would be prohibited. Steve Dunn, in his letter to Colarusso president Paul Colarusso, noted a specific "choke point" where the haul road could not be widened without encroaching into the R-C District. The following is quoted from Dunn's letter.
The haul road on Colarusso's property as it approaches Front Street crosses in the C-R zoning district, and cannot be widened absent change of zoning, which will not happen. The attached zoning map, and graphic of where the haul road crosses out of the R-C zoning distruct and into the C-R zoning district, and where it is now only one lane wide (the "choke point" area), are submitted herewith. This for this portion of its haul road, the Colarusso trucks will need to continue to go "single file."
The map referenced by Dunn is reproduced below:

The original request from the South Bay Coalition, which was signed by sixteen people, was addressed to the "Zoning Enforcement Officer," but it turns out no one knew who the Zoning Enforcement Officer was. Craig Haigh, who is the Code Enforcement Officer, maintained that it wasn't his job, so for close to a month, the request for information was more or less in limbo while City Hall tried to figure out whose job it was to determine zoning district boundaries.

Last night, at the monthly meeting of the Zoning Board of Appeals, ZBA chair Lisa Kenneally read a letter from Mayor Tiffany Martin Hamilton asking the ZBA to determine the boundaries between the Core Riverfront (C-R) and the Recreational Conservation (R-C) districts. The letter explained:
This request is spurred by several recent events or inquiries: a request was made to the City and forwarded to my office from a member of the public 
 asking for such a determination; a member of the ZBA, Steve Dunn, published a letter and information raising the question of whether the boundaries of the C-R district fully encompassed the "haul road" that is currently the subject of Planning Board review; and a letter dated September 14 from engineers Barton & Loguidice to the Planning Board in relation to the haul road recommended "the Planning Board solicit a formal decision from the appropriate City authority in relation to the zoning district," noting further that "The official Zoning Map appears to show that the proposed haul road may require crossing the Recreational Conservation (R-C) and the Industrial (I-1) Districts.
The mayor urged the ZBA to gather the information needed to issue a determination. Kenneally told her colleagues on the ZBA, "We can't determine this on our own, but we have the tools to do so," explaining that they would be seeking "information and guidance from the lawyers and engineers."

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

We Are Not Alone

It was announced today that the Kingston is also the recipient of $10 million in Round Two of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, as reported on "City of Kingston wins state $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative grant." It should be noted that, of the ten Regional Economic Development Councils, Hudson is the Capital Region, Kingston is in the Mid-Hudson Region.

At Olana This Weekend

This Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, the Ancram Opera House, in collaboration with the Olana Partnership, presents Performing Olana, an original play staged throughout the Olana landscape.

Performing Olana was conceived and created by playwright and TV writer Darrah Cloud, with Paul Ricciardi and Jeff Mousseau of the Ancram Opera House. The play was written by Cloud and is co-directed by Ricciardi and Mousseau. The three have been working for months to design an immersive, promenade style theater production to be presented in the landscape at Olana, in which the audience follows the story through the historic site. The play takes the interpretation of Olana to another level--both in terms of costumed 'interpretation' and in the untold and imagined stories between the lines of letters and journals in the Church archive.

"The piece draws inspiration from Frederic Church's painting, letters, family life, and the celebrated landscape and is presented as an immersive experience in which performer and audience journey together into Church's art. This production falls between the categories of creative nonfiction and historic fiction. . . . Performing Olana brings the 19th century alive in a way that only theater can; audiences will move from place to place in the landscae as the narrative unfolds. Actors deliver scenes in historically accurate venues and subjects including Church's homes, the orchard, meadows, the barns, carriage roads, the lake, and the forest."

Photo: B. Docktor
The performance takes place at 6 p.m. on Friday, September 22, at 2, 4, and 6 p.m. on Saturday, September 23, and on Sunday, September 24. Participants are encouraged to purchase tickets in advance by clicking here. Performances begin at the Wagon House Education Center and will occur rain or shine, but they will be delayed if there is extreme weather, so in case of foul weather, ticket holders are asked to check the website for updates. Participants should wear comfortable walking shoes and should be prepared to walk about three quarters of a mile.

On Monday, Ricciardi, Cloud, and Amy Hufnagel, director of education for the Olana Partnership, spoke with Joe Donahue about Performing Olana on WAMC's The Roundtable. That conversation can be heard by clicking here.

Bed Races Postponed

The Hudson Bed Races, which were scheduled to happen this Saturday at 3 p.m., have been postponed. The simple reason for the postponement: not enough people registered for this year's event.

The plan is to reschedule for sometime in October, but the exact date has not been announced. Gossips will let you know as soon as it has. 

Show your community spirit and sense of silly and help ensure the bed races happen. Get yourself a team (four pushers and one rider), get yourself a bed (outfitted with wheels), and sign up today to be part of this recently revived wacky Hudson tradition. To register, click here.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Looking Ahead to November

Now that the absentee ballots have been counted and reported in the only really close races in the Democratic primary, we have a good idea of our choices in the November election. So, here's the list. The parties listed after each name indicate the party lines on which the candidate's name will appear.

Rick Rector--Democrat, Republican, Conservative

Heather Campbell--Democrat

Common Council President
Tom DePietro--Democrat, Republican, Working Families, Conservative

Sarah Sterling--Democrat
Rob Bujan--Democrat, Republican, Conservative, Independence
Kamal Johnson--Democrat, Republican, Conservative, Working Families

Abdus Miah--Democrat, Republican, Conservative, Independence
Willette Jones--Working Families
Dewan Sarowar--Democrat, Independence
Tiffany Garriga--Democrat, Working Families
Victor Mendolia--Working Families
Martin Martinez--Republican, Conservative

Michael Chameides--Democrat, Working Families
Calvin Lewis--Democrat, Republican, Working Families
Shershah Mizan--Democrat, Republican, Working Families

Linda Mussmann--Democrat, Working Families, Independence
Bill Hughes--Republican, Conservative
John Rosenthal--Democrat
Rich Volo--Democrat
Lauren Scalera--Republican, Conservative

Rick Scalera--Democrat, Republican, Conservative
Dominic Merante--Democrat, Republican, Conservative, Working Families
Eileen Halloran--Democrat
Bob Donahue--Republican, Conservative

The wards with choices are the Second, Fourth, and Fifth, although in the Fifth Ward, the choice is only for the two aldermen. Only one person--Rick Scalera--will be on the ballot for Fifth Ward supervisor. But don't think if you live in the First or Third ward you can stay home from the polls on November 7. There will be referendums needing your consideration.

It's Not Over Until It's Over

Today, a week after the primary election, the absentee ballots were counted, and Gossips can now report the outcomes in the only races that were too close to call on election night: the supervisor and alderman races in the Fourth Ward. With the results still unofficial, and with one absentee ballot still set aside and hence uncounted, the total votes--from the machine and absentee ballots--are as follows:

Linda Mussmann     109
William Hughes     107
(The machine count was Mussmann 87; Hughes 72)

Lauren Scalera     100
Rich Volo     104
John Rosenthal     107
(The machine count was Scalera 67; Volo 84; Rosenthal 81)

Mussmann also bested Hughes in the Independence Party "Opportunity to Ballot" (OTB), getting 3 votes to Hughes's 2.

Despite the fact that they lost the Democratic primary, Hughes and Scalera will both be on the ballot in November, on the Republican and the Conservative lines. 

Welcome to Hudson

Over the weekend, a Facebook friend posted this image to the All Over Albany page:

As a resident of Albany, he was concerned about the state of the bus and train stations in that city. Here is Hudson, we don't have to worry about that. Our train station--the third busiest in the state--is a handsome building, constructed in 1874, meticulously restored in 1992, and carefully maintained. Indeed, it is recognized as one of the Great American Stations

Still, Hudson and its reception of visitors has been a bit iffy from time to time over the years. A year or so ago, Gossips published a post that suggested visitors in the mid-19th century avoided Hudson because the houses and shops were not numbered, and people unfamiliar with the city lost their way trying to find their destination: "Our Ever Quirky Little City." Recently, I came upon a photocopy of an op-ed piece written by Sam Pratt in 1998 for The Independent and was reminded of how Rick Scalera, then mayor of Hudson, and the late Mim Traver, then Common Council president, got into a snit about an article Pratt had written for New York Magazine, which, in their opinion, brought visitors to Hudson who didn't "get" the city and were disappointed. In the op-ed piece, which responded to their criticism, Pratt suggested of Scalera, "he seems more likely to raise a banner across Warren Street . . . , reading 'Not Quite Stockbridge Yet--Please Go Away!'"

Hudson is still not quite Stockbridge, but, for its own unique charm, it is known internationally and draws thousands of visitors.  But, if the title of its next forum is any clue, there are some in Hudson who would rather that visitors to the city stay away. On Thursday, September 28, Affordable Housing Hudson is holding a public forum on the phenomenon and the impact of short-term rentals on the housing market in Hudson. The forum has the title, "Airbnb: Who are you and what are you doing to my city?"  

Checking out Hudson on Airbnb is always an interesting exercise. You will undoubtedly discover that, perhaps unbeknownst to you, neighbors and acquaintances are renting out rooms or floors of their houses as guest accommodations. Nobody seems to have a problem with that. Reviewing the list of proprietors and locations registered to pay the new lodging tax is even more revealing. You may find people you know who don't live in Hudson but own a house here and maintain it as a short-term rental, booked through Airbnb. You will also find instances of three or four houses owned by the same person or entity, all maintained as short-term rentals. This is what people find irksome. The owners of houses held as investment property are finding it more lucrative to rent those properties to visitors who stay for a few nights than to lease to tenants who would live there full time.    

The panel for the forum, as it has been announced, is made up of two people: Bill McKenna, town supervisor for Woodstock, "who will speak on the effects of Airbnb on community life and the initiatives he has taken to control and shape how Airbnb is allowed to do business in his town"; and Michael O'Hara, First Ward alderman, who will report "on research into resolutions that can help Hudson follow in the footsteps of other cities around the nation that have been proactive in protecting affordable housing and workforce housing."

The forum, which takes place next Thursday, September 28, starts at 5:30 p.m. at the Chamber of Commerce, 1 North Front Street. It is described as "a chance to air concerns and hopes for the future of Hudson as a thriving community with its priorities in place."

Turn Your Radios On

WAMC is announcing that today's Midday Magazine will feature a story called "A Summer of Gunfire in Hudson." Midday Magazine begins at noon. WAMC is heard at 90.3 and 97.1 FM or at Who said, "All publicity is good publicity"?

Update: If you missed the segment when it originally aired, you can listen to it now here.

Monday, September 18, 2017

A Rare Opportunity Approaches

Twenty years ago, in August 1997, Historic Hudson, in existence then for only a year, arranged a field trip for its members to the Dr. Oliver Bronson House. It was the first time in more than two decades that the public had seen the house, off limits as it was--and still is--on the grounds of the Hudson Correctional Facility.

That visit marked the beginning of Historic Hudson's advocacy for the house. In the ensuing years, Historic Hudson foiled an attempt to site a factory on the grounds, helped get the house designated as a National Historic Landmark, got the enabling legislation passed to enter into a long-term lease agreement with the State of New York, negotiated that lease, and has since succeeded in stabilizing the house and securing it from further deterioration. With another $487,000 in grant money awarded last December, Historic Hudson is poised to begin Phase III of its restoration plan for the house.

This year, to mark the anniversary of bringing attention to the Dr. Oliver Bronson House, Historic Hudson is planning a field trip to another significant historic house rarely open to the public: the Jan Van Hoesen House in Claverack. The field trip, for Historic Hudson members and their guests, takes place on Sunday, October 1, from 4 to 6 p.m.

Although the Dr. Oliver Bronson House is hidden away on the grounds of a prison, the Van Hoesen House stands in plain sight at the edge of a trailer park on Route 66, but many who pass it every day know neither its history nor its current situation. The event on October 1 will offer an opportunity to see inside the three-hundred-year-old Dutch house and learn about plans for its stabilization and restoration.

Although it was built fifty years before the founding of Hudson, the Jan Van Hoesen House has a historic connection to our city. In 1662, Jan Frans Van Hoesen, Jan Van Hoesen's grandfather, purchased a substantial tract of land from the Mohicans--along the river and upland. Franklin Ellis, writing in 1878 in the History of Columbia County, says of this purchase: "It is not probable that in selecting this domain he was moved by any other considerations than that of its agricultural advantages, nor that during all the years of his occupancy he ever dreamed of future cities, or commerce, or manufactures, or thought of the capabilities of the great river beyond the floating of the little sloops that carried to market the products of his fertile bouwerie which lay farther inland."

Ellis goes on to explain what happened to all this land when Jan Frans Van Hoesen died: 
The old patentee died about the year 1703, and among the children he left were Jurrien, Jacob Jans, Johannes, and Catharine, which last named was the wife of Francis Hardick. By the law of primogeniture, which was then in operation, the eldest son, Jurrien, inherited the landed estate, but he appears to have had no inclination to wrong the other heirs, and so an amicable partition was agreed to; and on Jan. 7, 1704, he conveyed by deeds to his brothers and sister the lands lying on and near the river, which were probably regarded by all as being less valuable than those lying farther back and nearer to Claverack Creek.
Catharine inherited North Bay and all the land on which Hudson is situated north of Partition Street; Johannes inherited South Bay and all the land that is now Hudson south of Partition Street. Johannes apparently also inherited the land on which the Jan Van Hoesen House is built and transferred title to that property to his son Jan sometime around 1711.

Photo: Jill McKenty

Like the field trip to the Bronson House twenty years ago, Historic Hudson's field trip to the Van Hoesen House is meant to raise awareness of the house and encourage support for its restoration. But unlike twenty years ago, Historic Hudson will not be stepping up to become the stewards of the Van Hoesen House. A not-for-profit already exists with that mission: the Van Hoesen House Historical Foundation. Historic Hudson is just trying to help that organization reach a wider audience.

The field trip to the Van Hoesen House, situated on the edge of the Dutch Village Mobile Home Park, 440 Route 66, is also the occasion of Historic Hudson's annual meeting. Refreshments will be served. Admission is free but limited to members of Historic Hudson and their guests. To become a member, visit   

Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Emmys and the Ellens

Tonight, awards season begins with the sixty-ninth annual Emmy Awards, honoring the best in U.S. prime time television programming. The winners of the Emmy Awards, chosen by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, will be announced in a televised ceremony that can be viewed beginning at 8 p.m.

Awards season continues, at least here in Hudson, on Thursday, September 21, with the second annual Ellen Awards, honoring local Democrats "with distinguished records of service." The winner of this year's Ellen Award, chosen by the Hudson City Democratic Committee, will be feted at an award ceremony--which is also a fundraiser for the HCDC--that will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Hudson Opera House.

The Ellen Awards were inaugurated last year as a way of celebrating and honoring Ellen Thurston, who had retired from public office after serving three terms as Third Ward alderman (2006-2011) and two terms as Third Ward supervisor (2012-2015). This year, the award goes to Ed Cross, who is retiring after serving for twenty years as Second Ward supervisor.

The suggested donation to be part of the festivities in $25. Wine, soft drinks, and small plates will be served. All proceeds go to support Democratic candidates in the 2017 election. Click here to reserve your place at the party. 

Saturday, September 16, 2017

A Whaler or the Ark?

Someone just posted the following query on the Hudson Community Board on Facebook.

Curious (and not being on Warren Street myself to see the parade), I checked the mass gathering permits posted on the City website to find out what the parade was about and discovered today was the day for the Endless Love Temple's "Religious Parade and Gathering," which started at 3 p.m. with a parade down Warren Street and will continue until 7 p.m. in Henry Hudson Riverfront Park. The Endless Love Temple is, of course, the church whose pastor is Ed Cross, Second Ward supervisor. 

On the topic of the replica ship/parade float, the last sheet of the application for the mass gathering permit contains this handwritten message:

It seems that for today at least the object is not a replica, constructed in 1985 for Hudson's Bicentennial Celebration, of The Hudson, the first ship ever built here at the end of the 18th century, but a replica of Noah's ark. The question of whether or not it is appropriate for City-owned property to be used in this manner remains unanswered.