Sunday, April 30, 2017

The Great War: April 27, 1917

Still getting up to date with our coverage of Hudson during the time of the Great War in Europe, we offer this item, which appeared in the Hudson Evening Register on April 27, 1917. It gives expression to a common theme during World War I: everyone can and must take part in the war effort.

Every individual in Columbia county can now perform a laudable service for his country. That service need not be rendered on the battlefield, nor upon the seas, either.
The functions connected with the Home Defense committee of the counties of New York State are numerous and varied, and of great importance; they require the co-operation of every man and woman.
There shouldn't be a person in Columbia county over the age of 15 years who has not enlisted in a service necessary for the Home Defense committee to carry out the Home Defense functions required.
Whether his daily occupation be on a farm, in a factory, behind a counter or in an office, every man can do something in a patriotic way at this time.
Automobilists can render a great service by donating their cars for the taking of the military census; chauffeurs, by volunteering to drive cars during the census-taking can also perform something for their country; farmers, children, farm hands and women can display a wonderful bit of patriotism by looking after the crops, and there are a thousand and one other important things to be attended to. Everybody is wanted!
The State Military Census and Inventory was ordered by the governor of New York, Charles S. Whitman, to determine the resources of the state, as part of "the military preparation of the State to assist the nation in the conduct of the war against Germany." Both men and women between the ages of 16 and 50 were required to complete the questionnaire. The questionnaire, which was different for each gender, was designed to identify skills and abilities that could be useful to the war effort, as well as "mules, horses, heavy wagons, automobiles, heavy trucks, motor launches, power boats, and wireless outfits." (Click on the questionnaires to enlarge.)

When someone completed the census questionnaire, he or she was issued a card certifying enrollment in the "Census and Inventory of Military Resources of the State."

To read more about the New State Military Census and Inventory, click here.

The Great War: April 26, 1917

The Gossips account of the World War I years in Hudson was interrupted in recent days by two things: seven days of 1917 newspapers missing on the Fulton History site, and my need to attend to other matters. Today, we resume, with an item that appeared in the Hudson Evening Register for April 26, 1917, which addresses the problems anticipated by the farmers of Columbia County as the United States entered the war in Europe.

Farmers in Columbia county who anticipate serious trouble in planting or harvesting their crops because of a shortage of help, may not need to worry much. Joseph H. Brown and Walter G. Webster, students of Columbia university, have formed a farm bureau, which, it is expected, will alleviate much of the farmer's burdens.
Mr. Webster was in Hudson to-day and conferred with County Judge McNamee, chairman of the Columbia County Home Defense committee. He said many experienced young men could be placed by the Columbia Farm Bureau upon farms in this county. Any farmer desirous of help should communicate with Judge McNamee or E. L. Harder, of Philmont.
"Columbia university has organized a farm bureau, and we have already placed several men on farms. The food situation is so serious that the university authorities have offered full college credit for men going into this branch of national service on the same basis as those going into the military branches," Mr. Webster stated to-day.
The following call for volunteers is made by the Columbia Farm Bureau:
"The farmer is in desperate need of help--efficient, experienced help. He is doing his best to meet his obligation to the nation, but he must have help. . . ."

Plenty of Fish from the Sea

There is a Seafood Buying Club in Hudson, a project of the Hudson Community Core Group (HCCG), which is being facilitated by Hawthorne Valley Association and Long Table Harvest. The fish is provided by Pura Vida Fisheries on Route 9 just north of Hudson and delivered every second and fourth Friday of the month to a tent outside Bruno's at 227 Warren Street. Fish must be pre-ordered by the previous Tuesday, using an order form that can be obtained at and returned to Bruno's or the West Indian Market at 222 Warren Street.

The fish include some of the usual varieties you'd expect--red snapper, salmon, shrimp--as well as fish that appear less frequently on restaurant menus: porgy, mackerel, whiting, bluefish, croaker, and spot. A flyer that includes the order form provides a description of each of these fish, all of which are abundant in our oceans, and with suggestions for preparing them. Here, for example, is the description of the porgy:
The porgy or scup is a salt-water pan fish. The fish is tender, flakey and mild in flavor. Preparation is best sauteed, baked, pan-fried, deep-fried or steamed. The porgy is sometimes called the Red Snapper of the Northeast.
All fish are sold whole, and there is an additional charge of 50 cents a pound for cleaning. Prices for the fish differ depending on whether your household income is below or above $50,000. For more information, stop by Bruno's or the West Indian Market and pick up a flyer.

Deadline Reminder

Tomorrow, May 1, is the deadline for requesting funding from the City of Hudson for an event or festival you are planning for this year. The form below, which outlines the information you must provide to be considered, can be found on the City of Hudson website

If you haven't already submitted your application, there is still time. Applications can be hand-delivered to City Hall at anytime before 5 p.m. tomorrow.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Parking Ticket Challenges

Now that the Hudson Police Department has moved from 427 Warren Street to 701 Union Street, the slot at the police station where you could pay a parking fine, at any hour of the day or night, is no longer available. There is now a drop box for paying parking fines, with cash, check, or money order, in the lobby of City Hall, 520 Warren Street, which can be accessed only during the hours that City Hall is open. You can also mail a check or money order to: Hudson City Parking Bureau, City Hall, 520 Warren Street, Hudson, NY 12534.

The simplest and easiest way to pay a fine, provided that you are willing to pay the extra $3.50 for the convenience and peace of mind that comes with knowing you have paid your fine promptly and won't end up owning $55.00 instead of $15.00, is online at There you can pay with plastic or PayPal and know immediately that the payment has been received and all is well.

So yesterday morning, when I discovered to my dismay that I had foolishly left the Gossipsmobile on the wrong side of the street overnight and I had a ticket, I decided to pay the fine immediately online. Alas, I was frustrated in that effort. After I entered the ticket number, state in which the car is registered, and plate number, the system informed me that the City of Hudson had not yet made my ticket available for payment. Today, 27 hours after my first attempt and 33 hours after the ticket was issued, it's still not available.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Taking Inventory

C. J. Randall and David West, the principals of Randall+West, the consultants now working with the Conservation Advisory Council to complete an open space and natural resources inventory of Hudson, were in town yesterday to gather input from local residents. Creating the inventory is required if the CAC, which now simply advises the Common Council, the Planning Board, and the Zoning Board of Appeals on matters related to the environment, is to become a Conservation Board, a regulatory body that would conduct an environmental review of all projects that require site plan review by the Planning Board.

To create the inventory, Randall+West is assembling available information, gathered from the Department of Environmental Conservation as well as other sources, into a multilayered database that maps the information. Last night, large versions of eleven such maps, representing layers of the inventory, were displayed around the room at the Hudson Senior Center in the Galvan Armory. Those attending the public meeting were asked to interact with the maps, identifying what they considered to be the most important conservation areas, correcting and commenting on information, and suggesting additional information to be included. For example, the map showing cultural resources included districts and individual properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places but not locally designated districts and landmarks.     

The exercise was both intriguing and enlightening. Who knew that there was prime farmland within the city limits of Hudson? Well, I guess anyone who knew that there were cultivated fields where the Hudson Correctional Facility now stands and the almshouse and the Firemen's Home once grew their own food.

More News of Parks and Recreation

Here's another bit of news that harks back a few years. At the end of 2014, Columbia County received a $131,250 grant "to design a recreational and natural trail within walking distance of downtown Hudson on lands that include the former Hudson Landfill." For eighteen months after the grant award was announced, nothing was heard about this project. Then in June 2016, a report in the Register-Star indicated that it seemed ready to begin. 

Gossips learned yesterday that the RFP (request for proposal) for the plan was completed in December 2016, and a committee of four is now reviewing the submissions. Among the proposals submitted is one from a firm involved in designing a section of Freshkills Park on Staten Island, the world's largest landfill which is now being developed as a park.


Returning to the Public Square

It's been about three years since Cathryn Dwyre's re-imagining of the Public Square, also known as Seventh Street Park, met with what was at best misgiving and at worst outrage.

Dwyre dissed the original 1878 design of the park, calling it a Roman concept that was already out of fashion when it was inappropriately imposed on the Public Square--inappropriate because it pretended that the railroad tracks did not slice through the space. Despite that criticism, Hudsonians were ready defend their anachronistic park. The general consensus at the time seemed to be that the park should be restored to its 19th-century simplicity, with the original Venus fountain at its center.

Although there was much attention paid to the Public Square back in 2014, no plan to restore or alter the park was ever pursued, because the City didn't get the $250,000 grant it was seeking to finance the project.

The Public Square came up again last night at the Common Council Public Works Committee meeting. Peter Bujanow, public works commissioner, had earlier noted that the paving of the walks in the park was in such bad shape that it presented a public safety issue. In his report to the committee, DPW superintendent Rob Perry explained that in 2013 he had gotten a quote from T. D. Smith Stonemasonry to replace the asphalt surface with pavers. The cost, then estimated to be just shy of $40,000, was put in the proposed budget for 2014 but was removed by the Board of Estimate and Apportionment. Perry said he would again ask that money to replace the asphalt walks with pavers be included in the budget for 2018.

Image: Google
The pictures that follow, showing a city park in Chesterton, Maryland, provided to Gossips back in 2014 by Joe Connelly, give evidence that replacing the nasty asphalt with brick pavers would go a long a way toward improving the appearance and the experience of our Public Square.


With new brick paths, all that would remain to make the Public Square the source of civic pride, as it was in the 19th century, would be to get rid of the pachyderm fence around the fountain and re-create the fountain in its original 19th-century design.

Evelyn & Robert Monthie Slide Collection, Columbia County Historical Society

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Mark Your Calendars

It's official. The public hearing to be held by the Zoning Board of Appeals about the Order to Remedy for work done by Colarusso on the dock, without approval from the Planning Board, has been scheduled for Tuesday, May 9, at 6 p.m. in City Hall. The notice of the public hearing appeared today in the Register-Star.

Image: South Bay Coalition


Preservation and Conservation

The Register-Star reports today about the Doodletown Wildlife Management Area--700 acres of long abandoned farmland now grown into a forest, recently purchased by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation for public use: "700 acres in Columbia County now open to the public."


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Support Your Local Confectionery

Hudson's own Vasilow's Confectionery is a semifinalist in two categories in Hudson Valley Magazine's "Best of the Hudson Valley 2017" competition. The two categories are "Candy Store" and "Chocolate Shop." The voting began yesterday and continues through the end of the month, Sunday, April 30. Click here to access the page where you can vote for Vasilow's . . . twice! 

Finding a Place to Park

Last week, the Common Council passed a resolution to make a formal home rule request of the state legislature to establish a residential parking permit system for the area of Hudson surrounding Columbia Memorial Hospital. It is hoped this will solve the parking problems for residents whose parking spaces on the street are regularly taken up by hospital workers. But what about the hospital workers? Where are they supposed to park? 

In the past, the hospital rented the parking lot at the American Legion for its workers. Recently the property was sold, and that lot is no longer available. 

As an alternative to the American Legion lot, the hospital is now renting parking spaces for it workers in the lot behind the First Reformed Church on Green Street. While providing offsite parking, the hospital prohibits workers from parking in the existing parking garage during the daytime in order to keep those spaces free for people visiting doctors' offices and patients in the hospital. 

Even though the hospital is providing parking only a block away, it seems that hospital workers prefer driving around the neighborhood looking for a space on the street to parking in the lot. For whatever reason workers would rather park on the street than in the lot, things will become a lot more difficult for them when parking on the street will likely result in a $25 parking ticket.

Protecting What's Unique About Hudson

The historic preservation ordinance, Chapter 169 of the City of Hudson code, which was adopted by the Common Council in 2003, was the most significant legislation for protecting the unique character of Hudson. Despite Rick Scalera, who was mayor at the time, later mourning, in the media, that signing the legislation into law instead of vetoing it was the biggest mistake he ever made as mayor, and his former aide, Carmine Pierro, launching regular assaults on the Historic Preservation Commission, when he was on the Common Council, for allegedly interfering with development in Hudson, the historic preservation ordinance and the commission that it created have succeeded in protecting the very things that make Hudson a sought-after destination: its historic architecture and its unique and quirky character.

Now, fourteen years later, the Common Council Economic Development Committee is working on legislation that would take a further step in preserving not only community character but also community wealth. The proposed legislation is a law that would ban formula businesses--chains and big box stores--from locating in Hudson.

The aesthetic benefit of such a ban is obvious. Hudson would not have to deal with businesses wanting to impose their iconic store appearance and signage on our main street. Such a law would also preserve Hudson's character by encouraging the kinds of unique, independent businesses that have developed here and ensuring that they would not have to compete with regional and national chains. The law would also ensure that Hudson continues to provide an experience that cannot be found anywhere else--certainly not in a shopping mall. And there are additional economic benefits. The law would ensure that wealth stays in the community. More than once in the discussion of this legislation, Alderman John Friedman (Third Ward), who is researching and drafting the legislation, has pointed out that money spent at a chain store leaves the community the next day, but money spent at businesses with local owners stays in the community longer. Another benefit anticipated is that a ban on formula stores would have the effect of capping the rents being charged for commercial space on Warren Street. Landlords might be more reasonable in their expectations if they knew that renting to a chain, capable of paying more than an independent proprietor, is not a possibility.

At the Economic Development Committee meeting last Thursday, the committee reviewed a draft of the legislation banning formula businesses from Hudson. Based on the discussion that evening, Friedman will be revising the draft. Committee chair Rick Rector told Gossips that the committee will hold a public hearing to help them refine the legislation before passing it along to the full Council for consideration.

Meeting Canceled

News for anyone planning to attend the Hudson Development Corporation meeting today: It was just announced that the Board of Directors meeting, which was to take place at noon, will not be held. The next meeting of the HDC Board will take place on May 23.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Election Day Is Just Six Months Away

Local elections happen this November. In Hudson, local elections can be pretty exciting, and this year, with the restructuring of the five wards into voting districts of equal population, the election promises to be even more dramatic than usual.

The first to make public his intention to run for office this time around is Rob Bujan, who is seeking to represent the greatly expanded geographically First Ward as an alderman. Bujan, a Democrat who lives in the original First Ward and currently serves on the Planning Board, announced his candidacy with this statement:
I am looking forward to running for 1st Ward Alderman. I believe transparency and collaboration to be an essential part of any government. We don't have to always agree but we should really agree that each person's passion has a reason behind it and that that passion is important to them. Treating others with respect, regardless of one's view is so important when working with a team, in this case, the Common Council.  
Now is the time for the City of Hudson and its government to continue to work to push for progress, equality, responsibility and respect.   
You can hear Bujan, who writes the blog Pulling the Plug on Healthcare, talking about healthcare and related issues today at 2 p.m. on WGXC. Bujan's campaign website is

Consideration of Haul Road Postponed

Gossips has received word that Ed Stiffler, chair of the Greenport Planning Board, announced this morning the board will not be considering the Colarusso haul road proposal at its next meeting, which takes place tomorrow, April 25. The reason given is that the public comments received, at the special informational meeting last week and in written form, provide more information than the board is able to review prior to the meeting.


Reminder of an Important Meeting

This Wednesday, April 26, the Conservation Advisory Council is holding a public meeting to gather knowledge and ideas to inform its Open Space and Natural Resources Inventory. 

Hudson residents are invited to share their thoughts about what would make Hudson a more livable, sustainable, and enjoyable place. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, in the Hudson Senior Center on the second floor of the Galvan Armory at 51 North Fifth Street, also the location of the Hudson Area Library. For more information, contact

Sunday, April 23, 2017

The Beginnings of 327 Warren Street

"A City Hall should be erected, one that Hudson city would be proud of. It is certainly needed, and by a little exertion on the part of our citizens it could be obtained." 

With those words, from a letter to the editor that appeared in the Hudson Daily Star on May 22, 1851, Mayor Tiffany Martin Hamilton cut the ribbon, and the guests assembled last night for the Proprietors Ball climbed the stairs to the newly restored Hudson Hall, the final phase of the restoration of a building constructed a hundred and sixty-one years ago as Hudson's City Hall.

In the thirty-six hours before the ball, Gossips spent some time trying to help identify something historic and appropriate for the mayor to say on this occasion. My research, though it yielded no eloquent statements from the mayor at the time, Peter S. Wynkoop, uncovered a timeline of the construction of the building in 1854, which for us in the 21st century seems truly amazing. Today, as a tribute to the monumental community achievement celebrated last night, Gossips shares a summary of the story of the building's construction, drawn from items that appeared in the Daily Star. 

As the quote from the letter to the editor suggests, Hudson's need for a proper city hall was recognized for many years before it was met. Prior to the construction of 327 Warren Street, the Common Council met in rented spaces. There seem to have been a couple of different ones over time, and the legend that the Henry Ary painting of George Washington has to be present whenever the Common Council meets may be associated with this lack of a city hall and an official, permanent Council chamber. The presence of the painting rendered whatever room the Council was meeting in the official Council chamber.

Our story today begins in April 1854, when, on April 4, the Daily Star reported that the legislation enabling the City of Hudson to borrow $15,000 for the purpose of building a city hall had passed in the State Assembly and Senate.

The next step was to find a site for the building, and two days later, on April 6, 1854, the Daily Star reported that a committee of the Common Council had been appointed to do just that.

On April 11, the Daily Star reported that the committee "have not yet fixed upon any definite site," but three days later, on April 14, eight days after the committee was appointed, the Daily Star reported that a site had been chosen.

The following day, on April 15, the Daily Star provides more information about the site.


The next steps were to get rid of the "small wooden buildings of little value" and select an architect. On May 4, it was reported that the buildings had been sold at auction, and on May 30, it was reported that last of the old buildings had been moved from the site.

This building in the 300 block of Allen Street is one of the buildings that was moved.

Where on Diamond Street (now Columbia Street) and State Street the other buildings were relocated is not known nor it is known if they still exist.

On April 21, 1854, the Daily Star reported, "The City Hall plans are in the hands of two or three architects of this city to make drafts." Although the report specified "architects of this city," the first draft to be submitted, on May 8, 1854, came from an Albany architect, Mr. B. S. De Forest. This raised the ire of at least one Hudsonian, who, identifying himself as "An Old Tax Payer," declared in a letter to the editor of the Daily Star: "We have among us men of genius and talent, capable of designing and constructing any work, either useful or ornamental, in as good style and taste as any that can be procured from abroad, and those who are entrusted with the management of our city affairs, would not be justified in giving the funds raised by city taxation to foreign mechanics; and the writer for one, although decidedly in favor of the new City Hall, would have opposed the measure with all the influence under his control, could he for a moment have supposed that our city authorities would adopt such an unjust and impolitic course." The next day, the Daily Star assured "An Old Tax Payer" that "the draft submitted by Mr. De Forest of Albany was volunteered and received with the understanding that it was not to be paid for unless adopted." 

A few days later, on May 13, 1854, it appeared that De Forest would be the architect of Hudson's city hall because our local Hudson architects were too busy with other projects to submit their drafts in time.

On May 19, 1854, however, the Daily Star reported that Peter H. Avery had submitted a draft "which is in several respects thought to be better adapted to the purpose and the place than that submitted by Mr. De Forest, of Albany." As we know, Avery, who was both young and local though apparently not a Hudson native, got the job. The account in the Daily Star provides a fairly detailed description of Avery's proposed design. Reading it, one can imagine the building as we know it.


The bids for constructing the building were received on June 28, 1854, and on July 1, 1854, the project was awarded to Mr. A. Calkins, who submitted the lowest bid: $12,975. The ground breaking took place the very next day, on July 2, 1854, and six months later, on January 2, 1855, Hudson's new City Hall opened with its very first event: a Franklin Library Association lecture given by George William Curtiss [sic], entitled "The Secret of Success."