Thursday, August 31, 2017

Another Candidate, Another Town Hall Meeting

Bill Hughes has been the supervisor from the Fourth Ward since 2008. According to him, "the relationship between the City and County hasn't been this strong in a long time." This evening, at 6 p.m., Hughes invites everyone to a town hall meeting at the Hudson Area Library, 51 North Fifth Street, to "learn what your County government is doing for you."


Watch the Debate for Yourself

Dan Udell's videotape of last night's debate between Tom DePietro and Steve Dunn, who are vying to be the Democratic candidate for Common Council president, is now available on YouTube. Click here to watch and listen.


Two Events to Start the Long Weekend

Tomorrow at the cocktail hour, Historic Hudson invites everyone down to the Dunn warehouse by the river for "Drinks on the Waterfront." Under a tent in the yard of this historic industrial building, one of the few remaining on the Hudson waterfront, enjoy a selection of Central European wines from Hudson Wine Merchants, paired with delectable late summer food from Talbott & Arding Cheese and Provisions--while experiencing one of the last days of summer in this unique riverfront setting.

The Dunn warehouse, located at the intersection of Broad and Water streets, just across from Henry Hudson Riverfront Park, was built in the early 1850s as the "Engine Shop" for the Hudson & Boston Railroad. The building's stabilization and restoration is one of the priority projects in Hudson's proposed BRIDGE District, which was recently awarded $10 million in Governor Andrew Cuomo's Downtown Revitalization Initiative. Its adaptive reuse is recognized as the first phase in reimagining Hudson's riverfront park.

The event, which takes place from 4 to 7 p.m., on Friday, September 1, is a benefit for Historic Hudson, enabling the organization to continue its advocacy for Hudson's unique architectural and cultural past and its vibrant future. There is still time to secure your place at the party. Click here to purchase tickets.

Saturday afternoon brings another chance to party for a good cause. On Saturday, September 2, the Columbia-Greene Garden Party, the signature outdoor fundraising event for the Alliance for Positive Health, takes place in Claverack, at the home of acclaimed film director James Ivory.

The garden party, which takes place from 3 to 6 p.m., features an exquisite atmosphere, gourmet samplings, live entertainment, a fabulous array of silent auction items, and is attended by both Capital Region and New York City residents. For more information and to make your reservation, click here.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Candidates Debate

Tonight, the two people vying to be the Democratic candidate for Common Council president--Tom DePietro and Steve Dunn--faced off in a debate, moderated by Lynn Sloneker, station manager at WGXC, at John L. Edwards Primary School.

Dan Udell was there videotaping the event, which went on for close to two hours, so Gossips will not undertake to recount everything that was said. One came away believing that both men were intelligent, thoughtful, and well-informed, with a deep and genuine commitment to Hudson. While Dunn tended to refer to his skill set--law degree from the University of Michigan, MBA from the University of Chicago--DePietro called attention to his on-the-ground service to Hudson. A card found on every chair in the room delineated that service: Hudson Planning Board (chair), Hudson Industrial Development Agency, Hudson Community Development & Planning Agency, Hudson Waterfront Advisory Committee [it should be noted that DePietro serves on the previous three boards or committees because he is the chair of the Hudson Planning Board], radio host and fundraiser for WGXC. When, in answering a question about what the candidates would do with $10 million if it could be used anyway they pleased, Dunn mentioned programs at the Hudson Area Library, DePietro took the opportunity to say that he had just completed his training to teach in the ESL (English as a Second Language) program at HAL.

DePietro and Dunn both professed how much they love Hudson. DePietro said he had "never felt more at home anywhere." Dunn called Hudson "a place that has given me meaning and satisfaction as I have never known before." In answering a question about gentrification, Dunn said, among other things, "Everybody wants to move to Hudson." That statement, along with the heartfelt complaints heard last week from people who fear being displaced, reminded me of a conversation I had with a child who lived on my block back in 1995. (I bought my house and took up full-time residence in Hudson in 1993.) I was trimming the ivy bed in front of my house, which I'd planted the previous year, when the child stopped and engaged me in conversation. Among other things, she asked what I was going to do with the things I'd planted when I moved away. When I told her I wasn't planning to move any time soon, she said with disbelief, "Don't you want to leave here when your life gets better?"

Gentrification transformed Hudson from a place where you went when you were down on your luck and left as soon you could to a place where everyone wants to live and everyone wants to stay. The trick is to keep Hudson in the sweet spot we seem now to have attained.

Down by the River

Yesterday morning, Gossips was at Rick's Point to witness the delivery of a small bulldozer. A small backhoe was already there. Curious to know what the equipment would be used for, I contacted public works superintendent Rob Perry, thinking surely he would know. He didn't. He did explain that "the site is an active brownfield, so any activity usually involves National Grid and DEC." The site is a brownfield because, in the latter part of the 19th century, Hudson Gas Company, sometimes known as the Hudson Gasification Works, which transformed coal into gas to heat and light homes, was located right beside the Dunn warehouse building. 

The responsibility for the creosote contamination produced by that process is a legacy thing, which has been passed on to National Grid.

This morning, I learned that the work is indeed being done by National Grid, and what they are doing is putting more rocks on top of the riprap in the slips.

The work done so far happened yesterday afternoon, and this morning, DPW workers were at the site putting down new grass seed to repair the damage to the lawn done by the equipment used to put the stone in place.

Meanwhile, at the state boat launch, nature is reclaiming the recently denuded and skewered rock face.

On July 28, a stop-work order was issued for the project, which involved stripping the escarpment of all foliage and driving metal rods into the rock in preparation for spraying the escarpment with shotcrete. The stop-work order was necessary because the project, which at that point had been going on for close to three weeks, was subject to Coast Consistency Review by the Department of State, but it had never been submitted for such review. It took more than a week for the stop-work order to be enforced, but it finally was on August 5, and on August 16, Mayor Tiffany Martin Hamilton met with senior representatives of the Department of Transportation, the Department of State, the Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation, and Scenic Hudson to discuss the project. After that meeting, she reported: "There will be a public meeting held within the next several weeks with all agencies in attendance to give the community the opportunity to learn more about proposed alternatives for the project." So far, to Gossips' knowledge, there has been no word of exactly when that meeting will take place, and the foliage keeps growing back.

Time Is Running Out

Friday, September 1, is the deadline for telling the EPA to protect the health of people, wildlife, and the Hudson River by requiring GE to do more dredging in the upper Hudson River and to initiate a remedial investigation/feasibility study in the lower 150 miles of the Hudson as soon as possible.  

Riverkeeper and Scenic Hudson are both providing opportunities to submit your comments online. Or you can send a personal message by mail or email to:

Gary Klawinski
Director, Hudson River Field Office
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
187 Wolf Road, Suite 303
Albany, NY 12205  

Guidelines for composing an effective message can be found here.

This is our last chance to pressure the EPA to protect the Hudson River and the health of our communities.

Better Late Than Never

The print version of the Register-Star today reports month-old news above the fold.

Click here to read the story online.

Hudson on the Evening News

Yesterday, WNYT News Channel 13 reporter Kumi Tucker rode around Hudson with Officer Brent Rowe. Her report appeared on the news last evening: "On patrol in Hudson, after recent gun violence."

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Setting the Record Straight

It seems some folks at Columbia-Greene Media thought that in my post yesterday, "Hudson's Own Fake News," I was calling their publication "fake news," the way Donald Trump uses the term to dismiss the New York Times, the Washington Post, and all other news media that report things that don't conform with his perception of reality. That is not the case, and I'm sorry about the misunderstanding. I was using the term "fake news" to refer to one specific piece of misinformation they had published on Thursday, August 24, which had been picked up and reported as if it were true by WGXC yesterday. The fake news is that Earl Swanigan is a mayoral candidate.

I was just informed that today, five days after it was originally published, the story has been corrected. The title has been changed to "Mayoral candidate bidder's sentencing postponed," and an Editor's Note has been appended, which reads: "This story corrects an earlier version. Earl Swanigan is not a candidate for the Hudson mayoral seat." Unfortunately, the article still contains this sentence: "Swanigan is up against only one other candidate--Harry "Rick" Rector, a 1st Ward alderman--in the Democratic primary." He's not; there is no Democratic primary for Hudson mayor.

Tonight at the Red Dot

Ever since the Moth Radio Hour debuted in 2009, live storytelling has become increasingly popular. Tonight, at 7 p.m., WGXC presents "Prison Alley Tales," a night of live storytelling featuring residents of Columbia and Greene counties. The evening includes tales about a haunted modem, a claustrophobic mortician trapped in an elevator with the deceased in a coffin, and Scary Thing #2. There will also be poems by Frank O'Hara and live piano music, not to mention free snacks and a cash bar.

The storytelling takes place at the Red Dot, 321 Warren Street. If you can't be there in person, you can listen on the radio. The event will be broadcast live on WGXC, 90.7 FM or online at

The Bed Races Return

Some maintain that the bed races in Hudson go back farther than the 1980s, when, for a few years, they were organized by Dick Tracy, then youth director. 

Photo: Paul Abitabile
Research undertaken to find evidence of earlier bed races in Hudson has so far found none, but it has uncovered some interesting information about bed races. In 1961, the first ever floating bed races took place on the James River in Richmond, Virginia. It was predicted at the time that floating bed races "could replace phone booth stuffing and long distance bed pushing in the hearts of college men everywhere." That apparently didn't happen. What did happen, in the 1960s, '70s, and '80s, was that bed races moved beyond college fraternity high jinks and became, along with such things as pancake-eating contests, tractor-pulling contests, and square dances in Jeeps, a zany feature of fairs and community events, meant both to entertain locals and attract tourists. In 1978, Bolton Landing, on Lake George, was reportedly "fast becoming known for its Bed Races and Regatta."

The Hudson Bed Races were revived briefly in the early years of the 21st century. This picture is from the 2002 bed races. The bed is the foreground was designed by Lisa Durfee.

Last year, the Hudson Bed Races were revived once again, and this year, the event returns for its second annual run.

In 2017, the Hudson Bed Races will take place on Saturday, September 23, at 3 p.m. Because of complaints from merchants about one more event that shut down Warren Street on a fair weather Saturday, the course of the race is moving from Warren Street to Front Street. The beds will assemble at the entrance to Promenade Hill, and the race will go south down Front Street, ending, conveniently for those participants who will need to quench their thirst, at the Half Moon.

To find out more about this year's bed races, to register a bed (and a team), learn the rules and regulations, to or to become a sponsor of the event, go to

Monday, August 28, 2017

Renderings and Reality

Hudson's Downtown Revitalization Initiative contains a rendering of the Second Street stairs re-imagined. Seeing it reminded me of just how creative and conceptual renderings like this can be.

People familiar with the stairs from Allen Street to Cross Street and those who remember when, before the guardrail was installed at the top in 2012, a septuagenarian hurdled his car down the grassy hill and crashed into the abandoned Kaz warehouse below, are probably doubtful of the feasibility of converting those stairs into the gracious and gentle integrated ramp and stairs envisioned here.

The rendering in the DRI application is reminiscent of a similar integrated ramp and stairs proposed in 2015 for Promenade Hill, which, when designing a ramp became a serious undertaking, was determined to be completely impracticable.

Of course, the most notorious example of renderings that underestimate the steepness of an incline is the rendering for the ramp on Columbia Street, an element of the PARC linear park. 

Here's the rendering:

Here's the reality:


Hudson's Own Fake News

On Thursday, Amanda Purcell's report about Earl Swanigan carried the headline: "Mayoral candidate's sentencing postponed." Along with referring to Swanigan as a mayoral candidate in the text of the article, Purcell stated: "Swanigan is up against only one other candidate--Harry "Rick" Rector, a 1st Ward aldermen." Remarkably, Phil Grant, while reporting the news today on WGXC, picked up Purcell's story and her error, stating: "Swanigan is a candidate in the September 12 Democratic primary for mayor. It is unclear at this point how his conviction will impact his candidacy." WGXC has since corrected the error; the Register-Star has not. 

Gossips repeats the news reported here on July 27. Swanigan's designating petitions were ruled invalid. Hence he is not a mayoral candidate; he has not been a mayoral candidate for more than a month now. In fact, he never actually was a mayoral candidate. His name will not appear on the ballot for the Democratic primary for mayor. There will be no Democratic primary for mayor.

Gossips Update: As of this morning, Tuesday, August 29, the article, first published on Thursday, August 24, has been corrected: "Mayoral candidate bidder's sentencing postponed."

Two Weeks and a Day Away

The local primary election is just two weeks from tomorrow, on September 12. The one citywide primary race in Hudson is for Common Council president. Registered Democrats can vote for one of two candidates--Tom DePietro (below right) or Steve Dunn (below left). Registered Independents (members of the Independence Party) have an "opportunity to ballot" in the primary and can write in the name of the candidate of their choice. To prepare for making a choice for Common Council president, the two candidates--DePietro and Dunn--will have a debate this Wednesday, August 30, at 6 p.m., at John L. Edwards Elementary School.

If you can't make it to JLE to witness the debate, don't worry. It will be broadcast live on WGXC on Wednesday night, and it will be archived, so you can listen at your leisure. WGXC is heard at 90.7 FM or online at

Sample ballots for all the primary races are now available online at the Board of Elections website. Click on the appropriate party and ward to view.

Independents (i.e. members of the Independence Party)
If you are uncertain which ward you are in, here's the map.


Sunday, August 27, 2017

A New Life for a Historic Building

The Park Theatre building, at 723 Warren Street, has a new owner, Shanan Magee, who has undertaken the stabilization of the building (it was declared "Dangerous and Unsafe" by the code enforcement officer in April 2014) and is committed to restoring the building to the way it looked in 1921 when it first opened as a movie house. 

Along with stabilizing the building, Magee is trying to piece together its history, which is turning out to be not such an easy task. One thing critical to restoring the building's facade is a picture of the building as it was when it was a theater, and so far none has been found. This appeal is being made to readers: If you have a historic picture of the Park Theatre, 723 Warren Street, or know anyone who might, please contact Gossips

In the search for the building's history, Gossips is lending a hand and last night found an article that appeared in the Columbia Republican for May 3, 1921--six days before the theater opened. The article goes into intriguing detail about the interior of the building, but sadly there were no pictures accompanying it.

Hudson's fourth motion picture theatre--the Park Theatre--will open the latter part of next week if the present plans are followed. However, Thursday it was impossible to definitely fix the day as this must depend upon the amount of work which can be accomplished in the meantime. It had been the intention to open the theatre on Thursday next. This yet may be date otherwise it will be a day or two later. [Note: The Columbia Republican was a weekly newspaper, published on Tuesday. "Thursday next" would have been May 5. We know that the Park Theatre opened on May 9, which was a Monday.]
The new theatre is practically completed and Hudson lovers of motion pictures are to be most agreeably surprised by the cozyness and attractiveness of this little amusement palace. Only the finishing touches are yet to be applied by the mechanics so that there will be no material changes now.
The theatre will seat about 500 persons. There are orchestra seats in rows of four on each side while the great portion of the seats are in the center of the auditorium. The floor has been pitched so that it will be possible is look over the head of the person in the seat ahead from every part of the house.
The theatre is absolutely fire-proof and is constructed only of steel, iron, concrete, and tile. The booth of iron and concrete is said by underwriters to be one of the best in the State. It is built into the rear of the theatre lobby and back and overhead of the auditorium. The booth is equipped with two Powers motion picture machines of the 1921 type with every device and appliance. Beneath the booth is a separate generator room and film box, both fireproof. In the film box can be placed any extra films kept on hand and will be in no danger whatever from fire.
The entrances are in front. There are four exits on the sides, front and back. The interior is of decorated steel. The ceiling is in cream and orange while these colors with a gray-blue are beautifully combined on the side walls with a mahogany finish to the steel wainscoating [sic].
The theatre will be suburbly [sic] lighted. There are twelve indirect ceiling fixtures and ten wall fixtures. There is 360 feet of ventilating space in the ceilings and this is added to by windows on both sides.
One of the features of the theatre is the $6,000 Foto-player organ. This is not a mechanical orchestration but a modern organ with appliances made especially for theatre use. It will be operated by an expert musician and will take the place of a 9-piece orchestra.
The picture screen is on a good-sized stage. The screen was painted by Robert Wentworth of this city and is said to be one of the finest possible to secure. The picture will be thrown 35 feet on this screen.
The theatre is owned by William Plass, the well-known Hudson livery man. There are two modern flats over the theatre which will be occupied on May 1st. The theatre bulding was planned and supervised by Eugene Jacobie. The electrical power work was done by Eugene Howard who also installed the machines and the power for the organ. The lighting work was done by Milton Glickman. The painting and interior decorating was done by Avery & Mulford.
The lobby of the theatre is to be of tile. Over the street there will be a large glass marquis.
The theatre has been leased and will be conducted exclusively by Julius Thompsen, proprietor of the Star theatre. He will conduct both theatres and is now booking the finest of motion picture attractions in the country for the new theatre.
Thanks to a Gossips reader, we know what the Star Theatre, which was located at 510 Warren Street, looked like.

Now the help of all is needed to find out what the Park Theatre looked like in its heyday.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Of Garages and Mid-Century Modern Buildings

On Friday morning, the Historic Preservation Commission considered two proposals that presented different but significant challenges. The first was the proposal to demolish the garage behind 439 Union Street, built sometime in first half of the 20th century, and replace it with a new building that would be both garage and living space. The proposal had been introduced at the HPC's August 11 meeting, at which time the application had been determined to be complete. At yesterday's meeting, the HPC heard public comment and prepared to make a decision.

The justification for demolishing the building is that, because of structural issues, it cannot be converted into a residence. It has no foundation, it has "undersized framing," and it was built with "poor quality materials." What's being proposed to replace it is a new building that would "fit the neighborhood in a complementary manner."

The one person who commented during the public hearing pointed out that Partition Street was one of the oldest streets in Hudson and wanted to know if the new building would be "a nod to the proportions of the old building" or an actual replication. He was told by the applicant that it would be a "simple style building, taking the form of what was there."

Partition Street is indeed the oldest street in Hudson, predating the Proprietors by well more than a century. Franklin Ellis in History of Columbia County (1878) explains: "This road or "Waggon-Way" led from the interior farms to the landing, and passed nearly along the line of Ferry and Partition streets." It got the name Partition Street because, when the vast lands of Jan Frans Van Hoesen were divided up among his children after his death in 1703, the road that is now Partition Street marked the boundary between the tract south of the road, which went to Johannes Van Hoesen, and the tract north of the road, which went to Catherine Van Hoesen and her husband, Francis Hardick. 

In the discussion of the proposed project, HPD member Rick Rector stressed that, although it is sometimes thought of as the equivalent of an alley, Partition Street is a street in a historic district. John Schobel expressed the opinion that it was "extremely difficult to demolish something with character that is not dilapidated." Miranda Barry advised, "We need to balance the owner's desire to utilize the building with preservation." She went on to comment that the existing building has character but the current plans for the new building "do not reflect the original structure" and are "not compatible with the rest of the neighborhood."

When the applicant suggested that some elements of the existing structure might be retained, Rector responded, "Demolition is the first task. If you want to come back with a new proposal, you can, but we need to deal with what's before us." He then explained, "Our mission is to protect the historic character," and reminded his colleagues, "Our big question is: Are we going to allow a building to be demolished?"

At this point, before the HPC could vote to grant or deny a certificate of appropriateness, the applicant decided to withdraw the application.

The other proposal that raised interesting questions was a proposal to renovate the facade of the Half Moon at the corner of South Front and Allen streets.

The current design of the building was characterized as "gas station architecture," and the proposed changes, which involved applying reclaimed brick to the facade and replacing the "Alamo" parapet at the front with a "Dutch staggered" parapet, were meant to make the building more compatible with its context with no reference to the building's original design.  

The applicant dated the building based on materials used in its construction, saying they were not historic. When the HPC asked about historic photographs of the building, it was indicated none had been found. The application was declared incomplete for want of historic photographs.

Yesterday afternoon, two discoveries were made. In one of Peter Cipkowski's grandfather's home movies, it was discovered that the building was constructed in 1946.

The owners of the Half Moon drove out to the Taconic Wayside Inn, where they'd been told there was an old photograph of the building, and indeed there was.

By a happy coincidence, most of the changes being proposed to make the building more compatible with its 19th-century surroundings, without reference to the building's original design (in fact, it was suggested that the building was not historic because it was not of the same vintage as the buildings around it), would bring it back to the way it looked seventy-one years ago, when it was first constructed.

Confronting the Unknown

This is a repeat of a policy change notice published last Saturday. It's being published again because some readers obviously missed it.

It has come to my attention that whenever people opt for "OpenID" as their profile when making a comment on Gossips, the source of the comment is identified as "Unknown." Several people--more than in the past--are now opting for "OpenID." As a consequence, there are many comments from "Unknown," which may or may not be coming from the same person. Because this is confusing and troublesome to people who reveal their names or comment with a consistent nom de plumeGossips will now require that, if you use "OpenID," you must either reveal your name or a pseudonym you plan to use consistently in the comment. Comments from "Unknown" that have no further identifying information will not be published. Many thanks for your cooperation.

Friday, August 25, 2017

More Primary Prep

On Wednesday, August 23, on WGXC, Vern Cross and Jahnessa Mackey interviewed two candidates in the Democratic primary: Michael O'Hara and Steve Dunn. O'Hara, who is the incumbent First Ward alderman, is competing in the primary with two other candidates--Rob Bujan and Kamal Johnson--for the two slots on the Democratic line in November. Dunn is vying with Tom DePietro to be the Democrats' candidate for Common Council president. The interview with O'Hara can be heard hereThe interview with Dunn can be heard here.

News from City Hall

Gossips just received the following press release from Mayor Tiffany Martin Hamilton:
Today the City of Hudson commenced an Article 78 lawsuit challenging the SEQRA “negative declaration” issued by the Town of Greenport Planning Board on July 25, in relation to the proposed modifications to the Colarusso haul road crossing the South Bay. The haul road, which crosses the South Bay causeway and terminates onto South Front Street at the Hudson waterfront, is a road by which heavy gravel trucks travel from the Colarusso quarry in Greenport to the commercial dock at the Hudson Waterfront. The Hudson waterfront area is of great concern to the City of Hudson as a whole, and this step—filing the Article 78 lawsuit—is needed to ensure that a proper and sustainable balance of uses and activities is maintained in the waterfront area, and that projects are carried out in ways that minimize unnecessary and avoidable adverse impacts upon the City. 
The essential purpose of SEQRA review is to require that before a project proceeds, it must be shown to be the course of action feasible to the applicant that has the least adverse impact on the surrounding community. I think that is an objective that all citizens of Hudson can support, and that is the objective pursued by the filing of this Article 78 lawsuit. 
Under New York law, when a proposed project may result in significant adverse environmental impacts, the reviewing lead agency is required to render what is called a “positive declaration.” The effect of a positive declaration is that it requires the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement, or EIS. The importance of an EIS is that an EIS requires the applicant to do the following: 1) elaborate on the potential adverse impacts of the project, 2) identify and evaluate all viable alternatives, and 3) demonstrate that, among the reasonable alternatives available, the action taken is the one that best avoids or minimizes adverse environmental impacts. In short, an EIS ensures that a proposed project’s objectives are carried out by the best feasible means. 
In this environmental review, the Greenport Planning Board served as the lead agency. The City of Hudson and the Hudson Planning Board, however, were involved agencies and were entitled both to provide input into the lead agency’s decision and to have their input taken seriously. Many people, including residents of Hudson, City of Hudson officials, and legal counsel retained in this matter, have expressed their view that the legitimate concerns of Hudson and its residents were discounted or minimized and feel that the Greenport Planning Board failed to properly evaluate the potential impacts of the haul road expansion proposal on the City of Hudson, as is required by New York State Law. In addition, because the Greenport Planning Board adopted a “negative declaration” and did not require Colarusso to prepare an EIS, the City and its Planning Board have been deprived of the benefits of having an EIS prepared by the applicant. The City’s recourse, in light of the Greenport Planning Board’s inadequate consideration of the impacts on Hudson, is to submit the decision to the courts for review.  The lawsuit asks that the negative declaration be reversed, and that an EIS be mandated. 

Of Interest

Screen capture: Sacramento Bee
It's not often the Sacramento Bee includes something of particular interest to us in Hudson, but two days ago it did. An article entitled "Did quest to become a 'baroness' trip up movie studio promoter? Feds want her jailed," which appeared in the Bee on August 23, tells the story of Carissa Carpenter, who for sixteen years . . . "has peddled her glitzy dream of building a massive movie studio in the rural reaches of Northern California, hopscotching from town to town in search of the ideal location." According to the article, she moved to Hudson last week. Whether she actually moved to Hudson or just moved into the 12534 zip code is not known. When you read the article, it's also recommended that you watch the video, from which the picture above is a screen capture.

Thanks to Seth Rogovoy for bringing this to Gossips' attention

Watch and Listen

Dan Udell's video of Wednesday night's discussion about the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, which Gossips reported on yesterday, is now available on YouTube.


Returning to the Departure of Company H

A week or so ago, Gossips recalled the farewell parade that took place in Hudson on August 14, 1917, when Company H, Hudson's "adopted soldier boys," left Hudson, where they'd been since April, to embark on "the long journey that will eventually take it to the battlefields of France." The report in the Hudson Evening Register of the parade featured a photograph of the Red Cross Nurses' Division lined up in front of the armory before the parade. That photograph was on the front page. Farther into the paper, on page five and discovered there only tonight, were these two pictures of the parade, as it passed the First Presbyterian Church on Warren Street.


Thursday, August 24, 2017

Voicing Misgivings About the DRI

Last night, Kamal Johnson, candidate for First Ward alderman, hosted a meeting to discuss the anticipated impact of Hudson's success in winning $10 million in Round Two of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative. About fifty people gathered at the Promise Neighborhood office on South Second Street--elected officials and those seeking public office, tenants from Bliss Towers and Hudson Terrace, homeowners in the BRIDGE District (the area defined for DRI investment) and adjacent blocks in the First Ward, advocates for social justice, and others. In his opening remarks, Johnson explained this was the first of many events "where we can have real community discussions and people don't feel they are disrespected." After saying he had not taken a position on the DRI, Johnson mentioned issues that would recur during the discussion: lack of public input in preparing the application; the emphasis on tourism; fear of displacement--"beautifying the city to attract others and force out the people here now."

The discussion was organized around two questions: "What does economic development mean to you?" and "What concerns you about the current DRI?" The first to respond to the question about economic development was Bill Hughes, Fourth Ward supervisor, who explained that economic development meant "a myriad of things"--among them jobs, education, housing--"not just tourism." He predicted that more income would be coming into the City as a consequence of the economic development fueled by the DRI, and people needed to consider how that income would be used. 

Jobs, mentioned by Hughes, became one of the recurring themes in the discussion. Nick Zachos, Hudson youth director, made reference to a company, whose name he did not mention, that came to Hudson and "promised new jobs but didn't deliver." A woman spoke of the hourly wage and number of hours being offered at The Wick Hotel, complaining about the disparity of charging $300 a night for rooms and paying employees so little. Responding to the concerns about employment, John Kane noted that one of the priority projects in the DRI was a "maker space" and "trades and apprenticeship hub," where people could learn manufacturing and fabricating skills and other trade skills. Sarah Sterling, First Ward supervisor explained that workforce development was also part of the DRI. She went on to say that jobs were going unfilled because people could not be found with the needed skills. She mentioned specifically three openings for mechanics in the county Department of Public Works, with a starting salary of $41,000, which have not been filled.

Housing was another recurring theme of the discussion. One woman complained that there were no jobs in Hudson that paid enough to enable people to afford the rents now being charged. She reported that it was now impossible to find an apartment in Hudson for less than $800 a month. Abdus Miah, Second Ward alderman, also lamented that people are leaving Hudson because they cannot earn enough money to pay for housing. Claire Cousin said she was "frustrated that housing wasn't one of the first things" in the DRI. When asked by Johnson how he would handle "people's fears of displacement," mayoral candidate Rick Rector mentioned the amount of vacant housing, saying, "The quicker we get those back on the market, the better," noting that even if units were market rate, it would ease the housing crisis.

Integrally related to fear of displacement were the plaintive comments about feeling out of place in their own community. Cousin tearfully spoke of going to the corner store to buy milk with food stamps and having to pass people who spend $300 a night to visit Hudson. Another woman asked how children can feel they belong here when there are stores that sell a pair of socks for $60. Cousin and Charisse Johnson lamented that the community is no longer the one they had known all their lives. Linda Mussmann, co-director of Time & Space Limited, complained of the number of houses in her neighborhood that were now used as short-term rentals on Airbnb, noting that, except from Thursday to Sunday, "It's a pretty lonely place." She went on to suggested sardonically, "Maybe they will hire us to walk on the street, so that it looks like a real city."

Suspicion about the DRI process was also a common thread in the discussion. Several people complained that they had no knowledge of the public meetings that had taken place between May 16, when Round Two of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative was announced, and June 14, when the application had to be submitted. Some present at the meeting explained how and where the meetings had been announced, but Joan Hunt, program director for Greater Hudson Promise Neighborhood, maintained, "If the intention was really behind getting people involved, it would have happened."

People were also concerned by what is perceived as the "secrecy" surrounding the application and the formation of the Local Planning Commission (LPC) for the DRI. Hunt alleged, "Things are happening behind closed doors." Third Ward alderman John Friedman asserted, "Everything is now at the state level. This is a myth that we are running the show." He was referring in part to the selection of the LPC. A list of twenty-five names submitted by Mayor Tiffany Martin Hamilton is now being vetted by the state and winnowed down to from eight to twelve.

Communication was also a common theme of the discussion: complaints about not knowing about meetings. Some criticized the Hudson Community Board Facebook page, where Johnson had posted the announcement of the meeting, as a means of communicating because it was a "Secret Group" that required people to join to see posts and also because half the people who need to be reached "don't have social media." The Register-Star and Gossips, mentioned as places where meetings had been announced and reported, were also dismissed as ineffective means of informing people. Flyers posted on lamp posts and slipped under doors were suggested.

One thing that is clear is that there is a lot of fear and suspicion surrounding the DRI, its goals and intents, and how it will impact the city--fear and suspicion that won't be easily allayed but can only be allayed by information. So, Gossips, despite apparently not being the ideal means of disseminating that information, will continue to do so.

Dan Udell was there last evening videotaping the entire discussion. When his video is available on YouTube, Gossips will let you know.

The illustrations accompanying this post are renderings from Hudson's DRI application showing: a welcome center proposed for Cross and South Front streets; the re-imagined Second Street stairs; the Dunn warehouse, adaptively reused; proposed projects in and around Henry Hudson Riverfront Park. 

The Latest Word from the HPD

Gossips just received the following press release from Chief Ed Moore. He stressed that there have so far been no arrests for the shootings; all the arrests reported in the press release have been made in the course of the investigation.
On Tuesday, August 22, 2017, at 8:41 p.m., HPD responded to a call that a man has been shot at 29 N. Third St. A Hudson Police Sgt who was patrolling the area arrived on the scene 90 seconds later and found Kevin L. Whitening , 31 years old, of 15 N. Front St, Hudson, severely wounded with a gunshot wound to the chest. He was given emergency treatment at Columbia Memorial Hospital but succumbed to his wound later that even,ing.
Members of HPD, New York State Police, Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, Greenport Police Department, and the Columbia County District Attorney’s Office were on scene throughout the night as evidence was collected and interviews were conducted.
On Wednesday August 23, 2017, HPD detained three “persons of interest” in this matter. After interviews were conducted all but one were released. D-Quann S. Powell of N. Second Street, Hudson, was arraigned in Hudson City Court and remanded to jail without bail on a fugitive from justice warrant stemming from an incident in Upper Saddle River, New Jersey (original charge 2C:20-10B “Unlawful Taking of a Motor Vehicle").
Later on Wednesday, August 23, 2017, information was developed that led detectives to secure a search warrant from Columbia County Judge Richard M. Koweek for residences 525, 527, 527½ State Street. Officers were looking for weapons and evidence of the recent shootings. At 7:43 p.m., teams from the New York State Police SORT team and Columbia-Greene Shared Services entered the homes and a thorough search was conducted by HPD Detectives, Columbia County Sheriff’s Investigators and NYSP Investigators. Arrested were:
Johnny L. Copeland, age 28, of State Street, Hudson--Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance 7th (cocaine)
Kevron T. Lee, age 24, of State Street, Hudson--Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance 7th (methadone)
An 18-year-old female resident of Warren Street was also arrested for Possession of a Weapon 4th Degree (collapsible baton)
Six other people were detained and later released from custody without charges.
The following is a timeline of firearm incidents in the City of Hudson….
05/01/17--8:15 p.m.   William “Whoody” Morrison shot in the back near the intersection of N. Fifth and State Streets. Investigation open
05/20/17--11:43 p.m.  Numerous shots fired in front of Half Moon Bar. A 45-caliber handgun and bags of cocaine and heroin were seized. Arrests pending
07/13/17--9:03 p.m.  Numerous shots fired behind Bliss Towers, 41 N. Second Street, Hudson. Investigation open
08/12/17--9:00 p.m.  A van driven by Sara A. Butler, 28 years old of Stockport, with Johnny L. Copeland, 28 years old of Hudson, and a small child as passengers, comes under fire on Rope Alley near the 500 block of State Street. Butler is severely wounded in the shoulder. Investigation open
08/13/17--8:47 p.m.  Shots fired toward a porch at 543 State St., where numerous people are congregating. Bullets strike a 2-year-old girl and a 3-year-old boy. 37-year-old LaToya M. Brandow of Hudson is struck in the leg.  Investigation is open
08/18/17--8:04 a.m.  Michael A Johnson, 31 years old, of North Second St., Hudson, arrested in Long Alley (near 29 N. Second St.) for possession of a loaded, stolen .380 handgun.
“The continued targeted violence between two rival groups has led us to where we are today, with the murder of a person on our streets. The Hudson Police Department, reinforced by the NY State Police, Columbia County Sheriff, and various federal, state, and local authorities are using every investigative tool available. Arrests will not be made in one day with order instantly restored. We will use a methodical, consistent, and untiring approach to bring these criminals down. The Police Department has gotten the full support of our Mayor, as well as our City Council and Supervisors. Hudson residents will notice increased patrols, as we have invoked an emergency clause within the police contract to extend their tours of duty. This comes with the full enthusiastic approval of our officers and the police union. They are working very hard.
"These are difficult cases and we absolutely need help from our citizens. Many residents have information and have not called. If you have any knowledge of these events or a tip, please call one of our Detectives at (518)828-3388.” --Chief Moore 

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Tonight on State Street

At approximately 10 p.m., Mayor Tiffany Martin Hamilton shared this information about the police activity that took place tonight in the 500 block of State Street.
Following the recent spate of gun violence in the City of Hudson, the Columbia-Greene Shared Services Team and New York State Police conducted a raid at 537 State Street at 7:43 p.m. tonight. The operation focused on apprehending suspects and gathering further evidence related to the three shootings that have occurred in the City over the past two weeks. The three shootings resulted in the injury of two young children and two adults, and a fatality last night. Numerous people were placed under arrest tonight, and the residence is being searched at this time. Tonight's raid follows the apprehension of three suspects this morning, all of whom remain in custody.
Mayor Tiffany Martin Hamilton and Police Chief L. Edward Moore issued the following statement:
“We recognize the strain these recent incidents have put on the community, and are focusing every available resource on quickly bringing this investigation to a close and ensuring public safety. All officers are working extended shifts to provide maximum coverage. The Columbia County Sheriff’s Department, New York State Police, and federal law enforcement agencies have provided a tremendous amount of support to the City throughout this rapidly developing situation. We are truly grateful for their assistance.
"These incidents have affected the entire community, and we hope that after today’s actions everyone will have a better sense of the progress that’s being made behind the scenes to end this senseless violence in Hudson. Please know that our thoughts are with the families of each of the victims. HPD will not rest until every person involved is apprehended.”
If you have any information that might be helpful to HPD in this investigation, please call (518) 828-3388.