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."
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