Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Just Beyond Our Borders

Things have been looking bad for the Gothic Revival house on Fairview Avenue, next to McDonald's, for a while. It has been vacant, with the front door boarded up, for several years. In the past three years, my concern for the house has spiked three times: when notices were spotted tacked to the boarded-up front door (they were from National Grid); when a TRG sign advertising the property for development appeared on the lot between McDonald's and the house (TRG did not own the house at that time); and most recently, when a sign announcing a "New Retail Development" appeared in the house's front yard.

Last night, after reading the news on the Hudson Community Board on Facebook that the house was to be demolished, I went to the Greenport Planning Board meeting, where TRG was on the agenda, to learn more. At the end of the meeting, after the folks from TRG had made their presentation and left and the public was allowed to speak, I asked if the proposed project involved the demolition of the Gothic Revival house. At first, Ed Stiffler, who chairs the Planning Board said, "No." My heart leapt up. Then, realizing which project I was asking about, he changed his answer and confirmed that the Gothic Revival house on Fairview and the Gothic Revival cottage behind McDonald's were both to be demolished.

Photo: Paul Barrett

In 2016, John Craig did a research study of the house and its most notable occupants. Craig's study, which he called "Old Pointed Gothic House out Fairview," is available for consultation in the History Room at the Hudson Area Library. Much of the information that follows has learned from that document.

In its earliest days, the house, then apparently known as "The Pines," belonged to Joseph S. Farrand. Biographical Review: Leading Citizens of Columbia County recounts that Farrand, "a strictly honorable and conscientious man, clean of hand, one who walked uprightly," left a successful feed store business in New York City and "relinquished the prospect of great gains, and, leaving the metropolis, removed to Greenport, Columbia County, where he bought a farm of one hundred and forty acres, with a handsome dwelling, just outside the city of Hudson." The farm was both in Greenport and in Hudson, extending to Underhill Pond and Power's Spring, at the end of Spring Street.

The Farrand who had the most impact on Hudson, however, was Joseph's youngest son, Arthur, who was born in 1868. Arthur was a developer in the first decades of the 20th century. As president of Oakdale Park Realty Co., he tranformed much of what had been the Farrand farm, as well as the Hudson Fairgrounds and Power's Woods, into building lots for houses and helped to create not only the part of Hudson we now know as "the Boulevards" but also the man-made, spring-fed Oakdale Lake.

Possibly more important than its association with local personages of note, however, is the fact that the house, if not built after a house plan from one of the pattern books of Alexander Jackson Davis or Andrew Jackson Downing, was built by someone clearly influenced by their designs and is a fine example of a significant period in 19th-century American architecture. But alas, it is being sacrificed to create a new mall of dubious architectural merit, with McDonald's as its centerpiece, Aldi's at the back, and two more buildings housing as yet unknown retail enterprises.

Here's more intel from the Greenport Planning Board. Stiffler noted that the Planning Board had received a petition from Tom Alvarez, of John A. Alvarez & Sons, regarding the Galvan Motel. Stiffler explained that the Planning Board had nothing to do with the project. Because the plan was to renovate an existing motel and did not involve a change of use, a building permit had been issued without a site plan review by the Planning Board.

A Moment in a Building's History

Yesterday, I had got the opportunity to borrow and scan this photograph.

The photograph had been mounted on a piece of cardboard, which caused it to buckle, so the reproduction isn't the best. The men in the picture are impossible to identify, but the building isn't. It is the building sometimes known as the Cannonball Factory, the current location of Etsy.

The ghost of the Hudson Dress Company sign can still be seen.

A little investigation discovered that Isadore Krupnick was born in Russia in 1885 and immigrated to the United States in 1908. When he started the Hudson Dress Company is not known, but this item, which appeared in the Columbia Republican for Tuesday, November 14, 1922, reveals when the company established itself in the building on Columbia Street.

The identity of Jitomir remains a mystery. Although there were people with the surname Jitomir living in Brooklyn at the time, a search of Hudson city directories from the 1920s finds no one named Jitomir.

Addendum and Erratum
Yesterday, a reader pointed out to me that the 1922 article I had discovered reported the opening of the Hudson Dress Company in a different building, one farther up Columbia Street in what had been the original St. Charles Hotel. Krupnick set up operations in the "old Traver Mill building" on Diamond Street three years earlier, in 1919. That, of course, is the building that appears in the picture, and that information probably sets the date of the photograph between 1919 and 1922.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Where the Core Riverfront District Ends

In September 2017, Mayor Tiffany Martin Hamilton asked the Zoning Board of Appeals for "a determination of the exact location of the boundaries between the Core Riverfront (C-R) District and the Recreational Conservation (R-C) districts," specifically in South Bay. In her letter to the ZBA, the mayor explained why such a determination was sought:
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--Timothy O'Connor on behalf of the South Bay Coalition--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."
When the ZBA received this request from the mayor, Lisa Kenneally, who chairs the ZBA, told her colleagues, "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." The engineering firm of Barton & Loguidice, who had urged the Planning Board to "solicit a formal decision from the appropriate City authority" regarding the district boundaries, was tasked by the ZBA with assisting in determining the boundaries, and in November 2017, they presented their findings to the ZBA--at a meeting and in a letter. Based on their review of Chapter 325 of the City Code, the 2011 Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (LWRP), the Draft Generic Environmental Impact Statement (DGEIS), the Final Generic Environmental Impact Statement (FGEIS), and the LWRP State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) Findings Statement (FS), the engineers of Barton & Loguidice concluded:
. . . it appears that the intent of the LWRP and associated zoning amendments was to include the then-proposed South Bay truck route along the causeway and to the Front Street property frontage within the Core Riverfront (C-R) zoning district. The discussion, consideration, and figures within these documents reasonably convey this intent. As shown on the official zoning map of the City of Hudson, the illustration of the C-R district terminating at the railroad tracks as opposed to the Front Street property frontage would appear to be in error.
At its last meeting on February 21, it was announced that the ZBA, before it made its official determination, would hold a public hearing on the issue, to allow people to provide additional information relevant to the question of boundaries and to respond to the information and conclusions provided by Barton & Loguidice. That public hearing is scheduled to take place on Wednesday, March 21, at 6:15 p.m. 

Monday, February 26, 2018

DRI Watch: It Isn't Over Until It's Over

Later this week, on Thursday, March 1, the DRI Local Planning Committee will hold its final meeting before the draft Hudson DRI Investment Plan is submitted to the Department of State on Monday, March 5. The DOS will review the plan and return it with comments to Stantec, the consulting firm that has been guiding the process. The final Investment Plan will be submitted on March 31 by Stantec to the Governor's Office, where the projects to receive DRI funding will be selected.

Since October, when it all began, the projects went from the original seventeen projects--nine priority projects and eight secondary projects--that were outlined in the original DRI application, to thirty-three projects after additional project proposals were submitted by the community, to thirty projects after three were eliminated for various reasons, to the current list: twenty-two projects being recommended for DRI funding; three to be part of the Investment Plan but not to receive DRI funding; five to be removed from the plan altogether. On Thursday night, the full Local Planning Committee is expected to review the decisions made by a subcommittee of ten and make final decisions about what will be included in the draft DRI Investment Plan. The final stages of decision making about investing the $9.7 million will be carried out by the Department of State and the Governor's Office. 

As the community's role in determining what investments will be made draws to a close, dissatisfaction is being voiced, by some elected officials and members of the Local Planning Committee, about the process, which many feel has been inadequate to ensure that the residents of the BRIDGE District--those living below Second Street--will benefit from the investment. Michael Chameides, Third Ward supervisor, has posted an extensive critique of the process on his website, which features quotes from a couple of members of the LPC. He asserts that the application process should have been more transparent, alleges that poverty seems to have been a factor in Hudson getting the grant but questions if the projects to be funded will address the needs of the poor, suggests that the economic development supported by the DRI may be an example of "trickle down economics," and contends that the public engagement process "could have been significantly better." One of the members of the LPC has stated that the public process was "at best poorly designed and facilitated and at worst purposefully hollow."

Between now and Thursday, there is still time to express your support for your favorite projects. Click here to review the projects now being considered. Click here to submit your comments.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

The Acquisition of Hudson: When Will It End?

Gossips used to monitor diligently the acquisition of property by Eric Galloway, his various LLCs, and Galvan entities. That diligence has relaxed a bit in recent years, but word of two new acquisitions, either completed or in the works, has inspired a new inventory of properties in Hudson now owned by Galvan Initiatives Foundation, Galvan Asset Management (formerly Housing Resources of Columbia County), Galvan Civic I, and Hudson Collective Realty. The two new acquisitions--realized or soon to be--are 6 West Court Street and 502 Union Street.

What follows is a street-by-street list of all the properties owned by Galvan, as listed in the tax rolls, organized by street--some with annotations, some with links to relevant posts--with a few pictures here and there to break up the monotony.

Warren Street
11 (the former COARC building)
22 and 24
201-203 (once known as the Shrimp Box) 
202-204 (the location of Princeton Architectural Press)
317½ (the location of Foley & Cox)
364-366 (the location of Bard Early College and Hudson Home) 
412-416 (the C. H. Evans Mansion)
449 (the location of Olde Hudson and Aeble)
455-457 (the vacant lot at the corner of Fifth and Warren)

Union Street
21-23 (the vacant lot next to 25 Union Street)
209-211 (the birthplace of General William Jenkins Worth)
215 and 217-219 (these two properties and 216 Partition Street make up the site of the house allegedly built with the salvage from 900 Columbia Street)
255-259 (the location of Ör)
501-505 (formerly Apartments of Distinction)

Allen Street
26, 28, and 30 (one double house and the lot next to it)

55-61 (the Charles Alger House)

Galvan seems to favor the south side of town and has acquired several parcels on the numbered streets south of Warren.

South First Street
20 and 24 (the lots behind 102 and 104 Union)

South Second Street
68 (the Robert Taylor House)
The parcel that appears in the tax rolls as simply "Deer Aly" [sic] is the land extending east behind the Robert Taylor House.

South Third Street
40 (the location of the Salvation Army)

Hudson Avenue
The baseball diamond now known as Galvan Field.

Galvan Asset Management has taken possession of all the properties previously owned by Housing Resources of Columbia County, most of which are located on the north side of town. Galvan Initiatives Foundation has been acquiring additional property on the north side.

Columbia Street
252 (the office of Galvan Housing Resources)
538-540 and 542-544 (the location of Columbia Opportunities)
724 and 726 (what remains of the Gifford Foundry)

Galvan Initiatives Foundation also owns the vacant lot at the corner of Columbia and North Fourth street, which extends from Columbia Street to Long Alley. That parcel has the address 25 North Fourth Street.

State Street

237 and 239 (both vacant lots)
400 (formerly the Hudson Area Library)
618 (rear) 
Galvan tried to buy the house at the front of 618 State Street in the tax auction in November, but although the person bidding on behalf of Hudson Collective Realty, Jack Connor, made the winning bid, it was determined that he was ineligible to bid because he was the city judge.

620-624 (the original Hudson Orphan Asylum)
708 (the Hudson Upper Depot, the passenger station for the Hudson-Berkshire Railroad)

In the area of State and North Seventh streets, Galvan also owns 61-63 North Seventh Street, the original Canape Motors, purchased from Carmine Pierro in 2003, and 69-73 and 75 North Seventh Street, two houses purchased by Galvan Initiatives Foundation in 2014 and 2013 respectively. At the present time, there is only one property on North Seventh Street between State Street and the Hudson Central Fire Station that is not owned by Galvan.

Galvan, of course, owns the Hudson Armory at the corner of Fifth and State streets, now the location of the Hudson Area Library, and has been acquiring a number of houses on North Fifth Street and elsewhere in the vicinity of the armory.

North Fifth Street

Prospect Avenue
449 (adjacent to the back yards of 61-65 and 67-71 North Fifth Street)

Short Street

Elsewhere on the north side, there are two properties on Robinson Street: 211 and 215. Former is owned by Galvan Initiatives Foundation, the latter by Galvan Asset Management.

There are two more parcels owned by Galvan Initiatives Foundation: 12 North Second Street, the lot behind 202-204 Warren Street, and 13 North Third Street, the rear of 260 Warren Street, and 17 North Third Street

The total number of parcels, not counting the two newest acquisitions, now stands at eighty-seven.

An Update--Months Later: Although in February, Gossips had it on very good authority that Galvan was buying 502 Union Street, we report on September 19, 2018, that the deal has since fallen through.

Primum Non Nocere*

In January, the Historic Preservation Commission granted a certificate of appropriateness for the restoration planned for 260 Warren Street. Certificates of appropriateness have been granted for that building twice in the past, but both expired before the proposed work was undertaken. As it turns out, that was a good thing, because this time around, led by HPC architect member Kate Johns and guided by historic photographs of the building found in the Evelyn & Robert Monthie Slide Collection at the Columbia County Historical Society, the HPC got the applicant to agree to replicate the doors in the building's storefront exactly as they were originally--something the HPC had failed to do in the past.

The doors have been a cause of concern for quite a while. They were removed from the building more than twelve years ago. Kevin Walker, majordomo for the Hudson Preservation Group, the Galloway LLC that owned the building at the time (ownership has since passed first to Galvan Partners and then to Galvan Initiatives Foundation), told the HPC in 2007 or thereabout, that the doors were safe inside the building. Soon after he made that statement, the doors were seen being loaded onto a pickup truck and carted off to a garage on North Seventh Street, something Walker vehemently denied. Now, no one in the Galvan organization seems to know what happened to the doors or where they are now.

Certificate of appropriateness secured, work is now moving forward on the building. In recent weeks, the building has become studded with anchor ties--along its east and south facades, and it's the anchor ties that raise a question.

Three of the anchor ties installed on the front of the building (the south facade) go right through the marble lintel, and one of them appears to have cracked the stone.

Photo: Julie Metz

The Historic Preservation Commission is charged with preserving and protecting Hudson's historic architecture. That involves preserving the authentic fabric of our buildings. But once the HPC grants a certificate of appropriateness, who is responsible for overseeing the work to ensure that the methods and techniques employed do not damage the authentic fabric?

* Primum non nocere, "First, do no harm." 

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Almost Like Being There

Now you can watch Lance Wheeler's video coverage of the Hudson Polar Plunge 2018 by clicking here.


Libelers, Monsters, and Rebels

If you missed David Voorhees' talk at the library on Thursday about the life and times of Jacob Leisler, Dan Udell's video of the presentation can now be viewed here.


Scenes from the Plunge

The Hudson Polar Plunge for 2018 happened today at noon, and Gossips was there--not to plunge but to observe. There was a great turnout to watch people hurl themselves into the chilly waters of Oakdale Lake. Among the better dressed teams taking the plunge was the Hudson Bed Race Team, made up of Lisa Durfee, David Olivencia, and Peter Frank.

The Hudson Police Department had a team that took the chilly dive into the lake and also won the coveted Plunger award for raising the most money.

Without a doubt, though, the best turned out and the greatest crowd pleaser was Girlgantua, a.k.a. Justin Weaver, who shed her opulent faux fur and kicked off her heels to take the plunge. She lost her wig in the chilly water, but her makeup and composure remained flawless.

Another memorable Saturday in our extraordinary little city.

There Is Still Time!

So far, the Hudson Polar Plunge has raised $8,000 for the Hudson Youth Department's planned improvements to Oakdale and the Hudson Fire Department's Water Rescue Unit. 

The plunge into Oakdale Lake is happening at noon today. There is still time to support your favorite individual or team. To do so, click here. 

Friday, February 23, 2018

Truck Route Woes

We don't need any more evidence that trucks should not be routed through our city, but if we did, this would be it.

Photo: Julie Metz
Sometime around 10:45 this morning, there was a collision involving two trucks and a car at the intersection of Third and Union streets.

Not Taking "No" for an Answer

Last year, the Common Council Economic Development Committee considered a request from Stewart's Shops for a zoning change to allow the company to expand its convenience store and gas station at the corner of Green Street and Fairview Avenue. The facility is now a nonconforming commercial use in a residential district--a status that prohibits Stewart's from carrying out its plan for expansion. 

In September 2017, the Economic Development Committee decided not to pursue a zoning change to accommodate Stewart's. This year, with a brand-new Council and a brand-new Economic Development Committee, Stewart's is renewing its efforts to get the City to make a substantial change in its zoning that would benefit Stewart's but could have undesirable consequences for the immediate neighborhood and for the city as a whole.

The change being requested, outlined in an application presented to the Common Council at its very first meeting for 2018, would create a "Green Street Commercial Overlay District" to allow for commercial development on the north side of Green Street, from the Rosery to the current Stewart's location, and along the west side of Fairview Avenue, from the Stewart's location to the former car dealership that is now ProPrinters. The proposed district is the magenta striped area on the map below.  

On Thursday night, Chuck Marshall, real estate representative for Stewart's Shops, was at the Economic Development Committee to pitch the plan and answer the committee's questions. Not far into the conversation, when questions were asked about entrances and exits, Marshall told the committee, "You're not approving a Stewart's. You're approving a zoning amendment." That's an important distinction to remember. Spot zoning, defined as "the process of singling out a small parcel of land for a use classification totally different from that of the surrounding area for the benefit of the owner of such property and to the detriment of other owners," is illegal. So what Stewart's is asking the City to do is to rezone the north side of Green Street and the west side of Fairview Avenue to allow for commercial development--in effect, to invite the commercialization of Fairview Avenue found in Greenport to make its way back into Hudson.

Any discussion of Stewart's invariably involves talking about the intersection of Green Street and Fairview Avenue and peril pedestrians face trying to cross the street at that point. Last July, when the Economic Development Committee held a public "information session" about the Stewart's proposal, Eileen Halloran said she was "generally in favor of the project," because she saw it as a way to improve the intersection. Last night, Halloran, now a Fifth Ward alderman and a member of the Economic Development Committee, noted that the traffic study done by Creighton Manning, which was part of the Stewart's application, determined that intersection would not be dramatically different with a new and improved Stewart's. 

Rich Volo (Fourth Ward), who chairs the Economic Development Committee, brought up the fact that two houses, representing seven dwelling units, would have to be demolished to enable the Stewart's expansion, noting that it was a significant loss in a city with a shortage of affordable housing. Marshall responded by suggesting that the houses, were they to remain, could become single-family houses, thus reducing the number of available homes, and Halloran pointed out that a new building with four units was being constructed just up the street.
The new store being proposed by Stewart's would be 50 percent larger than the current store. When Volo asked about the products to be sold in the larger store, the answer was essentially more of what is now sold at Stewart's. Marshall asserted that "people in the community depend on Stewart's." Later in the conversation, Marshall said that Hudson was the victim of its own success and claimed that "the people we serve are the underserved." Marshall's statement about the underserved inspired Volo to comment, "I don't understand how Stewart's determines the people are underserved and a bigger store is necessary."

When Volo asked what benefit the Stewart's expansion would be to the community, Marshall answered, "A nicer building that improves the intersection is a community benefit." Earlier, Marshall mentioned a community host benefit agreement, although no information has been provided about what amenities and/or mitigations Stewart's might be offering in that agreement.

Toward the end of the conversation, Marshall said, "If we are unsuccessful, we will operate it as long as we can," vaguely intimating that Stewart's might abandon its Hudson location. When Register-Star report Amanda Purcell asked if he was saying Stewart's would leave Hudson if the City didn't change its zoning to accommodate the expansion, Marshall seemed to backpedal, saying, "The long-term situation is that nonconforming uses get pushed out." He then suggested that if Stewart's left, some other business that didn't provide as many hours of work for as many employees might take its place. 

It was in the context of talking about what might happen if Stewart's was pushed out that Marshall made reference to a post that appeared on Gossips: "Houses Back from the Edge." The post was inspired by comments that the two houses Stewart's wanted to demolish were in such bad shape they were not worth saving and featured houses in Hudson that had, in recent years, gone from "not worth saving" to desirable. Marshall noted that most of these houses had been purchased at tax foreclosure auctions (that's not exactly what he said, but I think that's what he meant), but the Stewart's purchase of the two houses would be "a market level transaction that will allow the owners to stay and reinvest."

It's not entirely clear what the Economic Development Committee's next steps will be with regard to the Stewart's application. Volo spoke of a public comment period. Halloran talked about having to learn how the "new law" would impact the Stewart's situation. It seemed she meant proposed Local Law No. 9 of 2017, which had been referred back to the Legal Committee at the Common Council meeting earlier this week. Local Law No. 9, as it's now written, would have no impact on the Stewart's situation, since the law does not address expanding commercial uses in residential districts but rather would allow buildings that were constructed for commercial uses prior to 1976 when Hudson adopted its zoning and have a long history of commercial use to be used again for a well-defined number of commercial uses.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

DRI Watch: What Did and Didn't Make the Cut

Tonight, at the Common Council Economic Development Committee meeting, Sheena Salvino, executive director of the Hudson Development Corporation (HDC) and member of the local DRI (Downtown Revitalization Initiative) staff, told the committee she had posted the new project list, the outcome of a three-hour meeting of the committee of ten that took place last Friday, on the DRI website. The thirty projects have now been divided into three categories: recommended for DRI funding; recommended to be part of the DRI Investment Plan but not for DRI funding; and recommended to be removed from the DRI Investment Plan.

In the first category, there are twenty-two projects, seeking a total of $14,377,610 in DRI funds, about 50 percent more than is actually available. In the second category, there are three: the electric bus, the renovation of 59 Allen Street as a bed & breakfast, and the facade improvements to The Wareshouse and the DigiFab expansion. In the third category--not recommended for inclusion in the DRI plan--there are five: the skatepark, the North Bay connector, the bioenergy park, cybersecurity workforce development, and the proposal by Hudson Cruises to upgrade and extend tourism and community access to the waterfront. 

Of interest to those who think projects proposed by the Galvan Foundation should not be awarded DRI funding, the only project proposed by Galvan that was not recommended for DRI funding is the proposal to turn 59 Allen Street into a bed & breakfast.

Click here to review the entire list.

In the Category of Whodathunkit

Although there may be people in Hudson who have never visited the cluster of fishing shacks once known as the Furgary Boat Club, the site, with the name "Furgary Fishing Village," now appears as a destination on the Google map of Hudson.

Gossips has heard reports that, on the two warm days we had this week, the site attracted visitors from Arkansas, as well as photographers from Hillsdale and elsewhere in the county.

Bright Lights, Sad Park

Recently, Brian Herman, who owns 324 Warren Street, installed lighting on the east side of the building, which borders the pocket park at 326-328 Warren Street. The color of the light can be changed, as evidenced by these photographs. Last night, for example, the light was blue.

The new lighting draws renewed attention to the sad state of the little park, known to some as the PARC Park because it was created, on City-owned land, as a gift from the PARC Foundation. Fifteen or so years ago, the PARC Foundation (PARC is an acronym for Planning + Art Resources for Communities) had great plans to transform the north side of Hudson, what was then the Second and Fourth wards, but the linear park extending from Warren Street to State Street, of which this little park is the first stage, is the only part of the plan that was realized.

The park was completed late in the summer of 2007--a lovely little green oasis of modern design tucked into a streetscape of 19th-century buildings. A few days after the ribbon cutting, the stone fountain was tagged. Fortunately, the PARC Foundation, which then had a presence in Hudson, was maintaining the park at the time, and the graffito was promptly removed. 

The boxwood hedges that originally lined the front edge of the park and the ramp to Prison Alley suffered a different kind of abuse. A year or so after the hedge was planted, someone from DPW took a power trimmer to the lovely rounded nascent hedge and brutally squared it up, giving it the same shape exhibited by every bush and shrub in the city parks of Hudson, regardless of species.

In 2011, Gossips made an appeal for a "hedge fund" to restore the boxwood in the PARC Park. In 2014, the Mrs. Greenthumbs Day garden tour originally intended to solicit donations specifically for the restoration of the hedge, but it turned out that the PARC Foundation, in conjunction with completing the rest of the linear park, was going to "retouch" park on Warren Street, replacing the boxwood hedge with plantings they believed would be more salt resistant and would require less maintenance.

The new plantings were installed late in the summer of 2014, but, alas, a little more than three years later, they too are in sad shape. The following pictures were taken earlier this week.

Even more disturbing is the state of the plantings at the back of the park, along Prison Alley. Originally, there was a stand of ten trees, underplanted with hostas.

These trees were very important to the designers of the park because they screened from view 325 Columbia Street, which the folks from the PARC Foundation considered very poor design. Such was their distress over the proposed design for the building that they had commissioned renderings of two alternative designs--one that replicated a row of 19th-century buildings, the other a very modern building clad in copper--hoping the County might consider one of them instead of the ornamented big box that was built. Today, only five of the ten trees meant to screen the view survive. The others have been cut down and not replaced. Whether or not the hostas will reappear in the spring is unknown.

Sadly, the PARC Foundation will not be coming back to "retouch" the park a second time. The original agreement with the City was that they would retain "design control" of the park for ten years. That ten-year period was over in 2016, so we're on our own.