Thursday, January 31, 2019

Hudson and Altamont and Stewart's

Last year, Gossips reported on Stewart's attempts to acquire and demolish a house and enlarge its store in the Village of Altamont. Stewart's plans for expansion required a change in zoning, which the Village Board refused to do in October 2017. But in December 2018, with new trustees on the board, the zoning to accommodate Stewart's expansion was passed. In October 2017, the vote was 2 in favor, 3 against; in December 2018, the vote was 3 in favor, 2 against. The Altamont Enterprise reported the story: "Village board approves rezone for Stewart's expansion." 

Today, the Altamont Enterprise reports on Stewart's first appearance before the Altamont Planning Board: "Planners concerned with size and siting of Stewart's proposal." The experience may provide intimations of what's to come for us here in Hudson now that the Common Council has changed Hudson's zoning to accommodate Stewart's plans.

Take Heed

The Hudson Police Department has published this information about where cars CANNOT be parked overnight tonight to enable snow removal. (Click on image below to enlarge.)

Failure to move your car from the side of the street specified before 11:00 p.m. tonight will most certainly result in it being towed.

Creating the Budget

The recent post about the number of high school dropouts in Hudson ("Not There Yet") inspired quite a few comments about the Hudson City School District budget, roughly 50 percent of which is derived from property taxes. Apropos the annual HCSD budget, the 2019-2020 Budget Development Timeline, which lists the meetings and workshops leading up to the vote on the school budget on May 21, is now available on the HCSD website. To access the timeline, click here.  

Of related interest, there are three open seats on HCSD Board of Education to be filled this year. All are for three-year terms. Nominating petitions must be submitted by May 1. For more information about the school board and becoming a member, click here

HDC: Regrouping and Starting Over

On Tuesday night, despite the steadily falling snow, the board of the Hudson Development Corporation held its monthly meeting at 6:00 p.m. All but one of the members of the board were present, and three members of the public showed up, among them Gossips.

Predictably, the topic of greatest interest on the agenda was the Kaz site. The discussion began with concern over the Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) money--$487,160--awarded to the redevelopment project, progress on which was suspended last spring. The major concern seemed to be the possibility of losing the money. Board member Don Moore reported, based on his conversation with Mike Yevoli, regional director at Empire State Development, that no DRI funds would be released until HDC had a developer and a plan for the site. Mayor Rick Rector reiterated that Empire State Development wanted a developer and a plan in place and noted that the City had offered to take over the project.

Moore spoke of the need to "engage the public sufficiently." Board member Walter Chatham, who also chairs the Planning Board, told the board, "We need to the process over again" and "come up with an agenda that meets the city's needs." He suggested they should approach the planning process "in a way that brings people along." He recommended doing an urban design study to determine "how this site plugs into the rest of the city." He went on to suggest that instead of issuing an RFP (request for proposal) to which anyone could respond, they identify "positive projects that we like" and "invite the developers responsible to come and talk." Acting chair Bob Rasner suggested the board might "invite developers in to have a round table discussion." Moore cautioned, "If you ask developers in, they cannot then apply for the grant." Board member John Gilstrap questioned why a developer would "come in and talk with the board for free." Walter continued to urge the board to "focus your wishes on a developer whose work you admire."   

Board member Nick Haddad asserted that the first thing they needed to do was fill the board, which currently has three vacancies. An appeal for people interested in joining the board made earlier this month on the HDC website and on Gossips has so far gotten no responses, but the nominating committee, made up of Christine Jones, Carolyn Lawrence, Nick Haddad, and Gregg Carey, has come up with a list of twenty-five potential candidates they intend to approach about joining the HDC board. Jones, who chairs the committee, called it "the widest net we've ever cast."

Another topic of interest discussed at the meeting was The Wick and its desire to park cars on the concrete slab behind the hotel which is what remains of the part of the Kaz warehouse building that was demolished, at the expense of the owners of the hotel, late in 2017.

The Wick had been leasing 26 spaces, at the rate of $1,200 a month, behind these buildings on South Front Street, but the buildings have been sold, and the new owners do not want to continue the lease. 

The Wick wants to park 26 cars on the concrete slab that was the floor of the warehouse and pay HDC $1,200 a month. At its meeting in November, after some discussion about whether a proposed lease contract could be discussed in executive session, a subcommittee made up of Rasner, Haddad, and Steve Dunn was tasked with analyzing the proposed lease agreement and making recommendations to the board. At Tuesday's meeting, it was revealed that Haddad had calculated that the slab could accommodate 54 cars, and HDC offered to lease it to The Wick for $6,750 a month. Rasner reported that, when presented with the lease agreement HDC was proposing, Tom Rossi, a principal in Redburn Development Partners, which owns the hotel, said he couldn't afford that.

Rasner argued that "the value [of the parking spaces] cannot be driven by what [Rossi] can afford," but it is not clear how the value was calculated. Haddad mentioned The Barlow and how it purchases six parking permits from the City for their guests at a cost of $250 a year, remarking that The Barlow had never sought a PILOT. (The Wick has a ten-year PILOT agreement in which they paid $20,000 in the first year, $25,000 in the second, and payment increases $9,375 every year until it reaches $100,000 in the tenth year.) The monthly fee HDC is seeking for using the pad--$6,750--adds up to $81,000 a year, or an annual fee per car of $1,500. Rector reminded the board that Rossi "paid out of his own pocket to demolish the building," the remnant of which is now at issue, and said Rossi had told him, "I want the space; I just want a fair price." Returning to the theme of the PILOT, Haddad commented, "These guys are the beneficiaries of our largesse."

The board's next meeting, which is scheduled to take place on Tuesday, February 26, will be a workshop to define what the board wants to accomplish in 2019. The board's annual meeting, at which new members will be presented and a slate of officer candidates will be presented, is scheduled to take place on Tuesday, March 26.    

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Following the Case

Amanda Purcell from HudsonValley360 is steadfastly following the case of the Crosswalk Four, two of whom appear in the picture at the right. They were back in court yesterday, and Purcell reports what transpired: "No deal reached in crosswalk case." The district attorney had proposed dismissing the case in exchange for the culprits doing community service with the Department of Public Works; the attorney for the defendants argues that mandating community service with DPW could be interpreted as "punishment or retribution by the DPW." The case was adjourned until March 5. City judge Jack Connor is quoted as commenting, "If we don't have some sort of resolution by then, we will begin on the discovery schedule and this case will be headed for trial."

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Not There Yet

According to an article that appeared in recently, about 12.8 percent of adults over the age of 18 in the United States do not have a high school diploma or its equivalent, but the percentages are higher in upstate New York: "The 50 towns with the most high school dropouts in Upstate NY, ranked." Yes, Hudson made the list, ranking No. 34, with 16.5 percent of adults over 18 not having finished high school. Of the 5,238 people over 18 living in Hudson, 865 do not have a high school education.

Relevant to this, the Hudson City School District, in its Destination Graduation to Occupation campaign, has set as a goal for the 2018-2019 school year a 85 percent or higher graduation rate for all students in the district.

Uncovering the Recent Past

Since Columbia-Greene Media launched its HudsonValley360 website in the summer of 2017, the entire digital archive of the Register-Star, going back to 2002, has been inaccessible. Queries about the archive are regularly met with assurances that the content is being migrated to the new website, but it hasn't happened yet. In the meantime, Gossips learned today, if you are desperate to find an old Register-Star article, you can go to a site called, where you can search the Register-Star archive from 2002 to the present and locate what you seek. There is a fee, however, if you want to read the article.

It's Gonna Snow!

Because of the impending snowstorm, the meeting of the Friends of the Hudson City Cemetery has been rescheduled. Instead of tonight, it will take place on Monday, February 4, from 6 to 8 p.m. The location remains the same: the Community Room of the Hudson Area Library, 51 North Fifth Street.

Monday, January 28, 2019

After the Chilling, There Will Be Chili

The second annual Hudson Polar Plunge is happening on Saturday, February 23. The plunging begins at noon. To register to take the plunge into the icy waters of Oakdale Lake, or to support someone who will, click here.

Photo: Zach Neven
This year, plungers and spectators can warm up immediately after the event at the Great Chili Cook-Off, happening just a stone's (or a snowball's) throw away from Oakdale Lake, at the Central Fire Station, 77 North Seventh Street.

Everyone who takes pride in their chili--be it a restaurant or an individual--is invited to share their spicy, warming, and soul-satisfying olios. Register in advance by contacting Tamar Adler, and then show up on the day of the event with four quarts of chili in a pot, with a ladle and a label that gives the name of the person or restaurant who made the chili. The chili will be judged, and prizes will be awarded. 

The Polar Plunge and the Great Chili Cook-Off benefit the Hudson Youth Department and the Hudson Fire Department Water Rescue and Dive Team.

Point Counterpoint

Earlier this month, the City of Hudson's lawsuit against the Town of Greenport Planning Board for making a negative declaration under SEQRA in its review of the proposed Colarusso haul road from the quarry to the dock was dismissed in court. Today, Gossips learned that a retaliatory lawsuit brought by A. Colarusso & Sons against the City of Hudson and the City of Hudson Planning Board, challenging the determination "requiring them to obtain a conditional use permit for their commercial dock operations" and seeking "declaratory relief regarding a laundry list of complaints," was also dismissed. 

The decision handed down by Supreme Court Justice Michael H. Melkonian on January 23 concludes:
City Code § 325-17.1 Core Riverfront C-R District plainly states that the commercial dock becomes subject to review by the Planning Board in the event of any alteration, improvement, or rebuild of a structure on the subject parcel, in whole or in part, for any purpose. To recite the exact language from the Code: § 325-17.1(D)(1): "Any existing commercial dock operation may continue to operate as a nonconforming use until such time as one or more of the actions or events specified in Subsection D above is proposed to be undertaken." The "events specified in Subsection D" include, in relevant part, "any land or improvement thereon be constructed, altered, paved, improved or rebuilt, in whole or in part, for any purpose." § 325-17.1(d)(1) continues: "Where one of the actions or events specified in Subsection D above is proposed, in addition to the provisions of Article VIII, and as more fully set forth on § 325-17.1F(2), the Planning Board shall impose additional conditions on such use as may be necessary. . ." Here, respondents rationally concluded that the erosion repair project was one of the "actions or events specified in Section D" triggering the termination of petitioners' right to continue to operate the commercial dock without conditional use permit and that SEQRA review for continued commercial dock operation is necessary.
Accordingly, the petition is dismissed in its entirely.
This is good news for the City of Hudson and the waterfront.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

There Will Be Cake!

Just a reminder. This evening, starting at 7 p.m., Gossips readers who dine at the Red Dot will get a piece of cake for dessert, compliments of The Gossips of Rivertown. The occasion is the celebration of nine years of Gossips being, in the words of a reader, "the bible reference for life in Hudson, past, present, and future."

Meetings and Events in the Week Ahead

There's not much happening at City Hall by way of meetings in this the last week of January, but there are important meetings happening elsewhere.
  • On Monday, January 28, the Common Council Fire Committee meeting takes place at 5:30 p.m. in City Hall, followed the Police Committee meeting at 6:0o p.m., also in City Hall. No agenda is available for either meeting.
  • On Tuesday, January 29, the Friends of Hudson City Cemetery will meet to make plans for 2019. The group will be following up on issues introduced at its last meeting: events and fundraising; a monument cleaning day; pursuing National Register listing; and the conditions survey. The meeting will take place in the Community Room at the Hudson Area Library, 51 North Fifth Street, at 6:00 p.m.
Also at 6:00 on Tuesday, January 29, the board of the Hudson Development Corporation meets at 1 North Front Street. At its last meeting in November, the resignation of board president John Gilstrap was announced, effective at the end of 2018. Earlier this month, the board announced it was seeking applications to fill three vacancies on the board. Decisions about new board members and the election of officers will take place at the board's annual meeting scheduled for March 26. In the meantime, it will be interesting to see if the board is making any effort to replace executive director Sheena Salvino, to implement any of the many suggestions for reconceptualizing the redevelopment of the Kaz site, or has made any progress in acquiring the CSX property.
  • On Thursday, January 31, the elected officials of the First Ward--aldermen Rob Bujan and Kamal Johnson and supervisor Sarah Sterling--are hosting a "Meet & Greet" at 1 North Front Street.
Residents of the once small but now geographically huge First Ward are invited to "get to know your neighbors, hear about what has been happening in our first year, and . . . talk about goals for 2019." The event begins at 6:00 p.m.
  • On Saturday, February 2--Groundhog Day--the Indoor Farmers Market returns to Hudson Lodge for the duration of the winter--and not a moment too soon. The market is open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Saturday until warmer weather permits the market to return to its outdoor location at Sixth and Columbia streets. Hudson Lodge is located at 601 Union Street.

The Great War: January 28, 1919

The Armistice that brought an end to the fighting in World War I was signed on November 11, 1918. The Treaty of Versailles, which formally ended the war, wasn't signed until June 28, 1919. In the interim, in the early months of 1919, soldiers were making their way back from France. The official "Welcome Home" celebration in Hudson wouldn't take place until early September, but the newspaper regularly reported the return of the soldiers, fondly referred to as "Hudson boys." It was such a report that caught my eye on the front page of the Columbia Republican for January 28, 1919.   

The 1920 census reveals that the home on Allen Street to which both Edward and John Dolan returned was located at 228 Allen Street.


Saturday, January 26, 2019

A House History: 6 West Court Street

As we reported a couple of weeks ago, 6 West Court Street made it out of the Galvan inventory, and yesterday, the Historic Preservation Commission granted a certificate of appropriateness for the proposed restoration of the building.

In the months that the house was owned by Galvan, the house received one of the benefits of being a Galvan property: Walter Ritchie did a study of the building's history. Gossips has acquired a copy of that history and permission from Ritchie to quote it here. What follows is Ritchie's research; what has been redacted are details about the interior of the house.
In 1836, prominent Hudson attorney Nathan Chamberlain acquired two parcels of land, one fronting on Union Street and the other on West Court Street, that intersected to form an L-shaped property. He then built on the part of the lot facing West Court Street a brick Greek Revival-style two-story house with a raised basement and two-story service wing. 
Detail of Map of Columbia County, New York (Philadelphia: John E. Gillett, 1851).
The house built in 1836 is highlighted in red.
The residence stood along Washington Square, the park recently laid out in front of the new county courthouse, a monumental domed structure with portico in Greek Revival style built in 1835.
Photo: Historic Hudson
The main facade of the house was three bays wide, with an entrance on the right, two windows to the left, and three windows above. A porch consisting of two Ionic columns supporting an entablature fronted the entrance, which was surmounted by an oblong transom light and flanked by pilasters. Many houses of this type were built throughout Hudson in the 1830s and 1840s. 
In 1868, the property at 6 West Court Street was purchased by Horace R. Peck, a young attorney who worked in the Hudson law offices of his father, Darius Peck, and his wife Anna Van Deusen Peck. The couple married the previous year, and shortly after moving into the house, Anna gave birth to their one and only child, Bayard L. Peck, who later became an attorney in New York City.
Shortly after acquiring the property, the Pecks remodeled the outdated Greek Revival house in the fashionable Second Empire style by introducing a mansard roof with small bracketed gables that project over the second-floor windows of the main part of the residence. Each gable is filled with scroll-saw work of acanthus leaves.
Photo: Walter G. Ritchie, Jr.
Another mansard roof, punctuated by dormer windows, was added to the service wing. Additional updates included three-sided bay windows projecting from the front and south sides of the house, two-over-two light windows, a door with heavily molded shaped panels in the main entrance, and brackets under the cornice, as well as a porch introduced to the front of the service wing. 
Photo: Walter G. Ritchie, Jr.

Photo: Walter G. Ritchie, Jr.
Photo: Walter G. Ritchie, Jr.
Despite all these modifications to the exterior, the Greek Revival porch of two Ionic columns was retained.… 
In December 1870, Horace Peck sold the residence and all its furnishings to his father, who on the same day transferred the house and contents to his daughter-in-law, Anna V. D. Peck. The unusual real estate transaction, as well as other evidence, suggests that Horace and Anna had agreed to a formal separation. For a number of years after 1870, Horace lived at his father's house on Warren Street before eventually boarding at the Worth House, where he remained for several decades.
Darius Peck's house at 208 Warren Street
Anna continued to reside at 6 West Court Street with her son until 1880, when she sold the property to Dr. Charles P. Cook.
Of all the property's owners, the Cook family occupied the house for the longest period of time, living at 6 West Court Street for more than thirty years. Dr. Cook, a successful Hudson physician and surgeon who followed in the footsteps of his father, Abijah B. Cook, maintained offices on Warren Street. It appears that the Cooks did not make changes to the exterior of the residence, with the exception of introducing a stained-glass panel to the transom light above the entrance. 
In 1913, the house and lot were sold to Harold B. Evans, a member of the family who owned the C. H. Evans Brewery. The Evans family resided in the house for only nine years. In 1922, John F. Brennen acquired the property from Evans's widow, Dorothy, and immediately sold it to St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church. The house passed through a succession of owners later in the twentieth century before it was acquired in 1991 by Lance R. Miner and his wife Maryellen Miner, attorneys who maintained law offices in the residence for more than twenty-five years. The Galvan Foundation purchased the property from the Miners in 2018.
The tax rolls list Hudson Collective Realty LLC as the entity that acquired the house in February 2018. Today, it is no longer owned by the Galvan Foundation or any Galvan LLC.

Of Sidewalks and Airbnb: Part 2

Yesterday, Gossips reported on the discussion of sidewalks that took place at the Common Council Legal Committee meeting on Thursday. Today, we cover the committee's discussion of short-term rentals booked through Airbnb.

On Tuesday, HudsonValley 360 reported that Council president Tom DePietro had "tasked the Legal Committee to look into a moratorium on future, non-owner-occupied Airbnbs while the city works out a long-term solution to managing the number of short-term rentals." On Wednesday, Alderman John Rosenthal (Fourth Ward), who chairs the Legal Committee, opened the meeting by saying, "The Council is not going to do a moratorium on Airbnb," and explained that doing do would be "illegal and impossible." He went on say that Airbnb was "a factor driving perceptions of affordability" in Hudson, spoke of the "transient nature of Airbnb," acknowledged tourism as "factor and driver" in Hudson's economy but "not the only game in town," and noted that Columbia Memorial Health was the city's biggest employer.

City attorney Andy Howard told the audience that filled the Council Chamber--some opponents of Airbnb, some owners of Airbnb properties--that this was the first time any Council committee has taken up the issue of Airbnb. He explained there were "jurisdictions that have passed varying degrees of restriction" on Airbnb, noting that "some jurisdictions make a distinction between owner-occupied and non-owner-occupied." He also spoke of "issues of enforcement vis-à-vis the Fourth Amendment."

The most vocal opponent of Airbnb, Rebecca Wolff likened the negative impact on the community of Airbnb to a mining operation or an automobile manufacturer. She alleged that Airbnb was the "main driver of the scarcity of rental apartments" in Hudson and asserted that a short-term rental that was not owner-occupied was "essentially an illegal hotel."

Alderman Tiffany Garriga (Second Ward) echoed Wolff's assertion that Airbnb is causing a shortage of rental units in Hudson. She added a general indictment of gentrification when she said, "When people buy houses and turn them into Airbnb or single-family houses, it forces out residents who are here." Rafael Pimentel, who owns a property used for short-term rental, protested, "Nobody is talking about the fact that when we bought houses here they were slums."

Rosenthal blamed "decades of bad economic policy and bad government" for the housing problems now being experienced in Hudson and assured the audience, "Now there are people [in government] interested in good growth." He promised, "We're going to look at models that could be enforced." With regard to enforcement, Rosenthal acknowledged that the City was "resource starved."

Apparently seeking to establish some legal justification for instituting a moratorium or a ban, Howard asked if people have "experienced real nuisance issues with Airbnb." Earlier in the discussion, Peter Spear said his house shared a backyard with the Airbnb next door, and he considered it an invasion of his privacy to have strangers there. Nick Zachos, who lives on lower Union Street, said when he was in college in Oneonta people who moved there knew they were moving to a college town, but people had not moved to Hudson knowing it was a "wedding and party town." He complained about noisy groups of people leaving bachelor and bachelorette parties passing his house in the middle of the night on the way to their Airbnbs. 

Fourth Ward supervisor Linda Mussmann mentioned the fire at 260 State Street, which was being operated as boarding house booked through Airbnb, and complained that a year later the building was still not repaired. Wolff spoke of guests in the Airbnb next door to her house leaving doors open when they departed. Claudia Bruce related tales of guests trashing Airbnb accommodations. 

One interesting statistic that emerged from the discussion is that 82 percent of the Airbnb listings in Hudson are entire houses. This statistic comes from information provided by Airbnb at, where it also indicates that there are 291 active rentals in Hudson.
The statistics, however, are not exclusively for Hudson but for the entire geographic area defined by the 12534 zip code.
The conversation about short-term rentals in Hudson will continue.

Friday, January 25, 2019

The Celebration Continues

Nine years of The Gossips of Rivertown deserves a week of celebration. For that reason (and because it snowed last Sunday, which was Gossips' actual anniversary), we're winding up the celebration of nine years of sharing news and history of the troubles and triumphs of our little city this Sunday night at the Red Dot.

On Sunday, January 27, starting at 7 p.m., Gossips readers who dine at the Red Dot Restaurant & Bar, 321 Warren Street, will get a piece of the Gossips anniversary cake for dessert, compliments of The Gossips of Rivertown. (The amazing cake shown in the picture, featuring the iconic Gossips trumpet crafted from fondant, was created by the very talented Michele Delage of Winkle's Bakery for Gossips' sixth anniversary. The ninth anniversary cake will be a freshly baked replica of this cake.)

So, come out on Sunday, dine at the Red Dot, enjoy some cake, and celebrate nine years of Gossips being the go-to source for hyperlocal news. You are also invited, if you haven't done so already, to help ensure Gossips' continued well-being by adding your name to the list of 2019 Supporters. For those reading on a computer, just click on the "Donate" button in the right column. Your support--in any amount--is crucial to Gossips' survival and deeply appreciated.  

Thursday, January 24, 2019

For Sale on Warren Street

This morning at 11:30, the City issued the invitation to bid on 427 Warren Street. 

The minimum bid is $300,000; bids will be accepted until 3:00 p.m. on Monday, March 4, 2019; and bids must include a statement of how the bidder intends to use the building. Click here for the complete bid package.

Of Sidewalks and Airbnbs: Part 1

The Common Council Legal Committee took up two hot topics last night: sidewalks and short-term rentals. This post will report on the discussion about sidewalks. A subsequent post will take up the discussion of Airbnbs.

Sidewalks have been a topic of conversation in City Hall for at least two decades. Not only is there the problem of broken, dangerous, and nonexistent sidewalks, there is also the problem of new sidewalks constructed in compliance with code being significantly higher than existing sidewalks. The problems of disrepair and lack of uniformity stem from the law in Hudson that makes the care and keeping of sidewalks--although they are the public way--the responsibility of the property owner not the City. Consequently, with the exception of Warren Street, where, twenty or so years ago, the brick pavers installed during Urban Renewal to make Hudson's main street look more like historic Williamsburg were replaced with concrete sidewalks, the sidewalks in Hudson are a patchwork of materials and conditions.

Last night, city attorney Andy Howard outlined essentially two courses of action the City might pursue. He also mentioned seeking CFA (Consolidated Funding Application) money, although it wasn't clear in which of the two scenarios such funding might be used. The first was what he called an "enforcement mechanism." Substandard sidewalks would be ticketed, and the owners of the adjacent properties would have to fix their sidewalk or pay a fine sufficient to cover the expense of the City fixing it.

The second would be to create a "special district," in which payment for sidewalks would be added to the property tax bill. Sidewalks would be repaired by the City every twenty years, and the property owner would be billed for it incrementally over a period of twenty years. Howard said he needed to speak with DPW superintendent Rob Perry to see "what level of fees would be required to make the plan work so that it does not bring liability to the City." At a Public Works and Parks Committee meeting back in September, Perry estimated sidewalk replacement would cost $35 per linear foot.

Howard said he would draft a proposed amendment for review at the next Legal Committee meeting and asked which option--enforcement or special district--they would prefer. Alderman Tiffany Garriga (Second Ward), who sits on the committee, asked for an example of each way to amend the law. It wasn't until after this was decided that any mention was made of materials to be utilized. Howard spoke of the bluestone sidewalks found throughout the city, some of which are original and some newly installed, pointing out that bluestone does not meet the code. This called to mind a problem Perry raised at a Public Works and Parks Committee meeting in September, when he distributed these pictures of some of the most handsome sidewalks in Hudson and asked what they had in common.


The answer was that all of these sidewalks were out of compliance with code. 

The solution to our sidewalk issues will require more than just addressing issues of financial responsibility for replacement and repair but also the code requirements that create hazards for pedestrians by requiring new sidewalks to be substantially higher than existing sidewalks.


Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Meeting Next Tuesday

Friends of the Hudson City Cemetery will hold a planning meeting on Tuesday, January 29, at 6 p.m., in the Community Room at the Hudson Area Library, 51 North Fifth Street.

The meeting will follow up on issues discussed at the group's previous meeting:
  • Events and fundraisers
  • Monument cleaning day
  • Listing in the National Register of Historic Places 
  • Condition Survey
For more information, visit the Facebook event page.

One Month from Today

The second annual Hudson Polar Plunge takes place at Oakdale Lake exactly one month from today, on Saturday, February 23. 

Photo: Zach Neven

The event is subtitled "Freezin' for a Reason"--that reason being to benefit the Hudson Youth Department and the Hudson Fire Department Water Rescue and Dive Team. If you have the courage to take the plunge, the generosity to sponsor an individual or team who does, or the good will to support the event in general, click here.

The Struggle for Hudson

Yesterday, HudsonValley360 published an article about the growing dissatisfaction with the impact of Airbnb in Hudson: "City officials consider limiting short-term rentals." Tonight, at the Common Council Legal Committee meeting, which begins at 6:15 p.m. at City Hall, the Council is expected to begin discussing imposing a moratorium on the short-term rental of buildings that are not owner occupied.

The issue of Airbnbs--that is, guest rooms or entire houses rented through the online service Airbnb--was also a topic of discussion at the Tourism Board meeting last night. It should be remembered that the Tourism Board was created by the same law--Chapter 275, Article VIII of the City Code, enacted in March 2017--that established a 4 percent lodging tax to be collected by all hotels, inns, B&Bs, and Airbnb rentals. The law empowers the Tourism Board "to take all reasonable steps it determines desirable, necessary and proper to market the City of Hudson as a destination for overnight and daytrip visitors by making use of the funds set aside by the City Treasurer." Those funds are a portion of the lodging tax revenues: 50 percent of the first $250,000; 25 percent of the second $250,000; and 10 percent of all sums above $500,000, never to exceed $250,000 a year. 

Pursuing its directive, the Tourism Board issued a request for proposals (RFP) for a qualified professional to help the board develop "a tourism branding and marketing strategy that encompasses strategic research and analysis, development of a competitive identity, brand strategy and marketing strategy." The deadline for submitting proposals was January 15, and last night, at the regular monthly meeting of the Tourism Board, Alderman Rich Volo (Fourth Ward), who chairs the board, opened the eight proposals that were received. They came from Van Slyke Strategic Consulting, John Isaacs, Steve Chandler, BBG&G, Fifteen Degrees, Blass Marketing, Adworkshop, and Neo Design Group. It was decided that all eight members of the Tourism Board would read the proposals and the board would hold a special meeting on Tuesday, February 5, to discuss them and determine which of the eight individuals or groups submitting a proposal they would like to invite in to make a presentation.

That accomplished, the business of the Tourism Board was concluded, less than half an hour after the meeting began, but comments from members of the public kept it going for another forty minutes. Rebecca Wolff expressed her concern that articles about Hudson that appear in national media "present a picture of Hudson that is not a reflection of Hudson." In particular, she said, there were no people of color and no children. She told the board that the DRI (Downtown Revitalization Initiative) showed "how easily an outside consulting firm can misunderstand the city." She also opined that "Hudson doesn't seem to know itself very well and is quite dysfunctional."

Several members of the Tourism Board responded to Wolff. Tambra Dillon told her the board wanted to find a way "to market Hudson so that people who live here are the beneficiaries of tourism." Kristen Keck said the board wanted to "know what's out there and figure out how to drive the narrative about Hudson." Ted Gramkow added, "A lot of the story of Hudson is being told by other people. We want to take the story and manage it."

Peter Spear expressed the opinion the Tourism Board's RFP "puts the cart before the horse," asserting that we shouldn't be marketing Hudson when we have urban planning issues. He maintained that "urban planning is the only form of marketing we need," asserted "the Tourism Board is absurd," and urged that the funds from the lodging tax be redirected.

Fourth Ward supervisor Linda Mussmann complained that she has no neighbors "because it is all Airbnb." She advised, "We need to put the brakes on and invest in our community." She went on to say, "Living here is hard . . . [for] people who have gotten very little from the new energy that has come [to Hudson]."

Keck responded to the criticism, "All of these issues were issues we have discussed. We all live here. We all want the best community we can have." Gramkow added, "We've spent no money to get eight proposals. The RFP is part of the learning process. Is it our goal to solve all the problems in Hudson? No, but we're part of it."

Expect the discussion of Airbnb and tourism to continue at tonight's meeting of the Legal Committee.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

The Year Ahead at Basilica Hudson

While the city is digging out from the snow, and the temperatures are struggling back into the double digits, it seems the perfect time to look forward to warmer times ahead by sharing Basilica Hudson's 2019 schedule. Most events happen after the vernal equinox, but there's one coming up soon, on a day that looks forward to spring: Groundhog Day.

Imbolc Riverfire
Saturday, February 2
A celebration of visual art, music, and performance, presented by Basilica Hudson and Harpooned Productions. Named after the traditional Gaelic festival marking the beginning of spring, Imbolc Riverfire draws on and re-imagines traditional practices in a contemporary art context.

24-Hour Drone: Experiments in Sound and Music
Saturday, April 27, through Sunday, April 28
Basilica Hudson and Le Guess Who? Festival present 24-Drone: an immersive, all-encompassing homage to sound. Featuring an international roster of musicians and sound artists working in electronic, psychedelic, classical, non-western, instrumental, and other genres to create a full twenty-four hours of unbroken sound, 24-Hour Drone captures Basilica Hudson at its most experimental and experiential.

Basilica Farm & Flea Spring Market
Saturday, May 11, and Sunday, May 12
In time for Mother's Day gifts and a much needed end-of-hibernation celebration, Basilica Farm & Flea Spring Market brings together an abundance of makers, collectors, farmers, artists, and chefs for a weekend of celebration and renewal.

(Freak) Flag Day
Saturday, June 15
Basilica's dance party is a freakier counterpart to the annual Flag Day celebration in Hudson. Featuring performances and dancing into the wee hours, the evening kicks off with the best seat in town for the spectacular fireworks display, launched from Basilica's parking lot.

Basilica SoundScape: Weekend of Music + Art
Friday, September 13, through Sunday, September 15
Presented in collaboration with The Creative Independent, Basilica SoundScape incorporates live concert performances, conceptual sound performances, author readings, installations, collaborations, curated local vendors, onsite activities, and more, creating an immersive weekend of art, music, and culture.

Basilica Farm & Flea Holiday Market
Friday, November 29, through Sunday, December 1
Born Thanksgiving Weekend 2013 as an antidote to big box Black Friday shopping, Basilica Farm & Flea Holiday Market is part timeless flea and farmer's market and part 21st-century craft and design fair, showcasing the wealth of Hudson Valley artisanal talent.

Also, from June through October, there is Basilica Nonfiction Screenings Series, and from June through November, Basilica Back Gallery and Artist in Residence Program--all to look forward to, along with warmer weather.