Sunday, March 31, 2019

The End of March a Hundred Years Ago

On February 2, Punxsutawney Phil predicted an early spring, but, alas, yesterday was first day that actually felt like spring, and today, a day prematurely, we're experiencing the April showers that bring May flowers.

A hundred years ago, on April 1, 1919, the weather was the subject of a few items that appeared on the front page of the Columbia Republican. That year, at the end of an unusually warm March, there was a snowstorm that buried roads under snowdrifts, impeded travel, and threatened severe flooding. This article summarizes the weather in the month of March 1919.

The news item transcribed below, which also appeared on the front page of the Columbia Republican on April 1, 1919, recounts the impact of the snowstorm on travelers. (The picture of General Worth House, with no snow in sight, is Gossips' addition.)

During the past three days it is estimated that over thirty motor parties have had to discontinue their trips thru the State here and put their motor cars in storage in the local garages. Inquiries made yesterday of the hotels and garages revealed this fact. Nearly all the parties were on their way from New York across the State. They say that they encountered no snow until after passing Yonkers and then only a light fall in the roadways which did not cause any trouble. Between Poughkeepsie and Hudson they first realized the heavy fall of snow and on reaching Hudson had to stop.
Most of the parties went to the hotels and stored their cars for a day or two, expecting the snow to melt away in a short time. Yesterday when they realized that the situation was so better than before they left here by train, after putting their cars up in garages. In one case a car was shipped by freight from here by the owner to Erie, Pa.
Dr. P. A. Williams, a noted New York surgeon, who with a party was registered at The Worth, telephoned the State Highway Department at Albany from here yesterday to learn the prospects of motoring thru to Rochester. He said he was told that taxis were running from Albany to Amsterdam but were having considerable difficulty, but that the roadway on west of Amsterdam was completely blocked and that it might be two weeks before motorists could pass. Upon learning this Dr. Williams left by train after storing his car.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

An Evening with the Tourism Board

At the Tourism Board meeting this past Wednesday, two dates were identified for hearing presentations from the four consulting firms being considered to help develop a marketing and branding strategy for Hudson. On Friday, April 26, the board hopes to hear presentations by from Neo Design Group and Fifteen Degrees. On Friday, May 10, presentations by BBG&G and Chandlerthinks will be scheduled.   

That being accomplished, the board turned its attention to the difficult issue of funding community events. At some point in the budget process last year, the $20,000 typically written into the city budget for festivals and events and then divvied up among such diverse events as Flag Day, Winter Walk, the Black Arts & Cultural Festival, the Bangladeshi Cultural Festival, and the Halloween Parade was eliminated from the budget. The expectation, apparently, was that the $20,000 could come from the percentage of the revenue from the lodging tax designated for the Tourism Board to spend. The amount is currently $140,000.

This is not the first time the Tourism Board has discussed the issue, and the conversation seems not to have changed much from what it was in February. Tambra Dillon, executive director of Hudson Hall, declared herself a "big advocate" for funding community events, saying, "The budget is modest, and the return is great." Jamie Smith Quinn, executive director of the FASNY Museum of Fire Fighting, remained staunchly opposed to, in her words, "diverting money from tourism to events that will not bring tourists." She asserted that being on "a board that gives out money" is "against her ethics statement." Her particular problem, although unstated, seems to be the connection of two board members--Dillon and Ellen Thurston--with Hudson Hall, which produces Winter Walk, a past recipient of funding support from the City of Hudson.

It was suggested that the Tourism Board could return $20,000 of its budget to "the City" for distribution, presumably by the Common Council Finance Committee, which divvied up the money last year. It was also suggested that the Tourism Board might create an ad hoc committee, made up of Tourism Board members and others who have no conflict of interest, to make recommendations for distributing the $20,000. Audience member Nicole Vidor called the events in question "the soul of Hudson" and opined, "It would be a beautiful thing to share the bounty from tourism with these events." Thurston expressed the opinion, "I would like to see these events continue. I don't think we should just walk away from them." Jeff Hunt added, "Taking that money away would do a disservice. We should support the events that made Hudson what it is today." Still, no consensus was reached, and no decision was made about how to proceed.

Toward the end of the meeting, when public comments were heard, the perceived mission of the Tourism Board was once again called into question. Claudia Bruce questioned the need to "brand" Hudson, asking rhetorically, "And we need a firm to brand Hudson more than we need new sidewalks?" Audience member Sean Sawyer observed, reasonably, "The money the Tourism Board has wouldn't fix one block of sidewalks." Linda Mussmann suggested, as she has before, that the law that created the Tourism Board and empowered it "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" needed to be changed.

I was reminded of this discussion the next day, when I was listening to All Things Considered on NPR and heard Audie Cornish interviewing Paris Martineau, a reporter for WIRED, about the problems local governments are having trying to collect taxes on Airbnb stays: "As Airbnb Grows, So Do the Problems Cities Have with It." What struck me was something Martineau said early in the interview when describing lodging taxes: "These tax dollars are especially important to cities in tourist areas in particular and are used to fund public works projects and to maintain the sort of things that attract tourists to their towns in the first place." During the Tourism Board meeting, something Hunt said seemed to echo this sentiment: "Our charge is to keep people coming to Hudson." 

If the Tourism Board's charge is "to keep people coming to Hudson," how is the goal best accomplished: through marketing and branding, or by maintaining and enhancing the things that attracted people to Hudson in the first place? If it's the latter, it seems such efforts would benefit the people who live here as well as those who visit.

It's Tonight!

Just hours from now!

The Hudson Literacy Fund's Seventh Annual Cocktail Party is tonight, Saturday, March 30, from 5 to 7 p.m., at Hudson Lodge, 601 Union Street.

The fund ensures that every child in the Hudson City School District can purchase a book from a favorite author at the Hudson Children's Book Festival, which takes place this year on Saturday, May 4.

The $50 admission to the cocktail party can be paid at the door.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

A Very Long Legal Committee Meeting

Gossips had other pressing business to attend to last night and as a consequence missed the Common Council Legal Committee meeting, which went on for more than an hour and a half. The indefatigable Dan Udell, however, was there, and his video of the meeting, during which the topics of sidewalks (00:00); short-term rentals (23:00); the revaluation (1:13:29); parking (1:17:08); and tax exemption for not-for-profits (1:31:02) were discussed, can be viewed here.


Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Rent Stabilization and Hudson

Last week, the Common Council passed a resolution calling on the New York State legislature to extend rent stabilization, which now applies only to New York City and Nassau, Westchester, and Rockland counties, to the entire state and offering support for four bills now in committee pertaining to tenants' rights. The resolution passed but not with unanimous support. Three aldermen voted against it and two abstained, making it necessary for Council president Tom DePietro, who has chosen not to vote except in cases of a tie, to cast a vote.

To Gossips, the resolution seemed mostly to be part of a lobbying effort by Citizen Action of New York, but Roger Hannigan Gilson decided to pursue the topic. This morning, he published his consideration of the topic on his blog The Other Hudson Valley: "Could Rent Stabilization Come to Hudson?"

How to Make Money Without Even Trying

Sell your house to Stewart's Shops.

It's confirmed. Stewart's has now purchased the second house needed to realize its expansion plan: 162 Green Street.

Stewart's had already acquired the other house to be demolished for its expansion--17-19 Fairview Avenue--back in November, even before the amendment to the code needed to enable its plans was passed.

Since full market value and assessments are on everyone's minds these days, I thought I would do a little comparing. Stewart's purchased 162 Green Street for $370,000. The house's 2018 assessment was $137,000. The 2019 preliminary assessment was $170,000. Stewart's paid more than twice that amount.

Similarly, the 2018 assessment for 17-19 Fairview Avenue was $225,000. Stewart's paid $600,000 for it in November. That amount--$600,000--became its 2019 preliminary assessment.

I was curious to know how the sale of 17-19 Fairview Avenue for the princely sum of $600,000 and the subsequent acceptance of that amount as the "full market value" had impacted the assessment on the identical house at 21-23 Fairview Avenue. In 2018, 21-23 Fairview Avenue was assessed at $225,000--exactly the same amount as the identical house next door. Its 2019 preliminary assessment, however, is only $300,000. It would seem, judging from the assessment, that a house vacant and destined to be demolished is worth twice as much as a house still standing and occupied.

The house at 21-23 Fairview Avenue is now for sale. The asking price is $469,000--more than its "full market value" assessment but less than the selling price for the soon to be demolished house next door.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Highlights of Today's HDC Meetings

The Hudson Development Corporation Board met today in back-to-back meetings beginning at noon and ending two hours and forty stultifying minutes later. The first meeting was the group's annual meeting, at which they received the auditor's report, voted on new board candidates, and elected a new president.

Four candidates for membership on the board were put forward by a nominating committee made up of board members Chris Jones, Nick Haddad, Gregg Carey, and Carolyn Lawrence. Two of the candidates were not unusual selections: Martha Lane, who works as the business development specialist for CEDC (Columbia Economic Development Corporation), and Paul Barrett, a former B&B owner now working in real estate. The choice of one of the candidates showed some creativity in defining economic development: Seth Rogovoy, writer, music critic, radio commentator, and author of The Rogovoy Report. The fourth candidate was a surprise, at least to this observer, for an agency trying to regain the trust of the community: Paul Colarusso, president of A. Colarusso & Son.

When the four candidates had been introduced, board member Steve Dunn asked Colarusso about conflicts of interest, noting that Colarusso was "a controversial figure in Hudson, with projects before the Planning Board and potential legal issues." Colarusso assured him he would "certainly recuse himself" if there were conflicts of interest. 

Audience member John Kane noted that a lot of HDC holdings are on the waterfront and adjacent to Colarusso property. He then asked Colarusso: "If you are recusing yourself from adjacent development, why do you want to be on this board? What are your specific goals?"

Before Colarusso could respond, Bob Rasner, who was chairing the meeting, said he didn't think it was appropriate for members of the public to question the candidates. Audience member Nicole Vidor said there was reasonable concern from the public about the candidate.

Jones, who chaired the nominating committee, explained: "It seemed to us that bringing him on the board we could tap an important resource"--that being his expertise with infrastructure, principally roads and sidewalks. In introducing Colarusso as a candidate, Jones had said that "his expertise in developing infrastructure will be useful in the Kaz site and the waterfront." She went on to say, "What his expertise is far outweighs the problems of conflict of interest."

Haddad, also a member of the nominating committee, added, "We see ourselves as not being able to achieve our goals without a broad range of expertise."

Members of the HDC Board were asked to vote anonymously yes to no to approve the candidates on paper ballots. When the ballots had been counted, Rasner announced that each of the four candidates had sufficient votes for approval, although specific numbers of votes were not revealed.

The next order of business was to elect a new president. (Electing the other officers--secretary and treasurer--was postponed until the April meeting.) Rasner, who has been acting president since John Gilstrap resigned from the office in November, was nominated and elected by a voice vote.

During the board's regular monthly meeting, it was announced that an agreement had been reached to purchase a portion of the CSX property needed for access to the Kaz site from Front Street. Dunn, who is an attorney and who reportedly spent a hundred hours negotiating the deal with CSX, reported that "the issues of concern have been resolved as best they could be." Dunn's summary of the purchase sale agreement included this paragraph about a deed restriction:
As anticipated, the Seller requires a restrictive covenant that prohibits the HDC and any future owner from using the parcel for any residential, school, recreational, agricultural, or establishment of a mitigation bank. Ground water must never be used for human consumption nor irrigation purposes.    
The board voted to authorize Rasner to sign the contract of sale before two witnesses. The board also voted to authorize Rasner or his designee to obtain bids from a surveyor and from environmental consultants, for doing Phase 1 and Phase 2 environmental studies on the parcel, to be presented to the board at its April meeting. Regarding the environmental studies, Rasner opined, "The deed restriction almost assumes there is a problem." 

At the end of the meeting, when public comment was permitted, Matthew Frederick expressed puzzlement over the prioritization of the CSX site, maintaining that parcel was not needed for access to the Kaz site. He also recommended there should be a map of the site on the wall of the meeting room, intimating perhaps that board members were not sufficiently familiar with the site and its environs. 

Monday, March 25, 2019

Construction Begins

The Hudson Sloop Club has announced that construction of the Everett Nack Estuary Education Center on the Hudson waterfront is now underway.

The beginning pieces of the Nack Center have been put in place with an anticipated opening this summer. The project is funded by a grant from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. The architect for the project is Liam Turkle; the general contractor is Jason Wyckoff.

Sam Merrett and Jason Wyckoff pose with key components of the Nack Center
The Nack Center will be a community resource open to the public, a location for educational and environmental organizations and river-related programming. The building is designed to offer hands-on and experiential displays and activities and will host visiting environmental educators and scientists. It will also serve as a riverfront information center for community members and visitors to Hudson. 

A small aquarium, regularly stocked with local marine life, will be a visual centerpiece, alongside wildlife and habitat displays. River data about tides, temperature, turbidity, and other factors will be on display on real time screens. The center will have a learning library of books and resources about the Hudson River’s ecology and history, and information about local boat rentals, tours, and other recreational opportunities. 

The Nack Center will be a resource for local scientists, students, and researchers, enabling access to valuable ecological data and a flexible space for interpretive learning. The facility’s location at Hudson’s waterfront will make the Nack Center accessible and visible from land and the river and will allow it to serve not only the residents of Hudson but also partner organizations, school groups, and tourists from the greater Hudson Valley and beyond. 

People will have a chance to view the progress on the Nack Center on Saturday, May 4, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., when the Hudson Sloop Club will be participating in the annual Riverkeeper Sweep. Volunteers will meet in Henry Hudson Riverfront Park at 10 a.m. and participate in site cleanup at the Nack Center. 

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Meetings and Events in the Week Ahead

All the meetings of interest this week take place in the first three days. After that, it's events of interest and a deadline, of importance if not interest.
  • On Monday, March 25, the Common Council Fire Committee meets at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall, and the Police Committee meets at 6:00 p.m., also at City Hall. It's possible that, at the Police Committee meeting, the HPD's adherence to the May 2017 "Welcoming and Inclusive City Police Commissioner's Executive Order" will be discussed, but that's only a supposition since no agenda for the meeting has been made available.
  • On Tuesday, March 26, the Hudson Development Corporation holds its annual meeting at noon. Among other things, it will be revealed who the candidates are to fill the vacancies on the board. It's also likely that future plans for proceeding with the development of the Kaz site will be discussed. The meeting takes place at 1 North Front Street.
Also on Tuesday, March 26, the Tourism Board meets at 5:30 p.m., also at 1 North Front Street. It's reasonable to expect that the issues discussed but not resolved at the last Tourism Board meeting--selecting a consultant to help develop a branding and tourism strategy and deciding whether or not to use some of its budget to fund community events--will be taken up again at this meeting.
  • On Wednesday, March 27, the Common Council Legal Committee meets at 6:15 p.m. at City Hall. The issues before the Legal Committee currently are amending the code regarding sidewalk repair and maintenance and enacting legislation to regulate short-term rentals.
  • On Thursday, March 28, Maria Manhattan, in collaboration with Perfect Ten Hudson, presents an illustrated talk titled Feminism in Art: The Box Lunch & Beyond. Manhattan discusses her 1980s art exhibition, The Box Lunch, her response to Judy Chicago's groundbreaking feminist work, The Dinner Party. The event takes place at 6 p.m. in the Community Room of the Hudson Area Library, 51 North Fifth Street. For more information, click here.
  • On Friday, March 29, Columbia-Greene Community College is hosting a Construction Technology Workshop to introduce its new Construction Technology Preservation Certificate program. The event takes place from 12:30 to 2:00 p.m. in Room 612 of the C-GCC Professional Academic Center on the Columbia-Greene campus, located at 4400 Route 23. 
  • Friday, March 29, is also the deadline for submitting a written challenge of your assessment. Completed review applications can be submitted by email to or faxed to 1-855-319-8451. Click here for more information.

At the Dawn of the Age of the Automobile

Today, issues of pedestrian safety and the need for automobiles to share our streets with cyclists and pedestrians are frequent topics of conversation. A hundred years ago, when our car culture was still in its infancy, the Columbia Republican published an editorial on March 18, 1919, about traffic safety and the need to enforce traffic laws--particularly speed laws. The editorial was apparently inspired by the front-page account of a three-year-old girl who was injured when she ran across Warren Street, just above Fourth Street, in front of an oncoming streetcar and into the path of a motorcar. The newspaper described the accident in this way:

Reading the editorial, one wonders what the traffic laws in Hudson were in 1919. Traffic lights, as we know them today, hadn't been invented yet, and there seemed not to have been stop signs. Instead, it seems, drivers were expected to announce their approach to an intersection by blowing a whistle or sounding a horn. One thing is clear, however: then as now, according to § 305-7 of the city code, cars parked along the side of the street had to be headed in the direction of lawful traffic.


Saturday, March 23, 2019

A Missed Opportunity?

Joey and I were in the cemetery this morning, checking up on the return of the Canada geese. On Thursday, as reported, there were two. This morning, there were six, swimming in the pond.

Then, as we watched, a seventh goose arrived, with no mate.

The seventh goose seemed not to be welcomed by the others, but I missed getting a picture of one of the six honking and snapping and trying to drive the seventh goose away. In the picture above the seventh goose is swimming far away from the others.

One has to wonder if it may already be too late to try to drive the geese away from the pond.

Friday, March 22, 2019

They're Back!

At a meeting of the Friends of the Hudson City Cemetery back in February, the problem of Canada geese befouling the pond and adjacent areas was brought up toward the end of the meeting. (See Dan Undell's video of the meeting, starting at about 52:40). 

Gerald Fenoff pointed out that Canada geese always returned in the spring to the place where they were born. That would mean there will be about twenty-four geese returning to the cemetery in the next few days. Dominic Merante shared the information, based on his own experience, that it is possible to frighten the geese away from their old haunt and force them to go someplace else. The method he suggested was positioning big, tall faux flamingos around the pond, to scare the geese away, but cautioned that there was only a small window of time in which to do that if it were to be successful.

Alas, the window may be closing . . . or it may have already closed. Yesterday morning, when Joey and I were in the cemetery, we observed a pair of Canada geese already back.

And then there was this guy--a mallard drake, without a mate in sight.


What to Do on Saturday

There are two events happening tomorrow, Saturday, March 23, that are worthy of note. 

From 2 to 4 p.m., Didi Barrett is hosting a celebration of women's history in the Hudson Valley honoring Cyndy Hall, Columbia County educator and activist, who died last July. For thirty-seven years, Cyndy taught music in the Hudson City School District. She was also a fierce Democratic leader and progressive activist. Tomorrow, Cyndy's family and friends will be present to share stories of her life and her contributions to the community. The event takes place in the Community Room of the Hudson Area Library, 51 North Fifth Street.

Cyndy Hall leading the contingent of Columbia County Democrats
in the 2014 Flag Day Parade
Later on Saturday, from 5 to 7 p.m., the exhibition Hudson Athens Light opens at Hall Hudson at the historic Hudson Opera  House, 327 Warren Street. The group exhibition, curated by Richard Roth and featuring the work of thirty artists, includes paintings, photography, and sculpture, "illuminating and corroborating the ecological, historical, commercial, and aesthetic splendors of our bend in the Hudson River since the days it was called Mahicantuck."

The city of Hudson overlooks just a small piece of the river, but its enchanting views have captured the imagination of artists for generations. The light on the water and the curves of the mountain range have inspired everything from classical paintings to conceptual sculptures.

Dappled Catskills, Tony Thompson, oil on canvas 2008

Speaking of the exhibition and its title, Roth explained:
The lighthouse appears in several paintings and photographs in Hudson Athens Light, but the title was actually inspired by the late Bill Sullivan's luminous painting View of Athens (2003), a version of which is included in the exhibition and which captures a certain kind of afternoon light.
The artists here have captured moments on the river, whether of ecstasy or crisis, in styles and media ranging from sculpture to painting in the tradition of the Hudson River School to the latest in digital photography. Some express themselves with scientific precision, and others approach the subject poetically or abstractly. Whatever the case, the intention is to increase awareness and appreciation for one of Hudson's largely overlooked assets.
The exhibition will be on view until June 9, 2019. For more information visit

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Of Interest

The Albany Business Review this morning featured an interview with Jeff Buell of Redburn Development Partners: "Why Jeff Buell of Reburn Development is trying to rebuild cities."  Buell is shown in the center of this photograph with partners Tom Rossi (left) and John Blackburn (right).

Redburn Development was one of the three groups that submitted proposals last year for the redevelopment of the Kaz site and the only one whose proposal did not involve using affordable housing tax credit. In the interview, Buell said essentially what he told the HDC board last year: "We are going to be fixing historic buildings as often as possible. We're gonna be creating housing that is affordable but doesn't access affordable tax credits. Just everyday apartments for everyday people." 

An article that appeared last month in the Albany Business Review reported on Redburn's acquisition of historic buildings in Albany for adaptive reuse as apartments: "Redburn buys more property in downtown Albany." The article includes a slideshow of a building in downtown Schenectady they converted into apartments, with rents that range from $750 for a studio apartment to $1,350 for a two-bedroom apartment.    

Happening Just a Few Hours from Now

Tonight at 6:00 p.m., the History Room at the Hudson Area Library, in collaboration with the Leisler Institute for the Study of Early New York History, the Greenport Historical Society, and the Gotham Center for New York City History, presents the latest in its series of local history talks: "Colonial New York and the World of Jacob Leisler."

Map courtesy Norman B. Leventhal Map & Education Center, Boston Public Library
The talk, presented by L. H. Roper, will focus on 17th-century colonial New York and the Hudson Valley in the context of the larger Atlantic World. Speaking about the subject of his talk, Roper commented, "Where does the history of New York fit into the history of colonial America and where does the history of colonial America fit into the history of the wider world? I will discuss the 17th-century European colonization of the greater Hudson Valley and what its history suggests about the character of early Americans."

Roper is a professor in the Department of History at the State University of New York at New Paltz and is co-general editor of The Journal of Early American History. His research at this time focuses on the 17th-century slave trades and the colonization of the area bounded by the Connecticut River and Chesapeake Bay.

The event takes place in the Community Room of the Hudson Area Library, 51 North Fifth Street. A question-and-answer period and refreshments will follow the talk.

Remembering Doc Donahue

Robert Donahue, whose nickname, for reasons not entirely clear, was "Doc," died on Tuesday. His wife of 59 years predeceased him four months ago, and after her death, his own health declined.

Doc was often seen around town, making deliveries for Meals on Wheels, driving people to medical appointments, and, in the days before ShopRite's home delivery service, doing grocery shopping for others, but where many people saw Doc most often was in the outside seat on the left in the Council Chamber at City Hall.

Robert Donahue served for twenty-four years--twelve consecutive terms--on the Common Council as alderman for the Fifth Ward. At his last Council meeting in December 2017, when he was given a plaque to acknowledge his long years of service, he expressed his gratitude to Rick Scalera for persuading him to run for alderman back in 1993 and quipped that Scalera was not only a great mayor but also a great salesman. He explained that the Democrats had not endorsed him in 2017 because he had supported Republican Bill Hallenbeck in 2015 and asked rhetorically, "What's more importanta friend or a political party?" 

Talking about politics and city government, a native Hudsonian once told me that back in the day people could argue passionately and acrimoniously at Council meetings and then all go out and have a beer together. Doc's relationships with people often had that same paradoxical quality. During my four years on the Council, representing the First Ward, Doc and I, although both Democrats, were on different sides of the aisle, literally and figuratively. He crystallized our opposition once by declaring, directing the comment at me, "I don't know anything about this resolution, but if you're for it, I'm against it." A few years later, when I was no longer on the Council, Doc stopped his car, as he often did, to say hello when I was out walking my dog. After exchanging greetings, Doc asked, "Am I still your favorite alderman?" In one of my finest Dorothy Parker moments, I assured him, "Nothing has changed, Doc. Nothing has changed."

At Doc's last Common Council meeting, Scalera was there to, in his words, "escort the last good old boy off the Council." Bob Donahue was indeed the archetypal Hudson good old boy, who put friendship above political party and loyalty to friends above almost all other considerations.

The last time I saw Doc was a month or so ago. I was walking Joey in the cemetery in the early morning, and Doc drove right past us, without seeing or acknowledging us. I have since learned that he visited his wife's grave every morning. He must have been on his way there when I saw him.  

Rest in peace, Doc Donahue. We shall not see your like again.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Police Car Totaled

A few years ago, a 2000 BMW, seized in connection with a drug arrest, was painted red, white, and blue to become the HPD's official D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) car. The rear bumper of the car bore the message: "Compliments of a Local Drug Dealer."

Photo: Bill Williams|98.5 The Cat
Today, that car was totaled and school resource officer Jake Hoffman was injured in an accident at the corner of Sixth and Columbia streets. Gossips received the following press release late this afternoon from Chief Ed Moore.
At 3:08 p.m. today, HPD responded to the intersection of North 6th Street and Columbia Street for a report of a two car personal injury accident involving a police vehicle. The call for assistance was made by Officer Jacob Hoffman, HPD’s School Resource Officer for the Hudson City School District.
Upon arrival at the scene, officers discovered a 2016 black Honda Accord operated by Monish D. Patel, 18 years old, of Hudson had struck Officer Hoffman’s assigned vehicle, a 2000 BMW sedan, in the intersection. Patel had a passenger, a 16-year-old male resident of Hudson. Patel complained of pain but declined medical treatment at the scene. His passenger claimed no injury but is being evaluated at Columbia Memorial Hospital (CMH). Officer Hoffman sustained injuries and is currently being examined at CMH.
Patel has been arrested for unlawful possession of marijuana, driving while ability impaired by drugs, and vehicle & traffic law violations. This matter is still under investigation. Patel is currently being processed at HPD.
HPD is currently being assisted by Troopers from the S[tate P[olice] Livingston Barracks.
“Officer Hoffman was driving the BMW 'D.A.R.E.' vehicle that we had seized from a drug dealer. It appears the injuries are minor, and it certainly could have been worse.” Chief  

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

One Meeting Canceled, Another Announced

Yesterday, Gossips reported that the Common Council Public Works and Parks Committee meeting, which was scheduled to take place at 5:15 p.m. tomorrow, had been canceled. Today, I learned why. DPW superintendent Rob Perry, whose monthly report takes up the greater part of the meeting, and PW&P Committee chair Eileen Halloran have to go to another meeting.

Photo: Jonathan Simons
At 5:15 p.m. tomorrow, Wednesday, March 20, the ad hoc committee formed to review the eight proposals to do a feasibility study of the former John L. Edwards School will be meeting to do just that. In addition to Perry and Halloran, the ad hoc committee includes Mayor Rick Rector, Council president Tom DePietro, Third Ward alderman Calvin Lewis, Planning Board chair Walter Chatham, Fifth Ward alderman Dominic Merante, and commissioner of public works Peter Bujanow. The meeting is a public meeting, but it's scheduled to take place in the conference room on the second floor of City Hall, a room that reaches its capacity at about eight people, so it's hard to imagine how the interested public will be accommodated.

"Deconstruction" Abandoned

This afternoon, I went to check on the deconstruction of the old Hudson Orphan Asylum and discovered this.

Whether intentionally or because of an unanticipated collapse, the meticulous deconstruction and salvage of materials seems to have been abandoned in favor of a more brutal knock down. 

An Idea Whose Time Has Come

Columbia-Greene Community College has been working on developing a certificate-granting program in the skills needed for restoring and preserving buildings. Now it's ready to begin. C-GCC will be enrolling students in its new Construction Technology Preservation Certificate program beginning in the Fall 2019 semester.

On Friday, March 29, C-GCC will be hosting a Construction Technology Workshop to introduce potential students, building and construction business owners, and interested community members to the new program. The event takes place from 12:30 to 2:00 p.m. in Room 612 of the C-GCC Professional Academic Center on the Columbia-Greene campus, located at 4400 Route 23. For more information about the workshop, click here.   

Ear to the Ground

Last week, Gossips reported that there was only one candidate running for alderman in the Fifth Ward and one in the First Ward. Then, Eileen Halloran, who had previously declared her intention not to run, changed her mind. So once again, there are two incumbents running in the Fifth Ward: Halloran and Dominic Merante. Today there's word that two more candidates have joined the race for First Ward alderman where previously there was only one: Rebecca Wolff. According to Gossips sources, the new declared alderman candidates in the First Ward are Jane Trombley and Ginna Moore.

Everybody's Doing It

The Albany Business Review reported this morning that Troy is undertaking a project to update its zoning: "Troy is overhauling its zoning code to make (denser) development easier."  

Photo: Donna Abbott-Vlahos|Albany Business Review
The article states: "The last zoning code Troy wrote, in the 1980s, was suburban and automobile-centric--hardly suited to a city known for its urban downtown." Sound familiar?

The Longest Planning Board Meeting: Part 2

After more than an hour and a half spent discussing the Stewart's expansion, the Planning Board turned its attention on Thursday to Colarusso and the already completed but never properly permitted repairs to the dock and the proposed haul road through South Bay.

In January, the retaliatory lawsuit brought by A. Colarusso & Sons against the City of Hudson and the 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 dismissed. Now that "laundry list of complaints" has become the eleven things the Planning Board is empowered to examine in its review of the operation.

City attorney Andy Howard advised the board to keep the dock and the haul road separate and to make findings on each. Still the presentation by Colarusso engineer Pat Prendergast and the discussion it provoked moved between the two issues. 

On the subject of the haul road, Prendergast noted that the part of the haul road in Greenport had already been approved by the Greenport Planning Board. He claimed the road between Route 9 and Colarusso's headquarters on Newman Road would would remove 12,000 asphalt trucks from the streets of Hudson every year. When asked by board members--first by Clark Wieman and later by Betsy Gramkow--by they haven't started using that portion of the road already, Prendergast responded that they were ready to do all of the haul road but insisted that it was more efficient to do the construction of the entire road--from the quarry to the dock--at one time. What he didn't mention was they would lose some of their leverage for getting Hudson to approve the portion of the haul road that passes through South Bay if they removed 12,000 asphalt trucks from city streets before approval was granted.

Railroad tracks and "road" c.1968 
Photo courtesy Hudson Area Library History Room
The plan for South Bay involves moving the roadway from its current location to the center of the berm where the railroad tracks once were. Prendergast told the Planning Board that Norbert Quenzer would be consulting on the revegetation along the route. He explained that the existing path would be "top-soiled and seeded." Six feet on either side of the proposed two-way paved road would be mowed; the rest would be allowed to grow back naturally. 

Planning Board chair Walter Chatham spoke at some length about the LWRP (Local Waterfront Revitalization Program) and the FGEIS (Final Generic Environmental Impact Statement). He told that board that the LWRP recommended a two-way haul road "to alleviate truck traffic in the city." He went on to say, "My sense is that the purpose was to mitigate not eliminate the business," and he counseled the board, "There is a lot of noise around us now, but we need to look at what the actual benefit to the community would be." He also confessed, "I didn't understand that the haul road idea originated from the LWRP and didn't originate with Colarusso." (In the interest of historic accuracy, it should be pointed out that in 2011, when the LWRP and the FGEIS were adopted, Colarusso did not own the property. It was owned by Holcim, and company called O&G was hauling gravel to the dock.)

When the discussion returned to the topic of the dock, Chatham said that the "salt shed" was "not an attractive enhancement to the waterfront as it is." He pointed out that the cladding is rotting off and asked, "Can we dress up things?" He also spoke of screening and suggested that gravel might be stockpiled in six small piles instead of one big one.

Returning to the haul road, Chatham said he sought an agreement that there would be no trucks associated with Colarusso--hauling gravel to the dock or coming for asphalt or other material--on Hudson streets except in an emergency. The representatives from Colarusso said such such a guarantee was not possible because the haul road between Route 9 and Newman Road could not be used when blasting was occurring the the quarry.

The Colarusso discussion ended with the Planning Board deciding to make a site visit to the dock and haul road to "form some opinions" and "come up with conditions" for granting a conditional use permit.

Monday, March 18, 2019

A Little Known Bit of Information

A movie called Captive State was released on Friday and is now playing at the Octoplex on Fairview Avenue, also known as Spotlight Cinemas. The movie, which stars John Goodman, imagines life nearly a decade after an occupation by an extraterrestrial force.

Captive State is set in a Chicago neighborhood. It's not known how much of the film was actually shot in Chicago, but post-production was done right here in Hudson, in a house on Allen Street. Knowing that makes this comment by Andrew Todd, in a review of the film on Birth.Movies.Death, especially interesting: "Captive State feels like nothing quite so much as an entire television series edited down to feature length."

Rethink Your Plans for Wednesday Evening

Gossips has just learned that the Common Council Public Works and Parks Committee meeting, which was to take place on Wednesday, March 20, at 5:15 p.m., has been canceled.

A Meeting to Discuss Policy

On Tuesday, March 5, ICE agents attempted to detain two people at the corner of Warren and Fifth streets in Hudson. Bryan MacCormack, executive director of Columbia County Sanctuary Movement, who was driving the car transporting the two, alleged that the Hudson police officers who were at the scene violated the executive order that made Hudson a "welcoming and inclusive" city.

A meeting was called soon after the incident by Mayor Rick Rector with MacCormack, HPD Chief Ed Moore, and others, to explore the allegations and determine if amendment or clarification of the policy was needed. A second meeting was planned, which MacCormack insisted be a public meeting. That meeting took place on Friday, March 15, and Dan Udell was there to document it. His video can be viewed here.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Meetings of Interest in the Week Ahead

In the middle of this week, winter officially ends and spring begins, but the lineup of meetings this week may distract you from fully appreciating that longed for event.
  • On Monday, March 18, GAR Associates and city assessor Justin Maxwell will hold an informational meeting to answer questions and provide assistance to property owners who wish to challenge their assessments. The meeting is intended for property owners who don't use computers and cannot access the instructional information available online and for those who are not fluent in English. Bengali and Spanish interpreters will be present. The meeting begins at 6:00 p.m. at the Central Fire Station, 77 North Seventh Street.
  • On Tuesday, March 19, the Common Council Finance Committee meets at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall, followed by the regular monthly meeting of the Common Council at 7:00 p.m. On the agenda for the Council meeting is a resolution "supporting universal rent stabilization and control" and advocating for the passage of the following bills now before the state legislature, all having to do with tenants' rights: S2845/A4349, S185/A2351, S2591/A1198, and S2892/A5030.
  • On Wednesday, March 20, the vernal equinox occurs at 5:58 p.m. Meanwhile, the Common Council Public Works and Parks Committee meets at 5:15 p.m. at City Hall, followed by the monthly meeting of the Zoning Board of Appeals at 6:00 p.m. No agenda is available for either meeting.
Update: The Public Works and Parks Committee meeting was been canceled. Anyone planning to attend can instead celebrate the vernal equinox and the beginning of spring.
  • Wednesday, March 20, is also the last day to request an appointment to challenge your assessment. To do so, call 1-866-910-1776. 
  • On Thursday, March 21, the Common Council Economic Development Committee meets at 6:00 p.m. in City Hall. No agenda is as yet available for this meeting.
  • On Friday, March 22, the Historic Preservation Commission holds its second meeting of the month at 10:00 a.m. at City Hall.

The "Deconstruction" Continues

This was the sad state of the original Hudson Orphan Asylum yesterday, on Saturday, March 16.