Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Among the One Percent (of Something)

Dear Diary,
Tonight I walked Joey down by the river. Because there were a couple of dogs in riverfront park (Joey has terrible leash aggression), we went to the boat launch. I parked the car in the parking lot, and we proceeded to walk around the perimeter. As we were walking on the grass near the launch, Joey pooped, and I picked up after him with the trusty poop bag I had in my hand. (Annoyingly, the pants I was wearing had no pockets, so I had one poop bag in my hand and two more, just in case, tucked into the waistband.)
I thought we might manage a little walk at the north end of the park (the other dogs had been near Rick's Point), so we headed in that direction. As we approached the Hudson Power Boat Association, a woman sitting on a bench just outside the entrance said to me, "Thank you . . . for what you had in your hand." 
I was momentarily confused, because what I had in my hand at that point was the key to my car, but it occurred to me to ask, "You mean the poop bag?"
She said "Yes," and went on to say, "Ninety-nine percent of people don't pick up after their dogs." I responded, "Oh, I hope that's not true," adding "I would never not pick up after my dog." She attested that the last time she saw someone pick up after a dog was two years ago and then said to me, "God bless you."
I thanked her for the blessing, and we wished each other a pleasant evening. Then Joey and I headed on into the park.
Her perception of us dog owners disturbs me. Who are the 99 percent who are not picking up after their dogs? It's the law, and it's also basic decency. Fellow Hudson dog people, we can do better.
"Micropolitan Diary" is Gossips' homage to and blatant imitation of "Metropolitan Diary" in the New York Times. The term micropolitan was coined (by Gossips) because Hudson is a metropolis in microcosm.

Now You See Them, Now You Don't

On Monday, Gossips reported the intel that Stewart's was planning to cut down three mature shade trees behind 160 Green Street, the house next door to the one that was demolished to enable Stewart's expansion. Today, the deed was done. The photographs below show the site before and after.

Photo: Skip Schultz

Photo: Skip Schultz
We are informed by "unheimlich" in a comment on Monday's post that Stewart's has offered to replace the trees and will be addressing the stormwater issues on Bayley Boulevard. So, I guess that's supposed to make it all right, and no one should mourn the loss of these trees.

Those Thrilling Days of Yesteryear

A hundred years ago, John Robinson's Circus performed in Hudson on July 28, 1919. Here's the advertisement announcing the event, which appeared in the Columbia Republican on July 22.

What made front-page news in the Columbia Republican on July 29, the day after the circus, was not any part of the pageantry and spectacle of "America's Time Honored, Most Modern, Pre-eminent and Enormous Amusement Institution." Rather it was an incident that occurred during the "Free Street Parade" that preceded the day's two performances.

Curious to know where Engelke grocery was located (the successor of H. F. Koster Grocer, it was located at 403 or maybe 405 Warren Street), I discovered the following news item on the front page of the Hudson Register for August 25, 1915.

On November 10, 1915, the Register reported that Koster & Engelke had, as predicted, acquired a second autotruck for making deliveries. The faithful stead mentioned in the article above was still in service in 1919, but one suspects that may not have been the case for much longer after the incident with the circus parade.


Tuesday, July 30, 2019

No Word Today

I feel like I'm waiting for the white smoke to issue forth from the Sistine Chapel, but today no decision was made by the DRI Committee about which firm they will recommend to plan and oversee the restoration and renovation of Promenade Hill. Instead, the committee is requesting more information. According to the calendar on the City of Hudson website, the committee's next tentatively scheduled meeting is Tuesday, August 13, at 2:30 p.m.


Our Precious Vantage Point

Promenade Hill has been identified as the first of the DRI (Downtown Revitalization Initiative) projects to move forward. Sometime today, Gossips hopes to know which firm will be recommended by the DRI Committee to carry out the planning and implementation of the restoration and renovation of this historic landscape. 

With the attention being paid to Promenade Hill, it was timely that last night John Knott sent me an image of this painting by J. M. W. Turner, called Mortlake Terrace: Early Summer Morning, and remarked on how the design of this landscape resembled our own Promenade Hill. The painting, which Turner did in 1826, is in the Frick Collection in New York City.

Knott said the painting reminded him of old photographs of Promenade Hill, and I suspect this may have been one of the pictures he had in mind.

In 1827, Turner did a second painting of this site. Known as Mortland Terrace, the Seat of William Moffatt, Esq., Summer Evening, this painting is in the National Gallery in Washington, D.C.

This painting evokes for me Henry Ary's 1851 painting of Promenade Hill.

Mortlake Terrace overlooked the Thames; Promenade Hill overlooks the Hudson. As Knott observed, "when one had a view like this, there was an architectural device suitable for its use."

Curious to know the exact location Mortlake Terrace, I discovered that it is in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames. The home of William Moffatt, which appears in Turner's painting Mortlake Terrace: Early Summer Morning, was built around 1720. It still stands and is known today as 123 Mortlake High Street, or The Limes.

According to Wikipedia, the house was been converted to commercial office space, and the grounds "have now been completely built over." The Google map of the area shows that what was Mortlake Terrace is now a car park.

Mercifully, here in Hudson we still have our amazing relic of Georgian landscape design. Let us treasure and respect it.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Stewart's There and Here

This morning, the Hudson Valley Post reported that a woman filled up the tank of her Jeep Wrangler at a Stewart's in Middletown last Tuesday only to discover later that what had come out of the pump was 98 percent water and only 2 percent gas: "Hudson Valley Gas Station Fills Up Gas Tanks with Water."  

Here in Hudson today, we had a Stewart's surprise of the different nature. A Gossips source spoke with workers who are preparing the site for construction. He was told, and he in turn told Gossips, that three mature shade trees behind 160 Green Street, the house next door to the house Stewart's demolished, are to be taken down. The justification apparently is that the tree roots interfere with the retaining walls Stewart's is planning to build around the site. Among the trees destined to be felled is this oak tree.

Gossips followed the Planning Board review of Stewart's conscientiously, and I don't recall any mention of eliminating mature shade trees on an adjoining lot. One wonders if this had been mentioned if it would have made any difference.

Meeting Amendment

On Sunday, Gossips reported what had been said at last Tuesday's meeting of the DRI Committee: that the committee would be meeting again on Tuesday, July 30, to make their decision about which of the three firms interviewed would be recommended to the Common Council as the firm to undertake the planning and implementation of the restoration of Promenade Hill and the plaza that is the entrance to the historic park.

Today, it was learned that the meeting will be conducted in a conference call. As soon as Gossips knows which of the three firms will be recommended, the news will be reported here.

Some History of 418 State Street

This morning, a reader posted a comment on the report about the demolition of 418 State Street which began, "Is it necessary to project anthropomorphic preciousness onto every building?" The answer to that rhetorical question, as far as Gossips is concerned, is yes. The violent destruction of a building, particularly one that has stood for more than a hundred years, always makes me wonder about the people who lived there, and the quest to learn about them is always rewarding. It provides a window into life in Hudson in an earlier time. Therefore, I persist. 

Today, I share what I've learned about one of the residents of 418 State Street, who made it his home in the latter decades of the 19th century and into the early years of the 20th century.

My quest began by searching for "418 State Street" in the amazing Fulton History newspaper collection. That helped me connect the house with a man named Obed Marshall, who seems to have been the house's most illustrious resident.

Obed Marshall died at home late in November 1907. His obituary in the Columbia Republican on November 23, 1907, called him "an aged and well known resident of Hudson" and reported he "had been in failing health for some time and suffered much from rheumatism." It also noted that he was "in his 76th year" when he died.

Marshall was a painter and a glazier, who seemed a tad accident prone. In November 1867, the Hudson Daily Star reported that he had fallen off a ladder while painting outbuildings on a farm in Greenport. W. H. Pitcher, the doctor who attended him, told the press his injuries were "more painful than serious." In November 1879, the Hudson Evening Register reported that Marshall had been "badly cut in the eye with a fragment of glass." (November seemed to have been an unlucky month for Obed Marshall.)

Marshall's local renown may have begun in January 1868 when he was appointed "Messenger of the Council and Janitor to the City Hall"--a job for which he received an annual salary of $150. It was a part-time job (he apparently continued his work as a painter and glazier and also worked as a special officer at the fairgrounds), but it was in his capacity as janitor of City Hall that Marshall was most often mentioned in the newspapers. In May 1869, the Hudson Daily Star reported on his efforts to deal with unruly boys who disrupted events at City Hall:
We have frequently made mention of disturbances occurring at City Hall when exhibitions have been given, by boys, which have been a source of annoyance to both those in attendance as spectators and the Janitor of the Hall. The nuisance at last became so abominable that Mr. Obed Marshall, the Janitor, caused warrants to be issued for two boys, who were guilty of disturbing the audience at an exhibition given by Logrenia, which were placed in the hands of an officer, but the guilty boys eluded the officer.
Charles Logrenia was a magician, billed as "the Greatest Living Wizard." 
In July 1872, the Daily Star reported Marshall's intervention to stop a wife beater.
Jasper Van Alen of Kinderhook . . . came to this city yesterday to see the "procesh," got drunk. then became ugly, and wanted to smash somebody. At last he tackled his favorite victim, his wife, who was in City Hall, enjoying the company of friends, and beat her as if she was a bag of meal. This sort of conduct stirred up the feelings of Mr. Obed Marshall, the faithful Janitor of the Hall, who went for Joseph [sic] and bounced him out doors, when Chief of Police Snyder took him in charge, and the rascal found the Jail to be a tabernacle which he could not dissolve by hard knocks.
My favorite reference to Obed Marshall appeared in the Columbia Republican in late June 1900. I like it not only because it gives quaint insight into what was considered newsworthy in Hudson at the turn of the century but also because it evokes an image of 418 State Street in its better days.

Has a Fine Rose Bush
The distinctively June roses are gone except a few climbers, which are nearly through blooming. The beautiful Crimson Ramblers, however, are just in their prime, and many fine masses of them are to be seen about town. In Obed Marshall's yard on State street is a fine bush which is a mass of crimson bloom and can be seen from the street.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Meetings of Interest in the Week Ahead

As July morphs into August, the schedule of meetings in the last days of July and the first days of August is very light.
  • On Monday, July 29, the Common Council Fire Committee meets at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall. 
  • On Tuesday, July 30, the DRI Committee will meet at 2:30 p.m. at City Hall. It is expected that at the meeting it will be made known which of the three firms making presentations to the committee this past Tuesday will be recommended to the Common Council to engage the community in planning and carrying out the renovation and restoration of Promenade Hill.

And that's it for the week.

Following Up with the Fence

On Friday, the Historic Preservation Commission made a site visit to Willard Place and then held a public hearing on the proposal to install a privacy fence in front of 10 Willard Place.

Presenting his case at the public hearing, the applicant argued there was no buffer between his house and pedestrian and vehicular traffic. He noted that all other houses have backyards, but his has none. He complained that people came onto his yard to take pictures of the historic houses on Willard Place, children were allowed to play on his lawn, a neighbor's dog had attacked him in his yard, his yard was used as a staging area for work crews, and dozens of cars drove past his house throughout the day to look at the architecture of Willard Place.

The only person to speak at the public hearing asked the applicant if he was adamant about wanting a wooden fence and suggested that an ornate metal fence would be more appropriate. HPC chair Phil Forman read two written comments that had been submitted: one from neighbors on Willard Place; the other from Kate Johns, the architect member of the HPC. The neighbors urged the HPC to find a suitable solution and made reference to the fence surrounding the garden at St. Mary's Church.

Johns described what was proposed as "a suburban backyard enclosure inappropriately positioned in a front yard" and opined, "That type of fence in that location is just awkward."

When the members of the HPC began deliberating on the proposal, Hugh Biber expressed the opinion that an open fence with plantings would be more appropriate. John Schobel called the fence at St. Mary's "one of our most successful compromises," and went on to say, "It looks urban. It is not a true privacy fence, but [a space within the fence] is completely private." He told the applicant, "An open fence plus plantings would be more in keeping with the neighborhood and easier for this commission to approve." 

Before calling for a vote to approve or deny a certificate of appropriateness, Forman told the applicant that he was "moved by his desire for privacy" but continued, "There is not a lot a enthusiasm for redefining the look of the cul de sac." He encouraged the applicant to "take another look and reconsider the material."

When Forman called for a vote, the five members of the HPC present--Forman, Biber, Schobel, Phillip Schwartz, and Paul Barrett--voted unanimously to deny a certificate of appropriateness.

Recycling Guidance

DPW superintendent Rob Perry provided these posters, used at Boston College to educate on the fine art of recycling. They are very basic and geared toward college students, and they don't cover every kind of disposable generated by a household, but they may help clear up some of the confusion that had arisen here in Hudson in recent weeks about what can be recycled and what is trash.



The building on the northwest corner of Warren and Third has been vacant for as long as most of us can remember. Once the location of McKenna's Restaurant, it has been vacant for two decades and a something of an eyesore at one of the major gateways to Hudson.

Gossips has written about this building often. The most comprehensive posts can be found herehere, and here. Now, at long last, the building is finally ready for occupancy.   

A wine bar called Lawrence Park will soon be opening on the ground floor, and sometime this weekend a sign appeared on the building announcing two-bedroom apartments for lease.


Saturday, July 27, 2019

Can It Be Recycled, or Is It Garbage?

Since Thursday, the day recyclables are picked up in much of Hudson, Facebook has been abuzz with comments and complaints about rejected recyclables. The best and most thorough explanation of what this means and why this is happening now is provided by Alderman Rich Volo on his blog Fourth Ward Hudson: "Recycling in Hudson." It is recommended reading. 

My observation is that, since single stream recycling was introduced in Columbia County in 2012, people have been putting some surprising things out at the curb as recyclables with the expectation that DPW crews would cart them away, and amazingly they did. The current situation doesn't seem so much a change in policy as it is a new commitment to enforcing a policy that should have already existed.

Meanwhile in Greenport

The former ShopRite building continues to stand empty (when last we heard, it was on the market for $12,750,000 and, alternatively, it was available for lease) and most of the shops in Fairview Plaza are vacant, but TRG (Trinity Realty Group) is moving ahead undeterred with its plans to create a new retail development for Aldi's, McDonald's, and two more so far unknown retail establishments (do we need another dollar store or another source for automotive parts?) on the site of the current the McDonald's on Fairview Avenue at Healy Boulevard. On Tuesday night, the Greenport Planning Board continued its review of the project and held a public hearing.

Before the public hearing began, Robert MacGiffert, who was sitting in for Planning Board chair Ed Stiffler, reviewed the potential impacts identified in Part 2 of SEQR Environmental Assessment Form and the plans for mitigation. Of the eighteen potential impacts, seven had been identified:
  1. Impacts on Land--There will be retaining walls along the wetland.
  2. Impacts on Surface Water--A storm water management plan addresses this.
  3. Impact on Plants and Animals--There are two endangered species in the area: the northern long-eared bat and the Indiana bat. Harm to the bats will be mitigated by removing trees during a designated time frame, when the action presumably will not impact the bats. There are barn owls--a rare species--living in the Farrand House. To avoid harm to the owls, the house will be opened to allow the owls to leave before it is demolished.
  4. Impact on Historic and Archeological Resources--The plan involves the demolition of the Farrand House, which the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) has determined to be eligible for listing in the state and national registers of historic places. SHPO's conditions for demolishing the building will be met: (a) the building will be documented; (b) a public exhibit depicting the history of the building and site will be located on the site; (c) building elements will be offered to a local non-profit architectural salvage organization. According to the minutes from the Planning Board's June 25 meeting, project engineer Tony Stellato told the board "he believed the building materials had been offered for salvage but there has not been any response."
  5. Impact on Transportation--The driveway has been modified so that it will line up with Healy Boulevard. There will be crosswalks at the intersection of Fairview Avenue and Healy Boulevard and a pedestrian sidewalk along the west side of Fairview Avenue from Joslen Boulevard to Kline Street.
  6. Impact on Noise, Odor, and Light--Construction hours appeared to be the only issue not resolved, and it was agreed that construction would take place between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. on weekdays and between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Saturdays--with no work on Sundays.
  7. Consistency with Community Character--The site is contiguous with residential neighborhoods to the west and the south. To mitigate impacts, there will be fencing and trees--8-foot high Norway spruces--on the west and south sides of the site. MacGiffert also noted that the new Greenport Comprehensive Plan "encourages continued development along the Route 9 corridor." Stewart's, although in Hudson, seems to fit right into Greenport's vision.
When MacGiffert had completed his review of impacts and mitigation, the board was asked to vote on making a negative declaration. Board member Peter Tenerowicz voted no, but the other three board members present--Michael Grisham, Sandy Kipp, and MacGiffert--voted yes, which on the five-member Greenport Planning Board constitutes a majority.

The development involves the demolition of four residential properties and the existing McDonald's building. In addition to the historic Farrand House (shown in the picture above), the two buildings behind McDonald's, one of which is the Gothic Revival cottage at the right, as well as a house on Kline Avenue, will be demolished.  

During the public hearing, most of those commenting were residents of Kline Street and Carole Lane, whose properties abut the site. There was a call for a new traffic study, because the residential streets in the area had not been included in the original traffic study, and the fear is that increased traffic and congestion on Fairview Avenue will push traffic onto the residential streets. There was concern about proximity of retail buildings to residential buildings, the location of dumpsters on the site, drainage during construction, impact on water pressure in the area, and the durability and future maintenance of the fences. One resident observed, "There are so many more suitable places to build this development," and another asked, "Why do we need more stores? We have enough empty right now."

In the end, it was decided to keep the public hearing open until the board's next meeting on August 27 and to accept written comments until Monday, August 5. Written comments can be directed to Edward Stiffler, chair, and Robert MacGiffert, co-chair, at Greenport Town Hall, 600 Town Hall Drive, Hudson, NY 12534. 

Water, Water

Yesterday, 98.5 The Cat reported that the City of Hudson was to receive $548,422 from the State of New York to improve the quality of its drinking water: "State awards Hudson over a half million to improve drinking water." This was puzzling, since we have always been led to believe that our drinking water is just fine. Today, an article on HudsonValley 360 clarifies the situation. The money is to assist individual property owners, whose water still moves through lead pipes from the main into their homes, to replace those pipes with copper: "City homeowners can replace lead pipes with state funding."

Friday, July 26, 2019

At the Legal Committee Meeting

Two topics of great interest were discussed at the Common Council Legal Committee meeting on Wednesday night: sidewalks and short-term rentals. Amanda Purcell reports on the status of the proposed short-term rental legislation today in HudsonValley360: "City eyes freeze on short-term rentals." Gossips will focus on the proposed legislation relating to sidewalks.

Of the two draft laws that appeared on the Common Council page of the City of Hudson website, only one is actually being pursued: the one that establishes a Sidewalk Improvement District.

The proposed law is based on one that has been enacted in Ithaca, New York. In Ithaca, the Sidewalk Improvement District is a section of the city. In Hudson, city attorney Andy Howard explained, it would be the entire city. He noted that the goal of the legislation was "to mitigate the cost [of replacing and maintaining sidewalks] by sharing it over the entire community." He also pointed out that fees for sidewalk maintenance would be charged to all property owners, even not-for-profits that are exempt from property taxes. Also, it seems important to say, the sidewalk maintenance fee would be based on linear feet of sidewalk and volume of pedestrian traffic not on the assessed value of the adjacent property.

The draft law suggests the following fees: "The annual maintenance fee for non-developable lots and sliver lots is $0; for low foot-traffic lots, it is $70; and for all other lots, it is $140." The actual fees have not yet been determined.

The Legal Committee voted to move the draft law to the Public Works and Parks Committee where it is expected it will be determined how much money will be needed to address the sidewalk problem in the city and recommendations will be made about the sidewalk maintenance fee structure. The draft law will then come back to the Legal Committee, at which time, according to Howard, "we can start talking about bonding"--bonding being seen as an alternative way to pay for immediate sidewalk repair and replacement, desirable because it would provide all the money needed upfront. The bond would presumably be repaid through the sidewalk maintenance fees.

The talk of sidewalks led to talk of street trees. Union Street resident Peter Frank asserted, "It doesn't make sense to address sidewalks without addressing street trees," and expressed the opinion, "Trees should be the property of the City and maintained by the City."

Real Estate News of the Day

Gossips has learned, thanks to Facebook, that 317 Allen Street, originally the home of Morgan A. Jones and in recent years a bed & breakfast--first the Inn at Hudson and now Tiger House--is for sale.

The house was purchased by its current owners for $1,550,000 in January 2016. Its 2019 assessment is $1,550,000. The asking price is $1,975,000.

Gratitude to Cynthia Lambert for bringing this to our attention 

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Another One Bites the Dust

For a city that purports to value its historic architecture and for which historic architecture has been an economic driver, Hudson sees a lot of demolition, and July has been a particularly active month. First, the two houses in the way of the Stewart's expansion were demolished. 

Then today, 418 State Street got bashed to smithereens by a backhoe.

We've known for a while that the future was bleak for this little house. Back in November 2017, Gossips reported that its owner intended to demolish it and build a new house in its place.

Then in June 2018, a "For Sale" sign appeared on the house, suggesting those plans had been given up.

Although tax rolls indicate that ownership of the house was transferred a couple of times in 2017, from individuals to a financial institution, when it was put up for sale in 2018, it was never sold. Instead, today, it was demolished.

The Future of Promenade Hill

On Tuesday, the DRI Committee heard presentations from three of the eight firms that had responded to the RFQ for the renovation and restoration of Promenade Hill. The three firms--Grain Collective, OSD, and Starr Whitehouse--had been identified through an evaluation process by the committee, which is made up of Mayor Rick Rector, Council president Tom DePietro, city attorney Andy Howard, city treasurer Heather Campbell, DPW superintendent Rob Perry, and Planning Board chair Walter Chatham, with Chazen planner Julie Pacatte. 

Each group made a thirty-minute presentation of their work and their vision for the project. When all the presentations had been made, and two members of the committee had already completed their evaluation sheets, Rob Perry commented, "I feel the third place one would be fine," implying that he though anyone of the three groups would do a good job. 

One group envisioned Promenade Hill as city center. Among their ideas were a "destination playground" that would draw children from around the region, a theater with step seating that integrated a sloped walk, turning the conference room at 1 North Front Street into an ice cream parlor (Charlie Davi would be vindicated), introducing "festive lights" to draw people to the park, and having a schedule of events in the park, examples given being concerts and movie nights.

Another group had a different grasp of Promenade Hill. They spoke of the ability to "walk from a very urban core to a place that can take your mind away" and acknowledged that Promenade Hill "captures one of the most magical parts of the Hudson Valley." Their vision was to "take some of the best of what is there and upgrade it" and described what might be possible for universal access to the vista as a "ramble garden."

The third group spoke of "sensitivity to place" and what was "the original design intent." They acknowledged that, on a recent Saturday night, there were people on Promenade Hill "just watching the sunset." They spoke of "ways of taking 1970s landscapes and reconnecting them to history" and showed examples of how they had done this in New York City--in Greenwich Village and Central Park.

The committee will score the three firms and select one at their next meeting, on Tuesday, July 30, at 2:30 p.m. at City Hall. The goal is to enter into a contract with the chosen firm by September. Whichever firm is chosen, the path forward involves community engagement--in workshops, public design forums and mobile engagement on-site, or other community engagement sessions.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Back to Montgomery Street

The acquisition of the CSX property was, as expected, a topic of discussion at the Hudson Development Corporation meeting yesterday.

Board president Bob Rasner reported that the survey and the Phase 1 environmental study had been completed on the parcel, and they were "poised to be able to set a closing date." The Phase 1 report indicated that, based on the historic use of the site, a Phase 2 environmental study might be useful. Rasner speculated that a Phase 2 environmental study would probably find only coal dust. 

Steve Dunn, who is a member of the board and serves pro bono as its legal counsel, had been asked to do a risk-reward analysis of doing a Phase 2 study. Dunn recommended that HDC not proceed with a Phase 2 environmental study "at this time," commenting, "The deed restrictions are so tight, you can't do anything on the site anyway." As Gossips reported in March, CSX us requiring a restrictive covenant "that prohibits the HPC and any future owner from using the parcel for any residential, school, recreational, agricultural or establishment of a mitigation bank."

The discussion of the CSX parcel led to talk of Montgomery Street. Currently, Montgomery Street exists in two parts. The first part begins at Third Street and goes west for less than a block before it comes to a dead end.

Montgomery Street picks up again at the intersection of South Second Street and Tanners Lane, runs behind The Wick Hotel, and comes to a dead end on the CSX parcel HDC is acquiring.

In speaking of plans to lease the CSX parcel on a month-to-month basis until a plan for the entire Kaz/CSX site is developed, HDC board member Phil Forman spoke of the status of Montgomery Street, reporting that DPW superintendent Rob Perry had said it was a street, and DPW would patch and plow it as necessary. Council president Tom DePietro, who sits on the HDC board ex officio, noted that that the determination of whether or not Montgomery Street was a street was the purview of the Common Council not the Department of Public Works. At which point, Walter Chatham, who is a member of the HDC board as well as chair of the Planning Board, said he wanted to ask the Common Council to make Montgomery Street a complete street, going from Third Street to Front Street. Chatham attested that he had walked the route and did not think it would be a difficult issue.

In 1854, as Gossips reported last December, the Road, Street and Bridge Committee of the Common Council decided against opening and grading Montgomery Street. According to the minutes of the Common Council for April 13, 1854, the decision was based on the following facts and information: 
From Third to Second Street the grade is 50 feet. Height of the embankment at Third Street 10 feet, at the west side of the Catholic Church 12 feet. [In 1854, St. Mary's Church stood at the corner of Third and Montgomery streets.] Deepest Culling 15 feet. At the intersection of Tanner's Lane the grade on Montgomery Street is 16 feet above that of Tanner's Lane, requiring 7,500 yards of earth to grade said Lane. . . . Two or more houses and lots will be made almost worthless, as the embankment will be nearly up to their roofs and a number of other lots will be inaccessible.
The owners of a large majority of the lots have notified the Committee that in the event of Montgomery Street being opened and graded that they will not pay their assessment but will give up their lots and in that case they would become a heavy tax upon the city.
Although the Common Council rejected the idea of opening Montgomery Street from Third Street to Front Street in 1854, the 1873 Beers Atlas map seems to give evidence that at some point in the intervening nineteen years Montgomery Street was in fact opened. What the map also reveals is that in 1873 Tanner's Lane did not converge with South Second Street. The Robert Taylor House did not stand at the corner of South Second Street and Tanner's Lane; rather it stood at the corner of South Second Street and Montgomery Street.

The first part of what we now think of as Tanner's Lane, the part that runs alone the south side of the Robert Taylor property (and Google identifies as South Second Street), was not Tanner's Lane in 1873 but Montgomery Street.

Road building techniques are more sophisticated today than they were in 1854, but some of the deterrents to opening Montgomery Street from Third Street to Front Street still exist. It appears that a continuous Montgomery Street would  encroach on the backyard of at least one house on Tanner's Lane. (The white line added to the Google image below shows the path of a continuous Montgomery Street.)

And a building, now part of the Red Barn Hudson project, stands in the way of Montgomery Street reaching Front Street without making a jog to the left.