Tuesday, July 16, 2019

On the Cutting Edge of Word Use

It's been noted here and elsewhere that the first definition of cocktail appeared on May 15, 1806, in a newspaper called The Balance and Columbian Repository, published here in Hudson. The editor of The Balance was Harry Croswell, who also, using the pseudonym Robert Rusticoat, was the publisher of The Wasp.

Some of the earliest occurrences of the word capitalist were also in a Hudson newspaper--the Hudson Northern Whig, on March 7, 1815, and on September 17, 1816. 

Last night, a reader alerted me to another occasion when a Hudson newspaper was cutting-edge in its use of words. Once again, the newspaper was The Balance. Merriam-Webster reported a spike in people looking up the meaning of the word folderol after Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg, on May 22, used the word in speaking of the fourth iteration of Theresa May's Brexit bill. (For Gossips readers not familiar with the word, it means something nonsensical or trivial.) Of the origin of the word, Merriam-Webster explains: "Folderol comes from fol-de-rol (or fal-de-ral), nonsense syllables commonly used as a refrain in songs. Although the non-musical sense was thought to have originated in 1820, recent findings show it in use earlier in the 19th century." One of those recent findings was the following, which appeared in The Balance, published here in Hudson, on January 8, 1805:
If I should contract debts in the States after I become a Spanish subject I make myself liable in Augustine, but as it is now you may whistle what tune you please for your own amusement, but let me beg you not to trouble me with any more of your folderol--for I will not answer you--Yours, &c. Obadiah Potter 
Thanks to Matt Lynch for bringing this to our attention

Monday, July 15, 2019

Meetings of Interest in the Week Ahead

Now that we are settled into summer, the week ahead is light on city meetings. They all happen on Tuesday and Wednesday.
  • On Tuesday, July 16, the Common Council Finance Committee meets at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall, and the full Council meets at 7:00 p.m. in the same place. The resolutions to be voted on at the Council meeting can be found here.
  • On Wednesday, July 17, the Common Council Public Works and Parks Committee meets at 5:15 p.m. at City Hall. A topic of discussion at this meeting will be the Hudson dog park, to be constructed on the remediated brownfield that was once the site of Foster Refrigerator.
Last Monday, a resolution supporting the dog park and authorizing the mayor to execute a memorandum of understanding for the construction and the governance of the dog park was referred to the Public Works and Parks Committee. All those interested in seeing the dog park become a reality are urged to attend the meeting.  
  • At 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, July 17, the Zoning Board of Appeals will hold public hearings on two applications for variances. The public hearings take place at City Hall. The first is an area variance needed to provide access to a roof deck at 526-528 Warren Street. The access area would exceed the maximum permissible height by 5 feet. The second is an area variance to construct an addition at 226 Union Street that would connect the house on Union Street with the garage on Cherry Alley and build a second story on the garage. The project requires a variance for lot coverage and setback from the eastern lot line. The ZBA plans a site visit to 226 Union Street at 5:15 p.m. on Wednesday, July 17, just prior to the public hearing.

Remembering Al Cook

Al "Cookie" Cook, one of Hudson's "iron men," died last winter, just a few days shy of his 89th birthday. On Saturday morning, July 27, there is to be a celebration of his life in the Community Room at the Hudson Area Library. Details are provided on the invitation from his daughter and son-in-law reproduced below.

Good Fences . . . and All That

When James Howard Kunstler was in Hudson in May, he spoke, among other things, about "impoverished public space and aggrandized private space." Although there are lots of efforts being discussed and underway to improve Hudson's public spaces, i.e., its parks, the aggrandizement of private space continues—transforming the character of neighborhoods with the erection of fences. Not only is it happening in the mid-century neighborhoods of Hudson and Greenport . . . 

but it also in Hudson's historic neighborhoods.

Two years ago, the Historic Preservation Commission angered some parishioners at St. Mary's/Holy Trinity by its scrutiny of a fence that was to surround a garden next to the rectory. The concern was that the fence and the garden would obscure the view of the rectory and destroy the symmetry of the lawn and walk leading back to the house where Catholic Charities is now located. The house, designed by J. A. Wood and probably built in the 1860s, was moved from its original site at the corner of East Allen and East Court streets to make way for the construction of the church. Eventually, the fence--not the vinyl fence that was originally proposed but a metal fence--was approved, and the garden planted.

This past Friday, another fence in a historic district came before the Historic Preservation Commission for a certificate of appropriateness. The proposal is to fence the entire property—front and backat 10 Willard Place, the smaller of the two anachronistic Greek Revival houses that were introduced into this historic neighborhood in 2004.

The original proposal was for an eight-foot fence—six feet of solid fence topped with two feet of latticeon all sides of the property. The owner argued that he needed the fence not only for privacy but also for security, because people trespassed on his property and a neighbor's dog once attacked him in his own yard. Three of the five HPC members present had concerns about a privacy fence in front of a building. Miranda Barry suggested that a gate that lined up with the front door would be "mitigating." Phillip Schwartz, who was sympathetic to the need for a fence, suggested that the fence in front of the building might be only six feet high--four feet of solid fence and two feet of lattice. John Schobel warned, "If everyone starts putting fences in front of their houses, it will change the character of the neighborhood." He urged that there be a public hearing, saying, "The collective aesthetic of this historic district belongs to all of us."

Since any motion requires four votes—the majority of the full commissionto pass, neither the motion to hold a public hearing nor the motion to waive the public hearing passed, and in the end, it was decided there would be a public hearing, despite the fact that Schwartz and HPC chair Phil Forman felt it was unnecessary. The public hearing is scheduled for 10:00 a.m. on Friday, July 27. At 9:30 a.m. on that same day, the members of the HPC will make a site visit to Willard Place.

The proposal presents an interesting conundrum for the HPC. Preserving the historic integrity of neighborhood should be paramount, but the existence of the two houses is already an intrusion on the historic character of the neighborhood. Willard Place was established in 1872 as a private neighborhood, and it remained a private neighborhood for almost a hundred years, until 1969. All the historic houses on Willard Place were built within twenty years--between 1872 and 1892—and are examples of the architectural styles that were in vogue during those two decades. Second Empire predominates, but there are also examples of Colonial Revival and Tuscany style architecture. Greek Revival, the style imitated by the two houses built in 2004, fell out of favor in America around 1860.

Not only are the two Greek Revival style houses an architectural anachronism, they alter the intended design of Willard Place. The street was designed as a dogleg, culminating in a park at the end of the street. There was no intention in the original design for houses to ring the park. When they were built, the two Greek Revival houses had no access to Willard Place. To provide access, a strip of land between the southern boundary of 317 Allen Street and the roadway had to be acquired from the City of Hudson. It was argued at the time that the sale was illegal because the land, which was part of Willard Park, was designated park land and its sale required approval by the state legislature.

Given the history of Willard Place, it's possible that the proposed fence and accompanying plantings may be taking Willard Place back to an earlier time. In 1872, when Willard Place was created, there was a grand house at 317 Allen Street, with grounds that extended back to what is now Willard Park. The house is included in an article that appeared in the Hudson Evening Register for March 28, 1867. The article inventoried what were considered to be the best and most elegant houses in Hudson at the time. The house at 317 Allen Street, then the residence of R. C. Mitchell, was said to be, in 1867, "of ancient build." The only visual evidence we have of that house is this photograph of the rear of 325 Allen Streetthe house next doorprobably taken in the early 1860s. The back of the house that originally stood at 317 Allen Street can be glimpsed through the trees at the left.

From this picture we can surmise that, in 1872, when Willard Place was created, the grounds behind 317 Allen Street were probably not greatly dissimilar to the grounds behind the house next door—with a notable absence of what we today know as privacy fences.

Soon after the turn of the 20th century, 317 Allen Street was acquired by Morgan Jones, and the original house "of ancient build" was demolished to make way for Jones's dream house, a Jacobean and Dutch inspired mansion reminiscent of the medieval architecture he had seen while traveling in Europe.

The architect for the house was Marcus Reynolds, and all of the drawings for the house and grounds, as well as Reynolds' journals and records from the period he was working on the house, are preserved in the Albany Institute of History & Art. Those records indicate that while Reynolds was working on the design for 317 Allen Street, William Traver, who lived at 1 Willard Place, the first house to be built on the private street, and whose son lived at 8 Willard Place, the last house to be constructed, visited Reynolds' studio. It is easy to surmise that Traver's visit was inspired by concern about what was in store for his neighborhood.

Photo: Historic Hudson
The plans for Morgan Jones's house included a carriage house and a formal garden and grounds designed by Townsend & Fleming, landscape architects.

What today is the site of the two houses was in the early part of the 20th century the location of a tennis court, a lawn, and a pathway from the formal garden to an overlook at the southern end of the property. The drawing suggests there may have been a fence around the rear of the property, but it's not entirely clear.

The picture below, which appeared in 1910 in the architectural magazine Brickbuilder, shows the carriage house, the formal garden, and the path leading back to the tennis court and the overlook.

This picture certainly gives the sense of enclosure and privacy, but whether there was an actual fence around the perimeter is unclear. Screening and demarcation of property lines seem to have been achieved to a great extent by plantings.

Friday, July 12, 2019

New Uses for a Remediated Brownfield

On December 18, 2018, the Common Council unanimously passed a resolution "authorizing the Mayor to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding with Hudson River Valley Greenway, the Hudson Parks Conservancy, and stakeholders for a dog park to develop a plan for the design and operation of a dog park and trail head." The location of the proposed dog park and trail head is the former Foster Refrigerator site--a brownfield, the remediation of which was completed last year by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation.  

On Monday, a resolution authorizing the mayor "to execute a Memorandum of Understanding with the Hudson Dog Park committee for the construction and governance of the dog park" was referred to the Common Council Public Works and Parks Committee. The next meeting of that committee takes places on Wednesday, July 17. Development of the other element planned for the former brownfield--the trail head for the Empire State Trail--is moving forward.

This morning, Mayor Rick Rector and DPW superintendent Rob Perry met at the site with Paul Glesta, project director for the Empire State Trail, and the contractors who will be constructing the trail head at the corner of Second and Dock streets. 

The work will begin on Tuesday morning, and the trail head, the plan for which includes limestone benches, a bicycle repair station, two handicapped parking spaces, landscaping, and trail signage, is expected to be completed by mid-August. 

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Self Storage in Hudson

Before the public hearing about Colarusso began on Tuesday night, there was a public hearing on Carmine Pierro's proposal to create a self-storage facility at the corner of Fairview Avenue and Oakwood Boulevard. In Dan Udell's video of meeting, the presentation of the project and the public comment about it begins at 19:04.

In presenting the project, Pierro said that Carlee Holdings, the LLC of which he is a principal, owns five parcels in that part of the city and paid $25,125 in property taxes in 2018--presumably on all five parcels, two of which are houses, not just on the vacant lot at Fairview and Oakwood. He presented the tax figure as evidence that renting the lot for parking "just wasn't cutting it" and to justify his new enterprise: turning the lot into a self-storage facility.

During the public hearing, several people commented--none in support of the project. There were concerns about traffic and about the impact of this project on the character of the neighborhood. Eileen Halloran, Fifth Ward alderman, pointed out that nothing like this existed in Hudson and advised that it was "premature to introduce something so different in Hudson before there is a new comprehensive plan." Theresa Nicholson, who lives diagonally across Oakwood Boulevard from the proposed facility, warned, "It would set a precedent for all vacant lots in Hudson," and asserted, 'There are enough self-storage facilities in Greenport." Nicholson told the Planning Board, "The neighborhood doesn't want it." Nicole Vidor commented, "This neighborhood is cared for. It's a residential neighborhood." She went on to say that wood, the proposed material for the units, deteriorates very quickly and predicted that it would look good for only a couple of years. She concluded, "This is a very unfair thing to do to a neighborhood."

Pierro maintains that what he is proposing is a permitted use and only requires site plan review, but is it?

The lots along Fairview Avenue that back up on the Boulevards are zoned General Commercial (G-C). (Back in 1968, when Hudson's zoning code was adopted, there was a takeout restaurant--a "fish fry"--on that lot.) Searching the uses listed in the zoning code, I cannot find "self-storage facility" listed anywhere, only this, as a conditional use in the Central Commercial District (C-C): "Wholesale storage or warehousing within a fully enclosed building, provided that not more than 8,000 square feet of floor area is so used"; and this, as a conditional use in the General Commercial District (G-C): "Wholesale storage and warehousing, including food, fuel and building materials, but excluding junkyards and secondhand lumberyards." Neither is the same as a self-storage facility. 

Hudson's zoning code provides that only those permitted uses listed in the code may exist. If it is not listed, it may not exist. I can't find "self-storage facility" listed as a use anywhere in the code. I doubt that such things even existed when Hudson adopted its zoning in 1968. So, why is this out-of-character proposal, for a use that is not mentioned in the code, being considered a permitted use?

The Planning Board is holding the public hearing on this proposal open and will accept written comments about it. The names and email addresses of the Planning Board members can be found here.

The Progress of Troy's Fifth Try

Gossips has been following Troy's efforts to redevelop One Monument Square, where the city's mid-1970s concrete City Hall was demolished eight years ago, and comparing that struggle with Hudson's own efforts to redevelop the Kaz site. 

Photo: John Carl D'annibale|Times Union
Our last post on the subject was in May, when Troy had received four submissions to an RFQ (request for qualifications) for the project: "A Tale of Development in Two River Cities." 

Yesterday, the Albany Business Review reported that the City of Troy has chosen one of the four firms--Hoboken Brownstone Company--to be its development partner: "New Jersey developer picked for One Monument Square in downtown Troy." One wonders when HDC will make its next attempt to redevelop the Kaz site.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

News from HHA

The monthly meeting of the Hudson Housing Authority Board of Commissioners did not happen tonight for want of a quorum. Nevertheless, my perseverance in showing up was rewarded. Gossips learned from Alan Weaver, chair of the Board of Commissioners, that the proposal for the exterior renovation of Bliss Towers and the construction of two new buildings on State Street will not be pursued.

Weaver explained that, as a consequence of discussions with "the city and the state," the project, as depicted in the rendering above, which Mayor Rick Rector declared was "in almost complete contradiction" to the City's Strategic Housing Action Plan, is not going to happen. 

The agenda for tonight's meeting included, among other things, the following items:
  • Resolution #466 Rescind Resolution #458 State Street and Bliss Towers RFP award.
  • Resolution #468 Cause to prepare and issue Request for Qualifications and Proposals RFP for the construction of affordable housing.
  • Review new DRAFT Bliss Towers and State Street Development RFP.
  • Chairperson: Call to move to executive session to discuss Bliss Towers and State Street development project call with HCR [Homes and Community Renewal] and CPC [Community Preservation Corporation] Loan proposal.
Unless the Board of Commissioners decides to reschedule tonight's meeting, it will be September before there's a chance to learn about the new plans, because the board typically does not meet in August.

Colarusso and Hudson

Last night, the Planning Board held a public hearing on Colarusso and its application for a conditional use permit for its operations in Hudson. The hearing was held at the Central Fire Station to accommodate more participants, and code enforcement officer Craig Haigh was there to monitor the situation. At one point, he announced that the room was filled to capacity and the hallway was close to capacity, and he soon would have to start turning people away at the door.

Early on in the public comments, Julie Metz took the Planning Board to task for scheduling a public hearing prematurely, before the public had all the information about the project and could respond. At the end, when the public hearing was recessed but not closed, Planning Board chair Walter Chatham responded to that criticism by explaining that they were having a public hearing now so that the Planning Board could benefit from the information provided by the public--not a bad idea since many of the issues surrounding the operations at the dock and in South Bay go back to 2011 and earlier. A few members of the Planning Board didn't live in Hudson at that time, and several members of the public have long histories of dealing with waterfront issues.

Photo: The Valley Alliance
Among the points driven home in the public hearing, by Sam Pratt and by former city attorney Ken Dow, was that Colarusso lost its grandfathered status when they did work on the dock without a site plan review by the Planning Board. That action triggered the need for a conditional use permit for the entire dock operation. Since no conditional use permit has been issued, Tony Stone pointed out that the Planning Board had the power to shut down all operations at the dock right now. Dow reminded the Planning Board that a title search had confirmed that 4.4 acres of waterfront land that Colarusso purchased from Holcim in 2014 was illegally transferred to St. Lawrence Cement in 1981 and actually still belongs to the City of Hudson.

Image: The Valley Alliance
Jeff Anzevino of Scenic Hudson asked the Planning Board to "bear in mind the LWRP (Local Waterfront Revitalization Program) and its goals--to protect South Bay and the residents of Hudson." He noted that the zoning adopted as part of the LWRP gave the City the ability to control any kind of improvements along the causeway. He also advised that the bounds of the Core Riverfront (C-R) District needed to be determined.

Melissa Auf der Maur urged, "We cannot allow Colarusso to pit our city against each other." Some of that north side/south side tension was evident in the comments. Annette Perry, who lives on lower Columbia Street and makes it her mission to see that children get safely on and off the school bus, talked about the dangers posed by gravel trucks on city streets. "I think Mr. Colarusso has a solution," Perry told the Planning Board, "and his solution will work," adding that her father had worked for Colarusso, so she knows he's a good man. Jennifer Stockmeier, who lives in the 600 block of Columbia Street, maintained that "the level of truck traffic has increased in the last few years" and wanted the Planning Board "to make them stop the trucks now." Linda Mussmann, whose not-for-profit TSL is located in the 400 block of Columbia Street, declared that trucks were a hazard, asserted that she had never endorsed having trucks go to the waterfront, complained that Colarusso has not paid for any of the damage to the City's infrastructure caused by its trucks, and concluded, "Trucks do not belong in our city."

Nicole Vidor and Stone both made the point that the road from the quarry to Route 9G could be used right now, and Colarusso could go both ways on the existing road through South Bay, as O&G had done before, thus eliminating the need for any gravel trucks to travel on city streets. Susan Meyer pointed out that the use of the haul road only eliminated Colarusso trucks from city streets. Peter Jung and Matt Hartzog of Assemblymember Didi Barrett's office both spoke of the $100,000 in the state budget for a study of truck traffic in Hudson, suggesting that it could have better outcomes than the proposed haul road.

In his comments at the beginning of the meeting, Pat Prendergast portrayed Colarusso as a family business that has existed since 1912 and "hires 150 of your neighbors." The family business part was underscored by the presence of two tired and restless preschoolers, wearing red T-shirts with the Colarusso logo and "1912" on the front and "6th Generation" on the back. Still several comments revealed that Hudson residents weren't buying the family business/industrial good neighbor image. Vidor declared, "Hudson is a balanced and thriving city, and Colarusso doesn't give a damn." Chris McManus characterized Colarusso as a company that "sues the City and tries to subvert the process." Larry Bowne spoke of Colarusso's "casual disregard of the ability of government to act in the public good." Barbara Dague asserted that Colarusso had lost its good neighbor status "when they made changes without Planning Board review."

Because there was a three-minute time limit, many of the speakers submitted their full testimony in written form. Chatham announced last night that all the written comments submitted would be made available online at the City of Hudson website. Additional comments can be submitted to the members of the Planning Board. Their email addresses are all available here

Dan Udell's video of last night's Planning Board meeting is now available on YouTube. The Colarusso hearing begins 46 minutes in.


Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Perseverance Has Its Rewards

The Planning Board meeting tonight went on for two and a half hours and included a presentation of the proposal to expand the FASNY Museum of Firefighting, a project that was granted its needed variances by the Zoning Board of Appeals last month; a public hearing on the proposal to situate storage units on the vacant lot at the corner of Fairview Avenue and Oakwood Boulevard, which a historic marker indicates is the site of Camp Kelly, where the 128th Regiment assembled during the Civil War; and a public hearing about Colarusso and their quest for a conditional use permit for their operations in Hudson--all of which I will report on in the fullness of time. But those who stuck around until the bitter end, as I did, learned about a brand-new proposal.

It seems that the owner of Chatham Printing & Copy Center has purchased Johnny's Ideal Printing--the business not the buildings--and plans to relocate the business to the ground floor of 25 North Fifth Street, a building owned by Galvan Asset Management.

At the end of a long evening, the Planning Board voted unanimously to waive a public hearing and grant site plan approval. What Gossips wanted to know was what was happening with the two buildings on Warren Street where Johnny's Ideal is now located. I asked Jason O'Toole, who, as the director of property management for Galvan, had presented the proposal to the Planning Board. He said didn't know. There wasn't a chance to ask the new owner of the business what he knew about the fate of the buildings, but whatever it may be, Gossips is prepared to assist in their restoration by directing the new owners to this image from the post card collection in the History Room of the Hudson Area Library. Those are the two Johnny's Ideal buildings at the lower left.

I shared this post card with someone recently and commented, "Too bad someone isn't wanting to restore them"--the Johnny's Ideal buildings. It may well be that someone soon will be wanting to do just that.

Presenting Their Qualifications

The DRI Committee--Mayor Rick Rector, DPW superintendent Rob Perry, city treasurer Heather Campbell, city attorney Andy Howard, Planning Board chair Walter Chatham, Council president Tom DePietro, and Chazen developer Julie Pacatte--met today to open the responses received to the request for qualifications (RFQ) for the renovation and restoration of Promenade Hill.

Henry Ary, Promenade Hill, 1854
Eight firms responded to the RFQ, representing both diversity in expertise--from engineers to landscape architects--and in location--from New York City to Rochester. Chatham called it "an amazing number of submissions."

The eight firms are:
The next steps in the process will be that the six members of the committee--Rector, Perry, Campbell, Howard, Chatham, and DePietro--will review the submissions independently and evaluate them using the scorecard that was included in the RFQ.

The firms identified through this evaluation process will be interviewed by the DRI Committee on July 23.

Tonight's Big Event

Gossips has been following the Planning Board review of Colarusso's pursuit of a conditional use permit for its operations in Hudson since March, but although the folks from Colarusso and their supporters usually filled half the seats in Council Chamber at City Hall for Planning Board meetings, the others there to observe the process have been few. That's likely to change tonight.

Yesterday and today, Facebook has been alive with notices about tonight's public hearing, both from opponents and proponents of Colarusso. Tonight, we're likely to see at the Central Fire Station a repeat of the turnout for the "special informational meeting" about the haul road held at Columbia-Greene Community College by the Greenport Planning Board back in April 2017.

The number of attendees may necessitate moving tonight's public hearing from the meeting room at the fire station to the giant truck bay, as happened back in February 2013, when the Common Council Legal Committee, in the aftermath of the shooting of children and teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, was contemplating banning guns from city buildings and city parks.

Yesterday, in preparation for tonight's public hearing, a new post appeared on The Valley Alliance website: "The Waterfront Should Benefit Everyone . . . Not Just a Single Corporation." It is recommended reading for all who care about Hudson and its waterfront.

Photo: The Valley Alliance

The public hearing begins at 6:00 p.m. at the Central Fire Station, 77 North Seventh Street.

Suburban Sprawl in an Urban Neighborhood

The demolition of 17-19 Fairview Avenue, to make way for a bigger and better Stewart's, has begun.

Photos provided by Alan Neumann

Monday, July 8, 2019

Meetings and Events in the Week Ahead

The long Fourth of July weekend is over, and the schedule of meetings in the next three days of the week looks pretty intense.
  • On Monday, July 8, the Common Council Economic Development Committee meets at 6 p.m., followed by the informal meeting of the Common Council at 7 p.m. Both meetings take place at City Hall. No agenda is yet available for either meeting.
  • On Tuesday, July 9, at noon, the Hudson Literacy Fund and Friends of Hudson Youth will celebrate the official opening of Hudson Little Free Libraries with a ribbon cutting at Oakdale Park. Assemblymember Didi Barrett will be on hand for the ceremony.
The little libraries, which were built by the Technology Education class at Hudson High School from materials donated by Ed Herrington, Inc., and installed by the Department of Public Works, have been in place and in use for a couple of weeks at three locations throughout the city: 1 North Front Street, the First Presbyterian Church, and Oakdale Park. 
  • Also on Tuesday, July 9, the DRI Committee will meet at 3 p.m. at City Hall. There was a site visit on June 25 for firms interested in submitting proposals in response to the City's RFQ for renovations to Promenade Hill. July 9 is the deadline for submitting proposals, so it is likely the proposals received will be reviewed at this meeting and decisions made about firms to be interviewed.
  • The final meeting of interest on Tuesday, July 9, is a public hearing to be held by the Planning Board. The public hearing starts at 6 p.m. and will take place not at City Hall but in the Central Fire Station, 77 North Seventh Street. When the public hearing was scheduled a month ago, two projects were to be the subject of the hearing: the proposal to situate self-storage units in the vacant lot at the corner of Fairview Avenue and Oakwood Boulevard and, what's expected to be the big draw, the conditional use permit for Colarusso.

Regarding the latter, The Valley Alliance has resurrected itself for one more battle. Warning of a potential 400 percent increase in truck traffic, a double-wide paved highway through South Bay, and dangerous truck crossings over two major entrances to Hudson, they declare: "Hudson's Planning Board has the power to prevent these destructive impacts, which have held back the Waterfront for so long. . . . This is truly a watershed moment for Hudson."

  • On Wednesday, July 10, Mayor Rick Rector holds a public hearing on Local Law No. 1 of 2019--an amendment to the zoning code that will eliminate offstreet parking requirements throughout the city. The public hearing takes place at 3:00 p.m. at City Hall. This amendment to the zoning code originated with a recommendation from the Planning Board, and so far the only person to speak out against it has been code enforcement officer Craig Haigh, who warned that it would create havoc in residential neighborhoods.
  • At 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, July 10, two meetings are happening simultaneously: the Hudson Housing Authority Board of Commissioners meets in the Community Room at Bliss Towers, and the Common Council Housing and Transportation Committee meets at City Hall. At the Hudson Housing Authority meeting, there is always a chance to learn something about the plans for new construction. At the Housing and Transportation Committee meeting, it is expected that the impacts for Hudson of the Statewide Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019 will be discussed. If things follow their usual course, one can probably start out at the HHA meeting, leave when the board goes into executive session, and get to City Hall to catch most of the Housing and Transportation meeting.
  • At 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, July 10, the Livingston Planning Board continues its public hearing on the Global Partners proposal to build a market cafe with multiple gas and diesel islands on the northeast corner of the Bell's Pond intersection. The hearing takes place at Livingston Town Hall, 119 County Route 19 in Livingston. Click here for more information.  
  • On Thursday, July 11, the board of Hudson Community Development and Planning Agency (HCDPA) meets at 2:00 p.m. at 1 North Front Street. The board will likely continue its discussion of efforts to divest itself of property--vacant lots of various sizes in the Second Ward.
Update: The HCDPA meeting has been canceled.
  • On Friday, July 12, the Historic Preservation Commission meets at 10:00 a.m. at City Hall. 

Sunday, July 7, 2019

The Fate of a Remarkable Building

This building, with its curved wall, which stood at the junction of Columbia, State, and Green streets, has always fascinated me. 

According to an article that appeared in the Chatham Courier on February 20, 1964, celebrating 150 years of the Gifford-Wood Company, which was located in this building for almost a hundred of those years, the building was constructed in 1814 for the Columbia Furnace Company, which made agricultural implements as well as furnaces. Elihu Gifford, father of Hudson River School painter Sanford Gifford, purchased an interest in the company in 1823 and changed the name of the company to E. Gifford & Sons in 1856. 

In 1905, the company, then owned by Malcolm and Arthur Gifford, the grandsons of Elihu, and known as Gifford Brothers, merged with William T. Wood & Company of Arlington, Massachusetts, to form the Gifford-Wood Company. Six years later, Gifford-Wood moved to a new building on the south side of town, in an area then known as Second Hill, and the remarkable semi-circular building was put to different uses. Soon after Gifford-Wood moved out, the ground floor became the showroom for William Petry's automobile business. 

I learned not long ago that the last occupant of the building was Pitcher Accessories, which sold automotive supplies. These photographs, by Howard Gibson, discovered in the Photo by Gibson collection, reveal that it was the location of Pitcher Accessories at least as early as the 1940s. The building appears in the background of each of these pictures of a firefighters' parade that took place in Hudson in 1945.

Regrettably, the building, then 155 years old, was destroyed in a spectacular fire on November 20, 1969. The next day, this account of the conflagration appeared in the Albany Times-Union.


Today, of course, the Speedway gas station occupies the site where this extraordinary building once stood.