Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Looking Forward to 2020

On the eve of his inauguration, Kamal Johnson announced on Facebook a new round of appointments--commissioners for Youth, Aging, and Fire, as well as a legal team. The post begins with this statement: "2020 is all about making history and breaking down barriers! Hudson will have its first women's lead legal team!" The second sentence is a bit puzzling, since Cheryl Roberts was the city attorney during Rick Scalera's final two terms and Bill Hallenbeck's two terms as mayor. Maybe it's the "legal team" part that's the "first."

Regarding commissioners, Johnson has appointed Maija Reed as Youth Commissioner and Robyn Waters as Commissioner for Aging and has reappointed Timothy Hutchings as Fire Commissioner. 

Regarding the legal team, back in 2006, there was a referendum that asked voters to decide on this question: "Should Section C 9-1 of the Hudson City Charter be amended so that effective January 1, 2007, the Common Council may, upon a majority vote of the Common Council, employ its own legal counsel to advise the Council on matters affecting the City of Hudson?" The referendum failed, primarily, it seemed, because the voters didn't think it was necessary for there to be more than one city attorney. Since then, things have changed--without benefit of referendum. In 2017, during Tiffany Martin's term in office, there were three attorneys: city attorney, Ken Dow, and two assistant city attorneys: Andy Howard, counsel to the Common Council (appointed by Council president Claudia DeStefano), and Mitch Khosrova, counsel to the Planning Board, the Zoning Board of Appeals, and the Historic Preservation Commission. For the past two years, during Rick Rector's administration, there has been only one city attorney, Andy Howard. In Johnson's administration, there will be five. 

As Gossips has already reported, Cheryl Roberts will return as corporation counsel, i.e., city attorney. In addition to Roberts, there will be four assistant city attorneys. Jeff Baker, whose return Gossips predicted, will serve as counsel to the Common Council and the Planning Board. Zoe Paolantonio, who is a legal aid attorney, will serve as counsel to the Zoning Board of Appeals. Victoria Polidoro, who according to her profile "concentrates her practice in environmental, land use, and municipal law," will be counsel to the Historic Preservation Commission. Daniel Arshack, who is a recognized criminal defense attorney, will serve as "Special Waterfront Counsel" and "lead attorney on updating the Hudson waterfront plan." Presumably that means the LWRP (Local Waterfront Revitalization Program). 

It's not clear if an adequate amount was written into the city budget for 2020 to pay all these attorneys.   

Click here to read the entire announcement.

About the Depot District

The end-of-year message on the Galvan Foundation Facebook page features the rendering for what's being called "the Depot District." 

This inspired Gossips to review what we already know about Galvan's plans for this part of the city. The Google image below shows the Depot District before the historic Hudson Orphan Asylum, a building acquired by Eric Galloway in 2006, was demolished in March of this year.

The centerpiece of the district and the structure that gives it its name is Hudson Upper Depot, the train station built in 1871 on the Hudson & Berkshire Railroad in Hudson. 

Photo courtesy Pat Fenoff, City of Hudson Historian

The building is to become a craft brewery. The plans for its meticulous restoration were granted a certificate of appropriateness by the Historic Preservation Commission in October, and the plans for its adaptive reuse were given site plan approval by the Planning Board in December. Interestingly, the plans presented to the Planning Board were for the building itself and the "parklike setting" that is to be created where there is now an expanse of asphalt but made no mention of the 75-unit mixed-income residential and commercial development for which, it was announced at the beginning of November, the Galvan Foundation had won a $1 million Buildings of Excellence Award from NYSERDA (New York State Energy Research and Development Authority) to "facilitate the project's design, development, and completion." When it was suggested that looking at the plans for the depot in isolation might constitute segmentation, then Planning Board chair Walter Chatham said, "We have to look at this on its own merits." He went on to say that implementation of the whole plan was "years away, and it may never happen." He further commented that the plan for the new building "doesn't negatively impact this" and "nothing is being concealed."

Another thing of interest about the site plan review was that, although the proposal to amend the city's zoning to eliminate offstreet parking requirements originated with the Planning Board, in its review of this project that same body fretted about the intention to provide no offstreet parking on the depot site, relying instead on available onstreet parking and a five-year contract with the owners of 1 City Centre to use twenty spaces in their lot just across the railroad tracks. In the end, it was agreed that there would be one designated handicapped parking space either on the street or somewhere on the site. 

But how far might future plans for the Depot District extend? In 2017, Gossips reported that there was one missing piece to Galvan's owning a solid block of buildings at the corner of State and Seventh streets, just across the street from the depot. That was 618 State Street. Galvan owned 620 State Street, the former orphanage; Galvan owned 61-63 North Seventh Street, the former Canape Motors building; Galvan owned the building on the alley immediately behind 618 State Street; but Galvan did not own 618 State Street. In 2017, 618 State Street was sold in a tax auction, but the sale was challenged because the person bidding for the Galvan LLC Hudson Realty Collective was Judge Jack Connor.

In the ensuing two years, the perceived problems with the sale have apparently been worked out, because the owner of 618 State Street is now listed in the tax roles as Hudson Collective Realty LLC. 

Galvan also owns two of the three houses on the west side of North Seventh Street between the old Canape Motors building and the Central Fire Station: 69-73 North Seventh Street, acquired in 2014, and 75 North Seventh Street, acquired in 2013--the two houses at the right in this Google image. 

Now that the historic Hudson Orphan Asylum is gone, its bricks destined to be used to make masonry repairs to the Hudson Upper Depot, who knows what plans there might be for the Depot District beyond those already revealed?

Photo: Stephen McKay


Monday, December 30, 2019

The Gender Pay Gap a Hundred Years Ago

As 2019 draws to a close, Gossips continues to explore the Columbia Republican from the penultimate day of 1919. Today, I discovered this ad for one of Hudson's banks. In 2019, we talk about a gender pay gap. Women are paid somewhere between 78 and 82 percent of what men are paid. In 1919, it was universally accepted that men earned most of the money, but women also had a role in household finances.

Hudson River Trust Company, established in 1830 and able to claim in 1919 that it was the oldest bank in Columbia County, started out in this building at 231 Warren Street. 

In 1869, the bank's original building was demolished to make way for "a more magnificent structure." That building, which became the Elks Lodge before it was demolished in 1936, is shown below.

In 1919, when the ad that inspired this post appeared in the Columbia Republican, Hudson River Trust Company had been located for twelve years in its new building at 520 Warren Street--the building that is now City Hall.


Sunday, December 29, 2019

Another Character from Hudson's Past

Regular readers may remember that, a few years ago, Gossips became obsessed with Officer Frank Miller, whose exploits as a keeper of the peace a hundred years ago were regularly reported in the Hudson Evening Register. Many's the time, when passing this impressive monument in Cedar Park Cemetery, my curiosity has been piqued about another Hudson police officer who served the city a century ago: Michael Carbine.

I have resisted the urge to pursue Officer Carbine in the newspapers of a hundred years ago, but today I stumbled upon an article about him on the front page of the Columbia Republican for December 30, 1919. It's an intriguing story that gives insight into police work in Hudson a hundred years ago.


Friday, December 27, 2019

A New Assessor for Hudson

City Hall announced yesterday that a new "acting assessor" has been appointed. The assessor is typically appointed for six years, but, even though at least one mayor in the past has made a six-year appointment at the end of his term, Mayor Rick Rector has made the appointment for only six months--from December 20, 2019, until June 20, 2020.

The person who will serve as acting assessor is Kimberly Smith, who currently serves as the assessor for the towns of Canaan, Greenport, and New Lebanon. Smith will be available at City Hall on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1:15 to 4:15 p.m.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

What Didn't Happen a Hundred Years Ago

Perusing the Columbia Republican for December 23, 1919, the following article piqued my curiosity. It reported the responses of Hudsonians to the fact that the world had not ended the previous Wednesday.


A little research uncovered, on a blog maintained by the University of Cincinnati Libraries, this letter, found in the university archives. It was written on December 4, 1919, to the Cincinnati Observatory by a woman named Myrtle Riley, who worked for Western Electric Company. In the letter, she asked the astronomers if it was true that the world was going to end on December 17, 1919.

According to the blog, "Ms. Riley's concerns apparently grew out of a prediction by Albert Porta. Porta, a meteorologist from the University of Michigan, predicted a weather catastrophe caused by an exceptionally large sun spot combined with the electro-magnetic pull of the planets Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and Neptune." Further investigation revealed that attributing the prediction to Albert Porta was corrrect, but identifying Porta as "a meteorologist from the University of Michigan" was not. 

The notion that Porta was affiliated with the University of Michigan gave credibility to his prediction, but it brought embarrassment to that institution. The full story is told by Kim Clarke as part of the University of Michigan's History Project: "Professor Porta's Predictions." Clarke's account provides evidence that not everyone was as blasé about the imminent end of the world as Hudsonians apparently were.
In Chickasha, Okla., a week before Christmas of 1919, a young girl slipped on a new dress. If she was going to meet her maker, she wanted to look special.
Across the Atlantic, the poor of Paris gathered in churchyards to say prayers. They, too, were preparing themselves.
On Canada's Vancouver Island and in Oshkosh, Wis., people drank and danced, content to wind down their lives in glorious, boozy parties.
It was Dec. 17, 1919, and the world was all but coming to an end. From England and France to Cleveland and Indianapolis, people huddled, prayed, cried and stared into the sky, waiting and watching for a dramatic climax. There would be torrential rains, massive lava eruptions and deafening winds that would rattle the earth for days.
It would be, predicted Professor Albert F. Porta, "the most terrific weather cataclysm experienced since human history began." And the United States would be the epicenter.
As newspaper readers across the country knew, Albert F. Porta was a noted forecaster. His calculations were grounded in science. And his name was attached to a very distinguished place: The University of Michigan.
And so people braced for the end.
Before making his famous prediction, Porta had had a varied career. He was born in 1853 the Piedmont region of Italy and studied architecture and civil engineering at the University of Turin. In 1894, he, his wife, and children, emigrated to Guatemala, and nine years later he moved to the United States, where in 1907 he became a professor of civil engineering at Santa Clara College, a small, all-male Jesuit school. It was there, according to Clarke, that he discovered the campus observatory "and scholars trained to explore the heavens and predict the weather."

By 1913, Porta was no longer a faculty member at Santa Clara College, but he had been hired by the Santa Clara observatory for this mathematical skills, "specifically to determine electromagnetic connections between sunspots and planets of the solar system." After two of years working at the observatory, he left to establish his own weather and earthquake forecasting service. Clarke comments, "He claimed new methods for predicting earthquakes in an anxious region still recovering from the 1906 quake that devastated San Francisco."

Relying exclusively on a federal government booklet called the American Ephemeris and Nautical Almanac, which published annually the movements of Earth, Sun, Moon, and stars, Porta's Institutio delle Scienze Planetarie--the Institute of Planetary Sciences--delivered a weather report, which was syndicated, for the entire country, region by region. In the summer of 1919, Porta began predicting a "pending meteorological doom."

How Porta, who ran his own self-created "institute" in California, became associated with the University of Michigan is not entirely clear, but Clarke suggests it was an accidental consequence of public dismissals of Porta's predictions from William J. Hussey, a professor of astronomy at the University of Michigan with serious academic credentials. Hussey considered Porta's predictions absurd and told the press, "The scare is of the type the people of the dark ages were frightened with every few weeks, but has no place in an enlightened world like that of today." According to Clarke, "it was [Hussey's] vehement rebuttals that may have led to Porta becoming associated with U-M in the first place."
It was only after newspaper accounts carrying Hussey's dismissals, and his position at Ann Arbor, that Porta somehow was lumped into the U-M faculty. It was perhaps the error of a copy editor merging stories, or a rewrite man up against a deadline at a wire service. No matter. Newspapers around the globe now routinely published dire, end-of-the-world forecasts attributed to "Professor Porta of the University of Michigan."
Although, as the Columbia Republican reported, the good citizens of Hudson went about their business on December 17, 1919, and left superstitious people to worry, elsewhere in the Capital Region the prediction had tragic consequences. Clarke reports that on December 17, 1919:
. . . in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., Samuel Heaslip prepared to bury his 54-year-old wife, Anna. She killed herself the day before, unable to face the end of the world.
Acknowledgment In this post, Gossips relies heavily on "Professor Porta's Predictions," by Kim Clarke. The article contains much more information than was included here, and it is recommended reading for those curious about this century-old prediction about the "gigantic explosion of flaming gases" that was to bring about the end of the world.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

News for Folks Who Need Gas for the Holiday

This morning, as I was returning from the supermarket, an over-sized pickup truck exiting Stewart's pulled out in front of my little car as I approached the corner of Fairview Avenue and Green Street. The incident distracted me, and I missed noticing that the pumps are in place, and Stewart's is once again selling gas--just in time for Christmas. Gossips got the news this afternoon from Chuck Marshall.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Holiday Shopping in Hudson Now and Then

Yesterday, in his commentary on WAMC, Ralph Gardner Jr. talked about shopping--primarily in Hudson and specifically at 2 Note, Talbot and Arding, Fluff, Hudson Wine Merchants, and Vasilow's: "Scents and Sensibility."

Today, I discovered this item on the front page of the Columbia Republican for December 23, 1919, which tells of a different aspect of holiday shopping in Hudson a hundred years ago.



Saturday, December 21, 2019

Over at the Landfill

Anyone who has ventured to the north end of Second Street lately has undoubtedly noticed that the methane vent tubes dotting the capped landfill have been wrapped to resemble candy canes. The following press release, received this morning, explains the project.

Artful Trash Management is decorating for the holidays—turning methane vents into candy canes on the North Bay landfill, Hudson, New York. Red ribbons and yellow "Caution" tape transform exhaling methane vent tubes into candy canes. The work on this 40-acre art installation is being done with elves. Yes, helper elves! Orchestrated by philosopher Bob Johnson, Ph.D., visionary behind Artful Trash Management (ATM).
Artful Trash Management is a body of thought. RiverCubes are works of philosophy designed to change the way we relate to—and therefore understand—waste streams of our own production. Changing the way well-meaning folks generally do river clean-up—by eliminating the use of dumpsters too often sent to landfills—ATM conspires sea change in the ways we produce and consume as a culture.
ATM and RiverCubes began on Pittsburgh’s Three Rivers and the Connecticut River Watershed and continues in the Hudson Valley. Over the last decade Johnson has been practicing “rivercube reconnaissance” from Gowanus Canal to Albany. He is a repeat activist exhibitor at Clearwater’s Great Hudson River Revival.
Call 412.302.3700 for an appointment, a guided tour, and directions to this ongoing art installation—participate in this work of philosophy!

A post-holiday event is planned at the landfill for January 10 and 11 called "Moon After Yule Viewing." "MoonRiseEve" takes place on January 10, "MoonSetDawn" on January 11.

Not Everyone Is Who You Think They Are

Dear Diary,
I drive a SMART car, which, because it is basically just half a car, is the least expensive car you can own. However, because SMART is built by Mercedes-Benz and the cars were sold at Mercedes dealerships, I'm on a lot of mailing lists comprised primarily of owners of Mercedes-Benz luxury cars. This leads to some inappropriate profiling. Today, for example, I received an email from a BMW dealer in Albany announcing, "There's a new BMW waiting for you!" 
Yeah, right. 

"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.

Of Interest

Register-Star reporter Amanda Purcell reports on HudsonValley360 that the Hudson Police Department rolled out its body-worn camera program yesterday: "City police wear body cameras on patrol." The HPD has been working for the past two years to fulfill a request for body cameras made by the public. 


Celebrate the Day

Today is the Winter Solstice--the shortest day of the year. Henceforward, the days start getting longer.

Celebrate the return of the light!

Friday, December 20, 2019

No Life Without Change

This building at 757 Columbia Street has seen a fair amount of change in the past decade.

In 2012, Stoddard Corner Bookshop opened there--a shop dealing in rare books and New York ephemera, with an adjacent lecture hall and assembly space called Hudson Chautauqua. Sad to say, Stoddard Corner closed in the middle of 2014.

In 2015, a new enterprise took over the space: House Rules Cafe, the Hudson Valley's first board game cafe. Gossips has enjoyed Scrabble games, nights of Match Game with Trixie Starr, and vegetarian Reuben sandwiches (my favorite) at House Rules Cafe, and Joey has savored their doggy ice cream, but alas, earlier this month, Kathleen Miller, the proprietor of this inventive venue, announced that House Rules Cafe would be closing its doors on Monday, December 23--a sad loss for Hudson. 

While we mourn the loss of House Rules Cafe, we anticipate the building's next iteration. Yesterday, Dana Johnson announced that Relish, once located on South Front Street and now located in Catskill and called Relish Delights, is coming back to Hudson. Its new location on this side of the river will be none other than 757 Columbia Street!

Thursday, December 19, 2019

REDC Grants Announced Today

More than $761 million was awarded today in Round IX of the Regional Economic Development Council initiative, and the City of Hudson and Hudson businesses and not-for-profits got some of it.
  • The City of Hudson will receive $750,000 "to make improvements to the City's wastewater collection system to resolve sewer overflows along Front and State streets.
  • The City of Hudson was also awarded $17,500 for a Parking Improvement Feasibility Study "to address a critical infrastructure deficit in the city."
  • Bindlestiff Family Cirkus was awarded $17,500 "to continue expanding [its] capacity to provide educational and community-oriented programming, with a focus on youth and those with developmental disabilities."
  • Basilica Hudson will receive $950,139 to convert the building into an all-electric heating system for year-round use and "achieve net zero energy performance." The project involves installing two new solar arrays.
  • Hudson Hall was awarded $55,000 to "improve the audio/visual, lighting, video, soft goods, and audience seating systems in its recently restored theater."
  • Hudson Hall will also receive $100,000 for the Hudson Jazz Festival.
The 2019 Regional Economic Development Council Awards Booklet can be viewed here. Award recipients in Columbia County are listed on pages 81-83.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

The Last Council Meeting of the Year

Several things of interest happened at last night's Common Council meeting--the last meeting of 2019--and Gossips will report them more or less in order of occurrence.

Somewhat remarkably, Council president Tom DePietro decided to abandon his practice of not voting on most issues. DePietro adopted the practice when he took office in 2018. His reasoning was that, because Hudson had done away with the weighted vote, and there were an even number of aldermen, his role was like that of the vice president in the United States Senate, empowered to preside over Senate deliberations but not voting except when there was a tie. With a few exceptions, when he felt strongly about an issue, DePietro has followed that practice, which drew criticism from people who maintained that the public should know where he stood on all issues. Last night, after voting along with the aldermen on the first few resolutions before the Council, DePietro explained that, because "his reasoning for not voting didn't resonate with people," he wouldn't be doing it anymore.

Surprisingly, after all the sturm und drang about the Council not being represented in the negotiations, the police contract was ratified unanimously, with no discussion beyond Alderman Tiffany Garriga (Second Ward) asking city attorney Andy Howard to confirm that ratification of this contract, unlike police contracts in the past, was not being introduced as a law.

The vote to override Mayor Rick Rector's veto of the proposed moratorium on short-term rentals did not happen without discussion. Before the vote took place, Alderman John Rosenthal (Fourth Ward) advocated for overriding the veto, saying there were two issues at stake: the type of community we want and the type of economy we want. He argued, as he has before, that crafting a law to regulate short-term rentals would take time, and the moratorium "gives us the opportunity to look at other communities" and create appropriate legislation. He called the mayor's position "nonsense" and asserted, speaking of the moratorium, "It's fair--not some sort of willy-nilly move." He went on to say the moratorium was "not some anti-business or economy-crushing action." He reiterated his claim that the idea of a moratorium had originated with the mayor--something the mayor cannot recall doing and Gossips can find no evidence that he did. 

When the resolution to override the veto came to a vote, Garriga, who is second in the roll call, voted no. DePietro shot her a frowning stare, and the roll call was interrupted for DePietro to remind the Council that a yes vote would override the veto and no vote would not. Garriga reversed her vote, but the confusion continued. Dominic Merante (Fifth Ward) initially voted yes when he meant to vote no. 

At the end of the roll call, four aldermen--Rob Bujan (First Ward), Eileen Halloran (Fifth Ward), Merante, and Rich Volo (Fourth Ward)--had voted against overriding the mayor's veto. When it came time for DePietro to vote, he prefaced it by saying, "My vote won't get us the override." Eight votes were required to override the mayor's veto. He then commented disparagingly about the votes of "certain councilmen who will not be here in the future"--referring to Bujan and Volo--whose votes had helped to defeat the resolution to override the veto.

You can read another account of what transpired on Roger Hannigan Gilson's The Other Hudson Valley: "New Airbnbs Will Continue After Failed Vote."

There were other things of interest that happened at the meeting. Garriga tried to prevent the resolution to enter into a new contract with dog control officer Wes Powell from being introduced, claiming that "the community" does the work that the City pays Powell $7,200 a year to do. She was referring to the way members of the community and the Hudson Police Department work together, using Facebook and the HPD's microchip scanner, to reunite dogs that have strayed with their humans. She claimed that Powell, who serves as animal/dog control officer throughout the county, spends no time in Hudson and there is "nothing on his Facebook page about Hudson." She argued that the job should go to someone who lives in Hudson.

DePietro reminded her that the proposed new agreement with Powell stipulated that he make "at least two random visits per week to the Hudson Dog Park to confirm any dogs present have current, valid licenses." Bujan pointed out that his job also involved removing dogs from hoarders. Merante made reference to nine dogs Powell had recently removed from a bad situation in Hudson.

In the end, a motion was made and seconded to introduce the resolution. When the vote was taken, only Garriga voted no.

Also of interest, the Council unanimously approved a local law amending the charter to allow the city attorney to live within a fifty mile radius of Hudson. The need for this amendment has been a matter of curiosity. Although no official announcement has been made, it is generally expected that Cheryl Roberts will be the city attorney in the new administration. Roberts lives in Columbia County, so she isn't the reason for the charter amendment. A hint about the reason may have been provided at the last Planning Board meeting, when Jeff Baker appeared and reportedly spent the evening sitting next to Linda Mussmann. Baker was the attorney for Friends of Hudson during the St. Lawrence Cement battle and served as counsel to the Planning Board during the time that Dick Tracy was mayor of Hudson (2006-2007). Could it be that Baker, who practices law in Albany, will be returning as an attorney for the City of Hudson?

Jeff Baker|Screen capture from Two Square Miles
The proposed law local that would extend the terms of elected officials in Hudson also came up for a vote last night. Audience members Matt McGhee and Ronald Kopnicki both wanted to speak prior to the vote but were denied permission by DePietro, who told them this was the first step in a long process, there would be a public hearing, and the action, if pursued, would be subject to a referendum in November 2020. Before voting, both Rosenthal and Volo expressed the opinion that four-year teams should apply only to the mayor, treasurer, and Council president and not to the aldermen. (When the proposal was first presented, Garriga insisted that she would not support it unless it included the aldermen.) The proposed amendment failed with five ayes--Garriga, Kamal Johnson (First Ward), Calvin Lewis (Third Ward), Shershah Mizan (Third Ward), and Dewan Sarowar (Second Ward)--and six nays--Bujan, Halloran, Merante, Rosenthal, Volo, and DePietro.

When audience comment was invited, Steve Dunn rose to declare that sidewalk legislation needed to be drafted in the coming year or he would "start suing the city." He also spoke of plans for comprehensive zoning revision, which he said was an example of "the perfect being the enemy of the good." He asserted that there are things that can be changed now and told the Council the issue of businesses in residential districts "needs to be addressed this year," presumably meaning in the year 2020. Dunn, an attorney, volunteered to help write legislation.

Of Interest

Last night, Register-Star reporter Amanda Purcell published an article on HudsonValley360 about the resignation of Walter Chatham: "No replacement planned for planning board chairman." The essential news is that, with no more Planning Board meetings scheduled for 2019 and the new mayor having the right to appoint a new Planning Board chair in 2020, Mayor Rick Rector will not be appointing someone to replace Chatham for the few days that remain in 2019. Chatham appears to have provided a statement to the Register-Star, somewhat different from the one provided to Gossips, which is quoted in the report.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Rally for Impeachment on Warren Street

Engaged in other things, Gossips missed the rally in front of Congressman Delgado's office this afternoon, but Lance Wheeler was there. His video of the event is now on YouTube

A Plan for the Dunn Warehouse

Winter hasn't officially begun yet, and we're already having our second snow. Every time it snows, one wonders how many more winters the Dunn warehouse--the only industrial building left on Hudson's waterfront--can survive.

For those of us who worry about the building, there is good news. At the last DRI (Downtown Revitalization Initiative) Committee meeting, which took place on December 10, Michael Baron, structural engineer with Chazen Companies, presented a plan for immediate short-term winter repair and a plan, to be carried out next spring and summer, to stabilize the building for further restoration. The total cost is estimated to be $384,000, which will be paid for by the Restore NY grant received by the City at the beginning of 2017

The short-term winter repair involves installing a metal deck on the roof on the east part of the building, where there is now a hole.

The deck would extend up past the roof line and be strapped down so the wind doesn't blow it off. Walter Chatham, an architect, who has served on the DRI Committee ex officio as chair of the Planning Board, declared the plan was a great solution, noting that it was not labor intensive. He encouraged the committee "to get as much work done as soon as possible." There was unanimous agreement to move ahead with the winter repair, dubbed Phase 1.

The longer term plan for stabilization, to be carried out in the spring and summer, involves repairs to the roof and structural wood, metal bracing of the south wall, masonry restoration, and abatement of hazardous materials. (There is asbestos on the pipes, in the sealants on the windows, and in some of the roof shingles, and there is lead paint.)  

A complete project proposal is expected to be presented to the DRI Committee at its next meeting, which is scheduled to take place on Tuesday, January 7, at 2:30 p.m. at City Hall. The bid package for the work to be undertaken in the spring and summer is expected to be ready in February.

Another Holiday Tradition

For the past three years, Phil Kline's Unsilent Night has happened in the streets of Hudson. This year, the event, which has very urban roots, will take place in a very different setting: Art Omi Sculpture & Architecture Park in Ghent. 

In an article by Tom Stephens that appeared in Chronogram, Art Omi communications director, Jessica Puglisi, speaks of the new setting: "Every iteration of Unsilent Night is molded by the specific route and acoustic conditions therein. In a city, buildings, people, and traffic work their way into the composition, shaping the sound and experience. Because most presentations of Unsilent Night happen in a city or town, Art Omi is an unusual setting for Unsilent Night. Instead of predominantly man-made acoustic architecture, we anticipate a quieter, more subtle landscape--maybe some skittering on the forest floor, or crunching of frosty ground underfoot, or perhaps some distant animal or bird calls. Participants will get to listen closely to this subtle, atmospheric piece."

The event takes place on Saturday, December 21. Participants should plan to arrive with their mobile devices and external speakers no later than 5:30 p.m., wearing warm clothes and winter footwear. Click here for information on how to download the soundtrack to your device. A selection of Kline's own boomboxes will be available to borrow on a first come, first served basis. Art Omi invites people to being headlamps if they have them. For those unable to attend but wish to hear this year's presentation, the event will be broadcast on WGXC 90.7 FM or online at WGXC.org.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Looking Beyond Christmas

Winter Walk is behind us, so it's not too early to start thinking about the next big community event--the Oakdale Plunge! The year ahead is a leap year, so in 2020, the plunge into the icy waters of Oakdale Lake is scheduled to take place on the day that only happens in a leap year, February 29. As always, the Oakdale Plunge supports the Hudson Fire Department Water Rescue and Dive Team and the Hudson Youth Department. 

In 2019, seventy-six people took the plunge and raised more than $18,000 for the two causes. These photographs by Valerie Shaff capture some of the color and zaniness of the event.

In 2020, the Oakdale Plunge is hoping to raise $25,000. You can participate in two ways--by making a splash as an individual or a team or by making a donation to support a brave plunger. Visit www.OakdalePlunge.com to register or donate. This year, the early birds who sign up before February 1 get a 33 percent discount on the registration fee and kids under 18 can register for free.