Friday, January 31, 2020

Of the Decennial Enumeration

The 2020 census began on January 21 in Toksook Bay, Alaska. By mid-March, we'll all be able to respond to the census online. In April, anyone who doesn't respond online will receive a paper questionnaire. From mid-May through July, census takers will go door to door to households that have not yet responded. 

Taking the Census, Francis William Edmonds, 1854, Metropolitan Museum of Art
In the year of the census, the History Room Committee at the Hudson Area Library presents an exhibit called The History of the Census in Hudson. The exhibit begins on Thursday, February 6, with an opening reception from 6:00 until 7:30 p.m.

The History of the Census in Hudson, which was developed in collaboration with the Jacob Leisler Institute for the Study of Early New York History, examines the United States federal censuses that have been taken since 1790, the New York State censuses taken since 1825, colonial censuses that precede the American Revolution, and the upcoming 2020 federal census. The exhibit focuses on Hudson, from its founding and even earlier times, and includes original 1845 census books for the City of Hudson, displayed alongside maps, documents, and images that illuminate the area's growth and history. It also includes information about the 2020 census and its importance to Hudson and its inhabitants.

The History of the Census in Hudson will be on display in the Community Room of the Hudson Area Library from February 6 until March 31. The library is located at 51 North Fifth Street.

CCDC Votes on Election Commissioner

Sam Pratt reports the outcome of last night's vote by the Columbia County Democratic Committee: "Dow bests Stamper for Dem Elections nod." Ken Dow took 56 percent of the vote in a secret ballot, with the closest contender, Erin Stamper, getting 42 percent of the vote. The other two candidates--Penny Panoulias and Mark Young--received marginal support.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

February Approaches

After today, there's just one more day left in January. We're almost halfway through winter! Soon Groundhog Day will put us all in mind of spring. But even before Groundhog Day happens on Sunday, February 2, there's another milestone coming to help us get through the winter. The indoor Hudson Farmers Market returns to 601 Union Street on Saturday, February 1.

The market will be open from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m., and all your favorite vendors will be there.

HDC, Its Mission, and the Kaz Site

Without an executive director and with a history of two RFPs that failed to bring about the redevelopment of the Kaz warehouse site, the Hudson Development Corporation continues to struggle with its mission and the path forward. At the meeting of the HDC Board on Tuesday, Bob Rasner, president of the board, invited members to "check the rules under which we operate"--that is, the articles of incorporation, a document that dates back to 1976, when the agency was created. Rasner told the board, "It's crystal clear. Our responsibility is jobs--jobs, jobs, jobs." He acknowledged, "We do have the right to borrow money, to buy and sell real estate--but all in the interest of jobs. Housing is not mentioned in this document, although members of this board would move us in that direction."

Rasner went on to say, "Our lender [CEDC] doesn't think we are developers. Empire State Development doesn't think we are developers. For us to wander into that abyss is dangerous ground. We should be going into this with eyes wide open." Rasner then suggested, as he first did in September 2018, selling the Kaz property, which HDC has owned since the end of 2010, "and getting on with what we are supposed to be doing."

Of course, selling the property brings with it a host of other considerations. How do you ensure that the buyer develops the site in a way that brings greatest benefit to the city? Will it be sold as one parcel, or platted and sold off piece by piece? In the context of the discussion about how to go about selling the property, Rasner recommended the book Strong Towns, by Charles Marohn, and board member Kristan Keck opined, "Everything goes back to needing a city planner."

The Saga of the Dunn Continues

At the December 17 meeting of the DRI (Downtown Revitalization Initiative) Committee, it seemed that help was finally on the way for the deteriorating Dunn warehouse, one of the last surviving 19th-century industrial buildings on the Hudson waterfront. Structural engineers from Chazen had come up with a plan for immediate winter repair and were working on plans for long-term stabilization. Things seemed to be looking up, but at Wednesday's DRI Committee meeting, hopes for any repair to help the building make it through the winter were dashed.

The bids for the emergency repairs to the roof were due in on Monday, January 27, but none were received. DPW superintendent Rob Perry reported that requests for bids were sent to eighteen roofing contractors: six did not respond at all; six said they were too busy; six asked for plans; but none submitted a bid. He then contacted a local roofer and asked for an estimate. The initial estimate was more than $27,000, but they were still waiting for a price on the steel decking. (The structural engineer who had recommended the method of repair estimated it would cost between $10,000 and $15,000.) While the meeting was going on, Perry received the information that the steel decking would cost $9,000, and the estimate had gone up to $33,000. Because the repair is temporary and will be undone when the full stabilization is undertaken, the committee decided to "park" any action on the temporary fix.

The effort to rescue the Dunn building is stalled once again in discussions of options for ownership, the benefits and drawbacks of National Register listing, and Empire State Development's requirement that there be "an investor on board" before any of the $1 million in DRI money can be spent on the building. Chris Round proposed putting together an "opportunity package" to solicit "expressions of interest" but warned that it would not be a "quick process." Mayor's aide Michael Chameides told him, "We all think we should move ahead."

The next meeting of the DRI Committee will take place on Tuesday, February 18, at 3:00 p.m.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

"Ella the Ungovernable"

Early last spring, Gossips linked to an interview with David McDonald in the Altamont Enterprise in which McDonald talked about a screenplay he was working on about the early life of Ella Fitzgerald, in particular her incarceration at the New York State Girls Training School here in Hudson and her eventual escape.

Photo: Prison Public Memory
Since then, what was originally intended to be a film has morphed into a theatrical production called Ella the Ungovernable, which is set to debut on Valentine's Day weekend, February 14 and 15, at the Valatie Community Theater, 3031 Main Street, in Valatie. A recent article in InPlay Capital Region tells about the play and its development for the theater: "Ella Fitzgerald play, an original, will debut in Valatie in February." The article also provides information for securing tickets to the two performances.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Just Beyond a Historic District

Many's the time I've wondered and worried about the fate of this remarkable Italianate house on Prospect Street. It was such a grand house, yet it seemed so unloved.

Tax records show that in the middle of last year, the house acquired a new owner, and a renovation of the house is currently underway.

The Armory Historic District, which primarily covers the houses on North Fifth Street between State and Clinton streets, doesn't include this house just three lots away on Prospect Street, believed to have been built in 1875. Since the plans for its restoration don't require review by the Historic Preservation Commission, there is no assurance that the fish scale siding, which gives the house its unique character, will be preserved or replicated. 

With this house on my mind, I discovered this morning, tucked into the pocket of a jacket I decided to wear, a quote a friend had given me, written on a scrap of paper. Now is as good a time as any to share it.
When dealing with the exterior of a period house, one might dwell on these words of wisdom by an anonymous Chinese poet: "The facade of a building does not belong to only those who own it but all who behold it."

Policing Hudson--Now and Then

Chief Ed Moore and Lieutenant David Miller provided a lot of statistics at last night's Common Council Police Committee meeting, at the request of the new committee chair, Dewan Sarowar. They reported that there were 8,862 calls for service in 2019, the lowest that's been seen in the past few years. There was a time when calls for service were up at 10,000 to 12,000 a year, but even at the current rate, the number of calls for service in Hudson is comparable to the number of calls for service in the remainder of the county. There were 685 arrests resulting in 1,062 booking charges. (An arrest can result in more than one charge.) In 2019, the Hudson police officers issued 1,366 traffic tickets--down a bit from the number issued in 2018 but double the number issued in the past.  

Chief Moore also reported that the department has hired two new employees: a new account clerk, who will start her job on February 3, and a replacement police officer, who will join the force on February 6. 

Coincidentally, soon after returning home from the Police Committee meeting last night, I discovered this item in the Hudson Evening Register for January 28, 1870, reporting two new hires for the Hudson Police Department 150 years ago.


Tonight in Greenport

The Town of Greenport Planning Board is holding a public hearing tonight on the proposal to build a twenty-bed detox center--a medically supervised withdrawal and stabilization facility--on Merle Avenue, just off Route 66 in Greenport. 

The details of the proposal were reported yesterday by Amanda Purcell in the Register-Star: "Public hearing Tuesday on Greenport detox center."

When the subject of the proposal came up at last night's Common Council Police Committee meeting, Chief Ed Moore stated, "I've always said, for an addict, it's got to be easier to find help than to buy cheap drugs." Fourth Ward supervisor Linda Mussmann urged Moore and Mayor Kamal Johnson, who was present at the committee meeting, to attend the hearing to speak in support of the proposed facility.

The hearing begins at 7:30 p.m. at Greenport Town Hall, 600 Town Hall Drive, in Greenport.

Guidance in a Local Legend

I've lived in Hudson now for close to twenty-seven years, with a view of the Catskill Mountains from my back windows, but on the several occasions when someone has asked me to point out the silhouette of the sleeping Rip Van Winkle in the contours of the mountains against the sky, I have been unable to do so. For those similarly challenged, I offer this.

Thanks to Bruce Mitchinson for posting this on Facebook for the edification of us all 

Monday, January 27, 2020

Who's Teaching Whom? A Dog Tale

It should come as no surprise to anyone that Joey and I are regulars at the Hudson Dog Park. We are there every morning, often returning in the afternoon.

Sometimes, if there are no other dogs at the park when we arrive, Joey and I will walk around the perimeter together. I didn't realize how much Joey enjoyed that until today.

This morning, Otis and Daisy were at the park, but Joey showed no interest in playing with them. Instead, he just stood by my side while I chatted with the other dogs' humans. Thinking Joey was bored and wanted to go home and have breakfast, I asked him, "Shall we go home?" As soon as I said that, he walked several yards away, turned around, and looked at me. After a little human conversation about how many words a dog can understand (for the average dog, it's about 165), Joey returned to my side but walked away again when I asked him a few minutes later, "Do you want to go home?" 

It was then--finally--that it occurred to me that Joey wanted me to follow him, to walk with him around the dog park. And so we did, walking the perimeter and crisscrossing the park. Sometimes Joey led the way, with me following as if tethered behind him, sometimes I led the way, but we always stayed only about a leash-length apart. Such a good dog!

Meetings of Interest in the Week Ahead

Here's what's happening meeting-wise in the final week of January.
  • The Common Council Fire Committee meeting for Monday, January 27, has been canceled, but the Police Committee meeting will take place as scheduled at 6 p.m. at City Hall. The Police Committee is being chaired this year by Dewan Sarowar (Second Ward) and is made up of Rebecca Wolff (First Ward), Malachi Walker (Fourth Ward), and Jane Trombley (First Ward).
  • On Tuesday, January 28, the Board of the Hudson Development Corporation will hold its January meeting at noon at 1 North Front Street. It's not certain what will be on the agenda, but it is possible that Council president Tom DePietro will propose once again a change in the bylaws to make the majority and minority leaders ex officio members of the HDC board. Until about four years ago, the majority and minority leaders did sit on the HDC board, along with the mayor and the Council president, but at the end of 2015, the HDC board amended its bylaws to reduce the number of elected officials to just the mayor and the Council president. DePietro first proposed making the majority and minority leaders members of the HDC board in October 2019.
  • On Wednesday, January 29, the DRI (Downtown Revitalization Initiative) Committee meets at 2:30 p.m. at City Hall. The bids for the short-term winter repair to the Dunn warehouse were opened this morning, so that stabilization project, which is being undertaken with Restore NY funds, is expected to be on the agenda. 
Also, now that the master agreement with the Department of State has been signed, it is expected that the City will be moving forward with Starr Whitehouse and Arterial on the renovation and restoration of Promenade Hill and the Complete Streets enhancements to the BRIDGE District. 
  • On Thursday, January 30, the Columbia County Democratic Committee meets at 6 p.m. at the Martin H. Glynn Municipal Building, 3211 Church Street, in Valatie. The purpose of the meeting is to determine whom the CCDC will recommend for the position of Democratic Election Commissioner. The four candidates are Ken Dow, an attorney, who served as Democratic Election Commissioner in the early 2000s; Penny Panoulias, who is currently the secretary of the Clermont Democratic Committee; Erin Stamper, who serves as CCDC vice chair and replaced Jim Dolan as Democratic Election Specialist at the Board of Elections; and Mark Young, co-owner of Mexican Radio who from 2003 to 2014 represented Stuyvesant on the CCDC.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Update on the Board of Elections

The Republicans have new staff at the Board of Elections. Kelly Miller-Simmons is Republican Election Commissioner, and Dineen Panadis will be the Republican Deputy Commissioner, replacing Kathy Harter, who is soon to retire. The Democrats have yet to settle on a new Democratic Election Commissioner. 

At the end of last year, the Board of Supervisors rejected the recommendation of the Columbia County Democratic Committee that Virginia Martin be reappointed to the position she has held for more than a decade and continues to hold. At the beginning of January, the CCDC issued a second request for applicants for the position of Democratic Election Commissioner, which is now a full-time job that pays $65,000 a year with benefits.

On Thursday, January 30, the statutorily elected members of the local Democratic committees will be voting again on whom they will recommend to the Board of Supervisors. There will be four candidates to choose from. Martin has withdrawn from the competition. The four candidates are: Ken Dow, an attorney, who served as Democratic Election Commissioner in the early 2000s; Penny Panoulias, who currently serves as secretary of the Clermont Democratic Committee; Erin Stamper, who serves as CCDC vice chair and replaced Jim Dolan as Democratic Election Specialist at the BOE; and Mark Young, co-owner of Mexican Radio who from 2003 to 2014 represented Stuyvesant on the CCDC.

The meeting on Thursday, at which the CCDC is expected to make its choice, will be held at 6 p.m. in the Village of Valatie meeting room in the Martin H. Glynn Municipal Building, 3211 Church Street, in Valatie.

What $1.2 Million Can Buy

This past week, the Real Estate section of the New York Times ran this article as its "What You Get" feature: "$1.2 Million Homes in New York, California and Florida." The house in California is in Los Angeles. The house in Florida is in Key West. The house in New York is right here in Hudson, on Willard Place.

Photo: Deborah DeGraffenreid|NYT

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Stemming Gentrification

Yesterday, it was announced that the City of Hudson has received a New York State Anti-Displacement Learning Network grant and will be participating in a three-phase program to address displacement of residents. In Phase 1, municipal teams will learn about various strategies to address displacement through webinars and peer-to-peer discussions. In Phase 2, each municipal team will receive twenty hours of technical assistance to select an anti-displacement strategy and develop a plan to implement the chosen strategy. During this phase, each team may submit a funding request of up to $1 million to implement the chosen strategy. In Phase 3, municipal teams that have been awarded implementation funding will execute their chosen strategies.

Gossips posted information about this grant program back in October when the Common Council approved submitting the grant application. The New York State Anti-Displacement Learning Network is a collaboration between the New York State Office of the Attorney General and a national not-for-profit called Enterprise, whose mission is "to create opportunity for low- and moderate-income people through affordable housing in diverse, thriving communities." Click on these links to learn more about Enterprise and the New York State Anti-Displacement Learning Network.

You can also read about the grant on the City of Hudson website: "City Receives Grant to Combat Displacement of Low-Income Residents"; and in the Register-Star: "Hudson receives grant to tackle housing displacement."

Following Stewart's

Hudson has its new Stewart's, but we're still waiting for the landscaping and the improvements to the intersection that are supposed to be paid for by the $200,000 host community benefit agreement. But what of the Stewart's projects elsewhere that Gossips has been following?

Last week, Gossips reported that the lawsuit brought against Stewart's Shops by a community group in Altamont, Concerned Severson Neighbors, had been terminated. In Altamont, as in Hudson, a change on the zoning code was required to allow Stewart's to realize its plans for expansion.

This past week, the Altamont Enterprise reported on Stewart's Shops lawsuit against the Village of Voorheesville for changing its zoning in what Stewart's alleges was a "targeted effort to prevent" the company from building a new shop on property it owns in the village: "Voorheesville's first filing in Stewart's lawsuit seeks dismissal of all claims." With its lawsuit, Stewart's is seeking to have the village's new zoning law declared null and void and the zoning district created by the new code around its property judged to be a case of illegal spot zoning.

Stewart's plan for Voorheesville would replace this building, formerly Smith's Tavern . . . 

with this gas station and convenience store.

Part of the village's concern about the Stewart's proposal is its proximity to Vly Creek. The gas station would sit almost entirely within the creek's floodplain.

The Celebration Continues!

A decade of The Gossips of Rivertown merits a week of celebration! Tomorrow night, the annual observance of Gossips' anniversary winds up, as it has in the past, at the Red Dot. 

On Sunday, January 26, starting at 7 p.m., Gossips readers who dine at the Red Dot Restaurant & Bar, 321 Warren Street, will get a piece of the Gossips anniversary cake for dessert, compliments of the The Gossips of Rivertown. So, come out tomorrow night, dine at the Red Dot, enjoy some cake, and celebrate a decade of Gossips being a valued and recognized source for hyperlocal news and local history. 

You are also invited, if you haven't already done so, to help ensure Gossips' continued well-being by adding your name to the list of 2020 Supporters. For those who read Gossips on a computer, just click on the "Donate" button on the right column. For those who read Gossips on their phones, scroll down to the bottom of the page, touch "View web version," then find the "Donate" button at the top of the right column. Your support--in any amount--is essential to Gossips' survival and deeply appreciated.


Just Beyond Our Southern Border

Gossips paid quite a bit of attention to Local Ocean when the innovative and promising enterprise, which raised seafood in local drinking water treated with salt from the Red Sea, was going belly-up back in 2013. Since then, aquaculture has been pretty much off the radar. For those who wonder what now goes on at the site just beyond the old Holcim buildings and the Greenport section of the proposed haul road, Chronogram tells all: "Trout Is the New Salmon: Hudson-Based Fishery Champions Sustainable New York Steelhead."


Friday, January 24, 2020

The Reconstituted Tourism Board

The previous Tourism Board worked for a year and a half to define its goals and chart a path forward only to have the Common Council reject the outcome of its efforts. That Tourism Board was made up of people from Hudson's business and arts community with experience and expertise in cultural planning and strategic planning.

At Tuesday night's Common Council meeting, Alderman Calvin Lewis (Third Ward), who will chair the new Tourism Board, announced that he was "working with the mayor's office to develop a vision for the Tourism Board." He invited "people who have a passion for Hudson, have a commitment to Hudson, and are looking to advance local business and find a common ground between the community and tourism" to consider joining the Tourism Board. 

The mayor appoints four members, and the Common Council appoints four members. Anyone interested in becoming part of the new Tourism Board should contact the mayor's office and/or Lewis to make their interest known.

Take Me to the River

Scenic Hudson is creating a Hudson River Access Plan to document water-related recreation along the Hudson and to demonstrate the widespread concern about Amtrak's proposed gates and fences along the Hudson River shoreline.

Since the beginning of January, Scenic Hudson has been gathering information on a public input map. So far, there have been more than 600 comments. The information gathering process is now in its final week. Comments are due by January 31. To register your input, click here, and use the map to identify the river access locations--current and future--that are most important to you.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Watch for Yourselves

Dan Udell's video of Tuesday night's Common Council meeting is now available on YouTube. Click here to watch.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Preserving a Landmark

Last night at the Common Council meeting, Reverend Ed Cross rose to ask the question, "How many black landmarks are there in Hudson?" The question was asked as a prelude to an appeal for the former church building at 241 Columbia Street, which is now privately owned.

The story of the church and Cross's advocacy for it goes back a few years. Starting in 2009, Cross's congregation, the Endless Love Temple, rented the building as its house of worship, but in 2017, the building was seized by the City of Hudson for nonpayment of property taxes. (The entity that owned the building was not tax exempt.) After the building had been foreclosed on by the City, the owner tried to give it to the Endless Love Temple, but it was no longer theirs to give. It was the property of the City of Hudson.

In July 2017, Cross came to the Common Council trying to work out a deal whereby the Endless Love Temple could pay off, in installments, the more than $30,000 owed in back taxes and take possession of the building. He was told that the law gives the owner the right to pay off the taxes and redeem the property, but it does not allow a third party to do so. John Friedman, then a Third Ward alderman, explained, "The City bends over backward to keep from taking a property," but the law is written to prevent a third party from coming in, paying the back taxes, and taking another person's property.

The building was to go to auction--an auction that was originally scheduled to take place in October but actually happened in November. In early September, Dan Udell launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise the $4,000 needed to bid on the property. (Bidders are required to put up 10 percent of the minimum bid, which for that building was $35,907.09, the total due to the City in unpaid taxes and fees.) Dan and Mary Udell also hosted a poolside party at their home in Taghkanic as a fundraiser for the effort. But the GoFundMe campaign fell short of its goal, and when the auction happened in November, there was no one present to bid on behalf of the Endless Love Temple. The building sold for the minimum bid of $35,907.09. At the auction, another bidder told Gossips that he had not bid on the building because he thought the man who made the opening bid might have been representing Cross and the Endless Love Temple, but that wasn't the case. Early last summer, the person who bought the property at auction sold it for $170,000.

Last night, Cross complained that there was a hole in the roof, and indeed there is a hole in the roof over the entrance way.

Cross told the Council that this building was the original location of Shiloh Baptist Church and claimed it was the "oldest church in Hudson and maybe in the county" and therefore needed to be preserved. "Historic preservation," Cross argued, "is about history and culture." Matt McGhee concurred, urging, "We should recognize this as an important landmark." Dan Udell stepped out from behind the camera to remind people that they had tried to buy it and to declare, "It's a crime the building is now falling apart."

Cross was exaggerating a bit about the antiquity of the building. Gossips research discovered that Shiloh Baptist Church was founded in 1915, and city directories indicate that in its earliest days, the address of the church was simply "Market Place," the area of the city located around the corner of West Warren Street and North Front Street, where 1 North Front Street is now located. By 1921, the address of the church is given as 237 Fulton Street, Fulton Street being at the time the name of Columbia Street below Third Street. It was once made known that Alan Skerrett's grandfather was one of the parishioners who had worked to construct the church. The building is likely more than a hundred years old, but other churches in Hudson are older than that. The First Presbyterian Church, for example, was built in 1837, and Christ Church Episcopal in 1857.

The age of the building notwithstanding, the building definitely should be a landmark, but Cross, McGhee, and Udell seem to be wanting more than simple landmark status, which could be achieved by making the case in an application to the Historic Preservation Commission, who in turn would make the recommendation to the Common Council. Cross and his allies seem to want something more than that, as well they should. The Robert Taylor House has been a locally designated landmark since 2005, and look at the state it's in.


Tuesday, January 21, 2020

The Issue of the Minority Leader Put to Rest

Tonight, at its regular meeting for the month of January, the Common Council passed two resolutions relating to the controversial question of who would be minority leader. The first resolution established a process for naming majority and minority leaders. The entire resolution can be read here, but the gist of it is that the majority leader is chosen by members of the majority party, the minority leader is chosen by members of the minority party, but if there are no minority party members on the Council or if there is an equal number of members in two or more parties, the Council president selects the minority leader, and finally, no alderman who is not enrolled as a member of a party can serve as majority or minority leader. Dominic Merante (Fifth Ward), who was minority leader last year, is an NOP (no official party). 

Before the vote was taken on this resolution, Jane Trombley (First Ward) asked, "When does the voting for the majority party take place?" She went on to say she wasn't sure the members of the majority party had had an election. Tiffany Garriga (Second Ward) told her they had.

When the Council voted on the resolution establishing the process for designating majority and minority leaders, only Eileen Halloran (Fifth Ward) and Merante voted no.

When the next resolution was introduced, confirming Tiffany Garriga as majority leader and Rebecca Wolff as minority leader, Merante protested, "How this went down was totally inappropriate." He asserted that it was not "fair, equitable, or transparent" and said it "violated trust." Nevertheless, the resolution passed, with Halloran, Merante, and Trombley voting no.

At the end of the meeting, audience member Ronald Kopnicki declared he was not satisfied with the way the issue of minority leader had been resolved. He opined that it was not something that should have been done hastily and said he wanted to see the legal rationale for the policy.

Garriga congratulated Wolff for being the first member of the Working Families Party to hold the position of minority leader and the first in the state to hold such a position. Wolff expressed the opinion that it was important for alternatives to the two major parties to be recognized, even at the local level.

The Case for Historic Preservation

This morning, a post on Facebook alerted me to a new publication from PlaceEconomics, a consulting firm in Washington, D.C., whose principal is Donovan Rypkema, the first, to my knowledge, to write about the economic benefits of historic preservation back in the early 1990s. The new publication is called Twenty-four Reasons Historic Preservation Is Good for Your Community. It can be found here, and it is recommended reading.

House in Saratoga Springs that is one of the illustrations in the document
In the introduction, after listing all the books that argued the benefits--"aesthetic, symbolic, cultural, social, educational, economic, and others"-- of historic preservation, a point is made that resonates for us in Hudson:
But in spite of the strength of their arguments, historic preservation is under attack in many places in the United States. Sometimes those attacks are made by well-meaning community activists, usually arguing with the vignette rather than substantive research, that historic preservation is the cause of gentrification, high rents, and is stopping needed densification.
Here's something else of relevance for Hudson: the first of the twenty-four reasons presented is jobs.
Historic rehabilitation means jobs—generally well-paid jobs, particularly for those without advanced formal education. Rehabilitation tends to be more labor intensive than new construction, so work restoring historic buildings has a greater job creating impact per dollar spent than new construction. In Savannah, for example, one million dollars spent on the rehabilitation of a Savannah historic building will generate about 1.2 more jobs and $62,000 more in income for Georgia citizens than the same amount spent on new construction.
Thanks for Cynthia Lambert for bringing this to our attention

The Following Day . . . Twenty-four Years Ago

Yesterday, Gossips published John Cody's photographs of the flooding on the waterfront that occurred on January 20, 1996, as a consequence of a dramatic January thaw and a break in the ice jam farther upriver. The next day, the water was followed by giant chunks of ice crashing down the river and slamming into the Hudson Power Boat Association clubhouse. Cody shared these pictures taken on January 21, 1996, with Gossips this morning, with the comment, "Amazing the boat club survived." Only the gable the the roof of the building can be seen above the ice in these pictures.  


The Present in Context

Today, as the impeachment trial of Donald Trump begins in the Senate, the Columbia County Historical Society and the Hudson Area Library announced a lecture to take place on Saturday, February 1: "Historical Significance of Impeachment in the U.S." 

The Impeachment Trial of Andrew Johnson
The lecture will delivered by Dr. Christopher Leahy, author and professor history at Keuka College in Keuka Lake. Leahy is an expert on states' rights, the American colonies, the American Revolution, and the Early National Period. He is the author of the forthcoming book President Without a Party: The Life of John Tyler. In a little known episode of American history, Tyler, the 10th President of the United States, was the first president to contend with the threat of impeachment.

Leahy's lecture will provide a historical overview, including insights on impeachment, its historical basis, the constitutional significance, and the impeachment process. 

The lecture takes place at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, February 1, at the Hudson Area Library, 51 North Fifth Street. For more information and to acquire tickets, click here. Tickets will also be available at the door on the day of the event.

Monday, January 20, 2020

On the Waterfront . . . Twenty-four Years Ago

In January 1996, the Northeast experienced some extreme weather. First, there was the blizzard, which began on the morning of January 6 and continued for thirty-seven hours. In New York City, the accumulation of snow came just one inch shy of the amount that fell on the city during the legendary blizzard of 1888. 

Hudson was spared the worst of the snowstorm. For us, the memorable weather event came two weeks later, when heavy rain and unseasonably warm temperatures brought on rapid snowmelt. On January 20, an ice jam broke upriver, causing flooding on the Hudson waterfront. John Cody reminded Gossips of that event this morning when he sent me these photographs he had taken at the waterfront that day.


Celebrate a Decade of Gossips!

On Wednesday, January 20, 2010, The Gossips of Rivertown published its very first post. The subject was the plan for the Washington Hose firehouse. Combining news of city government and historic preservation, that post set the tone for Gossips' brand of local journalism. Since then, there have been 9,008 posts--this one being the 9,009th.

In the past decade, Gossips has become a reliable and valued source of information for the Hudson community. In November, the Hendrick Hudson Chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution awarded me its Community Service Award, primarily for reporting the news of Hudson and sharing its rich history on The Gossips of Rivertown. That was a great honor, but I am honored every day by the recognition and support of Gossips readers. 

Nine years ago, when Gossips had reached a milestone of 500 posts, I decided to test the first law in Michael Phillips' book The Seven Laws of Money: "Money will come when you are doing the right thing." I asked readers to show that they valued Gossips by making a contribution--a "voluntary subscription fee." The response was heartwarming and encouraging. Today, as I do every year on Gossips' anniversary, I offer my deep and sincere gratitude to the Gossips supporters and advertisers whose financial contributions help pay the bills and continue to make Gossips a joyful endeavor, and I invite readers to celebrate of a decade of sharing news, history, and gossip about the events, machinations, troubles, and triumphs that happen right here in our little river city by joining the folks who have already shown their support for The Gossips of Rivertown in the new year.  

For those who read Gossips on a computer, the process is easy. Just click on the "Donate" button at the top of the right column. For those who read Gossips on their phones, it's more complicated. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and touch "View web version." Then find the "Donate" button at the top of the right column.

Your support--in any amount--will be gratefully acknowledged and will ensure the continuation of Gossips into a new decade!

A Thought for Today

Meetings of Interest in the Week Ahead

There's snow on the ground, but the days ahead promise to be sunny and warmer as the week progresses. 
  • Today, Monday, January 20, is a holiday--Martin Luther King Day--so the banks and City Hall are closed. There will be no mail, and the Department of Public Works will not be picking up the trash. Keep your blue bags off the streets until tomorrow morning, when the trash will be picked up. 
  • On Tuesday, January 21, the Common Council Finance Committee, now chaired by Council president Tom DePietro, holds its first meeting of the year at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall. One of the proposed initiatives for the year, which may be taken up at this meeting, is increasing the parking meter fees on Warren Street. 
The Finance Committee meeting will be followed at 7:00 p.m. by the Council's first regular monthly meeting of the year, at which it is thought the Council may hear the opinion of corporation counsel and the controversy surrounding the selection of the minority leader will be put to rest. Also on the agenda is the six-month moratorium on new short-term rentals and the amendment to the lodging tax statute that would defund the Tourism Board. 
  • The calendar on the City website lists a DRI Committee for 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, January 22. That is an error. Going forward, the committee plans to meet on the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month but not in January. The next meeting of the DRI Committee will take place on the fifth Wednesday, Wednesday, January 29.
  • In the evening of Wednesday, January 22, there are two Common Council committee meetings: Public Works and Parks at 5:30 p.m. and Legal at 6:15 p.m. Both committees are now chaired by Alderman John Rosenthal (Fourth Ward).
It is expected that the legislation to regulate short-term rentals and to address the problem of sidewalks in disrepair will be discussed in the Legal Committee meeting. The drafts under consideration for both these inititives are available on the City website.     
  • The regular second meeting of the month for the Historic Preservation Commission is scheduled to take place on Friday, January 24. That meeting has been rescheduled. The next meeting of the Historic Preservation Commission will take place on Friday, February 7, at 10:00 a.m.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

New Use Contemplated for a Building

In 1991, Carrie Haddad opened the first art gallery in Hudson in this building at 316 Warren Street.

When the Carrie Haddad Gallery moved upstreet to 622 Warren Street in 1999, 316 Warren Street became Rural Residence, the impeccably curated shop conceived and operated by the late lamented Timothy Dunleavy. A new owner bought the business just before Dunleavy's death in December 2014 and continued the tradition, but, alas, Rural Residence is now closing. Haddad, who owns the building, has a new idea for the space which has played such a seminal role in Hudson's revitalization over the past three decades: a dance studio. 

Haddad recently issued this invitation: 
I am toying with the idea of converting 316 Warren Street into a dance studio. I would love to know if there are any of you out there who used to be, or still are, dancers, who might be interested in teaching ballet, modern, or any other kind of dance.        
She asks anyone interested to contact her by email or to call her at (845) 518-4850 to explore the possibilities. 

Saturday, January 18, 2020

A Visit to City Hall

During the first full week of the new term, Mayor Kamal Johnson and Council president Tom DePietro hosted a visit to City Hall by a group of kids from Greater Hudson Promise Neighborhood. Johnson, who before becoming mayor was a co-director of Greater Hudson Promise Neighborhood, is now an ex officio member of its board, and DePietro chairs the board. The following pictures are two of several shared on Facebook

Photo: Greater Hudson Promise Neighborhood

Photo: Greater Hudson Promise Neighborhood
Inviting kids to visit City Hall is nothing new, but the kids in the 2020 photos sure look like they're having a lot more fun than these kids from Mrs. Bramkamp's class, who visited City Hall in 1969.


Thanks to Dan Seward for uncovering and sharing the historic photograph