Monday, June 29, 2020

Thirty Years Ago in Hudson

I recently came upon a copy of the Register-Star from June 27, 1990--almost exactly thirty years ago. The article found at the top of the front page of the paper is of particular interest, because many of the things Hudsonians were grappling with thirty years ago are challenges we are still facing today, or, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, facing again. For that reason, and because the article provides an useful snapshot of Hudson thirty years ago, Gossips reproduces it here.

Ruins of burned-out store start coming down today
By Robert Mitchell
HUDSON--Burned-out eyesore Charlie's Corner at 5th and Warren streets was to come down today and the lot will be cleared said Hudson Development Corp. spokeman Alice Ensign, at Tuesday night's public forum to discuss the promotion of Hudson.
It was reported there are no immediate plans for using the lot.
This was the second in a series of gatherings of merchants, professionals and city officials to discuss ways to upgrade the Warren Street business climate.
Tuesday night's meeting was attended by about 35. . . .
Among the ideas aired for examination at the first brainstorming session were producing a city directory listing services, businesses, parks and their locations.
Campaigns to organize neighborhood watch committees and a "Clean Sweep" project also were seen as positive steps to enhance the city's image.
Some type of incentive for landlords to lower rents for start-up businesses has been encouraged, though the group acknowledged the difficulty of resolving how this could be done.
The forum favors encouraging expanding professional offices.
Cooperative advertising, whether of "sales" or professional services, to increase public awareness of what is available had support.
A "fact sheet" for real estate brokers providing information on needed city businesses also was suggested.
The consensus of the first meeting was a shortage of parking is not an issue so much as public awareness of parking areas actually available. Improved and larger signs at access points to the city to point the way clearly to municipal lots was suggested.
Tuesday night's forum began with [SPOUT president Barbara] Mazur telling the assemblage the new logo "Hudson, Have You Been There Lately?" will be ready for merchant use in advertising by the end of July.
Merchants will need an authorization release to use the logo, said Mazur, and encouraged business people to use it.
[Public works superintendent Charles] Butterworth told the group the city has additional tiles available to business owners who want to repair sidewalks in front of their premises.
A business that already engaged a contractor should have him get in touch with his office, he said.
"We are going to be repairing city owned sidewalks this summer," said Butterworth.
The forum also discussed the idea of the information kiosks. These would be to list city services, their locations and perhaps carry a calendar of events.
No cost was available, but designs were on hand for study.
Some people asked about lining Warren Street with trees to beautify the area, but when at another point [Alderman Alvin J.] Kritzman [chairman of the common council commerce and industry committee] spoke of the city budget constraints, participants considered raising outside funds themselves for a variety of projects.
One store owner said it had cost only $200 for him to plant two trees in front of his shop.
The merchant said Butterworth had helped the process and the type of sidewalk paving tiles now in place made it simple to plant trees.
A committee was started to "pass the broom." One store owner sweeps in front of his store and then passes the broom to the next owner, and so on down the street.
One of the group asked the aldermen present what business could do to help the city.
Self-reliance on the part of merchants, said Kritzman, would be a good thing, because the city budget was described as "very limited."
Some people complained about public transportation and asked about the lack of Saturday buses. Butterworth said ridership had been low and consequently a deficit was created, but it could be tried again.
Butterworth, addressing the clean street concerns, said the street were swept seven days a week, alternating each side daily.
Merchants asked each other not to sweep sidewalk trash into the gutters for the city cleaners, as it only adds to the general unsightliness of Warren Street.
One person opined that the real problem in Hudson was the lack of a broad tax base and cited a recent study quoted in the Register Star showing Hudson having 62 percent of its real property tax exempt.
There were many suggestions for alleviating parking problems, including diagonal parking, but generally a restatement of the last meeting's conclusion that the parking problem is perceived rather than actual and ample spaces are available.
There was discussion of finding vital tenants for empty and derelict but architecturally attractive buildings in the city.
These are privately owned, it was pointed out, and the owners are evidently not inclined to lower prices to see them occupied.
There was considerable debate about loitering, which merchants perceive to be worse during the day than at night. Merchants were told to call the police department to enforce the ordinances against loitering.
The police are mostly too busy to spare manpower for this, said one merchant.
There is no law against being on the sidewalk, only in shop doorways, and the effort involved in moving people along constantly not only passes the problem to the next owner but is not really a viable possibility, said some merchants.
The meeting ended with the desire to concentrate on bringing in more business, repairing sidewalks, increasing professional office space, encouraging light industry, coordinating opening hours and aiming for a consistency in improvements--when one part of the street is improved in some way the improvement should be carried over for the benefit of all merchants.
SPOUT, whose president was quoted in the article, is an acronym for "Society for the Promotion of Our Unique Town," in addition to being a nod to Hudson's whaling origins.

I could find no documentation of what the eyesore that was Charlie's Corner looked like. Presumably, it replaced the plain but handsome building that appears on the site in this 1901 photograph of Warren Street. (The building can be seen in the background at the right, with the tower of the First Reformed Church rising behind it.) 

PhotobyGibson Collection
Thirty years after the burned-out Charlie's Corner was demolished, the lot at the corner of Warren and Fifth streets remains vacant. The lot first became the property of Hudson Development Corporation. Around 2006, there were two parties interested in buying it. Architect Peter Sweeny wanted to build a hotel there and, in pursuit of that, had entered into a preliminary agreement to buy it. Then Eric Galloway decided he wanted it. As Gossips reported a few years later, "There was a legal contest, made interesting by the fact that Mark Greenberg, who typically represents Galloway, was representing Sweeny, and Jack Connor, the once and future city attorney [who didn't have that position at the time] . . . , was representing Galloway. The details of the case are not known, but Galloway ended up owning the property. . . ."   

In 2010, Galloway's not-for-profit Lantern Organization in New York City proposed a project for the corner known as "Starboard"--thirty-three units of permanent supportive housing for men with mental disabilities and substance abuse problems.

The project met with fierce opposition from the community and was eventually abandoned. Since then, there have been no plans proposed for construction on the site, and the lot remains vacant, although next door, on what had been the site of the First Reformed Church, a cinder-block building that started life as a 7-Eleven has been expanded by the Galvan Foundation into the building whose major tenant is now the food emporium Olde Hudson.

The lot does figure into the Hudson Shared Summer Streets plan, as a public picnic area for people buying food from the Yummy Kitchen Food Truck, Olde Hudson Cafe, other nearby restaurants offering takeout, or bringing food from home, but it is not known if Galvan has agreed to this or not.

COPYRIGHT 2020 CAROLE OSTERINK

7 comments:

  1. I spent many a Saturday afternoon in the '70s at Charlie's corner buying comic books and playing pinball after going to karate lessons at Joe Manino's dojo and then having lunch with my mother at Peter Bucci's restaurant. Good times!

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  2. I would love to know more about Charlie’s Corner.

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    1. It was rumored that they ran the numbers game and stored them in the pinball machines.

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  3. 30 years later and still the sidewalks are a mess.

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  4. the sidewalk on S. 5th along Galvan's vacant lot is insulting to anyone with 2 feet -- it is in horribly dangerous condition. What are they waiting for, to be sued should someone fall? I would.

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  5. Charlie's Corner was a pale blue clapboard building with an odd shape, as I recall - not like the one in the photograph - at least the building where the empty lot is, maybe there were two buildings. The gravel lot and detritus remaining from Charlies Corner was there for several years until the Hudson Antiques Dealers Association got together and poured a dumpload of dirt over it and planted grass seed one evening. Barbara Mazur, head of SPOUT, was the owner of Bobbie's Fleamarket, kitty corner from Charlie's Corner. Bucci's and Moxie's were about the only restaurants in town, Bucci's was where Baba Louie's is now, and was a frequent stop for us on Friday evenings. He was great fun and used to play the piano and sing sometimes. I probably was at that meeting. Also the two trees mentioned being planted may have been the two which Kim had planted outside his shop at 415 Warren. (Only one survives now and is very tall now). I thought about it when I passed it yesterday. Oh my, where did the time go.

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