Sunday, June 26, 2022

Meetings and Events in the Week Ahead

In this week leading up to the long Fourth of July weekend, not much is happening on the meeting scene.
  • Tuesday, June 28, is the primary election to select candidates for governor and lieutenant governor. To view the sample ballot for Democrats, click here. To view the sample ballot for Republicans, click here. The polls are open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. The polling places for Hudson are: First, Second, and Third wards--St. Mary's Academy, 301 Allen Street; Fourth Ward--County Office Building, 401 State Street; Fifth Ward--Central Fire Station, 77 North Seventh Street.
  • Also on Tuesday, June 27, the Board of the Hudson Development Corporation (HDC) meets at noon. The meeting takes place in person at 1 North Front Street. 
And that's it for the week!

What Was the Inspiration?

Back in January 2021, when the two apartment buildings proposed for the "Depot District" were first presented to the Planning Board, Walter Chatham, then the architect for the project, said the inspiration for the building proposed for 708 State Street, now being identified as 76 North Seventh Street, was the historic apartment building at 501 Union Street, constructed in 1864.

On Friday, after the Historic Preservation Commission voted to grant the Depot District project a certificate of appropriateness, Gossips was inspired to take a look at the buildings owned and operated by Eric Galloway's Lantern Organization in New York City. Some of the buildings are renovations; others are new construction. Among the latter is this building, called Silverleaf Hall, located at 480 East 176th Street in the East Tremont section of the Bronx. Its resemblance to what's proposed for North Seventh Street is striking.

The first image above is a rendering of Silverleaf Hall, the building in the Bronx. The second is a rendering for 76 North Seventh Street. The construction of Silverleaf Hall was completed in 2006. Below is a Google capture of the building from March 2022.

The Lantern Organization, which was founded by Eric Galloway in 1996, provides permanent and affordable supportive housing in New York City. Dan Kent, known to Hudson as the vice president of initiatives for the Galvan Foundation, also serves as a director of Lantern. According to the organization's website, "To date, Lantern Organization has developed 15 buildings, totaling 1,400 units in operation, and 3 buildings, totaling an additional 225 units are in predevelopment or construction phases." 

Hudson has its own experience with the Lantern Organization. In 2010, Lantern proposed constructing a building to be called "Starboard" at the corner of Warren and Fifth streets. The building would have provided "permanent supportive housing" in 33 studio apartments for the mentally disabled, the homeless, and those with substance abuse problems.    

The Starboard project was abandoned after a public meeting at which the overwhelming sentiment expressed by the people who filled City Hall was that the project was a remarkably inappropriate idea.

Two years later, Lantern, working in partnership with the newly created Galvan Initiatives Foundation, proposed a building for the corner of Fourth and Columbia streets which they called "Hudson Civic." The first two floors in the building would be leased by the City for the police department and the city court; the top two floors would be 35 units of supportive housing for formerly homeless single adults--men and women. 

This project was abandoned because the New York State Homeless Housing and Assistance Program (HHAP) would not approve the financing for the project in the face of objections from members of the Hudson Police Department who thought it inappropriate to combine police and court facilities in the same building with residential units.

Since 2012, Lantern has not made any proposals for development in Hudson. That task has been taken over entirely by the Galvan Foundation.

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Responding to the Overturn of Roe v. Wade

This morning, people of all ages filled the Public Square in Hudson to listen to speeches and protest the Supreme Court decision yesterday that overturned Roe v. Wade.

Mayor Kamal Johnson called the Supreme Court decision "an act of terrorism." Others urged those attending to demonstrate their outrage and dissatisfaction with their vote. Read aloud in its entirety was a statement released by the American Medical Association regarding the court's decision:
The American Medical Association is deeply disturbed by the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to overturn nearly a half century of precedent protecting patients' right to critical reproductive health care--representing an egregious allowance of government intrusion into the medical examination room, a direct attack on the practice of medicine and the patient-physician relationship, and a brazen violation of patients' rights to evidence-based reproductive health services. States that end legal abortion will not end abortion--they will end safe abortion, risking devastating consequences, including patients' lives. . . .
Access to legal reproductive care will be limited to those with the sufficient resources, circumstances, and financial means to do so--exacerbating health inequities by placing the heaviest burden on patients from Black, Latinx, Indigenous, low-income, rural, and other historically disadvantaged communities who already face numerous structural and systemic barriers to accessing health care. . . .
As the health of millions of patients hangs in the balance, this is a fight we will not give up.
The entire statement can be read here.

The video of all the speeches can be viewed here.

Another Cause Worthy of Support

The Hudson-Athens Lighthouse Preservation Society (HALPS) is embarking on a Once in a Century Restoration, both above and below water, of the beloved historic treasure on the river. 

In December, HALPS received a $500,000 grant from the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation "to protect the building in anticipation of further restoration work, increase visitor safety and access, and restore the historic water system to enhance interpretative tours." Another $180,000 in matching funds needs to be raised for Phase 1 of the restoration, which will address some immediate needs of the lighthouse itself: replacing the flat roof, repairing the slate mansard roof, and addressing the gutters and downspouts, all meant to eliminate damaging, ongoing water intrusion. Phase 1 also includes a new staircase from the dock to the building's deck to increase and expand access and safety, and the installation of an upgraded marine toilet and cistern repairs.

Tomorrow, Sunday, June 26, from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m., Stewart House is sponsoring an afternoon of hors d'oeuvres, cocktails, and a silent auction at River Grill, 1 North Water Street in Athens, to benefit the Hudson-Athens Lighthouse. Click here for more information and to purchase tickets to the event.  

Friday, June 24, 2022

A Preview of Things to Come

Earlier this evening, people gathered in Seventh Street Park, a.k.a. the Public Square, for the unveiling of the conceptual design for the restoration of this historic public space. 

Photo: FOPS | Facebook

The plan for the park that was unveiled today will be used as the basis for a grant application to be submitted by Friends of the Public Square (FOPS) in New York State's Consolidated Funding Application (CFA) process. Applications are due on July 29. 

At tonight's gathering, Katherine Kanaga of FOPS explained that they are anticipating the restoration of the park will be done in three phases: Phase 1 will address the paths through the park and the infrastructure; Phase 2 is the fountain; Phase 3 involves the sidewalks around the park and the planting of street trees.

Tomorrow, Saturday, June 25, from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m., there is a benefit at Hudson Hall to celebrate FOPS first anniversary and to raise funds for the restoration of the Public Square. Click here to purchase a ticket to the event, or you can simply show up and pay at the door.

COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health has released its numbers for today. Since yesterday, there have been 21 new cases of COVID-19. The number of active cases being reported today is 2 more than yesterday, from which it can be inferred that, since yesterday, 19 county residents have recovered from the virus. The number of county residents hospitalized with COVID-19 and in the ICU has remained the same since Wednesday, June 22. There has not been a death from COVID-19 reported in Columbia County since June 8.

A year ago today, the CCDOH reported 2 deaths from COVID-19 that had occurred in nursing homes earlier in the month and 0 new cases. The total number of cases was 4,262, and the number of active cases was 3. There were 21 county residents in mandatory quarantine, 1 was hospitalized, and 0 were in the ICU. The total number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 in Columbia County at this time last year was 96.

On Our Waterfront

A few weeks ago, Gossips published a picture of the partially submerged at high tide sign at the state boat launch in Athens which, like Hudson, is one of the state boat launches to slated get a major makeover in the Hudson Eagles Recreation Area project. 

The sign in Athens seems also to have inspired an article by Roger Hannigan Gilson, which appears in the Times Union today: "Proposed state park on Hudson's shore has city nervous." 

There's not much information here that Gossips readers don't already know, but there is the suggestion that Hudson officials may be out of the loop when it comes to planning for these changes to the state boat launch because Hudson does not have an approved LWRP (Local Waterfront Revitalization Program). The biggest concerns about the state's plans have been voiced by the Conservation Advisory Council, which fears the plans do not take sea level rise, as a consequence of climate change, into consideration.

Where to Be Tomorrow Morning

Tomorrow, Saturday, June 25, at 11:00 a.m., Columbia County Democrats are hosting a rally in Seventh Street Park in response to the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade. 

Two Decisions of Great Import

This morning, while the news media and social media were reporting and reacting to the overturn of Roe v. Wade, the Historic Preservation Commission was meeting to continue its review of the buildings proposed by the Galvan Foundation for North Seventh Street, the area of the city that has been dubbed the "Depot District." I won't keep you in suspense. The five members present at today's meeting--Phil Forman, Hugh Biber, Jeremy Stynes, Chip Bohl, and Miranda Barry--voted unanimously to grant a certificate of appropriateness for the two buildings, the designs for which had been significantly modified since the last time they were presented to the HPC.

At the May 20 meeting of the HPC, there was concern about the materials being proposed, particularly for the building at 75 North Seventh Street.

What the HPC found most troubling was the proposal to use a combination of engineered brick and rigid insulation formed to look like brick on the facade of 75 North Seventh Street. The architects for the project argued they could not achieve passive house certification for the building without the use of these synthetic materials. The HPC was concerned about the appearance and the durability of these materials. 

Today, Dan Kent, vice president for initiatives for the Galvan Foundation, told the HPC, "We are excited to share that we were able to find a way to use real brick at 75 North Seventh Street." He went on to explain, "We don't want one building to stand out from the others," so they would be using a color of brick that matches the brick of the historic Hudson Upper Depot building on both 75 and 76 North Seventh Street. 

The revised design for 75 North Seventh Street has brick on the front facade and on the facade facing Rope Alley and EIFS (Exterior Insulating and Finish System) on the back of the building and the side facing the Central Fire Station. EIFS is like stucco, and it is proposed to be colored to match the brick.

The building at 75 North Seventh Street will also have cast stone window sills and window surrounds, cast stone in the pediment of the gable in the north side of the building, and a cast stone band between the second and third floors. The windows being proposed for the building are now slightly taller than those originally proposed. 

Similarly the building across the street at 76 North Seventh Street will have the same color brick on three sides of the building with matching EIFS stucco at the rear, facing the railroad tracks.

After the HPC had voted to grant a certificate of appropriateness, Stynes thanked the Galvan team for its patience, and Barry thanked them for their willingness to use real brick and to reference the architecture of Hudson without copying any specific building. Kent responded by saying, "I love the way the buildings look now, as a result of all the input from this commission."

COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health released its numbers for yesterday early this morning. Between Wednesday and Thursday, there were 10 new cases of COVID-19. The number of active cases being reported for Thursday is 4 fewer than on Wednesday, from which it can be inferred that, from Wednesday to Thursday, 14 county residents recovered from the virus. The number of county residents hospitalized and in the ICU remained the same on Wednesday and Thursday. There has not been a death from COVID-19 reported in Columbia County since June 8.

A year ago on June 23, the CCDOH reported 1 new case of COVID-19. The total number of cases was 4,262, and the number of active cases was 7. There were 22 county residents in mandatory quarantine, 1 was hospitalized, and 0 were in the ICU. The total number of deaths in Columbia County attributed to COVID-19 at this time last year was 94.

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Happening Tomorrow and Saturday

Tomorrow, Friday, June 24, the conceptual design for the rehab of Seventh Street Park, a.k.a. the Public Square, will be unveiled at 6:00 p.m. in the park. The design, which is based on the results from the online survey, will accompany the grant application to be submitted by Friends of the Public Square (FOPS) in the CFA (Consolidated Funding Application) process at the end of next month.

On Saturday, June 25, from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m., FOPS is holding its first anniversary benefit at Hudson Hall to support the improvements to the Public Square. For more information and to purchase tickets for the event, go to If you decide to attend the event at the last minute, you can just pay at the door.

Concealed Carry in Columbia County

By now, everyone has undoubtedly heard the news that New York's 100-year-old law imposing strict rules for granting concealed-carry permits to gun owners has been struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court. You can read the news in the New York Times, "Supreme Court Ruling Limits Local Ability to Restrict Guns Outside the Home," and the Times Union, "U.S. Supreme Court knocks down New York's 'concealed-carry' restrictions."  

Discussing the turn of events on WAMC's Roundtable this morning, one of the female panel members spoke, with a sense of dismay, of other states where you could buy purses with special compartments for handguns. I was immediately reminded of the Women's Concealed Carry Fashion Show that took place at the Churchtown Firehouse back in 2016 and was documented by Lance Wheeler.

Wheeler's video of the event can still be seen on YouTube. Among the models in the show were Hudson's Council president at the time and someone who was then serving as a member of the Common Council.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health has released its numbers for today. Since yesterday, there have been 22 new cases of COVID-19. The number of active cases being reported today is 1 more than yesterday, from which it can be inferred that, since yesterday, 21 county residents have recovered from the virus. There is 1 more county resident hospitalized today than yesterday, but the number in the ICU remains the same. There has not been a death from COVID-19 reported in Columbia County since June 8.

A year ago today, the CCDOH reported 0 new cases of COVID-19. The total number of cases was 4,261, and the number of active cases was 6. There were 23 county residents in mandatory quarantine, 1 was hospitalized, and 0 were in the ICU. The total number of deaths in Columbia County attributed to COVID-19 at this time last year was 94.

Wilzig Racing Manor Revisited

Back in 2010, when Gossips was just getting started, one of the hottest controversies in the county was Alan Wilzig's plan to build a private racetrack on his property in Taghkanic: "Back on Track." Twelve years later, there's an article about the racetrack, now known as Wilzig Racing Manor, in today's Times Union: "Hudson Valley entrepreneur has an $8-million racetrack in his backyard."

Presentation, Presentation, Presentation

The 2020 census indicated changes in population that made Hudson's equipopulous wards no longer equipopulous. In March, the matter of altering the ward boundaries was taken up by the Common Council Legal Committee, and it was determined achieving equal population in the wards with the least amount of change to ward boundaries was the way to go. 

At the end of May, there was a special meeting of the Common Council to consider the proposed amendments to the ward boundaries. Gossips reported on that meeting and a subsequent meeting of the Legal Committee in this post: "Nothing Is Ever Easy." Council president Tom DePietro, other members of the Council, and representatives of the Hudson City Democratic Committee complained that the information provided was inadequate. People needed to see how and why the proposed boundary changes had been arrived at and be able to verify it by replicating it for themselves. A map showing the boundaries was inadequate; specific addresses affected had to be provided.

At last night's Common Council meeting, Councilmember Ryan Wallace (Third Ward), who is a member of the Legal Committee and had complained that the discussion on the topic at the June 1 meeting of the committee had wasted his time, presented the information in a PowerPoint presentation that explains the rationale, lays out the process, and provides both detailed maps and addresses for the small areas that are shifting from the First Ward to the Third Ward and from the Third Ward to the Fourth Ward. The entire presentation can be found here. 

The Council will have to act on the ward boundary amendments soon. The changes are subject to a mandatory referendum, and the deadline for getting a referendum on the ballot for November is August 6.

COVID-19 Update

Yesterday, when the Columbia County Department of Health published no COVID numbers, I thought perhaps the CCDOH had decided the pandemic was over. That wasn't the case. The numbers appeared this morning. 

Between Friday and Tuesday, there were 45 new cases of COVID-19. The number of active cases reported on Tuesday was 2 more than on Friday, from which it can be inferred that, over the long weekend, 43 county residents recovered from the virus. There were 4 fewer county residents hospitalized on Tuesday than on Friday, and 1 fewer was in the ICU. There has not been a death from COVID-19 reported in Columbia County since June 8.   

A year ago on June 21, the CCDOH reported 0 new cases of COVID-19 after a two-day weekend. The total number of cases was 4,261, and the number of active cases was 7. There were 22 county residents in mandatory quarantine, 1 was hospitalized, and 0 were in the ICU. The total number of deaths in Columbia County attributed to COVID-19 at this time last year was 94.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

After All the Years . . .

Early this morning, Joey and I spent half an hour in the Public Square, waiting while the Gossipsmobile got its annual inspection at Todd Farrell's. Spending some time on foot in Hudson's East End gave me a chance to notice things I often miss--one thing in particular being the "For Sale" sign on the Park Place firehouses, once the home of Edmonds Hose, Hudson's oldest fire company, and Phoenix Hose. 

I don't know how long the sign has been there, but noticing it today inspires me to recount what has happened with this pair of firehouses over the past fifteen years.

When the Central Fire Station was built back in 2004, the plan was to pay for it by selling all the historic firehouses. It was anticipated that the six firehouses could be sold for $500,000 a piece, but things didn't work out as planned. The members of J. W. Hoysradt Hose Company refused to give up their historic firehouse and move to the Central Fire Station, there was public opposition to selling Washington Hose because of its location at the entrance to Promenade Hill, and it was discovered that the two firehouses on Park Place, which the City initially intended to sell as two separate buildings, were structurally just one building. By 2006, only two historic firehouses had been sold--C. H. Evans Hook & Ladder, now The Spotty Dog, and Rogers Hose, now American Glory--and there was great interest in selling the firehouses on Park Place. An alderman at the time, I held open houses on a couple of weekends to let prospective buyers view the firehouses. Finally, in an auction that took place on site and involved a brief bidding war, Marshall Trachtenberg cast the winning bid of $325,000, and became the new owner of this piece of Hudson history.

For more than ten years, it wasn't clear what the plans were for the firehouses, but in 2018, Trachtenberg appeared before the Planning Board, the Zoning Board of Appeals (a parking variance was required), and the Historic Preservation Commission seeking approval for his plan to adapt the ground floor to be a marketplace and tasting room for New York State craft breweries, wineries, and distilleries, and create living space for his family on the second floor. In developing his plan, Trachtenberg did an admirable job of researching the building's history. 

The pair of firehouses, constructed in 1868, were designed by local architect Peter Avery, the same architect who designed Hudson's first city hall, now Hudson Hall. Originally, J. W. Edmonds Hose and C. H. Evans Hook & Ladder fire companies were housed there. In 1890, when the C. H. Evans company moved to its new firehouse in the 400 block of Warren Street, the right bay became the firehouse for Phoenix Hose.

Trachtenberg proposed a complete restoration of the facade, including what he called the "grand gesture" of re-creating the original arches over the engine bays.

Alas, nearly four years have passed since the plan was proposed and the approvals granted, but no work was ever begun. Now the building is for sale again. Let's hope this time it is acquired by someone who not only intends to do right by it but also can and will follow through with those intentions.

Monday, June 20, 2022

The Future of the Public Square

Friends of the Public Square (FOPS) has announced the results of the online survey about design options for Seventh Street Park. 

There were a total of 115 respondents, more than 90 percent of whom were adults over 30.

Of the park amenities considered most desirable by the respondents, the three most popular were an interactive fountain, trees, and passive green space. 

Of the three conceptual design alternatives, the diagonal plaza (Concept C) was most popular by a very small margin.

The preference in fountain type was a bit more decisive, with close to half of the respondents indicating a preference for the historic basin with a sculpture.

The results of the survey will be used to create an updated plan for the park, which will be revealed to the public in the Public Square on Friday, June 24, at 6:00 p.m. If it should rain on Friday, which is not currently predicted, the unveiling will take place in the Community Room at the Hudson Area Library at 6:00 p.m. on Friday.

Where Are the Blocks?

On May 28, the Register-Star reported that the concrete blocks and planters used to define the parking spaces used for outdoor dining were to return on June 20. Today is June 20, and there are no blocks or planters in the street.

At the informal Common Council meeting last week, DPW superintendent Rob Perry reported that no applications to use parking spaces for dining had been received by the Hudson Police Department, and he could not arrange for placement of the blocks, each of which weighs about a ton, until he knew where they needed to go. 

Tomorrow is the first day of summer, and folks are wondering about the status of Warren Street Shared Usage 2022, so over the weekend, Gossips got an update on the status of plans for outdoor dining in the streets from Alex Petraglia of the Hudson Business Coalition (HBCi). The word is they are aiming to have the blocks and planters installed next Monday and Tuesday, June 27 and 28.

Last year, the Tourism Board hired a project manager for Warren Street Shared Usage (WSSU) and paid him $15,000. This year, the process of collecting the requisite permit applications, proof of insurance, and signed regulations forms from participating businesses is being carried out by a handful of HBCi volunteers. All the paperwork will be turned over to the HPD later this week. As Petraglia told Gossips, "We wanted to make it easy on our friends at HPD and DPW and not do it in dribs and drabs but rather in one go." He also reported that he had spent two full days at the DPW yard on Dock Street cleaning out the dead plants from last year and repairing the planters. New arrays of annuals for the planters will be delivered this week from Pondside Nursery. 

Commenting on the delayed start of WSSU 2022, Petraglia said, "Learning from the mistakes of past incarnations of the launch of 'shared streets,' we know that it's better to get all the little details right rather than try to rush this. I'd rather we're criticized for being 'late' than for doing a subpar or unsafe job."  

Twenty-one dining and drinking establishments will be participating in the program this year, nineteen on Warren Street and two on Columbia Street above the Public Square. For those of us who enjoy the experience, we will soon be dining in the street again.

Photo: JD Urban | HBCi