Sunday, February 5, 2023

Meetings of Interest in the Week Ahead

The bitter, record-shattering cold is behind us, and the high temperatures for the week ahead promise to be in the 40s. In this the seventh week of winter with six more to go, here is what's happening.
  • On Monday, February 6, the Housing Trust Fund Board meets at 6:00 p.m. The meeting is a hybrid, taking place in person at City Hall and on Zoom. Click here to join the meeting remotely.  
  • On Tuesday, February 7, Hudson Community Development and Planning Agency (HCDPA) meets at 4:30 p.m. The meeting is a hybrid, taking place in person at City Hall and on Zoom. Click here to join the meeting remotely. 
  • Also on Tuesday, February 7, the Conservation Advisory Council meets at 6:00 p.m. The meeting is a hybrid, taking place in person at City Hall and on Zoom. Click here to join the meeting remotely.
  • On Friday, February 10, the Historic Preservation Commission meets at 10:00 a.m. The meeting is a hybrid, taking place in person at City Hall and on Zoom. Click here to join the meeting remotely.
  • Also on Friday, February 10, at 4:00 p.m., Mayor Kamal Johnson holds a public hearing on the proposed sidewalk law, which was passed by the Common Council on January 28 with the minimum number of votes required. The public hearing takes place in person only at City Hall.

Saturday, February 4, 2023

A Cemetery Mystery

In the past, Gossips posts have answered a couple of intriguing questions that arose regarding the Hudson City Cemetery: Why are there visible skeletal remains in the Rossman mausoleum? and Who is buried in Fred W. Jones's tomb? 

Recently another apparent cemetery mystery was brought to Gossips' attention: a brand-new tombstone in the Gifford family plot. 

The plot was established in 1863, after the death of Edward Gifford, younger brother of Hudson River School painter Sanford Robinson Gifford. Edward Gifford, who served in the 128th New York Infantry Regiment, a volunteer regiment from Columbia and Dutchess counties during the Civil War, died of typhoid fever in New Orleans, after being captured during the Siege of Port Hudson and escaping by swimming across the Mississippi River. Edward was the first to be buried in the family plot--a site chosen by Sanford Gifford for its unusually beautiful view of the Berkshire Mountains. Sanford Gifford is himself buried in the family plot, along with his wife, Mary, as are his parents, Elihu and Eliza Gifford. 

A few weeks ago, Gossips received word of the new tombstone. The information came from Peter Jung, who in 2010 spearheaded the repair and restoration of the Gifford family plot and has since acted as steward of the site. 

In his capacity as self-appointed steward and guardian of the Gifford family plot, Jung visits the site often, and on a recent visit, he discovered a new stone, made of elegant white marble and meticulously carved to replicate the design of the original stones.

The artist Bill Sullivan resided in Hudson for the last eight years of his life, settling here in 2002. I did not know Sullivan personally, but I knew of him, and I recall knowing that he once told a friend of mine, with some pique, "Outside of Hudson, I'm famous." 

During the time he lived in Hudson, Sullivan was represented by the Carrie Haddad Gallery, so in my quest to learn how his tombstone had come to be in the Gifford family plot, I contacted Haddad, who put me in touch with Sullivan's longtime partner, Jaime Manrique. Manrique was good enough to provide Gossips with this information:
Long before Bill Sullivan moved to Hudson, N.Y. (roughly the last 10 years of his life) he loved the work of Mr. Sanford Gifford. In fact, in a few of his late paintings Bill paid homage to the places that Mr. Gifford had painted in the 19th century. Whenever we drove by the Hudson cemetery, Bill would remark "Gifford is buried there."
After Bill died, I got the idea that he would be very happy to have his ashes lay near a painter he admired so much. I inquired with the Hudson City Cemetery and was told that no one in the Gifford family had been buried in the family plot for a very long time and that they thought perhaps there were no descendants of Sanford Gifford alive. So I asked if I could buy a plot to inter Bill Sullivan's ashes near his hero. The process of laying the tombstone took several years as we were told that the tombstone had to be in the style, and the same kind of marble, of the historical section of the cemetery.
Sullivan died in October 2010. In January and February 2011, the Albany Institute of History and Art honored his life and work with the exhibition Bill Sullivan: A Landscape Artist Remembered. In 2006, AIHA presented a major retrospective of his work, featuring fifty landscape paintings, which included iconic views of New York State as well as images of the mountains, volcanoes, and waterfalls of the equatorial Andes in South America. There are six paintings by Sullivan in AIHA's collection, among them Twilight at Olana and View from Olana.    

Sullivan, Bill. Twilight at Olana. 1990. Albany Institute of History and Art
Sullivan, Bill. View from Olana. 1995. Albany Institute of History and Art.

Friday, February 3, 2023

News of Bluehawk Academy

This morning, there was a press conference to announce the launch of Bluehawk Academy, which happened on February 1. Subsequent to the press conference, Hudson City School District issued a press release about the new program, which is described as "a pilot school within the Hudson Junior/Senior High School designed to emphasize the strengths and interests of students to prepare them for the real world."

The following are excerpts from the press release:
This non-traditional pathway for students grade 7-12 will be centered around learning opportunities with local businesses, artisans and individuals who make a positive difference in the community. The Bluehawk Academy will start with 34 scholars who will have flexible schedules based on the strongpoints and passions built and monitored by three new staff members: Megan Amendola, a career guidance counselor; Michelle Donnelley, a former social worker; and Larry Walker, a professional focused in restorative justice.
"The program will be centered around generating employability, establishing work ethic, and developing life skills and techniques to become successful in life after high school," Superintendent Dr. Lisamarie Spindler said. . . .
There was and will be an application and interview process for interested scholars and mentors and/or internship locations to take part in the Bluehawk Academy. Junior High School students in the Bluehawk Academy will be involved in learning opportunities within a similar timeframe as the normal school day, while Senior High School students will have more flexibility in their schedule, similar to a college schedule or workday.
The mentors who will be serving as the supervisors for the Academy's students have bought into the mission the district is trying to establish, to strengthen the skills and pursue the interests of scholars in preparation for future opportunities in and around Hudson. These individuals and businesses have taken the time to fill out applications to describe their goals for the scholars, where they see the program going, and their passion for bridging the gap between the district and the community.
Such vendors include Columbia County Youth Bureau Executive Director Daniel Grandinetti, Commissioner of the Columbia County Department of Social Services Robert Gibson, Michael Molinski of Molinski Photography, Circle of Queens Inc., CEO of Blake's Design and manager of three pediatric offices Akilah Blake, Greater Hudson Promise Neighborhood Inc., and well over a dozen more businesses and/or individuals.
Fields in which Bluehawk Academy students will have the chance to study and work in include business, local government, youth recreation, marketing, musical and theatrical arts, technology, creative writing, and more. . . .

Where to Be Tomorrow Morning

This morning's New York Times newsletter included this article: "Why Eggs Cost So Much." It explained that inflation, avian flu, and war account not only for the high price but also for the shortage of eggs. But take heart. Starting tomorrow, at the Hudson Farmers' Market's Winter-Spring Market, you will find reasonably priced, wonderfully fresh eggs from healthy local chickens for sale every week from Martin Farms and every other week from Scarecrow Farm or North Star Farm.

Tomorrow morning the Hudson Farmers' Market begins its winter-spring indoor run at the Hudson Elks Lodge, 201 Harry Howard Avenue. More than twenty-five vendors will be present, offering such things as veggies, fruit, meat, baked goods, prepared foods, crafts, and more. And each Saturday, there will be live music.

The market opens at 10:00 a.m., after the bitter cold and dreadful wind chill is expected to subside, and stays open until 1:00 p.m. For more information about the market and the vendors, click here.

Of Interest

This morning, on WAMC's The Roundtable, Sarah LaDuke spoke with filmmaker Geoffrey Hug and Mahmuda Alam, one of the students featured in the documentary, about Hudson, America: Six 1st-Generation Immigrants 2016-2022. The conversation can be heard here.

The documentary will screened tomorrow at 4:00 p.m. at Hudson Hall. For more information and to purchase tickets, click here.

Thursday, February 2, 2023

Hudson and Formula Businesses

Last night, the Common Council Legal Committee took up the subject of the city's current law restricting formula businesses: Article XIV of the city code, "Community Character Preservation."

Early on in the discussion, Councilmember Ryan Wallace (Third Ward), who is a member of the committee, talked about the exceptions to the current law: (a) federally or New York State chartered banking, savings and loan, and trust institutions; (b) pharmacies and drugstores; (c) stores where the overwhelming majority of the foods sold are unprocessed or minimally processed and intended for preparation and consumption by the purchasers at another location--in other words, grocery stores; and (d) convenience stores that also sell gasoline. In this context, Wallace mentioned CityTarget, as if suggesting that such stores should also be exemptions to the city's formula business ban. That idea didn't seem to get much traction.

Councilmember Margaret Morris (First Ward), who chairs the committee, expressed the opinion that the intent of the law was OK, but it didn't "cover a lot of possibilities." She cited Westerlind, which opened its fourth store in Kingston before its store at 419 Warren Street opened. (The law defines a chain as having four or more establishments, hence the Hudson store should not have been allowed to open.)

Morris spoke of problems of enforcement and identifying businesses that are chains, as well as the question of what might happen if there were to be a chain that originated in Hudson. She didn't mention the question of what happens when Hudson is the fourth location, as is the case with Savona's Trattoria, and the business subsequently establishes additional locations. Morris said she would work on proposing some revisions to the existing law, saying that the needed changes to the law were "mainly a question of tightening up."

Councilmember Mohammed Rony (Second Ward), also a committee member, said he had found a resource about formula retail law. That resource, which is a publication of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, can be found here.

The Groundhog Predicts

Earlier this morning, Punxsutawney Phil came out of his burrow and saw this shadow, indicating there will be six more weeks of winter.

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

George Washington Hung Here

The alterations at City Hall to achieve ADA compliance involve more than changes to the entrance.

There are additional changes, outside and inside the building:
  • Creating a handicapped accessible parking space on Warren Street
  • Installing an accessible service counter
  • Removing the raised dais in the Council Chamber
  • Installing new flooring throughout the first floor
  • Creating a handicapped accessible restroom
These changes require that City Hall be closed while the work is being carried out, and the occupants of City Hall be relocated for the duration. Among the occupants requiring relocation is George Washington, that is, the portrait of George Washington painted by Henry Ary after Gilbert Stuart's famous 1796 Lansdowne portrait of Washington. 

To put things in historic context, the founding of Hudson happened during George Washington's lifetime. The original Proprietors were Washington's contemporaries. The Gilbert Stuart portrait of Washington, which inspired Ary's portrait in the 1840s, was painted eleven years after the incorporation of the City of Hudson and three years before Washington's death in 1799.

Returning to the present, during some informal chat before last Friday's special Common Council meeting, mayor's aide Michael Hofmann noted that the Henry Ary painting was to be stored someplace during the upcoming renovation of City Hall. He mentioned Hudson Hall as a possible location. Were that to happen, the portrait would be returning to the building where it had been displayed for 107 years, from 1855 to 1962. The building now known as Hudson Hall was originally constructed as Hudson's city hall.

Council Chamber in Hudson's original City Hall, now known as Hudson Hall

Interestingly, the City of Hudson acquired the Henry Ary portrait of George Washington in 1845, ten years before the city had a proper city hall. Prior to 1855, when the construction of City Hall was completed, the portrait was displayed in a rented room in a building at Warren and Fourth streets owned by John J. Davis, "who fitted up within it a hall intended for public uses." It was in this hall that the Common Council held its meetings, and it may have been during those ten years the legend began that whenever and wherever the Council met, the portrait had to be present.

In July 2012, Gossips published a post about the portrait, which explores its acquisition in 1845 and its restoration in 1998 and 1999. Now that the portrait may disappear from public view for a while or be displayed in a different venue, it seems an appropriate time to revisit that post: "Henry Ary's Portrait of George Washington."

Back to Normal

Gossips has received word that the vending machine dispensing trash bags at City Hall is once again accepting credit and debit cards and other forms of noncash payment.

Legal Committee Meeting Tonight

The agenda for tonight's Common Council Legal Committee meeting is now available. Items for discussion are the city's law prohibiting formula businesses and the effort to make the 25 mph speed limit citywide. The meeting is a hybrid, taking place in person at City Hall and on Zoom. Click here to join the meeting remotely.

Photo: David Grossman | Alamy Stock Photo

Of Interest

There's an article by Lisa La Monica about Ella Fitzgerald and her time spent in the New York State Training School for Girls in today's Times Union: "'Ungovernable': A teenaged Ella Fitzgerald's year in Hudson."

Photo: Carl Van Vechten | Library of Congress

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Redistricting: Another Step in the Process

The New York State Independent Redistricting Commission is currently at work redrawing the state's Assembly districts. Part of the process is a public hearing tour, with hearings taking place in twelve locations throughout the state. Last Wednesday, there was a public hearing in Albany, at which three representatives from Columbia County spoke.

Currently, Hudson and most of Columbia County are in Assembly District 106, the district represented by Didi Barrett. In the proposed redistricting, Ancram and Gallatin would remain in AD 106; the remainder of the county would be in AD 107, a district currently represented by Scott Bendett, a Republican.

Existing districts
Proposed districts

At the public hearing in Albany on Wednesday, Mary Murfitt, who lives in Ancramdale, argued that Assembly District 106 should remain as it is because Columbia County is part of the Hudson Valley not Albany. Dorothy Heyl, treasurer of the Hudson City Democratic Committee, argued that a shift to AD 107 would "severely disadvantage Hudson," pointing out that Hudson's population is 25 percent African-American or mixed race as compared with only 3 percent in the proposed new district. She concluded that, were the redistricting to happen as proposed, "The black population would be disenfranchised." Sam Hodge, chair of the Columbia County Democratic Committee, argued that the proposed AD 107 was too vast, extending two hours' distance north and south and two hours' distance east and west. He urged that, because of their similarities, Dutchess and Columbia counties be kept together in AD 106.

Elaine Frazier, a member of the six-person commission, commented, "We struggled over Columbia County," and suggested, "In attempting to solve one problem, we created another." 

The entire hearing can be viewed here. The comments pertaining to Columbia County begin at about 1:48:45. The commission's public hearings continue through the month of February, the last one taking place on March 1 in Suffolk County.

Monday, January 30, 2023

Hometown Premiere of Documentary Film

On Saturday, February 4, at 4:00 p.m., at Hudson Hall, there will be a screening of the documentary film Hudson, America, followed by a Q&A with the filmmakers, Zuzka Kurtz and Geoffrey Hug, and four of the participants in the documentary, Jahed Miah, Mahmuda Alam, Siddique Ahmed, and Jabin Ahmed.

The film follows six Gen-Z Bangladeshi immigrant students for six years, as they graduate from Hudson High School and leave their Muslim community to attend progressive, liberal colleges around the Northeast. 
The unexpected political events of 2016-2022 derail the joyous college trajectory for Hudson City School District Gen-Z Bangladeshi immigrants, propelling them to confront anti-immigrant sentiments, their conservative parents' ideas of "The American Dream," and the true cost of forbidden love.    
The trailer for the film can be seen here. For more information and to purchase tickets, click here.

COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health has released its numbers for the week. Since January 23, there have been no deaths from COVID-19. The number of county residents hospitalized with COVID-19 today is five more than last week at this time, and one more of those hospitalized is in the ICU.

A year ago, on January 31 (January 30 was a Sunday), the CCDOH reported 76 new cases of COVID-19 and 228 active cases. There were 32 county residents hospitalized with COVID-19, and one was in the ICU. The total number of deaths in Columbia County attributed to COVID-19 at this time last year was 127, two more than the previous week.

News of Local Journalism

Gossips learned today The Columbia Paper is to be sold to Capital Region Independent Media, LLC. The group already owns two newspapers: Ravena News-Herald in Greene County and the Greenville Pioneer in Albany County. The president of Capital Region Independent Media is Mark Vinciguerra, who was from May 2013 to December 2018 the publisher for Columbia-Greene Media, which produces the Register-Star. The entire story, as reported in E&P, can be read here.

Meetings and Events in the Week Ahead

We've reached the end of January. The week ahead contains one of Gossips' favorite holidays: Groundhog Day, a legendary milestone in the journey toward spring. Besides Groundhog Day, here's what else is happening.
  • On Wednesday, February 1, the Common Council Legal Committee meets at 6:00 pm. It's not clear what issue the Legal Committee will take up now that the sidewalk law has passsed, but the choice should be interesting. The meeting is a hybrid, taking place in person at City Hall and on Zoom. Click here to join the meeting remotely. 
  • On Thursday, February 2, the ad hoc Common Council Truck Route Committee meets at 6:00 p.m. At its January meeting, the committee began considering amendments to a directive issued in 1976 regarding truck traffic in the city. That may be the subject of discussion at this meeting as well. The meeting will be a hybrid, taking place in person at City Hall and on Zoom. Click here to join the meeting remotely.
Photo: Bill Huston
  • On Friday, February 3, Hudson City School District holds a press conference to announce the launch of Bluehawk Academy, a pilot school scheduled to open two days earlier. The press conference was originally to take place on Wednesday, January 25, but was canceled due to inclement weather. The event takes place at 10:00 a.m. in Junior/Senior High School Auditorium.
  • On Saturday, February 4, the Hudson Farmers' Market's Winter-Spring Market returns to the Elks Lodge on Harry Howard Avenue. Starting this Saturday, the market will be open from 10:00 a.m. until 1 p.m. every Saturday through April 15. 

Sunday, January 29, 2023

Word of the "Orphaned Art"

Last Thursday, an oil sketch by 17th-century Dutch painter Anthony van Dyck for his c. 1620 painting of St. Jerome was auctioned at Sotheby's in New York. 

A painting had been purchased in 2002 at an auction in Kinderhook by the late Albert Roberts. Roberts paid $600 for the painting, which showed evidence of being poorly stored. There were bird droppings on the back. On Thursday, the painting, identified as "A Study for St. Jerome," sold for $2.5 million. 

Saturday, January 28, 2023

News of the Sidewalk Law

At a special meeting of the Common Council on Friday night, the members of the Council present voted to enact the new sidewalk law establishing a sidewalk improvement district.

Three members of the Council--Art Frick (First Ward), Malachi Walker (Fourth Ward), and Ryan Wallace (Third Ward)--were absent from the meeting, but those present voted 6 to 2 in support of the law. The two councilmembers from the Fifth Ward voted against enacting the law. Vicky Daskaloudi prefaced her no vote by saying she was "fairly new in the city" and speaking of "so many references in the past about why it was handled this way or that way." Before he voted no, Dominic Merante said he still had reservations, predicted the law was "going to make dangerous sidewalks even worse," and questioned if enacting the law would satisfy the expectations of the Department of Justice.

The entire meeting, which lasted just a little more than six minutes, can viewed here on YouTube.

Enacting the law required a simple majority of six votes, which it received. It must now be signed by Mayor Kamal Johnson. It remains to be seen if there will be a petition to force a referendum on the law. 

Feeling Snarky

In December, when the Register-Star published an article about the restoration of the Nantucket house at 251 Union Street just two days after a post about the house had appeared on The Gossips of Rivertown, I held my tongue, despite the fact that the reporter quoted the same passage from Margaret Schram's book, Hudson's Merchants and Whalers: The Rise and Fall of a River Port 1783-1850, that had appeared in a Gossips post about the Nantucket houses of Hudson. 

The article in today's Register-Star by the same reporter about the renovations to City Hall was a bridge too far. In it, the description of the work to be done to achieve ADA compliance at City Hall is almost word for word what appeared in Gossips on January 22. This is Gossips:
The changes to the facade of the building involve removing the marble steps that lead to the side door of the building and dropping the door down to sidewalk level. The existing door will continue to be used. The marble plinths and pilasters on either side of the doorway will remain unchanged.
This is the Register-Star:
Changes to the building's facade include removing the marble steps that lead to the side door of the building and dropping the door down to sidewalk level. The existing door will continue to be used and the marble plinths and pilasters on either side of the doorway will remain unchanged.
Despite what appears to be copying from Gossips, the most egregious error in the Register-Star article is this. Speaking of previous projects completed by VMJR Companies, the group being contracted for the work on City Hall, the article states: "In Hudson the company completed St. Paul's/St. Mary's Church historical restoration." Wrong. St. Paul's/St. Mary's Church is not in Hudson. It's in Hudson Falls. 

There's a difference. Hudson is a city in Columbia County. Hudson Falls is a village in Washington County.


Happening Tomorrow

Monday, January 23, 2023

COVID-19 Update

The Columbia County Department of Health has released its numbers for the week. Since January 17, there have been two deaths from COVID-19. The number of county residents hospitalized with COVID-19 is five fewer than last week at this time, but there are two more in the ICU this week. 

A year ago, on January 22 (January 23 was a Sunday), the CCDOH reported 55 new cases of COVID-10 and 525 active cases. There were 32 county residents hospitalized with COVID-19, and two were in the ICU. The total number of deaths in Columbia County attributed to COVID-19 at this time last year was 125, one more than the previous week.

Sunday, January 22, 2023

Meetings of Interest in the Week Ahead

In the last full week of January, here's what is happening on the meeting front.
  • On Monday, January 23, the Conservation Advisory Council meets at 6:00 p.m. For the first time, the CAC meeting will be a hybrid, taking place in person at City Hall and on Zoom. Click here to join the meeting remotely.
  • For those following the progress of the agritourism development proposed for Sharptown Road in Stuyvesant, the project is on the agenda for the meeting of the Stuyvesant Planning Board, which takes place at 7:00 p.m. on Monday, January 23. At the last meeting of the Planning Board, chair Tim Hotaling said he would ask the code enforcement officer to work with the town's engineer to outline the equation to determine guidelines, including density averaging as cited in the town's zoning code. It is expected that determination will be presented at this Planning Board meeting. The meeting takes place in person at Stuyvesant Town Hall, 5 Sunset Drive in Stuyvesant.
  •  On Tuesday, January 24, Hudson Community Development and Planning Agency (HCDPA) meets at 4:30 p.m. This meeting was originally scheduled for Thursday, January 19, but canceled owing to inclement weather. The meeting is a hybrid, taking place in person at City Hall and on Zoom. Click here to join the meeting remotely.
  • On Thursday, January 26, the Common Council holds a public hearing on the City of Hudson's application for Restore NY funding for the redevelopment of the former Kaz site for mixed use as a cultural and community hub with retail, art, educational, and community spaces. The hearing takes place in person at 6:00 p.m. at City Hall.
  • On Friday, January 27, the Historic Preservation Commission meets at 10:00 a.m. The meeting includes a public hearing on the proposed "Hudson Public" hotel at Warren and North Fourth Street. The meeting will be a hybrid, taking place in person at City Hall and on Zoom. Click here to join the meeting remotely. 
  • At 6:00 p.m. on Friday, January 27, the Common Council holds a special meeting to vote on enacting the new sidewalk law. Also at the meeting, the Council will vote on authorizing a contract for planting trees and authorizing the mayor to accept a grant awarded to the Conservation Advisory Council and to amend the city budget. The meeting is a hybrid, taking place in person at City Hall and on Zoom. Click here to join the meeting remotely.

Renovations to City Hall

On Tuesday, the Common Council passed a resolution authorizing a contract with VMJR Companies for the alterations to City Hall required to achieve ADA compliance. The changes to the facade of the building involve removing the marble steps that lead to the side door of the building and dropping the door down to sidewalk level. The existing door will continue to be used. The marble plinths and pilasters on either side of the doorway will remain unchanged.

Once inside the door, visitors can climb a set of stairs to the lobby level or use a lift.

The cost of the project is $669,500. A reserve for building improvements had been established with $435,000, of which $331,567 remains. The resolution authorizes a loan of $337,933 from the General Fund to make up the difference. The amount will be repaid to the General Fund when the proceeds of a bond authorized in May 2021 are received.

Saturday, January 21, 2023

Unveiling on Columbia Street

This morning, the metal siding that has sheathed the 1856 Gifford Foundry Building for as long as anyone can remember was being removed.

Photo: Peter Jung

The building is owned by the Galvan Foundation. In early July 2021, Walter Chatham presented plans for the restoration of this building to the Historic Preservation Commission. At the time, Gossips reported:
Chatham was seeking and was granted a certificate of appropriateness to remove the painted metal siding on the building and to restore the brick underneath. [HPC architect member Chip] Bohl expressed the hope that the details of the brick pilasters were still there. Considering how it appears the metal was installed around the pilasters, it is very likely that a couple of them at least have survived.

This promises to be an interesting restoration to watch.

Friday, January 20, 2023

About a Permissive Referendum

On Tuesday, the Common Council placed an amended sidewalk law on their desks. Next Friday, January 27, the Council will vote on enacting the law. The amendments made to the law--waiving the annual maintenance fee for volunteer firefighters and veterans and reducing the fee by half for properties that currently do not have sidewalks--seemed intended to appease the law's opposers and avoid a referendum, but it remains to be seen if it will accomplish that.

The law is subject to a permissive referendum. According to New York Municipal Home Rule Law, within forty-five days after the Council has voted to enact the law, a petition protesting the law can be filed with the city clerk which would trigger a referendum. The number of signatures required on the petition must be equal to at least 10 percent of the total number of votes cast for governor in the last gubernatorial election. There were 2,040 votes cast in Hudson for governor this past November, so that means the petition for a referendum would need at least 204 signatures. If that were to happen, there would be a proposition regarding the sidewalk law on the ballot in the next general election, which happens in November.

There seems to be general unhappiness with the proposed law, but it is uncertain if the discontent will result in a referendum. How such an action would impact the City's settlement agreement with the Department of Justice is not known.

The Other Housing Project

On Tuesday, the Common Council unanimously passed resolutions to sell three City-owned parcels, on Rossman Avenue, Mill Street, and at the corner of Fourth and State streets, to Kearney Realty and Development Group for the purpose of developing affordable housing. The total amount to be paid for the three lots is $450,000.

At the same meeting, the Council passed a resolution authorizing a PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) agreement for the multi-family developments proposed for Mill Street and for Fourth and State streets. 

As it was explained to Gossips by Councilmember Ryan Wallace (Third Ward), the resolution regarding a PILOT was needed because Kearney must show, for the purpose of applying for public financing from New York State Homes and Community Renewal, that the City is willing to allow the PILOT within its power. Although there is an amount mentioned in the resolution, the actual amount of the PILOT will be set based on a review of ongoing and projected finances to determine the appropriate level of exemption required for the project to remain financially viable. The PILOT benefit, which might be complete or partial exemption from real property taxes, could continue for up to forty years. When the time comes, the actual exemption and the term of the PILOT will be subject to approval by the Common Council. 

The Plunge Returns

A wintertime favorite, the Oakdale Plunge returns on Saturday, March 4, at noon. Once again, intrepid plungers, many dressed in ridiculous attire, will throw themselves into the ice cold waters of Oakdale Lake.

It may be Hudson's goofiest event, but it has its serious side. The community fundraiser helps us all play safe in and around the water. The proceeds from the event are split between the Hudson Youth Department and the Hudson Fire Department Water Rescue and Dive Team. The Youth Department uses the funds to support its waterfront program, providing critical lifeguard training and expanded summer hours for community swimming at Oakdale Lake. The all-volunteer HFD Water Rescue Team answers about a dozen calls a year from people in trouble on the Hudson River, and proceeds from the event allow the team to replace aging equipment and invest in advanced training.

Last year, close to a hundred plungers braved the freezing waters of Oakdale Lake to raise more than $40,000. This year's goal is $50,000. To take a dive for your community, or to make a donation to support your intrepid neighbors, visit Register by February 12 to receive the Early Bird discount.