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 OakdalePlunge.com. Register by February 12 to receive the Early Bird discount.

Celebrate 13 Years of Gossips!

On January 20, 2010, The Gossips of Rivertown published its very first post. Thirteen years, 12,436 posts, and more than 10 million pageviews later, Gossips is still going strong. It has become a valued source for local news and history and has earned the respect of many and the disdain of a few. The ability to search thirteen years' worth of posts makes Gossips a useful reservoir of information about Hudson's most recent past.

Today, as I do every year on Gossips' anniversary, I humbly acknowledge all the readers who have made Gossips a success and offer my sincere thanks to the Gossips supporters and advertisers whose monetary contributions help pay the bills and continue to make Gossips a worthwhile endeavor. Today, too, I invite readers to celebrate thirteen years of sharing news, history, and occasional gossip about the troubles and triumphs in our little river city by joining the folks who have already shown their support for The Gossips of Rivertown in 2023.

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

Your support--in any amount--will be gratefully acknowledged and will ensure the continuation of Gossips for yet another year.

Thursday, January 19, 2023

COVID-19 Update

The following is quoted from a press release received today from Matt Murell, chair of the Columbia County Board of Supervisors:
As of this morning, the Columbia County Department of Health reported 71 new cases of COVID-19 this week, continuing the pace seen by the DOH in recent weeks.
County DOH Director Victoria McGahan said it appears that 75 percent of new COVID-19 cases appearing in the Northeast can be traced to the new XBB1.5 variant. "It seems to be highly transmissible," she said.
"We think this variant could be more immune-evasive. If you didn't get the bivalent booster and you haven't had an active COVID infection since about July 2022, then your protection from this variant in particular is probably not as strong as it could be. What they're saying is that this variant binds tightly to the ACE2 mutation of the Omicron variant," said Director McGahan.
As for the flu, Director McGahan said that currently the county seems to be "declining to a more normal place for this time of year. That is encouraging."

This press release was the first clue that Jack Mabb has retired as director of the CCDOH and has been replaced by Victoria McGahan, who has served as a public health educator for the CCDOH.

Meeting Reminder

Tomorrow night, Friday, January 29, Friends of the Public Square (FOPS) holds a panel discussion and conversation on the role of policing, social services, and mental health providers in addressing issues of law and civility in our public spaces, particularly, in Seventh Street Park, a.k.a. the Public Square. The meeting takes place from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. at the Hudson Area Library. For more information and a list of panel participants, click here.

If you plan to attend the meeting, be ready to mask up. Because the COVID level in Columbia County is currently "High," masks are required in all library spaces.

Weather News

The Hudson Area Library closed today at 1:00 p.m. because of the weather, but so far there is no word that the HCDPA meeting scheduled for 4:30 p.m. or the public hearing regarding the City's Restore NY grant application to take place at 6:00 p.m. have been canceled. The HCDPA meeting is a hybrid and can be joined remotely by clicking here. The public hearing is in person only at City Hall.

Update: The HCDPA meeting has been canceled. The public hearing so far has not.

Update: The public hearing has also been canceled.

Chocolate in Our Early History? Who Knew?

Add this appropriately pre-Valentine's Day event to your calendars.

On Saturday, February 11, 1:00 p.m., at the Hudson Area Library, culinary historian Peter G. Rose will speak about the history of chocolate in the Hudson Valley. In this talk sponsored by the Jacob Leisler Institute for Early New York History and the library, Rose discusses the early trade by Dutch settlers in the 17th century and the subsequent manufacturing developments of chocolate through the 18th century into the late 19th century. There will be free samples of locally made chocolate donated by Verdigris Tea & Chocolate Bar and Vasilow’s Confectionery at the event.

Rose was born in the Netherlands and came to the United States in the mid-1960s. She has contributed a syndicated column on family food and cooking to the New York-based Gannett newspapers for more than twenty years and written articles for magazines such as Gourmet, Saveur, and Hudson Valley Magazine. She is the author of ten books on the Dutch influence on the American kitchen. She received the 2002 Alice P. Kenney Award for research and writing on the food customs and diet of the Dutch settlers in New Netherland. She lectures nationally and internationally on a variety of topics related to Dutch and Dutch-American culinary history, including at the Smithsonian Institution, the National Gallery, the Peabody Essex Museum, Houston Museum of Fine Arts, Bryn Mawr College, New York University, the Culinary Institute of America, and, in the Netherlands, at the University of Amsterdam and the Mauritshuis Royal Picture Gallery in The Hague. Rose was part of a group of more than a hundred scholars who investigated the history of chocolate in America, sponsored by the Historic Division of Mars, Inc., which culminated in the book Chocolate: History, Culture & Heritage (Wiley, 2009).
The Jacob Leisler Library Lectures are made possible in part through the generous support of the Van Dyke Family Foundation and Hudson River Bank and Trust.

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Amended Sidewalk Law Moves Ahead

At the Common Council meeting last night, an amended sidewalk law was laid on the councilmembers' desks. Prior to the meeting, the proposed law had been revised to waive sidewalk maintenance fees for volunteer firefighters and veterans. Another revision involved adding properties in Mt. Ray Estates to the list of excluded properties because they are located on private streets where there is no City-owned right-of-way, and the City would not be creating sidewalks in the condominium development. During the course of the meeting, the Council also voted to amend the law to reduce the sidewalk fee by half for properties currently without sidewalks. Below is the amendment approved by the Council.  

All councilmembers voted in favor of the amendment except Margaret Morris (First Ward) and Council president Tom DePietro. To Gossips' knowledge, no one has calculated if these fees will be sufficient to make substantial improvements to the city's sidewalks.

The Council is expected to hold a special meeting on Friday, January 27, at 6:00 p.m. for the purpose of voting to enact the legislation.

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

COVID-19 Update

As noted before, the Columbia County Department of Health is no longer reporting daily COVID numbers. Instead, at the beginning of each week, the CCDOH reports the deaths from COVID-19 that occurred in the previous week, and the number of county residents hospitalized with the virus and in the ICU. Today, the CCDOH is reporting there have been two deaths from COVID-19 in the past week. Fifteen county residents are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, one of whom is in the ICU.

A year ago today, on January 18 (January 17 was a Sunday), the CCDOH reported 178 new cases of COVID-19 since the previous Saturday. 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 124, three more than the previous week.

Meetings of Interest This Week

We're late with our list of meetings for the week. There was a meeting of the Hudson Housing Authority Board scheduled for last night, but because it was the Martin Luther King Day holiday, I don't think the meeting took place. I waited on Zoom until 6:17 p.m. for the meeting to start, and it didn't, so I concluded that it had been canceled. 

Here's what is happening for the rest of the week.
  • On Tuesday, January 17, the Common Council holds its regular monthly meeting at 6:00 p.m. There are several resolutions on the agenda having to do with the sale of three City-owned parcels and the plans to develop affordable housing on these sites. There is also a communication from Mayor Kamal Johnson and Housing Justice Director Michelle Tullo making the case for the development plan and a Unit Summary Table that shows the number, size, income ranges, and rents for the apartments in the proposed development.
It is also expected that the Council will vote tonight on enacting the proposed new sidewalk legislation. The meeting is a hybrid, taking place in person at City Hall and on Zoom. Click here to join the meeting remotely. 

  • On Wednesday, January 18, the Hudson Industrial Development Agency meets at 9:30 a.m. No agenda for the meeting has yet been made available. The meeting is a hybrid, taking place in person at 1 City Centre, Suite 301, and on Zoom. Click here to join the meeting remotely.
  • Also on Wednesday, January 18, the Zoning Board of Appeals is scheduled to hold its monthly meeting at 6:00 p.m. The meeting takes place in person only at City Hall.
  • On Thursday, January 19, 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.
  • At 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, January 19, there is a public hearing at City Hall "for the purpose of hearing public comments on the City of Hudson's funding application for the Kaz Redevelopment Project . . . [which] involves rehabilitation of a vacant industrial site for mixed-use as a cultural and community hub with retail, art, educational, and community spaces." The hearing takes place in person only at City Hall. Written comments about the project can be submitted to Tracy Delaney, City Clerk, 520 Warren Street, Hudson, NY 12534, until Monday, January 23, at 5:00 p.m.

And that's it for the week.

Still More About Galvan and Savannah

Yesterday, Gossips received an email from Eric Curl, a former Savannah Morning News reporter who now writes a blog about development in Savannah called Savannah Agenda. He discovered Gossips while doing research on Galvan and thought I might be interested in a story he had published after interviewing Dan Kent: "Nonprofit's plans for Cuyler-Brownville get go ahead from city." I was, and for that reason, I have provided the link. 

The article contains some information not found in the other coverage of Galvan in Savannah. For example, in addition to giving $1 million to the Savannah Affordable Housing Fund and committing an estimated $5 million toward developing nineteen city-owned properties in the Cuyler-Brownville neighborhood, Galvan has acquired a house built in 1901, which is fire damaged and has been vacant for more than two decades, and plans for restore it.

Forgive the Silence

Over the weekend, Gossips suffered some computer and internet problems, but today, with a brand-new computer and a somewhat jerry-rigged internet connection, we're back!

Saturday, January 14, 2023

HPC Review of Galvan Hotel Continues

Yesterday, the Historic Preservation Commission continued its review of the plans to convert the buildings at Warren and North Fourth Street into a hotel to be known as "Hudson Public." At its previous meeting on December 16, the HPC expressed concern particularly about the proposed third floor to be added to the two Greek Revival rowhouses facing North Fourth Street. What was proposed would create a gambrel roof on the buildings.

On Friday, Walter Chatham, one of the architects for the project, presented a revised design for the addition to these buildings, one that involved a mansard roof. The infill building being proposed also has a mansard roof, to accommodate the override for the two elevators that will be located in this new building.

Chatham offered the mansard roof at the back of 6 West Court Street as the model for what is now being proposed for 10 and 12 North Fourth Street and described a mansard roof as "a traditional way to add on to a historic building."

The change to a mansard roof on the buildings eliminates one of the two gambrel roof profiles that will be seen from Prison Alley. Chatham maintained that the second broader gambrel roof, which is farther from North Fourth Street, will always be seen in parallax, and that will compress its size. 

Responding to the proposed change, HPC member Miranda Barry acknowledged that a mansard roof was a common solution but expressed reservations. "These are old and beautiful rowhouses," she told Chatham, "and you are changing the profile." Chatham explained that it was necessary to add a floor to these buildings "to justify the capital investment." He also maintained that the buildings were not elegant rowhouses but rather tenements. He went on to say, "The scale of many buildings in Hudson is a little crazy," and asserted, "To make this work, somebody has to add on to it."

The houses at 10 and 12 North Fourth Street appear at the right in this historic photograph from the Evelyn and Robert Monthie Collection at the Columbia County Historical Society.

Commenting on Zoom, Matt McGhee, a regular follower and critic of the HPC, postulated that 402 Warren Street and the rowhouses were constructed as a unit and were "incredibly expensive to build." He noted the marble details and other architectural elements of the buildings and concluded, "You are underestimating what this building is." McGhee asserted that the building was "the work of a very fine architect" and suggested that architect was A. J. Davis, best known in Hudson for his association with the Dr. Oliver Bronson House.

The HPC is scheduling a public hearing on the project to take place on Friday, January 27, at 10:00 a.m., at which time McGhee is likely to present more information derived from his study of the buildings.

Friday, January 13, 2023

Early Thursday Morning in Hudson

Gossips received the following press release from Chief Ed Moore of the Hudson Police Department:
On Thursday, January 12, 2023, the Hudson City Police Department arrested 54-year-old Jonathan Jones, a.k.a. “Smash,” from Hudson, NY. Jones was arrested for Criminal Possession of a Weapon 3rd degree, a class D felony, two counts of Criminal Possession of a Weapon 4th degree, Criminal Obstruction of Breathing, all class A misdemeanors, and Harassment 2nd degree, a violation.
On Thursday, January 12, 2023, at approximately 3:00 a.m., Officer Evan Foutch was on patrol duty in the area of 3rd Street and Long Alley when he heard one single gunshot come from the 200 block of Long Alley.
Shortly after the officer heard the gunshot, Columbia County 911 received a call of an active physical domestic incident at a nearby residence located on the 200 block of Columbia Street.
Officers immediately patrolled to the Columbia Street apartment and investigated the incident where a woman alleged she had been choked and a weapon had been discharged.
A search warrant was applied for and was signed by Columbia County Court Judge Nichols. With the assistance of the New York State Police, the Hudson Police Department conducted a search of the apartment.
Police recovered an unregistered 9 mm handgun, a shotgun, and .22 rifle. Jones is a convicted violent felon and is not legally allowed to possess the firearms.
Jones was arraigned by Judge Connor at the City of Hudson Court. He was remanded to the Columbia County Jail with no bail. Jones will return to court on January 17, 2023, at 9:00 a.m. Judge Connor issued a full stay away order of protection against Jones.
“I credit our officers and detectives as well as and our other law enforcement team members with doing the extra work needed to find these guns, identifying who is responsible, and removing them from our neighborhoods. We have active investigations into recent gun violence and we will continue to press forward.” Chief
If you or anybody you know is a victim of domestic violence, please reach out to the New York State 24-hour domestic and sexual violence hotline at 1 800 942-6906.

More About Galvan in Savannah

Today, a reader sent Gossips the link to another article about Galvan's proposed investment in Savannah, this one published yesterday in the Savannah Business Journal: "City Council Votes on Whether to Accept $6 Million Gift from Galvan Foundation for Housing." According to the article, T. Eric Galloway "moved to Savannah several years ago." Also of interest is this paragraph from the article.
Recent tax returns of the group, filed under the Galvan Initiatives LLC name, shows current assets of over $32 million, a figure that Kent concurred was accurate in an interview after today's City Council meeting. Additional funds are raised every year through rents and other sources of income on the projects completed in New York.
The article is accompanied by this picture of Dan Kent.

Howard Announces Run for County Court Judge

The year has just begun, and November is still far away, but today Michael C. Howard announced his intention to run for Columbia County Court judge. The following is quoted from Howard's announcement:

Michael C. Howard has practiced law in Columbia County since 1992, is currently the First Assistant Public Defender, and operates his private law office at 118 Green Street in Hudson. Howard said in a press release, "Recent events opened two positions of County Court Judge in Columbia County. It is my belief that my background, temperament, and understanding of our community uniquely qualifies me to become a Columbia County Court Judge. I am looking forward to serving as a Columbia County Court Judge and believe that I will be able to use my experience to serve all of the litigants that appear before me."
Howard has served twice as the President of the Hudson Rotary Club, has been on the Board of the Columbia Golf and Country Club, the Columbia County Association in the City of New York, Columbia County United Way, the Hudson Area Association Library, the Salvation Army, Hudson Boys and Girls Club, and the Register Star Community Advisory Board. . . . 
Howard is seeking the Democratic nomination to run for Columbia County Judge this November.

Thursday, January 12, 2023

Galvan in Savannah

Last week, Gossips drew attention to a Facebook post that made known Galvan's new interest in Savannah, Georgia. The post announced Galvan Center for the Common Good had given a grant of $50,000 to the Savannah Affordable Housing Fund.

This evening, a reader informed Gossips of a further development. The Galvan Foundation has contributed $1 million to the Savannah Affordable Housing Fund and will be investing an estimated $5 million in developing nineteen city-owned properties in Savannah. All the information can be found in this article from the Savannah Morning News: "Nonprofit to convert 19 city-owned properties to affordable housing. Here's how it happened." The article is accompanied by a photograph in which you can spot Dan Kent standing beside a big check for $1 million.

There is also this TV news coverage of the development, in which Dan Kent speaks about the project: "Savannah city council votes on affordable housing in Cuyler-Brownsville historic district."