Sunday, April 30, 2023

Meetings of Interest in the Week Ahead

"Tra la, it's May, the lusty month of May." To put a damper on your libido, here are the meetings that are happening in the first week of the month.
  • On Tuesday, May 2, the board of Hudson Community Development and Planning Agency (HCDPA) meets at 4:30 p.m. The meeting is a hybrid, taking place in person at the Central Fire Station, 77 North Seventh Street, and on Zoom. Click here to join the meeting remotely.
  • Also on Tuesday, May 2, the Conservation Advisory Council meets at 6:00 p.m. The meeting is a hybrid, taking place in person at the Central Fire Station, 77 North Seventh Street, and on Zoom. Click here to join the meeting remotely.
  • On Wednesday, May 3, the Hudson Industrial Development Agency (IDA) meets at 9:30 a.m. The meeting could be interesting, because you never know what project will be next to seek tax abatements. 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.
Update: The Hudson IDA meeting has been rescheduled for Wednesday, May 10, at 9:30 a.m. 
  • Also on Wednesday, May 3, the Common Council Legal Committee meets at 6:00 p.m. The meeting is a hybrid, taking place in person at the Central Fire Station, 77 North Seventh Street, and on Zoom. Click here to join the meeting remotely.
  • On Thursday, May 4, the ad hoc Truck Route Committee meets at 6:00 p.m. The meeting is a hybrid, taking place in person at the Central Fire Station, 77 North Seventh Street, and on Zoom. Click here to join the meeting remotely. 
Photo: Peter Spear

About the Wellness Hub

On April 19, Mayor Kamal Johnson and Matt Murell, chair of the Columbia County Board of Supervisors, announced that Congressman Marc Molinaro is requesting $5 million in federal funds for the Wellness Hub in Columbia County. We've been hearing about the Wellness Hub for a while now, and sometimes it seems it will be located in Hudson. That is not the case. The site for the Wellness Hub is in Greenport, not far from the county jail. On Friday, there was an article by Roger Hannigan Gilson in the Times Union that explains the project: "'Wellness Hub' would divert those in crisis from courts, motels and ER."

Step 1: Demolition

In December, the three houses on the west side of North Seventh Street were demolished to make way for the new construction proposed for the site.

So far, there's no word if Galvan will receive the money it seeks from NYS Homes and Community Renewal in this round to construct the building.

Late last week, the cement block warehouse across the street was demolished. The pictures below show the building and how it appeared on Friday.

A Google aerial view of the building reveals that there were solar panels on the roof. One wonders what happened to them when the building was razed.

The demolition of the warehouse clears the way for the construction of this building proposed for the site.

The construction of the building proposed for the east side of the street has been identified as Phase 2 of the Depot District project. (Phase 1 was the restoration of the historic Hudson Upper Depot, now occupied by Upper Depot Brewing Company.) Financing for this building, now being identified as 76 North Seventh Street, is not dependent on state funding, so it is possible that construction of the building may begin soon . . . or not.

Friday, April 28, 2023

The Bad with the Good

Today, the two trees were cut down in front of City Hall as part of the project to make the building ADA compliant.

The good news is that, although the trees may be gone, so is this ugly thing: the long nonfunctioning pay phone that was for years a magnet for graffiti.


Harry Belafonte in Hudson

Since Harry Belafonte's death was reported on Tuesday, many pictures and remembrances of him have appeared on social media. Many pictures have been posted on local Facebook pages showing Belafonte in Hudson during the time he spent here while filming Odds Against Tomorrow. Yesterday, Neal Van Deusen sent me this picture, which shows Belafonte posing with the movie's other stars and some Hudson officials in front of 10 Park Place, which at the time was the firehouse of J. W. Edmonds Hose Company, No 1.

The filming of Odds Against Tomorrow coincided with the 165th anniversary of Edmonds Hose, the first of Hudson's volunteer fire companies, organized on April 17, 1794. In the picture are, from left to right, Harold Lieberman, then president of Edmonds Hose; Belafonte; Robert Ryan; John Kelly, then mayor of Hudson; Ed Begley; and Robert Wise, who directed Odds Against Tomorrow. Each of them is holding one of the commemorative coins produced to mark the anniversary. The coins were presented to all the members of the movie's cast.

Plan Your Saturday

The forecast is for rain, both tomorrow and Sunday, and as a consequence, the Oakdale Rewilding Project, which was originally scheduled for tomorrow, has been postponed until Saturday, May 6.

Saturday, May 6, is the first of two volunteer days to remove invasive species and plant native trees along the trail at Oakdale Lake. The second is scheduled to take place on Saturday, May 20. On both Saturdays, there will be an orientation at 10:00 a.m. and trail work from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Snacks and tools will be provided. Wear sturdy shoes and bring work gloves of you have them.

Despite the pluvious forecast, Arbor Day at Olana is happening as planned, from noon to 4:00 p.m. 

Throughout the afternoon tomorrow at Olana, you can hone your tree identification skills in drop-in activities with the Columbia Land Conservancy and grow your forestry knowledge with Cornell Cooperative Extension. You can learn about the important role trees played in Frederic Church's design for Olana on free landscape tours, which take place at 1:30, 2:30, and 3:30 p.m. At 3:00 p.m., there will be live music provided by the Hudson Valley's favorite party brass band, Brasskill. Vegan food vendor Urugula Creative Cuisine and Nine Pin Cider Works will be onsite throughout the day offering plant-based snacks and craft cider. There will also be workshops: a natural dye workshop with local artist Katrina Rodabaugh and a landscape painting session with Anne Crowley of the Woodstock School of Art.

For more information and to register for workshops, click here.

Also on Saturday, April 29, the 1811 Robert Jenkins House, museum, library, and chapter house of the Hendrick Hudson Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, will be open for tours from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. The house is located at 113 Warren Street.

For those engaged in serious spring cleaning, Saturday is Household Hazardous Waste Collection Day in Columbia County, from 8:00 a.m. until noon. The collection site is the Columbia County Fire Training Center in Commerce Park, just off Route 66 in Ghent. Click on the image below to enlarge and get directions to the site and learn what will be accepted and what won't.

And, of course, from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., the Hudson Farmers' Market is open for the second Saturday of its regular season in its traditional outdoor location at Columbia and Sixth Streets. 

Rain or shine, prepare to enjoy the last Saturday in April.

Make Way for Compliance

Up until today, there was a tree in front of City Hall, a tree that suffered the indignity of bad pruning, but it was there nonetheless, gracing the facade of the century-old former bank building.

This morning, the tree came down, as part of the project to make the building universally accessible. 


Thursday, April 27, 2023

The Beginning of the End for the Tank Farm

Last November, Gossips recounted the story of the oil tanks that once stood on the Hudson waterfront (and were featured in the final scene of Odds Against Tomorrow): "Not So Long Along in Hudson." 

In 1986, the tanks were being used by Russian mobsters to store bootlegged gasoline. The Gossips post published in November was inspired by two articles from the New York Post that documented the situation in July 1986. Recently, John Cody sent me the following article, which appeared in the New York Post on July 18, 1986, and was the first of the Post articles about the tank farm. It was, in Cody's words, "the beginning of the end for the usage of the tanks." You can click on the image to enlarge it, or read the transcription of the article below.

Leaking gasoline storage tanks linked to the underworld's $1 billion bootleg gas racket are in danger of blowing up and taking part of a town with it, The Post has learned.
The giant tanks in the upstate river town of Hudson sit next to a senior citizen complex and a busy rail corridor where residents fear sparks from trains could ignite a cloud of vapors seeping from the aging tanks. 
The town's code enforcement officer, Jack Revene, calls the fumes "horrendous."
Carl Whitbeck, attorney for Hudson, told The Post that on June 27 he ordered the operators to empty the tank farm within 45 days. Asked if he knew if the emptying was in progress, Whitbeck answered: "I don't know. I assume they are." But residents remain edgy as the fumes still permeate the air.
"I don't think the city would be able to respond quickly enough if there was an explosion," said John Cody, president of Save Hudson's Only Waterfront, a local environmental group. "It's bad enough we've gotten headaches and had to leave the house," he added. "Vapors are the most explosive component of gasoline, so we're worried."
A government task force raided the tank farm offices five months ago as part of a sweeping probe of a mob-linked network that allegedly controls as much as one-third of the gas sold in the metropolitan area.
Shortly after the raid by the Oil and Gas Task Force, the tank farm owners--two Russian immigrants linked to the Luchese crime family as well as to a Brighton Beach crime syndicate--leased the facility to a Wall Street investment banker.
The banker, Mark Stahl, senior vice president of Shearson Lehman Bros., told The Post he was aware of possible criminal activities of the owners, Oleg Yasko and Oleg Shumin, but he himself was not involved in any way with their activities.
Stahl said he had privately put together a group of investors to lease and eventually buy the tank farm to restore it for a new chain of service stations.
The tank farm, owned by the Russian pair's firm, Jolana Enterprises Inc., is the target of the joint investigation by state, local and federal authorities, said New York Asst. Attorney General Ingrid Hansen. She declined to detail the role of the tank farm or how much bootleg gasoline or other petroleum products were in the tanks, which have a capacity of 4 million gallons.
Task force agents seized several file cabinets and cartons of records last February at Jolana offices in Hudson and Schenectady as well as documents at seven other locations.
On June 17, investigators from the state Dept. of Environmental Conservation discovered that gasoline had secretly been stored in three of the Hudson tanks without permits. The agency responded after thick gas vapors drifted blocks away from the tank farm, driving nearby residents from their homes.

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

On the Subject of Parking

The ad hoc committee tasked with acting on the recommendations of the recently completed parking study met for the first time yesterday. It appears from yesterday's meeting that Council president Tom DePietro intends to chair the committee himself, but it is not clear which councilmembers will be serving on the committee. Yesterday, in addition to DePietro, only Mohammed Rony (Second Ward) was physically present at the meeting. Dominic Merante (Fifth Ward), Vicky Daskaloudi (Fifth Ward), and Margaret Morris (First Ward) participated in the meeting on Zoom.

The purpose of the meeting, as stated by DePietro, was to set an agenda for the committee. Several things were mentioned during the meeting: establishing a parking bureau to consolidate all parking issues in one place; channeling all revenue from parking back into parking investment; incentivizing parking in municipal lots; replacing parking meters with an electronic mobile payment system; reviving the trolley to reduce dependence on cars; establishing a permit policy to ensure that residents can park in proximity to their homes. 

During the discussion, Daskaloudi expressed concern that the City was losing money every day because of the current parking meters. Morris said she was less concerned about revenue from parking than she was about residents being able to park where they live. DePietro cited "West" Allen Street as "a tough place to park--the obvious one." He must have been referring to the stretch of Allen Street nearest Front Street, where residents compete for parking with patrons of the Half Moon. Linda Fenoff, who serves as secretary to the committee, reminded him that McKinstry Place also has serious parking issues, with residents having to compete with hospital workers for parking spaces.

It was decided that the committee would consult with Crystal Peck, counsel to the Council, about establishing a parking bureau and a resident permit system and with Jon Forster of Fishbeck, the group that did the parking study, about finding the funds to replace the onstreet parking meters with a QR system for collecting fees.

Another Meeting to Know About

The Columbia County Housing Task Force meets today, April 26, at 4:00 p.m. The meeting, which is open to the public, takes place in person at the offices of CEDC (Columbia Economic Development Corporation), 1 City Centre, Suite 301, and on Zoom. Click here to join the meeting remotely.

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

News of Today's Auction

The mayor was there (with his younger child), the mayor's aide was there, the Common Council president was there, the city attorney was there, but no one was there who wanted to buy either 10-12 Warren Street or 429-431 Warren Street.

The format of the auction today was sealed written bids, and no sealed bids were submitted. Now it is up to the Common Council to decide what happens next.

News of a Loss

Last week, Hudson Hall had a screening of Odds Against Tomorrow, a movie filmed in part here in Hudson in 1958. This morning, the New York Times reported that Harry Belafonte, one of the movie's stars, has died: "Harry Belafonte, 96, Dies; Barrier-Breaking Singer, Actor and Activist."

Monday, April 24, 2023

Meetings and Events in the Week Ahead

In this week, we wrap up April. As we move toward May and further into spring, here's what is happening.
  • On Tuesday, April 25, the auction of 10-12 Warren Street and 429-431 Warren Street takes place at 3:00 p.m. at the Central Fire Station, 77 North Seventh Street. The minimum bid for 10-12 Warren Street is $895,000, and the minimum bid for 429-431 Warren Street is $595,000. Prior to the auction, there will be an opportunity to visit 10-12 Warren Street at 1:00 p.m. and an opportunity to visit 429-431 Warren Street at 2:00 p.m. For bid forms, instructions, and terms of sale for each property, click here.
10-12 Warren Street
429-431 Warren Street
  • At 6:00 p.m., on Tuesday, April 25, the ad hoc committee formed to follow up with the parking study completed in March meets for the first time. The meeting is a hybrid, taking place in person at the Central Fire House, 77 North Seventh Street, and on Zoom. Click here to join the meeting remotely.
  • On Thursday, April 27, the ad hoc Truck Route Committee meets at 6:00 p.m. The meeting is a hybrid, taking place in person at the Central Fire Station, 77 North Seventh Street, and on Zoom. Click here to join the meeting remotely.
Photo: Peter Spear
Update: The meeting of the Truck Route Committee has been canceled. The next meeting of the committee is scheduled to take place on Thursday, May 4.
  • On Friday, April 28, the Historic Preservation Commission meets at 10:00 a.m. The meeting is a hybrid, taking place in person at the Central Fire Station, 77 North Seventh Street, and on Zoom. Click here to join the meeting remotely.

Sunday, April 23, 2023

Hudson Makes Another List

Hudson has been mentioned in a lot of travel and lifestyle magazines over the years, but last week, in The Travel, Hudson gained a whole new distinction: "These Are the 10 Most Expensive Cities to Visit in New York State." Granted Hudson is at the bottom of the list, but it's there, described as being known for "historic architecture, picturesque location, and vibrant arts scene," as well as "home to various luxury restaurants, hotels, and accommodations." Topping the list are New York City (1) and The Hamptons (2), followed by Saratoga Springs (3).

The paragraphs about Hudson are accompanied by this picture of the Hudson-Athens Lighthouse.

Photo: The Travel

Friday, April 21, 2023

More Change for Urban Renewal Era Housing

Roger Hannigan Gilson reports today in the Times Union that Providence Hall and Schuyler Court, both housing projects constructed during Urban Renewal in Hudson, are getting a new owner: "Westchester renovation firm buys two Section 8 complexes in Hudson." According to the article, K & R Preservation, the company purchasing the buildings, intends to upgrade the units in all the buildings, with "all-new interiors, windows, and kitchen appliances," and install new siding on the buildings in Schuyler Court, but they have promised not to displace tenants during the renovations.

Providence Hall | Photo: Arbor Management
Schuyler Court | Photo: Arbor Management

Earth Day in Hudson

Tomorrow is Earth Day, and there a couple of things happening in Hudson to mark the occasion. 

The Hudson Farmers' Market returns to its outdoor location at Sixth and Columbia Streets to begin its main April to November season. The market is open every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. This Saturday, in celebration of Earth Day, folks from the Conservation Advisory Council will be at the market to talk about the CAC's "Keep Hudson Shady" tree planting initiative and to find people interested in having a street tree planted at their property in the fall. They will also be providing homeowners with contacts for heat pump installations.

From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., The Spark of Hudson and Toolshed present "Hearth Day: A Celebration of Home" at Henry Hudson Riverfront Park. As the press release explains the name, the root of the word ecology comes from the Greek word oikos, which means "household" or "hearth." Hence the name of the event, Hearth Day.

The event involves free hands-on workshops throughout the day on a wide variety of subjects: Planting 101 with Grow Black Hudson, Solar 101 with Toolshed and SunCommon, Shiitake Mushroom Workshop with Wally Farms, Herbal Vinegar Medicine Making with Good Fight Herb Co., and a Railroad Walk and Cyanotype Print Workshop with the Hudson Sloop Club.

There will also be musical performances curated by Beautiful Racket and an onsite pop-up wellness clinic offered by Monrada Community Care. 

Vendors for the day include Hudson Little Free Libraries, Hudson Area Library, Basilica Hudson, Kite's Nest, Hudson Bike Co-op, Climate Wheel, Bindlestiff Family Cirkus, Operation Unite, and New York State Regional Clean Energy Hub.

HCSD Superintendent Resigns

Some who are closer observers of the Hudson City School District than Gossips have predicted this might happen, and it has. Dr. Lisamarie Spindler has resigned as superintendent. The following is quoted from a press release issued this morning by HCSD:
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Lisamarie Spindler, who has led the Hudson City School District since Feb. 1, 2022, will resign effective June 30, the district announced to day. . . .
Board of Education President Willette Jones said the Board will quickly name an interim superintendent to lead the district of 1,591 students until a permanent superintendent is identified. A comprehensive search will begin this summer and community input will be sought in the process. . . .
Spindler's letter to resignation, submitted to the Board of Education, can be read here.

Thursday, April 20, 2023

More Barley Straw in the Lake

A few weeks ago, Gossips reported on the beginning of the experiment to arrest the growth of unwanted vegetation in Oakdale Lake by floating bags of barley straw in the lake. This week, the application of barley straw was completed. On Tuesday, Jim McDarby, who teaches biology at Hudson High School, worked with students from Hudson High and ecologists from Great Ecology to pack about forty pounds of barley straw into onion bags and suspend them in the lake.

The bags will be removed from the lake in three weeks. The expectation is that there will be a big improvement in algae inhibition this summer in the project area.

More information about the Oakdale Lake Water Quality Project can be found on the Great Ecology website.

Photographs accompanying this post courtesy Tamar Adler, Friends of Oakdale Lake

Good News for Property Owners

The Register-Star reported today that the Hudson City School District Board of Education has adopted its proposed budget for the 2023-2024 school year: "Hudson board adopts $54.5M school budget." The $54,509,530 budget is only $384,506 more than the current budget, and for the first time in living memory it does not involve an increase in the tax levy. 

IRC Releases Final Map

After months of work, the Independent Redistricting Commission released the final map of Assembly Districts about an hour ago. The commissioners voted 9 to 1 to deliver the final map to the legislature. 

Commenting prior to the vote, Ross Brady, the only member of the commission who did not support the final map, said the map followed "too slavishly" the district lines from the 2022 Assembly map. When it comes to Columbia County, it appears that nothing has changed from 2022. The county is still divided between two Assembly districts, and Hudson is still part of Assembly District 106, now represented by Didi Barrett. 

To explore the final map for yourself, click here.

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

HHA Chooses Development Partner

At its monthly meeting last night, the Hudson Housing Authority Board of Commissioners voted to make Mountco Construction & Development, headquartered in Scarsdale, its partner in creating new housing to replace Bliss Towers and Columbia Apartments. The responses to HHA's RFQ (request for qualifications) had been reviewed by an evaluation committee, and Mountco was the committee's recommendation to the board. Below are photographs, found on the Mountco website, showing recently completed projects in New York City.

Mountco is currently working on Phase 1 of a three-phase project for the Kingston Housing Authority. Addressing the HHA board last night, Joel Mounty, president and principal of Mountco, mentioned, as evidence of people's satisfaction with their work, that the group had recently been hired for Phase 2 of the Kingston project. 

Quncie Williams, of Alexander Gorlin Architects, who was introduced as the architect for the HHA project, told the board, "Our mantra is improving local communities through good design."

When commissioners brought up tenants' concerns about relocation, they were assured that Mountco has done nineteen similar projects successfully. John Madeo, executive vice president of Mountco, said they worked to build trust, meeting with the tenants and sharing information on a regular basis. He also indicated that a relocation plan is part of the funding application, and they are obligated to implement the plan outlined there. Mary Decker, one of the two resident commissioners, asked if the current residents will have a say in what the buildings look like. She was told, "They can't design the project, but they can provide input."

After the vote was taken, Revonda Smith who chairs the board told Mountco, "I'm grateful that you guys even looked our way." Mounty responded by sharing that the company's motto in business is, "If we're not going to enjoy it, it's not going to be built." He went on to say, "If you don't see a Mountco person coming out, if you're not happy to see us, then we're not doing the right job."

Only four of the seven members of the Board of Commissioners were present for the discussion in executive session and the vote: Smith, Decker, Rebecca Wolff, and Nick Zachos. The other three commissioners--Rebecca Borrer, Claire Cousin, and Anthony Bennett--were absent. The makeup of the evaluation committee has never been made public, but last night Jeffrey Dodson, HHA executive director, revealed that Michelle Tullo, Housing Justice Director, and Michael Hofmann, Mayor's Aide, were part of the evaluation committee.

Monday, April 17, 2023

Another Meeting That Merits Attention

On Thursday, April 20, the Independent Redistricting Commission is holding a meeting at 12:30 p.m. The meeting, which is open to the public, takes place at the Legislative Office Building in Albany, but it will be streamed online at

For the past few months, the Independent Redistricting Commission has been working on redrawing the State Assembly districts. In its draft map (shown below), all of Columbia County, except Ancram and Gallatin, would no longer be part of Assembly District 106, the district represented by Didi Barrett. Instead all of the county, except for Ancram and Gallatin, would be part of AD 107, the district currently represented by Scott Bendett, a Republican. 

Since the draft map was proposed, the Independent Redistricting Commission conducted a series of public hearings throughout the state. During a public hearing in Albany in January, representatives from Columbia County argued that Columbia County should remain part of AD 106, because it had more in common with Dutchess County and the Hudson Valley than it did with Rensselaer County and the Albany area. 
At Thursday's meeting, the commission will vote on the final Assembly map proposal, which presumably has been amended based on comments from the public. The commission is also expected t0 vote on sending the final Assembly map proposal and the report to the legislature.

Sunday, April 16, 2023

Meetings and Events in the Week Ahead

We are now a month into spring, and the week ahead culminates with Earth Day. Before that, here is what's happening.
  • On Monday, April 17, the Hudson Housing Authority Board of Commissioners holds its monthly meeting at 6:00 p.m. It is expected that at this meeting the development partner that has been selected to assist HHA is its ambitious plan to replace Bliss Tower and Columbia Apartments will be announced. The meeting is a hybrid, taking place in person in the Community Room at Bliss Towers, 41 North Second Street, and on Zoom. Click here to join the meeting remotely.
  • On Tuesday, April 18, Hudson Community Development and Planning Agency holds a special meeting at 9:00 a.m. The purpose of the meeting is to renew the agency's insurance policy. The meeting is a hybrid, taking place in person at the Central Fire Station, 77 North Seventh Street, and on Zoom. Click here to join the meeting remotely.  
  • Also on Tuesday, April 18, the Common Council holds its regular monthly meeting at 6:00 p.m. Among the resolutions on the agenda is one accepting the gift of park furniture for Charles Williams Park from Canvus, a company that "upcycles retired wind turbine parts into sustainable street furniture." The meeting is a hybrid, taking place in person at the Central Fire Station, 77 North Seventh Street, and on Zoom. Click here to join the meeting remotely.
  • On Wednesday, April 19, the Zoning Board of Appeals meets at 6:00 p.m. The public hearing on the amended application for a use variance for the boutique hotel proposed for 601 Union Street will continue at this meeting. The meeting takes place in person only at the Central Fire Station, 77 North Seventh Street.
  • On Thursday, April 20, at 7:00 p.m., Hudson Hall, as part of its series "Movies on Main Street," presents the 1959 film noir classic Odds Against Tomorrow. The screening of the movie, much of which was filmed right here in Hudson, is hosted by the History Room at the Hudson Area Library, and it will be accompanied by a special exhibition of photographs, provided by the History Room, taken on location during the filming of the movie. Gary Sheffer, chair of the History Room committee, and Elizabeth Sheffer-Winig, New Lebanon town historian, will be sharing stories of the filming of the movie in Hudson. Click here to purchase tickets.
Screen capture from Odds Against Tomorrow