Monday, July 31, 2023

Volunteers Needed at Olana

Here's a wonderful way to spend some time this fall.

Photo: Peter Aaron
The Olana Partnership is seeking Historic House volunteers to join the team at Olana State Historic Site this fall. If you love nature, art, history, and Frederic Church's Olana, volunteering is the perfect way to give back to our community, spend time on-site, and get involved. Volunteering with The Olana Partnership provides a great way to immerse yourself in one of the Hudson Valley's most unique cultural treasures and interact with visitors who are looking to learn more about Olana and artist Frederic Church. . . . 
There are many opportunities to volunteer depending on interest and availability, however, there is currently an added need for volunteers who are interested in working in the Historic House. Historic House guides help introduce visitors to Frederic Church and his family, the Hudson River School of painting, and the objects that fill the various historic interiors of Olana's iconic Historic House. Volunteering as a Historic House guide is a fun way to share what you love about Olana as well as expand your knowledge about Olana's past, present, and future. Historic House guides are provided with required training resources and background reading. Shifts are available Friday, Saturday, and Sunday afternoons from 1:45 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. through October.
In return for your time, Olana volunteers enjoy free landscape tours, discounts in the Olana Museum Store, invitations to lectures, volunteer appreciation events, field trips, and more. Join likeminded people and meet other volunteers who enjoy learning and sharing their love of Olana and the region. All volunteers will be trained to familiarize themselves with Olana State Historic Site, New York State Parks, The Olana Partnership, and the history of Frederic Church and his family.
Other volunteer opportunities include assisting with events, education programs, and administrative tasks. The Olana Partnership will work with you to ensure that your volunteering interests are met based on your availability.
For more information about volunteer opportunities, please contact Lauren Miller, Membership and Volunteer Coordinator, The Olana Partnership, at (518) 751-6857, or email

The Beginning of the End

A reader provided this video, which records the beginning of the process of taking down the ancient silver maple on Union Street this morning.

And Now It's Gone

By 9:50 a.m., when Freddy and I drove by there to check out the situation, the ancient silver maple was already down. A reader provided this picture.

Yesterday afternoon, when word spread of the tree's imminent demise, Hilary Hillman, former chair of the Conservation Advisory Council and well-known advocate for tree planting and urban forestry, shared this statement with members of the CAC, some folks in City Hall, and others, including Gossips:
Ordinarily you would probably find me protesting the removal of a robust elder of the community; in this situation I am in complete empathy for the homeowners who live under this "Damocles' Sword." The tree grew in an arc that curves from the front sidewalk over the two-story circa 1890 house and much of the canopy shades the backyard. There must be an amazing root structure that extends under the street and under many homes in the vicinity. With the advent of multiple rainstorms deluging the city and storm water run-off challenging our aging sub-garde infrastructure there is an ever escalating possibility that the tree will have a catastrophic failure. If the sub-garde soil has been eroded away and the massive root system has been compromised, the sheet weight of the trunk and canopy would cause the roots to heave and likely damage the stability of the surrounding homes, the street, sidewalks, gas and water lines.
Removing the tree will not only relieve the threat of sudden death that the Silver Maple holds over the people living under it, the roots, if undisturbed, will continue to do their part as a natural infrastructure web to retain soil and stabilize homes.
The Grand Dame has served well, as a Silver Maple, she and her ilk have been in the top third of oxygen producers in the city; her roots will continue to do the silent, unseen task of retaining soil on the 500 block of Union Street. Farewell m'lady.

Sunday, July 30, 2023

The End for an Amazing Survivor

Back in 2011, Gossips did a series of posts called "Showcasing Hudson's Great Trees." Of the trees celebrated in that series was this ancient and venerable silver maple in the 500 block of Union Street. Its roots collared by concrete, it seemed to survive against all odds. 

This afternoon, a reader informed me that there is now a "No Parking" sign in front of the tree. The sign also provides the information that the tree is to be removed tomorrow, July 31, 2023.

Meetings and Events in the Week Ahead

As July ends, August begins, and the heat wave is over, the week ahead promises a mix of sunny days and rain and thunder. There are several city meetings happening this week, all of which will take place in person only because the OWL, the device that enables hybrid meetings, stopped functioning last week. It is not known if it will be repaired or replaced, or if the era of hybrid City meetings is over forever.
  • On Tuesday, August 1, Hudson Development Corporation (HDC) meets at noon. The meeting takes place in the conference room at 1 North Front Street.
  • Also on Tuesday, August 1, Hudson Community Development and Planning Agency (HCDPA) meets at 4:30 p.m. at the Central Fire Station, 77 North Seventh Street. 
Update: The HCDPA meeting scheduled for today has been canceled.
  • At 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, August 1, the Conservation Advisory Council holds its monthly meeting. The meeting takes place at the Central Fire Station, 77 North Seventh Street.
  • On Wednesday, August 2, the Hudson Industrial Development Agency (IDA) meets at 9:30 a.m. It is expected that, at this meeting, the IDA will vote on the request for financial assistance for the renovations proposed for Providence Hall and Schuyler Court. The request includes an abatement of property taxes. 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, August 2, the Common Council Legal Committee meets at 6:00 p.m. It is expected that the committee will once again take up the issue of amendments to Article XIV of the City's zoning code: Community Character Preservation. The meeting takes place at the Central Fire Station, 77 North Seventh Street.
Update: Tonight's meeting of the Common Council Legal Committee has been canceled.
  • On Wednesday, August 2, Waterfront Wednesday features a summer youth showcase by Kite's Nest's Social Justice Leadership Academy and ReGen teens. The event takes place from 5:00 p.m. until dusk at Henry Hudson Riverfront Park. The summer youth showcase begins at 7:00 p.m.
  • On Thursday, August 3, Mayor Kamal Johnson holds a public hearing on two local laws: one amending the city code regarding lock boxes; the other amending the city code regarding bonfires and open burns. The public hearing takes place at 3:00 p.m. at the Central Fire Station, 77 North Seventh Street.
  • Also on Thursday, August 3, the Common Council ad hoc Truck Route Committee meets at 6:00 p.m. The proposed letter to NYS Department of Transportation will undoubtedly be a topic of discussion, along with other things. The meeting takes place at the Central Fire Station, 77 North Seventh Street.
Photo: Robert Walker

Happening Next Sunday

The following is a press release from the Daughters of the American Revolution, Hendrick Hudson Chapter.

An open house and architect's presentation of the plans for repair and conservation to the historic Robert Jenkins House in Hudson will be held on Sunday, August 6, from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m., with the presentation at 2:00 p.m. Project architect Marilyn Kaplan of Preservation Architecture in Albany will provide a detailed description of the project. The event is free and open to the public. Unfortunately, the building is not presently handicap accessible.
The Robert Jenkins House, located at 113 Warren Street on a particularly beautiful block of the city near the waterfront, is owned by the Hendrick Hudson Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution. The chapter's restoration project focuses on the house's slate roof, upper masonry, and aging infrastructure. Funding assistance is from a Save America's Treasures grant awarded by the National Park Service, Department of the Interior. The City's Historic Preservation Commission has issued a Certificate of Appropriateness, the State Historic Preservation Office has issued a letter of Concurrence of No Adverse Effects, and the National Park Service has recently approved the project's detailed plans. Contractor bids are about to by publicly solicited.
The 1811 house, built by Robert Jenkins, son of Hudson Proprietor Seth Jenkins, is in the National Register of Historic Places as Nationally Significant and is in the Front Street-Parade Hill-Lower Warren Street Historic District. The house is a fine early example of Federal-style architecture in the Hudson Valley, where Dutch architecture dominated during the 18th century.
The house is maintained as a chapter house where routine business of the Hendrick Hudson Chapter, NSDAR takes place, and it also features a museum and a historical and genealogical library. In 1900, the chapter received the house as a gift from DAR member Frances Chester White Hartley, the granddaughter of builder Jenkins. Decades earlier, Hartley had been born in the house. In 1900, it became the site of the city's first and only free public library, losing that distinction only in 1959 when the Hudson Area Library was established. The historical and genealogical library remains open to the public and still is free of charge.
The house is also arguably Hudson's museum. In 1900, a broad invitation to contribute to the new museum was issued by the Columbia Republican, which, in a lengthy story about the house, said "donations of books, pictures, relics and curios will be most acceptable, in fact anything of merit which will adorn, beautify or be of use." The resulting historic collections include artifacts and documents from the whaling and Civil War eras, furnishings, and fine art.
Chapter members say the historic Robert Jenkins House is truly an "American treasure," as evidenced by the Save America's Treasures grant.
The Hendrick Hudson Chapter of the DAR was chartered in 1896. The National Society Daughters of the American Revolution is a nonprofit, nonpartisan women's volunteer service organization welcoming eligible women without regard to race, creed, or religion. The Hendrick Hudson Chapter includes 131 members who trace their lineage back to a patriot in the American Revolution--whether serving as soldier, shopkeeper, or seamstress. The mission of the DAR is to promote historic preservation, education, and patriotism.
The chapter and the chapter house can be accessed at,,,, and (518) 828-9764.

Saturday, July 29, 2023

Keeping Up with Morgan Jones' Mansion

In May, Gossips reported on the restoration and the alterations proposed for 317 Allen Street, the house designed by Marcus Reynolds for Morgan A. Jones and completed in 1906. Among the proposed changes were introducing a bay window at southwest corner of the second floor and adding a large, tall window, extending two stories, on the southeast corner.   

At a public hearing for the project held by the Historic Preservation Commission on April 28, those who spoke objected most strongly to the bay window, arguing that it was "totally out of character with the original intent of the building." In the case of this house, nobody needs to guess what the original intent was. All of the original drawings for the building are preserved at the Albany Institute of History and Art, and photographs of the house appeared in a publication called 
Brickbuilder in 1910, just four years after construction was completed. Below is one of those photographs, showing the rear facade of the house as it was meant to be. 

On Friday, the architect for the project returned to the HPC with a new proposal, responding to the public comment and concerns expressed by members of the Historic Preservation Commission. The bay window had been abandoned, but in its place was a large four paned window, involving the two existing window openings and the space in between. 

In the southeast corner of the house, which is the location of the kitchen, the single tall window became two, with another two similar windows on the east side of the house.

HPC member John Schobel observed, "This is a very important house. Drastic changes to it go against historic preservation." He called the proposed new fenestration "significant changes in style and integrity of the house." Phil Forman, who chairs the HPC, commented that protecting original material as much as possible was high up in the hierarchy of concerns for historic preservation, but he went on to say he was empathetic to the applicants' desire to bring in more light. 

HPC member Hugh Biber said of window proposed for the southwest corner, "Those flat panels are different from anything else in the house." He suggested they consider putting a window that replicated the existing windows centered between the two windows. He maintained that there should be a way to allow more light into the room with a solution that "looks like it's always been there." Other members of the HPC concurred with Biber. 

In the end, Forman asked the applicant to "consider solutions that are visually closer to what is." HPC member Jeremy Stynes restated the ask, "Can we get to a solution that achieves what you want to do with the least alteration to the existing structure?" It was agreed that the architect would return with "some other thoughts."

Friday, July 28, 2023

Galvan's Latest Acquisition

Gossips reported this more than a month ago, but now the Albany Business Review has the story: "Popular Hudson music venue/restaurant sold to Galvan Foundation."

Photo: Albany Business Journal

The Albany Business Review contains information not previously available:
Helsinki Hudson at 405 Columbia St. sold July 21 for $6.25 million, according to county documents. The sole trustee of the purchasing LLC is T. Eric Galloway, the co-founder and president of the Galvan Foundation.
The seller is holding the mortgage of $4.25 million.
The article also reports: "The foundation declined to comment on the building purchase at this time. The former owners of Helsinki Hudson [Deborah McDowell and Marc Shafler] did not respond to requests for comment."

Happening Two Weeks from Today

The Hudson Film Festival, described as "a new film festival where you can walk to every theater and watch every movie," is coming up on August 11 through 13. The theaters are Hudson Hall (Friday), Basilica Hudson (Saturday), and Time and Space Limited (Sunday), and the schedule of films can be found here.

Festival founders: John Maybee, Sarah Peters, and Sonia Marcella-Freeman
Photo courtesy Hudson Film Festival

Roger Hannigan-Gilson has an article about the festival in today's Times Union: "Inaugural Hudson Film Fest brings 9 films to city in August."

Thursday, July 27, 2023

July in Hudson, 150 Years Ago

The following--a bit of humor and the announcement of an event--appeared in the Hudson Daily Star for July 26, 1873. I offer these items as a bit of diversion on this day of heat advisories, severe thunderstorm warnings, and flood advisories.

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Job Opportunity

The City of Hudson is looking for a part-time parking enforcement officer (PEO). The person filling the position will be expected to work approximately 24 hours a week for $20 an hour. A complete job description and information about applying for the job are available here. Among the Responsibilities/Tasks given for the job is this:
  • Must be able to deal tactfully and effectively with those encountered in the course of work, including hostile and irate citizens.

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Increase in Lodging Tax to Be Proposed

Common Council president Tom DePietro has twice mentioned in public meetings the intention to increase the lodging tax in Hudson by 1 percent. The current lodging tax charged to guests in the city's hotels and short-term rentals is 4 percent. The revenue from the 1 percent increase is to be dedicated to the Housing Trust Fund.

When the lodging tax was established in 2017, a percentage of the revenue from the lodging tax, not to exceed $250,000, was to go to the Tourism Board, which, according to the law, was "empowered to take all reasonable steps it determines desirable, necessary and proper to market the City of Hudson as a destination for overnight and day-trip visitors." In 2020, the law was amended, eliminating funding for the Tourism Board and directing all revenue from the lodging tax into the general fund. At the beginning of 2022, the Tourism Board ceased to exist, replaced by the Tourism & Events Committee of the Common Council, later to become the Events Committee, whose sole purpose is to divvy up whatever funds are allocated that year for festivals and events by the Board of Estimate and Apportionment (BEA). This year, that amount was $30,000.

Once Bitten, Forever Shy

The City is trying to sell two buildings that are considered surplus property: 10-12 Warren Street and 429 Warren Street. Both buildings are to be auctioned, with no minimum bid, the sale to be subject to a $100,000 penalty if the building is resold or not developed within three years.

Some have questioned the need for such a penalty, but a story from Hudson history will explain why it is considered necessary and may make one wonder if $100,000 is enough. 

Prior to about 2001, selling City-owned property required a referendum. In the first sale of property after the law was changed, which took place in 2002, a plan was crafted that sought to ensure that the properties sold would be redeveloped to their highest and best use. The properties involved had all been seized by the City for nonpayment of property taxes. Instead of a straightforward auction, potential buyers were asked to submit proposals that not only made a monetary bid but also explained how the property would be restored and/or redeveloped. The proposals were reviewed by a committee of aldermen, and the winning proposal was decided based not solely on the amount of bid but also on the quality and appropriateness of the proposal for future use. All in all, it seemed an enlightened scheme, but, as time demonstrated, it left out an important element. There was no penalty for not doing what you said you were going to do.

One of the properties, a vacant lot, was flipped for a tidy profit within a year of its acquisition. Two other properties, both houses, were sold for a profit within a couple of years, before any restoration happened. The restoration of those properties was carried out by the new owners. Another property was left to molder for nine years before it was sold to Galvan, which let it molder for another ten years before it was finally restored and sold. Another property was neglected for ten years until it was deemed a public safety hazard, and the City stepped in and demolished it at the end of 2011. To Gossips' recollection, not one of the winning plans was carried out as proposed. 

Whether or not anyone on the current Council actually remembers what happened more than twenty years ago, it is this experience that inspires and justifies the City's caution when selling property to which it holds title.

Monday, July 24, 2023

Meetings and Events in the Week Ahead

In the final week of July, here is what's happening.
  • On Monday, July 24, the Housing Trust Fund Board 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.
  • Hudson Development Corporation typically meets on the fourth Tuesday of the month, which would be Tuesday, July 25. but this month's HDC meeting has been postponed until Tuesday, August 1.
  • On Tuesday, July 25, the Common Council ad hoc Parking Study 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.
Update: According to the calendar on the City of Hudson website, this meeting was canceled. It appears to have happened without much, if any, notice.

  • On Wednesday, July 26, the Columbia County Housing Task Force holds its monthly meeting at 4:00 p.m. The meeting is a hybrid, taking place in person at the offices of Columbia Economic Development Corporation, 1 City Centre, Suite 301, and on Zoom. Click here to join the meeting remotely.
  • Waterfront Wednesdays on Wednesday, July 26, features the historic racing sloop Eleanor, offering free sails for new members of the Hudson River Historic Boat Restoration and Sailing Society at 5:15, 6:15, and 7:15 p.m. Performing on the main stage at 7:00 p.m. will be the Hudson Valley-based jazz fusion group Pocket Merchant. The event takes place from 5:00 p.m. until sunset in Henry Hudson Riverfront Park.
  • On Friday, July 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.

Saturday, July 22, 2023

Former Hudson Church for Sale

For those who haven't seen the inside of church on North Second Street since the days when it was owned by Ashton Hawkins and Johnnie Moore and maintained as a concert venue and event space they called Mission Grange, the building was featured this week in the Times Union: "House of the Week: Swanky former church in Hudson." The item includes several photos of the interior, this one being one of them.

Photo: Tim Lee, Tim Lee Photography
The article describes the building as a "former Romanesque-style Lutheran church known as The Abbey that sits in the heart of the historic and hipster-influenced city of Hudson." That's not exactly true. The church was a Catholic church not a Lutheran church. Built in 1933, designed by local architect Lucius Moore, it was called Sacred Heart of Jesus Church. Up until 1990, it was one of three Catholic churches in Hudson and was familiarly known as the "Polish church"--St. Mary's being the "Irish church" and Our Lady of Mt. Carmel being the "Italian church." The picture below, taken from the roof of Bliss Towers, shows the church in 1974.

The church is currently for sale for $2.9 million. This is the second time the building has been for sale in recent years. In 2021, it was listed for sale with the asking price of $3,125,000. It was not sold at that time. According to tax records, the building has not changed ownership since 2016, when it was acquired for $755,000.

Friday, July 21, 2023

At the Farmers' Market Tomorrow

The Hudson Farmers' Market has announced that tomorrow morning AARP will be filming a segment called "What's in Your Shopping Cart," with Al Roker, at the market. The suggestion to film at the Hudson Farmers' Market came from Roker, who is a longtime customer of HFM and huge supporter of many of the HFM vendors.

The AARP team will be at the market around 9:00 a.m. to scout filming locations. The actual filming is expected to happen between 9:30 and 10:00 a.m. Folks are encouraged to be there at that time to show their support for our beloved farmers' market.

City Hall in the Palm of Your Hand

Yesterday, the mayor's office announced the launch of Hudson Hub, "a mobile citizen engagement application powered by GOGov." The following is quoted from the press release announcing the release.
The Hudson Hub application, available in the Apple App and Google Play store, puts the power of City Hall in the palm of citizens' hands and allows them to access information and communicate with various departments across the city.
"Effective and clear communication with residents has always been a pain point for the city's administration," says Mayor Kamal Johnson. "The Hudson Hub app will help City Hall reach people much more directly and quickly, particularly in situations that impact the health and safety of residents."
Powered by GOGov, Hudson Hub is a centralized location for city news, events, service interruptions and updates, and important links to the City's website. The software streamlines important community communications and information to citizens in more efficient ways. Importantly, it also provides them with the opportunity to contribute to the upkeep of the city by reporting on various needs for improvement through a crowd-sourced model.
Over the course of 2022, the Common Council Technology Committee reviewed options for citizen request management solutions and recommended GOGov as the preferred vendor to the rest of the Council. A service agreement was then authorized in December 2022, followed by several months of development with staff from the City and GOGov. 
"Residents and visitors alike can access the Hudson Hub from their computers, tablets, or smartphones, so they can stay informed on the go," added Ryan Wallace, Minority Leader and 3rd Ward Councilmember involved in the selection of the platform. "Providing access to key information about alternate side of the street parking, effectively communicating key issues like water main breaks or snow removal emergencies via mobile--where people spend most of their time today--will greatly reduce reliance on antiquated methods. We hope also to foster better engagement by giving residents the ability to join and participate in meetings with a simple click right from their phone."
To download the free app, go to the Apple App Store or Google Play Store and search "Hudson Hub," or click this link from your mobile device:
Gossips downloaded the Hudson Hub app this morning and discovered that one thing you can do with the app, which doesn't seem possible on the City website, is express an interest in serving on the Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee.

Thursday, July 20, 2023

It Happened This Afternoon

Gossips received reports of this incident earlier today, but here is the press release from the Hudson Police Department:
On Thursday, July 20, 2023, at approximately 1:06 p.m., the Hudson City Police Department received a call from Columbia County 911 reporting a subject called 911 reporting a male subject shot himself in the leg and then got into an automobile accident involving a COARC van.
HPD patrol units responded immediately to the area of the accident call located at 1st and Warren Street. Officer Strattman located a 31-year-old male subject who was shot in the right upper leg and bleeding badly. An off-duty doctor was on scene and assisted Officer Strattman with first aid. Officer Strattman administered a department issued tourniquet around the subject's leg to stop the bleeding until Greenport Rescue was able to safely respond. The subject was airlifted to Albany Medical Center for emergency medical attention. At this time, the subject is in stable condition.
Prior to police arrival to the accident scene, witnesses observed the male subject exit his car after crashing into the COARC van three different times. Once out of the vehicle, the subject dumped a loaded handgun down the sewer drain. Detective Pierro was able to climb in the sewer and recover the 9mm loaded handgun.
It appears at this time, from the evidence collected and speaking to witnesses, the subject shot himself in the leg on Front Street, then got into his vehicle and caused a car accident just a block away. No other injuries to any other subjects reported.
Police are currently still investigating the above incident. If anyone has any further information they would like to share with the police, please contact Hudson City Police Department, Detective Division, at (518) 828-3388. Felony charges will be forthcoming.
The New York State Police, Columbia County Sheriff's Office, Greenport Rescue, Hudson Fire Department assisted HPD in this investigation.

Major Hurdle Cleared

Last evening, the five members of the Zoning Board of Appeals present (Lisa Kenneally, David Giroux, Kathy Harter, Mary Ellen Pierro, Myron Polenberg) voted unanimously to grant the amended use variance needed by the Casetta Group to redevelop 601 Union Street as a 40-room boutique hotel. The image below is from the Casetta website

The project now goes before the Planning Board for site plan approval and the Historic Preservation Commission for a certificate of appropriateness. In March, the HPC heard an initial presentation of the project and determined they were ready to schedule a public hearing. To Gossips knowledge, that hearing never happened. It will be interesting to see how the HPC deals with the concerns of the owner of 611 Union Street that the additional hotel rooms and other amenities, to be constructed behind the municipal parking lot and his property, will negatively impact his historic house.


Wednesday, July 19, 2023

In the Category "Things I Didn't Know"

Last night, perhaps prompted by the post "Back on the Block," a reader told me about a Dutch auction. Despite my heritage, I had never heard of a Dutch auction, although apparently it is term familiar to regular viewers of Jeopardy. In a Dutch auction, the auctioneer begins with a high asking price and lowers it incrementally until someone accepts the price, or they reach the lowest price the seller is willing to accept. Another name for Dutch auction is "descending-price auction."  

Maybe, if the current plan to sell 429 and 10-12 Warren Street in a live auction with no minimum bid and the winning bid subject to approval by the Common Council doesn't yield the desired outcome, the City could try a Dutch auction. But alas, it is not a means of selling surplus property that is permitted by law to a municipality.

About Those Parking Revenues

At the informal meeting of the Common Council last week, city treasurer Heather Campbell reported that revenue from parking fines was below expectation. She accounted for this by saying there had been a reduction in number of parking tickets issued because the Parking Bureau was short staffed.

Last night, at its regular meeting, the Common Council unanimously passed a resolution intended to remedy the problem. As an incentive to keep current officers on the job and interest others in wanting the job, the hourly wage for parking enforcement officers is being increased from $15 to $20. The increase takes effect on August 1, 2023.

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Back on the Block

On the agenda for tonight's Common Council meeting are resolutions to sell 429 Warren Street and 10-12 Warren Street

Resolutions to sell the buildings were on the agenda in June, but they were tabled because councilmembers were concerned that, with no minimum bid, the winning bids might be too low, and it was unclear if the City could reject a winning bid if it was too low. The resolutions on the agenda for tonight clarify that "all bids are subject to final approval by the Common Council." The sale is still subject to a $100,000 penalty if the successful bidder does not develop the property or sells it within three years of taking title.

In April, the City tried to sell the buildings in a sealed bid auction, with a minimum bid being the appraised value of each building: $595,000 for 429 Warren Street and $895,000 for 10-12 Warren Street. There were no bids for either property.

A date for the live auction of the buildings has not yet been set.

When the Left Hand Doesn't Know . . .

If memory and Gossips posts serve, it's been two years since the public has heard anything about Hudson Connects, the DRI-funded complete streets improvements for the area of the city below Second Street, being planned by Arterial, the street design studio chosen for the project back in 2019. The last public workshop was in August 2021. At that time, it was predicted that work would start in Fall 2022 or Spring 2023. 

Since then, the project has progressed out of the public eye, but the "progress," it seems, has mostly been scaling things back to try to bring the project within the budget of almost $4 million in DRI money. The one thing we do know about the project is that this aspirational concept for the Second Street stairs . . . 

has been reduced to this.

A big feature of the Arterial plan was what they called the State Street Promenade, "a 12-foot multi-use path . . . constructed between 2nd Street and Front Street for use by bicyclists, skateboards, joggers, walkers, and others."

We don't know if this element of the Hudson Connects improvements has been scaled back, but it's probably a good thing that no work has begun on the project. As we learned last night, Hudson Housing Authority is proposing closing State Street to vehicular traffic between Second and First streets, which would render most if not all of the proposed improvements unnecessary. 

Odd or Even

Last month, the New York State Assembly and Senate passed a bill that would move many local elections from odd-numbered years to even-numbered years, to coincide with national elections. The bill is now with Governor Kathy Hochul, and she is expected to sign it into law. Last Wednesday, the Columbia County Board of Supervisors voted 13 to 10 to approve a resolution asking Hochul to veto the bill. Jammel Cutler has the story in today's Register-Star: "Supervisors call for veto of even-year law."

The shift in election year from odd to even would affect the election of the town supervisors and the five supervisors from Hudson who make up the Columbia County Board of Supervisors. It would not affect elections for office in the City of Hudson or for county district attorney, both of which are held in odd-numbered years under the terms of the state constitution.

Hints About the Future

More than fifty years ago, Urban Renewal altered the pattern of streets in the Second Ward. Chapel Street, which once ran between Columbia and State streets, was obliterated to make way for the large housing projects that are Schuyler Court and Bliss Towers and Columbia Apartments. 

Detail from 1888 Beers Atlas
Google Map
The street pattern in this part of the city may change again in the redevelopment of the Hudson Housing Authority properties.

At the Hudson Housing Authority Board of Commissioners meeting last night, John Madeo and Eu Ting-Zambuto from Mountco, HHA's development partner, presented preliminary concept designs that involve extending First Street from Columbia to State and "pedestrianizing" State Street between First and Second. 

They are proposing that construction start on the site directly across State Street from Bliss Towers, and the new building could be used as a relocation resource during the demolition of Bliss Towers and new construction on that site. Toward that end, five studies of the site are being undertaken:
  • soil study to determine the stability of the ground
  • topographic study
  • appraisal
  • environmental studies
  • site suitability study to determine if it is a suitable place for people to live
The results of the studies, as well as more specific drawings of what is being proposed, will be presented at the September meeting of the HHA Board.

Madeo reported that in meetings with tenants it had been suggested that the new buildings include a YMCA, a grocery store, and space for after-school programming. Onsite parking was also discussed. There is currently one parking space for every two households. Tenants suggested that there should be one space for every household. Madeo indicated that accommodation for parking would drive how many residential units could be provided. He spoke of creating at least 135 residential units along with space for the desired ancillary services. He also mentioned 160 to 170 as the possible number of new units. There are currently 132 units in the buildings operated by HHA.

Jeffrey Dodson, HHA executive director, shared his observation that most of the current parking spaces were empty most of the time and commented, "If we make a bunch of parking, it's taking away space for housing." He said it was his goal to double the amount of public housing in Hudson and cautioned that it was a tradeoff: more space for parking and ancillary services meant less space for housing.    

It will be interesting to see what the new soil studies reveal. In 2018, a plan to construct two buildings on the north side of State Street, on the same parcel now being considered, was abandoned. The explanation given was that the soil was not stable enough to support what was being proposed.


Monday, July 17, 2023

A Community Celebration

On Saturday evening, the Hudson waterfront was the site of the second annual Hudson in Concert: A Community Celebration, four hours of music and entertainment featuring the Hudson Festival Orchestra, a professional orchestra conducted by its founder and artist director Gwen Gould. The free concert's stated goal is "to promote Henry Hudson Riverfront Park as a community resource that contributes to a vibrant and inclusive Hudson." Saturday's event, attended by an estimated 1,000 people, achieved that goal joyously. Let us all hope Hudson in Concert continues to be an annual event on our waterfront. 

Below are some photos from the evening that in a small way capture the spirit of the evening.

Photo credit: Donna Streitz