Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Hudson and the Union Army

A week from Thursday, on November 9, Carl Whitbeck will be giving a talk titled "The 128th NY Regiment and Columbia County Contributions to the Union Army." The event takes place, in person only, at 6:00 p.m. in the Community Room at the Hudson Area Library. It is free and open to the public.

Colonel David S. Cowles
The 128th New York Infantry Regiment was a volunteer regiment from Columbia and Dutchess counties during the American Civil War. Formed in Hudson on September 5, 1862, by Colonel David S. Cowles, the regiment fought at the battle of Port Hudson in Louisiana and was part of the Shenandoah Valley Campaign. Over the course of the war, many of the regiment died or were taken prisoner and sent to the infamous Confederate Libby Prison. Colonel Cowles, who fought bravely with his men at Port Hudson, died in battle, along with many of his men. His remains, as well as others from the regiment, were repatriated to Hudson and were buried in a section of the Hudson City Cemetery dedicated to the Grand Army of the Republic. 

Whitbeck, a local resident whose family has deep roots in the area, has long been a student of the 128th Regiment and has donated many historical documents of the regiment’s history and the Civil War to the Columbia County Historical Society. He will be sharing his research with us in this special talk.

As part of this special evening, the Hendrick Hudson Chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution will be displaying the restored battle flag of the 128th Regiment.

Sunday, October 29, 2023

Meetings and Events in the Week Ahead

In this week that sees the end of October and the beginning of drizzly November and culminates in the return of standard time, here's what is happening.
  • Early voting continues this week. Here are the hours:
    • Monday--Noon to 8:00 p.m.
    • Tuesday--9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
    • Wednesday--Noon to 8:00 p.m.
    • Thursday--9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
    • Friday--9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
    • Saturday--9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
    • Sunday--9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
  • On Monday, October 30, the Board of Estimate and Apportionment is scheduled to meet at 2:30 p.m. The meeting is in person only at the Central Fire Station, 77 North Seventh Street.
  • On Tuesday, October 31, from 2:00 to 3:30 p.m., the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) is holding the first of two public meetings, one virtual and one in-person, to discuss developing a Draft Master Plan/Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Lake Taghkanic State Park. The two meetings will have the same content. OPRHP staff will provide an overview of the master planning process, followed by an open discussion with participants about the park. Tuesday's meeting is virtual. An in-person meeting will take place on Thursday. To participate in the virtual meeting, send an email to LakeTaghkanic.Plan@parks.ny.gov to receive the registration link.
  • On Tuesday, October, 31--Halloween--it's Mrs. Roper Run, organized by Trixie's List. Dress up as Mrs. Roper (or some other character from Three's Company), go to the Public Square (a.k.a. Seventh Street Park) at 7:00 p.m., and join a Halloween Bar Crawl down Warren Street.
  • On Wednesday, November 1, the Hudson Industrial Development Agency (IDA) meets at 9:30 a.m. 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.
  • At 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday, November 1, there is a virtual Columbia County Housing Forum. Click here to register and receive the meeting link.
  • Also on Wednesday, November 1, the Common Council 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.
  • On Thursday, November 2, the Common Council Legal Committee meets at 6:00 p.m. The agenda for the meeting has not yet been made available. The meeting is a hybrid, taking place in person at the Central Fire Station, 77 North Seventh Street, and in Zoom. Click here to join the meeting remotely.
  • Also on Thursday, November 2, at 6:00 p.m., the in-person version of the meeting about developing a Draft Master Plan/Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Lake Taghkanic State Park (see listing for Tuesday above) takes place at the Taghkanic Fire Co. #1, 631 Old Route 82, in Taghkanic. No registration is required for this meeting.
  • On Friday, November 3, the Board of Estimate and Apportionment meets at 2:30 p.m. The meeting is in person only at the Central Fire Station, 77 North Seventh Street.
  • On Saturday, November 4, my beautiful Freddy and I celebrate six months together. The celebration will take place, in person only, at an undisclosed location.

News from Olana

Last week, Gossips received the following news about a grant received by The Olana Partnership, intended to expand access to the Olana State Historic Site to new audiences.

Photo: Peter Aaron
The Olana Partnership has received a three-year grant in the amount $240,000 from Art Bridges Foundation to provide "Free Third Thursdays" through the Access for All program. "Free Third Thursdays" will be introduced at Olana State Historic Site beginning in January 2024 and will offer free access to all, including expanded access to regional communities through free tours, free multilingual and intergenerational programming, specialty events and workshops, and extended tour hours during the summer season. . . .
In addition to monthly "Free Third Thursday" programming, the Access for All grant will fund Spanish language tours and programming and marketing to the Hudson Valley's Spanish-speaking population. Additionally, Access for All will enable TOP to continue its program of free school visits for districts in Columbia and Greene counties. . . .
Art Bridges Foundation is providing $40 million grants to sixty-four museums, including the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Studio Museum in Harlem, The Olana Partnership, and other national museums. The goal of the newly formed Access for All initiative is to fund programs that attract new audiences. Alice Walton, the founder of Art Bridges Foundation, told NPR that she "believes all museums should be free" and that providing access in this way will "give museums the opportunity to focus on long-term sustainability."

Mark Your Calendars

This event is happening at the Hudson Area Library, 51 North Fifth Street, two weeks from today, on Sunday, November 12. To learn more about the event, click here. To reserve a seat for the talk, click here

Saturday, October 28, 2023

Nothing Is Forever

In May 2013, the owner of 122 Union Street appeared before the Hudson Preservation Commission seeking approval to build an addition to the building, which would house a bedroom, eliminating the need for her to climb the stairs. The HPC granted the proposed addition a certificate of appropriateness. 

The addition was constructed according to plan, but it never looked very compatible either with the house to which is was attached or with the rest of the neighborhood.

The owner who built the addition sold the house in 2022. Apparently, the house was just recently sold again. On Friday, a representative of the new owners came before the HPC with a proposal to "bring the addition more into character with the rest of the neighborhood." What's being proposed is shown in the rendering below.

During the presentation, the applicant made reference to a "carriage house," the ghosts of which appeared on the east wall of the 19th-century house. Since no one on the HPC seemed to remember what was there ten years ago, Gossips will remind them and everyone else. There was a two-story infill house, which stood between the early 19th-century house at 122 Union Street and an 18th-century house that once stood at 126 Union Street. It is not known when the infill house was constructed, but most likely it was built in the 20th century, possibly during the Great Depression.

The 18th-century house to the east of the infill house had a gambrel roof characteristic of Dutch vernacular architecture and was generally believed to have predated the arrival of the Proprietors in 1783. In the early 1990s, the house suffered a damaging fire that completely destroyed the roof structure. Although extraordinary efforts were made to stabilize the house after the fire and restore it, it was ultimately determined to be a lost cause. The house was demolished in 1993, but its west wall remained standing because the infill house at 124 Union Street had no side walls of its own. The buildings on either side provided its side walls.

The house and the wall were both demolished in July 2013 to make way for the addition to 122 Union Street.

Regarding the alterations now proposed for the addition to 122 Union Street, the HPC has scheduled a public hearing to take place at 10:00 a.m. on Friday, November 17, at the Central Fire Station, 77 North Seventh Street.

Friday, October 27, 2023

Early Voting Begins Tomorrow

There are two polling places in Columbia County: 401 State Street here in Hudson and the Martin H. Glynn Municipal Building, 3211 Church Street, in Valatie. The hours of early voting each day are as follows:
  • Saturday, October 28—9:00 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Sunday, October 29—9:00 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Monday, October 30—Noon to 8:00 p.m.
  • Tuesday, October 31—9:00 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Wednesday, November 1—Noon to 8:00 p.m.
  • Thursday, November 2—9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
  • Friday, November 3—9:00 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Saturday, November 4—9:00 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Sunday, November 5—9:00 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Election Day is Tuesday, November 7, when polls will be open from 6:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m.

Following Up with 501 Union Street

For everyone wondering what's going to happen with the limewashed "Apartments of Distinction," there was an update at the Hudson Preservation Commission meeting this morning.

Victoria Polidoro, legal counsel for the HPC, reported she had spoken with the attorney for the applicant (Galvan Foundation), who told her they were "looking to see if it is feasible to remove the limewash without damaging the wall." Later in the meeting, Polidoro clarified that they wanted to "do some investigating to see if they can remove it." 

Phil Forman, who chairs the HPC, said he did not trust the applicant to experiment with removing the limewash. Craig Haigh, code enforcement officer, confirmed that there is a stop-work order in place, and they cannot do anything without being in violation of the stop-work order. Of course, the stop-work order was in place when they limewashed the chimneys, but that didn't stop them. Polidoro told the commission she had told the applicant's attorney that they need to hire a professional to advise them, or the commission will hire one.

Searching online I found this information about removing limewash:
One beauty of limewash is it's removable, within a few days, if you change your mind. . . . Limewash can be removed with the use of a pressure washer within a few days of application.
The day after the HPC discovered the building had been limewashed, a worker was observed spraying water on the limewash, but it didn't seem what was happening was pressure washing, and it didn't appear to be having any effect. That was eight weeks ago.

An expert in conservation has told Gossips that the limewash is now bonded to the brick and cannot be removed without damaging the outer surface of the brick. 

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Of the Girls Training School and Ella Fitzgerald

Most readers probably know something about the time Ella Fitzgerald spent here in Hudson at the New York State Training School for Girls, either from the Prison Public Memory Project or from David McDonald's play Ella the Ungovernable

Photo: Carl Van Vechten | Library of Congress
Recently, a reader told me about a podcast that explores the context of Fitzgerald's detention here in Hudson. The precis of the podcast offers this information: 
In the 1930s, at a women's reformatory in upstate New York, an upstart social scientist made a study that launched the field of social network analysis. It was revolutionary, but missed something happening at the same time at the same school, something we know now in part from the story of the school's most famous inmate: Ella Fitzgerald.
That "women's reformatory in upstate New York" is, of course, the Girls' Training School, located where the Hudson Correctional Facility is now. The podcast from The Last Archive is called "Acting Out," and it can be heard here. It is fascinating, well researched, and well worth the 48 minutes it takes to listen to it. 

Sweatin' on the Beach at Oakdale

In recent weeks, mobile saunas have appeared on the beach at Oakdale. The saunas are the property of Big Towel Spa, which has a license agreement with the City of Hudson to operate for the fall and winter months at Oakdale.

The news is that saunas will officially open this Friday, October 27. The following press release provides all the information:
Big Towel Spa, a small sauna business, is launching on Oakdale Beach for the fall winter season on Friday, October 27. Two mobile saunas will be available to rent Friday through Monday, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., October through March. No one will be turned away for lack of funds. As stated on their website, "If funds are an issue, please teach out to access the community sweat fund."
The two saunas are built on 6x12 utility trailers and are wood-fired. Buckets of water and an outdoor shower are provided so you can cool off after going in the sauna. Towels are also provided. While both saunas have ramps, one of them is completely ADA accessible in case a wheelchair needs to be accommodated. There will also be a small changing room on a separate trailer so that visitors have a place to gear up and gear down.
Private one hour and 45 minute group sessions are available Friday through Sunday for $140 for up to six people. Mondays are communal days, when you can buy a single pass for a one hour and 45 minute time slot, you just may not know who you are sweating with.
Big Towel Spa is committed to offering a bathing spa experience that is accessible to the community. While there are some options in the area, they are either quite small, or pricey and located outside of the city in hotels.
Kelly Crimmins, the owner of Big Towel, says, "I really wanted to bring the spa and sauna experience to Hudson in a way that would feel accessible, not only with price, but also with location." The Council passed the agreement for Ms. Crimmins unanimously, with one councilmember saying that it was "a great use of the space for the off-season." As a local Hudson resident, Ms. Crimmins is excited to be at Oakdale Beach for the winter. "I am a resident of the 5th Ward and visit Oakdale almost every day. I feel extremely excited about bringing the sauna practice there, and hope it helps people's overall wellness through the winter months."
For more information and to book a session, visit www.bigtowelspa.com.

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

"Rodelinda" at Hudson Hall

In 1881, Hudson renamed its city hall the Hudson Opera House. It was the Gilded Age, and cities all over the country wanted an opera house as proof of their respectability and civic pride. Despite the name, only one opera was ever performed there in the 19th century--Donizetti's Don Pasquale. 

In the 21st century, since the rebirth of the Hudson Opera House, now known as Hudson Hall, three operas have been performed in the space: Diamond Street in 2009, The Mother of Us All in 2017, and now Handel's Rodelinda. Gossips has attended all three. 

Photo: Matthew Placek | New York Times
I was fortunate to see Rodelinda on Sunday, its second performance, and thoroughly enjoyed it. The singers were excellent, the early music group Ruckus was superb, and the overall experience was a complete delight--as good as anything I have ever seen at Glimmerglass. The rest of the audience in the packed house, including some folks from Cooperstown, agreed, as witnessed by the enthusiastic applause and the standing ovation at the end of the performance. 

But I'm not an opera buff, and the several operas I've seen over the years, at Lincoln Center and at Glimmerglass, do not qualify me to be an opera critic, so I will refer you to the review that appeared on Sunday in the New York Times"A 'Rodelinda' Brings Promise of Handel on the Hudson." (Just ignore the snarky comment about Waiting for Guffman.

There are four more performances of Rodelinda--tonight, Thursday, and Saturday at 7:00 p.m., and Sunday at 3:00 p.m. You can still get tickets for some of the performances. Click here to check availability. You are in for a treat! 

Monday, October 23, 2023

More About That Debate

At 6:15 p.m., I received this statement from the Carty campaign in response to my post "No Debate Tonight":
This was not a unilateral decision. The Carty campaign proposed a debate two weeks ago with a proposed date, time and place, which Mr. Liberati-Conant's campaign agreed to. With respect to the claims regarding moderator and procedure I refer you directly to the emails attached below from Prof. Hutter and Neal Connolly who has negotiated the debate on Mr. Carty's behalf. 
The Carty campaign was prepared to move forward tonight with or without Ryan's opponent. Although, we sincerely hoped Mr. Liberati-Conant would have participated. The voting public can only benefit from the opportunity to hear each candidate's points and counterpoints, side by side, in the rigorous yet formal structure only a candidate debate can provide.
It should be noted that nowhere in my post is any reference made to a "unilateral decision" but rather to a "unilateral announcement." The email from Michael J. Hutter referenced in the statement is reproduced below. It is clearly not responding to the Gossips post since the email was sent at 3:18 p.m., and the post was not published until 3:52 p.m.

The email from Neal Connolly, which recounts the entire sequence of events, asserts that the League of Women Voters of Rensselaer County was willing to moderate a candidate forum but not a candidate debate, and since a debate was what had been agreed to, the Carty campaign suggested Hutter as the moderator.

No Debate Tonight

On Saturday, Gossips received a press release from the Ryan Carty campaign announcing a debate between the two candidates for Columbia County district attorney, to take place tonight at the Ichabod Crane auditorium in Valatie. Since the debate is something that has been anticipated for several weeks, Gossips reported it

Yesterday, a reader told me the debate appeared on Carty's Facebook page, but there was no mention of it on Christopher Liberati-Conant's. So I decided to do some investigating. 

As it turns out, although the candidates--Ryan Carty (Republican) and Christopher Liberati-Conant (Democrat)--agreed early on to have the debate, there has never been an agreement about who would host and moderate the debate. In an email to Carty yesterday, Liberati-Conant wrote:
As you know, our campaign teams have been trying for the past two weeks to iron out details for a debate between us. Despite an initial agreement on date, time, and location, the question of who should host and moderate has never been resolved.
I am surprised by your campaign's unilateral announcement of a debate tomorrow night, given that the important issue of moderator remains a point of active negotiation. . . .
The League of Women Voters, which has moderated debates in the past, initially seemed acceptable to both candidates. Unfortunately, the LWV of Mid-Hudson was unable to fit the debate into its schedule but recommended the LWV of Rensselaer County, which was willing to do it. According to Zech Cunningham, campaign manager for Liberati-Conant, the Carty campaign proposed instead Albany Law professor Michael J. Hutter, who taught Carty and who has a long history of Republican partisanship. The Liberati-Conant campaign found this proposal "unacceptably partisan." The announcement of the debate from the Carty campaign makes no mention of who will hosting or moderating the debate.

Presumably something will happen tonight at 7:00 p.m. in the auditorium at Ichabod Crane, but it will not be a debate between the two candidates for Columbia County district attorney. Gossips has learned that one of the candidates, Christopher Liberati-Conant, will not be there.

Update: At 6:04 this evening, while I was walking my dog, I received this email from the Carty campaign:
Although having been previously approved to hold a debate for Columbia County DA candidates at Ichabod Crane Central School, the debate scheduled for tonight has been canceled. It was brought to our attention at 5:30 p.m. that a complaint from an unidentified source resulted in the school rescinding the previously approved facilities request. We apologize for any inconvenience and will issue a more formal statement at a later time.
Gossips apologizes for not publishing this information sooner. (It's now well after 7:00 p.m.) After the dog walk, I had dinner, and I didn't bother to check my email in between.

Sunday, October 22, 2023

Meetings and Events in the Week Ahead

There's not much happening in terms of meetings this week, leaving lots of time to carbo load for the Ghostly Gallop or to put the finishing touches on your Halloween costume.
  • On Monday, October 23, the Board of Estimate and Apportionment (BEA) holds a budget workshop at 2:30 p.m., the subject of which is yet to be determined. The workshop is in person only at the Central Fire Station, 77 North Seventh Street.
  • On Tuesday, October 24, the Common Council ad hoc Parking Study Committee meets at 6:00 p.m. When the committee last met in August, they were considering doing away with parking meters, in favor of a mobile payment application, or converting our existing meters to "smart meters." That issue may or may not be pursued at this meeting. 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, October 25, the Board of Estimate and Apportionment (BEA) holds another workshop, the specific topic of which is yet to be determined, at 2:30 p.m. The workshop is in person only at the Central Fire Station 77 North Seventh Street.
  • On Thursday, October 26, the Hudson Dog Park celebrates the fourth anniversary of its opening with puppuccinos for the pooches, from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.  
  • On Friday, October 27, the Historic Preservation Commission meets at 10:00 a.m. No agenda for the meeting is as yet available. 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.
  • At 2:30 p.m. on Friday, October 27, the Board of Estimate and Apportionment (BEA) holds another workshop, the specific topic of which is yet to be determined. The workshop takes place in person only at the Central Fire Station, 77 North Seventh Street.
  • On Sunday, October 29, the 23rd annual Ghostly Gallop, to benefit the Hudson Area Library, takes place at 10:00 a.m. To learn more and to register, click here.
  • Also on Sunday, October 29, it's Hudson Halloween, featuring trick-or-treating on Warren Street, a costume parade, and a costume contest, this year to be held at Basilica Hudson. The festivities begin at 2:00 p.m. Click here for more information.

Election Prep

Early voting begins next Saturday. The two polling places are the Columbia County Office Building, 4o1 State Street, in Hudson, and the Martin H. Glynn Municipal Building, 3211 Church Street, in Valatie. The hours for early voting are:
  • Saturday, October 28--9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
  • Sunday, October 29--9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
  • Monday, October 30--Noon to 8:00 p.m.
  • Tuesday, October 31--9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
  • Wednesday, November 1--Noon to 8:00 p.m.
  • Thursday, November 2--9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
  • Friday, November 3--9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. 
  • Saturday, November 4--9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
  • Sunday, November 5--9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
For us Hudsonians, there is not much to vote on besides the heavily campaigned races for Columbia County district attorney and the two county judge seats. In every city race--mayor, treasurer, Common Council president, supervisor, and councilmembers--the only choices are the Democratic candidates. The notable exception is in the Third Ward, where Bill Huston is running on his own "Fiscal Responsibility" line. The sample ballots can be reviewed here.
Something we haven't heard much about are the two statewide proposals that appear on the back of the ballot.

The first proposal would remove a special debt limit now imposed on small city school districts. The state constitution now limits the amount of debt a small city school district can incur to 5 percent of the value of the taxable real estate in the district. For other school districts, the debt limit is 10 percent of the value of taxable real property. If the proposal passes, small city school districts would have the same debt limit as other school districts. The Hudson City School District is a small city school district.

The second proposal relates to debt incurred by counties, cities, towns, and villages for sewage treatment and disposal construction projects. The state constitution limits the debt municipalities can incur, but sewage projects are currently exempt from that limit. The exemption will expire on January 1, 2024. If passed, the proposal would extend that sewer debt exemption for another ten years, until January 1, 2034. 

More information about these two proposals can be found here.

Saturday, October 21, 2023

DA Candidates Debate

There has been talk of this debate for some time, but today was the first time Gossips received any official notification of it. The two candidates for Columbia County district attorney--Democrat Christopher Liberati-Conant and Republican Ryan Carty--are scheduled to debate on Monday, October 23.

The debate will be held from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. in the auditorium at Ichabod Crane Central School District, 2910 US Route 9, in Valatie.

Update: This debate may not happen. It seems the Carty campaign made a unilateral announcement of the debate, but questions of who will host and moderate the debate have not been resolved. Gossips will share more information when it is available.

Friday, October 20, 2023

New Date for Halloween Event for Dogs

Because rain is expected tomorrow, the Halloween event for dogs has been rescheduled for Sunday, October 22, and reduced from a parade and costume contest to just a costume contest, to take place at noon at Henry Hudson Riverfront Park.

Work Has Begun

Although an official groundbreaking, if there actually is to be one, has not yet occurred, work has begun on Phase 2 of the Depot District: the "workforce housing" building at 76 North Seventh Street. This picture was taken yesterday morning.

The building to be constructed, sometimes described as "middle income," is expected to have 63 residential units--36 one-bedroom, 19 two-bedroom, and 8 three-bedroom--with rents affordable to households with incomes between 80 and 130 percent of the area median income (AMI).


It Happened in Prison Alley

This morning, Chief Mishanda Franklin issued the following press release:
On Tuesday, October 17, 2023, the Hudson Police Department arrested 70-year-old Bernardo E. Centeno of Hudson, NY, on an active Felony Arrest Warrant out of the City of Hudson Court. Centeno was arrested on two counts of criminal possession of a weapon 3rd degree, previously convicted / a class D felony and menacing 2nd Degree with a weapon, a class A misdemeanor.
On Tuesday, October 10, 2023, the Hudson Police Department detective’s division received information from a social media post that Centeno deliberately destroyed the artwork of a local female artist, an act that was witnessed and recorded by another community member. Centeno’s response to the confrontation was one of violence, threatening a man with a bat and knife while using racist language. HPD spoke with the victim who stated that on October 8, 2023, he observed Centeno peeling paint off of an artist’s murals located on the 400 block of Prison Alley. When the victim questioned Centeno, Centeno grabbed a bat and swung it at the victim and then grabbed a knife and threatened the victim.  The victim was not injured during the incident. Charges relating to the destroyed artwork are pending.
Centeno was arraigned in the City of Hudson Court in front of Judge Roberts. Centeno was released on his own recognizance (ROR’d). Centeno returned to Hudson City Court on October 19, 2023, at 9 a.m. and is to return again at a later date.

The artwork that was damaged is a mural by Ife Tayo Cobbins, created in memory of her late mother. In a statement published on Facebook, Cobbins said of the incident: "Mother Nature did not interfere with the work. Rain and hail, the work stayed strong. So it makes me sad that the undoing of my art was the result of a brutal side of humanity."

The mural, which is made up of 300 six-inch square canvases, took many months to complete and cost an estimated $5,000 in supplies. Cobbins is hoping to finance the re-creation and repair of the mural by selling other examples of her work on her website 

Ntchota Badila, who confronted Centeno after witnessing him vandalizing the mural, recorded the incident and posted photos and a video on his Facebook page.

Next Planning Board Meeting: New Information

At the end of the Planning Board meeting on October 11, the board agreed to meet on Thursday, October 26, at 4:00 p.m., to discuss the comments received regarding the proposed Colarusso haul road. Gossips reported this information, erroneously thinking it would be a public meeting. I have since learned that the meeting, which will take place on Zoom, is to be an attorney-client session, not accessible to the public.

Photo: Our Hudson Waterfront
Our Hudson Waterfront has been keeping a tally of the comments on the proposed haul road received by the Planning Board from 2019 to the present. All together, there have been 227 letters, 80 percent of which ask that the Planning Board deny the application. Many of these are fact-based letters expressing serious concerns about the impact of intensified industrialization at the waterfront. Of the 38 letters in support of the haul road, 26 were received this year. Of these, 12 primarily express support for Colarusso, 10 express the need to remove gravel trucks from city streets, and 4 voice "us vs. them" sentiments. 

The letters to the Planning Board regarding the haul road can be found here.

Thursday, October 19, 2023

Turn Your Radios On

If you missed Hudson in Concert: A Community Celebration last summer, or if you just want to enjoy the experience again, you can hear the concert this Sunday, October 22, at 6:00 p.m., when the event will be broadcast on WMHT public radio (89.1FM and 88.7FM).

The concert will be broadcast in its entirety, even including the tap dancing--an unusual occurrence for radio.

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Reporting an Update and a Comment

At the Hudson Industrial Development Agency (IDA) meeting this morning, it was reported that the closing with the IDA on 708 State Street, a.k.a. 76 North Seventh Street, the "workforce housing" component of the Depot District, had taken place on September 30. As Gossips reported, Baxter Construction has moved its trailer into place, and the groundbreaking for the building to be constructed on the east side of the street is expected to happen in near future.

Meanwhile, another round of funding has passed without the building proposed for the other side of the street getting the tax credit allocations needed for its construction. Funding went instead to projects in Queensbury and Schenectady. By Gossips count, this is the second time this project has lost out.

Talking about the status of several hotel projects ongoing in Hudson, Mike Tucker commented, "We're not over-hoteling with 400 units of Holiday Inn or Hampton Inn. They're all different price points. The next developer will have to show that they are serving a price point that may or may not have sufficient rooms . . . similar to what you might see with housing. . . .We really need to start to look at . . . when you add 708, when you add the Kearney projects, and you add back what's going on at Bliss Towers and the Housing Authority, where is the gap in units. It might not be that there needs to be more on the lower end. There might need to be more in the middle." Councilmember Ryan Wallace (Third Ward), who chairs the IDA, restated, "Market rate." 

The only market rate project of any significance that has been proposed for Hudson in living memory was that proposed for 11 Warren Street by Benchmark Development back in February 2021.

Any hope that this project might someday happen was dashed in August, when Galvan sold 11 Warren Street to Columbia County for use as offices and storage for the voting machines.

Celebrating Willa Cather

On Saturday, October 21, at 7:00 p.m., Kaatsbaan and the National Willa Cather Center host a sesquicentennial celebration of Willa Cather, who was born in 1873 and became one of the most singular and treasured American writers of the 20th century. Cather's groundbreaking fiction (O Pioneers!, My Antonia, One of Ours, Death Comes from the Archbishop) set a new standard in American literature.

The evening of brief selections from her fiction and letters brings to life the uniquely American prose of this Pulitzer Prize-winning author. The evening will feature readings by actors Mary Stuart Masterson and Jeremy Davidson, as well as musical performances by Hailey McAvoy (mezzo-soprano), Jonathan Lawlor (baritone) and Nomin Samdan (piano). Selections for the readings were curated by Peter Cipkowski, a member of the Willa Cather Foundation Board of Governors. 

The event takes place in Black Box Theater at Kaatsbaan, 120 Broadway, in Tivoli. Click here to purchase tickets.

An Interesting Bit of Information

At the Hudson Industrial Development Agency (IDA) meeting this morning, city treasurer Heather Campbell shared this information about PILOTs (payments in lieu of taxes). Campbell explained that the IDA receives PILOT payments and distributes the money to the taxing entities: the City of Hudson, Columbia County, and the Hudson City School District. She noted that when she started as treasurer in 2014, HCSD was getting 45 percent of each PILOT, but because the school district's budget keeps increasing, they are now getting more than 50 percent of PILOT payments.  

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

What's Being Planned at HHA

The Hudson Housing Authority is planning to demolish Bliss Towers and Columbia Apartments, constructed in the early 1970s during Urban Renewal, and build new housing, doubling their inventory of subsidized apartments. Needless to say, the plans are of great interest to the citizens of Hudson, but those plans are being kept very close to the vest.

The newly completed Bliss Towers in 1973   Photo by Gibson

At the September meeting of HHA Board of Commissioners, John Madeo of Mountco, HHA's development partner, and the architects from Alexander Gorlin Architects said they would return in October with the completed preliminary plan. At the September meeting, they had boards showing what they called a "springboard proposal," which they displayed for the people in the room but only fleetingly turned once to the Owl for the benefit of people attending the meeting on Zoom. Needless to say, it was too fleetingly to take in what the board showed.

So, last night Gossips made the effort to go to Bliss Towers for the meeting, curious to see what was being proposed, but I was disappointed. There were no boards showing what was being proposed, only ledger-sized sheets which were distributed to the Board of Commissioners but which the architect making the presentation clearly did not want me to see. In fact, when she did hold up one of the sheets, and I tried to take a picture, she put it down to prevent me from doing so. The picture below is a screen capture from the Zoom video just before she realized I was trying to take a picture.

The new proposal was developed in response to Commissioner Claire Cousin's concern, expressed at the last meeting, that seven-story buildings were too tall. In the revised proposal, none of the buildings exceeds five stories. The board, however, expressed the desire to go for maximum build, because, as Commissioner Nick Zachos said, "The need is great." Revonda Smith, who chairs the Board of Commissioners, mentioned, as she has before, 280 North Pearl Street in Albany, which is an eight-story building. Cousin, who was attending the meeting on Zoom, said she had seen the building Smith was talking about and had changed her mind. Presumably she now supports buildings of greater height.

280 North Pearl Street     Photo: Dave Lucas | WAMC

Mary Decker, who is a resident commissioner on the board, expressed concern about elevators and plumbing in a taller building. Her particular worry was for people living on the upper floors when the elevators weren't working, which apparently happens frequently in Bliss Towers. Jeffrey Dodson, HHA executive director, noted that the elevators in Bliss Towers were the original elevators, installed when the building was built in 1973, and he assured Decker that the new buildings would have new elevators. Smith commented, "I feel like during Urban Renewal they didn't even care, they didn't think about the structure of the building, they didn't care about the elevator. . . . They just popped this over top of this dump." Zachos expressed the opinion that the issues with the current building "are the result of serious neglect."

A couple of things were learned from last night's meeting. First, I managed to get enough of a look at the drawings to confirm that the plan is to build not only on what is currently HHA property but also on all three sites HHA has an option to buy from HCDPA (Hudson Community Development and Planning Agency). Also, the first building to be constructed, the one on the north side of State Street, where the gazebo and the basketball courts now are, will have 101 units, enough to accommodate all the current tenants of Bliss Towers and Columbia Apartments.