Saturday, February 24, 2024

McKinstry Mansion to Be a Hotel After All

It's been four years since the hotel proposed for 620 Union--formerly the Hudson Home for the Aged and originally the home of Robert and Sally McKinstry--received site plan approval from the Planning Board, a certificate of appropriateness from the Historic Preservation Commission, and a PILOT from the IDA. 


The pandemic and rising construction costs put the project on hold, but now everything is back in place, and the project is ready to move forward. 

David Kessler, the owner of the building, and Mike Phinney, the architect for the project, appeared at the Historic Preservation Commission meeting on Friday, once again seeking a certificate of appropriateness. (Certificates of appropriateness expire after one year.) In his presentation to the HPC, Phinney stressed that the plan today is exactly what was proposed four years ago. 


Craig Haigh, code enforcement officer, explained that the project would not have to go before the Planning Board again if there were no changes in the site plan that was approved in 2020. The HPC gave its approval pending code review to confirm that the site plan had not changed.
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Friday, February 23, 2024

Another Round of Restore New York Funding

Over the years, Hudson has been fortunate enough to receive three Restore New York grants. So far, none of the projects receiving this funding has been completed, and a couple haven't even started. Nevertheless, City Hall issued the following press release yesterday:
The City of Hudson seeks proposals for eligible development projects to apply for Round 8 of the Restore New York grant program administered by Empire State Development. The program supports municipalities' efforts to demolish, rehabilitate, and restore blighted structures and transform them into vibrant residential, commercial, and mixed-use developments.
Governor Hochul announced on February 21, 2024, that applications for this $60 million round of the Restore New York grant program will be opened February 22.
The City of Hudson has successfully obtained three Restore New York grants for projects in previous rounds of the program. Hudson was a recipient in Round 4 for the Dunn Warehouse ($500,00), then in Round 6 for the Crescent [Garage] Building ($1.3 million), and again in Round 7 for the Kaz Redevelopment Project ($1.5 million).
Interested parties with qualifying projects must submit their contact and project information to a web form on the City of Hudson website by March 15, 2024, at 5:00 p.m. EDT, in order to be considered a candidate project for a grant application submission. Project proposals are subject to review by the Mayor's office and Common Council President prior to submission of Intent to Apply forms for up to two projects by Monday, March 25, to Empire State Development. If two projects are approved for an application, both projects must be presented before the Common Council for a vote to proceed with a single application, followed by a public hearing.
Questions regarding this solicitation may be directed to Mayoral Aide & ADA Coordinator Michael Hofmann at 518-828-7217 of mayoralaide@cityofhudson.org. Information about qualifications for the Restore New York program is available on the Empire State Development website.

Where the City Ends

Facebook was all abuzz yesterday with the news that a search for a house in Hudson was featured in the Real Estate section of the New York Times: "Their Hearts Were Set on a House in Hudson. Could They Afford the One They Wanted?" Several people sent Gossips the link to the article. 

Following the formula of such pieces, the article presented three houses that had been considered, identified as "Updated Tudor-Style House," "Townhouse With Mountain Views" (Mount Ray Estates), and "19th-Century Brick Rowhouse" (one of the houses originally built for the sons of Elihu Gifford in the 600 block of Columbia Street). The buyers settled on "Updated Tudor-Style House." 

Photo: Zillow
The irony is the house is not located in Hudson. It's in Greenport. But, of course, since Greenport shares a zip code with Hudson, the house has a Hudson mailing address.

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

New Exhibition Opening Soon at the Library

On Thursday, March 7, from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m., the Hudson Area Library will host an opening reception and panel discussion for the exhibition A Dialogue Across Generations: Making Connections through the BLACC Collection, curated and programmed by Tanya Jackson, founder of the annual Columbia County Juneteenth archival exhibit and celebration, Who We Be! The exhibit will be on view through April. The Black Legacy Association of Columbia County (BLACC) Oral History Project collection was meticulously curated in the 1980s by volunteer researchers from Columbia Opportunities’ Retired Seniors Volunteer Program (RSVP). The collection was donated to the Hudson Area Library in 2018. It has since been digitized, archived, and made accessible online at blacc.hudsonarealibrary.org, with support from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Funding for this exhibition has been provided, in part, by a Humanities NY Action Grant.

Children from the Sunday school class, with their teacher, on the steps of the original AME Zion Church at Second and State streets, circa 1900

This exhibition is an effort to bridge historical knowledge gaps and foster a more inclusive community narrative. It will delve into the cultural, familial, economic, social, and religious history of Black people in the county, highlight long-neglected aspects of our local heritage, and spark vital conversations about representation, understanding, and unity. Jackson will also be utilizing recordings from the Oral History Summer School’s archive of local oral histories, The Community Library of Voice and Sound (CLOVS) www.libraryofvoiceandsound.org, to integrate oral histories across generations of Black families in Hudson.

In addition to the opening reception and panel discussion, the library will be holding two special programs in conjunction with this special exhibit. On Saturday, March 9, at 12:00 noon, the library will host a hands-on youth workshop for ages 7 and up, to introduce youth to this valuable local collection. On Saturday, March 23, at 11:00 a.m., the library will host an educator event, offering educators an opportunity to interact with the collection and explore ideas for how to incorporate the materials into their classroom lessons. To register for the youth workshop or educator event, email brenda.shufelt@hudsonarealibrary.org with the subject line: “Youth Workshop” or “Educator Event.”

Adding a unique and personal dimension to the exhibit, Jayden Cross, a young descendant of BLACC oral history participants, will engage in a conversation with the collection. Cross will showcase a curated personal experience, offering visitors an intimate glimpse into the collection and the broader historical context. This interactive element adds a layer of authenticity and personalization to the overall exhibition, allowing attendees to connect on a deeper level with the lived experiences embedded in the BLACC Collection.

The BLACC collection weaves together the compelling stories of Black individuals in the county, often told in their own words. Through a diverse array of images, documents, and personal narratives, the collection offers a profound glimpse into the lived experiences of the Black community over the last 120 years and more.

At the heart of this initiative is the desire to address a dearth of knowledge regarding local Black history contained in the library’s collection. The special exhibit and associated events will bring these valuable resources to the forefront of public consciousness, providing a unique opportunity for residents to engage with and learn from this rich tapestry of history.

The exhibit is designed not only to inform but also to foster a sense of connection, empathy, and respect among residents and visitors. By providing points of reference, the exhibit aims to contribute to a more complex, collaborative, cohesive, and just community ethos. The hope is that this newfound awareness will influence how visitors interact with the collection and one another, as well as shape expectations for local government, civic organizations, and business leaders as they plan for the future of all county residents.
The youth workshop will be facilitated by Jackson and two community holders of traditions that are discussed in many of the BLACC oral histories, Nkoula Badila and Zien-Celeste. Clips from the BLACC Collection and the more recent CLOVS oral history collections will be shared, followed by discussion that will ground the youth attendees in the collection and the theme of legacy. The workshop will then break into two sessions. One session, taught by Nkoula Badila, will focus on home remedies with a hands-on component. In the second session, Zien-Celeste will facilitate youth, using archival images, to choose a photo and transform its appearance through the cyanotype process. In this way, they will be able to have a creative conversation with the collection while adding to the exhibit themselves through their creations.

Finally, the library will offer an educator workshop to familiarize local public, private, home, out-of-school time, and community educators with the BLACC Oral History Project collection and help them discover how it can be used to support learning. Jackson will facilitate the event along with youth researcher Jayden Cross and Elaine Eichelberger and Brenda Shufelt, who are also assisting with research and curation for this project. The anchor for this workshop will be the information from a syllabus that was created in the 1980s as a culmination of the research and recording of oral histories for the BLACC collection. Participants will listen to clips from the BLACC and CLOVS oral histories and view examples from the research on local Black history included in the BLACC collection. Educators will then discuss how these resources can be used in their classrooms. Educators will also be introduced to various online resources, including the library's BLACC Image Collection on the History Room website, the BLACC Oral History website, the online CLOVS, the BLACC image collection on NY Heritage, and Consider the Source NY.

This program was funded in part by Humanities New York, with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed through this exhibition/programming do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Monday, February 19, 2024

Meetings and Events in the Week Ahead

We are exactly a month away from the vernal equinox and three weeks away from the return of daylight saving time. As we move through the last full week of February and get closer to spring, here is what's happening.
  • On Tuesday, February 20, at 6:00 p.m., the Common Council holds its February meeting. At the informal meeting last Monday, the room was filled with people bearing signs and urging the Council to pass a resolution calling for an immediate and permanent ceasefire in Gaza, the release of all hostages and political prisoners, the swift and unrestricted entry of humanitarian assistance to Gaza, and an end to all U.S. military aid to Israel, among other things. The Council has also received numerous letters, both in support and in opposition to the resolution, sixty-four of which can be found here. The Council will be voting on this resolution on Tuesday, as well as on a resolution opposing the County's plan to use 11 Warren Street for offices and storage of the voting machines. The meeting is a hybrid, taking place in person at the Central Fire Station, 77 North Seventh Street, and on Microsoft Teams. Click here to find the link to join the meeting remotely.
  • On Wednesday, February 21, the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) meets at 6:00 p.m. The agenda for the meeting indicates there is just one project before the ZBA: an application for area variances to construct a two-story residential building behind 456 Union Street. The meeting takes place in person only at the Central Fire Station, 77 North Seventh Street. 
Update: This month's ZBA meeting has been canceled.
  • On Thursday, February 22, Hudson Development and Planning Agency (HCDPA) meets at 5:00 p.m. No agenda for the meeting is available. The meeting is a hybrid, taking place in person at the Central Fire Station, 77 North Seventh Street, and on Microsoft Teams. Click here to find the link to join the meeting remotely. 
  • On Friday, February 23, 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 Microsoft Teams. Click here to find the link to join the meeting remotely.
  • Also on Friday, February 23, at 3:00 p.m., Hungarian pianist Gabor Csalog performs an afternoon concert in a private home in Hudson. The event is a fundraiser for the Hudson Festival Orchestra, the group that in summertime presents Hudson in Concert: A Community Celebration at the waterfront. For more information and to make a reservation, click here.
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The Return of the Ellens

After three years of doing the Ellen Awards and five years of not doing the Ellen Awards, the Hudson City Democratic Committee is bringing them back. Named for Ellen Thurston, the first Ellen Award was presented to Thurston in 2016, soon after she had retired as supervisor for the Third Ward (that is, the Third Ward before Fair & Equal changed the ward boundaries). She had previously served several terms as Third Ward alderman, been a long-time member of the Hudson Opera House Board of Directors, organized Hudson's Quadricentennial Celebration, orchestrated Winter Walk every year for close to two decades, and kept Hudson informed with her valued "Ellen's List."


Thurston's service to the community shaped the purpose of the award: to recognize individuals and institutions in Hudson that contribute to the welfare of the city and embody democratic values through their contributions to making Hudson a better place. In 2017, the Ellen Award was presented to Reverend Edward Cross, upon his retirement as supervisor for the Second Ward and in recognition of his long-time community service and social justice work. In 2018, the Ellen Award was presented to Dan and Mary Udell, who for years videotaped public meetings in Hudson to encourage participation in our democratic practice, as well as engaging in a myriad of other civic good deeds.

In 2024, the awards will be presented to two groups that contribute immensely to the life of Hudson: Columbia County Sanctuary Movement and the Badila family and their Diata Diata International Folklorique Theatre. Ellen Awards will also be presented to two recipients selected in 2020, before the pandemic put a stop to in-person gatherings: city clerk Tracy Delaney and Rolling Grocer 19. All four recipients exemplify the public spirit that contributes to making Hudson a vibrant place to live and work.

The Ellen Awards will be presented on Sunday, March 3, at 2:00 p.m., at Hudson Hall. Light refreshments will be served. Click here to donate to the event and be added to the attendance list.

Sunday, February 18, 2024

Licensing the Waterfront

Among the resolutions introduced at the informal Common Council meeting last Monday was one authorizing the mayor to execute a license agreement with the Hudson Sloop Club for docking boats at the waterfront, dock management, and river recreation.

Photo: Our Hudson Waterfront | Facebook
The City has licensing agreements with other entities. There is the agreement with Hudson Paddles LLC "to provide paddle board/kayak recreation opportunities for residents and visitors to the City of Hudson at Oakdale Lake and Henry Hudson Riverfront Park" from late May to early October. By the terms of this agreement, Hudson Paddles LLC paid the City $450 last year. There is also an agreement with Big Towel Spa LLC  "to provide mobile sauna recreation opportunities" from September through January at Oakdale Lake. For this, Big Towel Spa LLC paid the City $250. What is different about the proposed license agreement with the Hudson Sloop Club is that the entire payment of $8,000 is in-kind services, and it appears the Hudson Sloop Club gets to keep the first $4,700 in docking fees collected from other boats. The resolution explains:
. . . the Mayor is authorized to sign a License Agreement with the Hudson Cloop Club Inc. in the amount of $8,000.00 of which $1,900 shall be an in-kind contribution for the installation and removal of city docks; $2,800.00 shall be in-kind services of managing the dock which shall include making the dock available for commercial boats; $3,300 shall be an in-kind credit for services associated with public programming. The public programming credit to be calculated at $20 per passenger with an expectation that free programming will be provided for approximately 165 residents; in the event fewer than 165 passengers are served, the remaining balance will be paid to the City. The City shall establish the fees that will be charged to vessels other than those operated by the Sloop Club with the first $4,700.00 of such fee revenue, Sloop Club shall keep 100% of the amount received. All revenue received over the total of $4,700.00 shall be remitted to the City.
In an exchange between President Tom DePietro and Councilmember Rich Volo (Fourth Ward) after the resolution had been introduced, DePietro said of the Sloop Club, "They're providing a service. . . . They're doing something that's never been done. They're managing. . . ." When someone apparently made a reference to previous licensing agreements for the dock,  DePietro responded, "That was just the guy who owned that cruise company, and he did nothing." 

DePietro's statement is not entirely true. Guy Falkheimer, the owner of Hudson Cruises, had a lease agreement or a licensing agreement with the City for the use of the river-facing dock in Henry Hudson Riverfront Park for seventeen years. Early on, the amount paid for use of the dock was pathetically small, but over the years, it increased. In 2011, the City entered into a five-year lease agreement with Hudson Cruises for the use of half the river-facing dock. The fee paid to the City for the first year was $500, and the amount increased by $100 a year for each year during the five years of the lease. The lease agreement also assigned duties to the tenant:
Tenant agrees to be available 7 days a week from Mother's Day to October 31sr and the rest of the year Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. to open gates to the dock and organize and coordinate the docking of other large vessels. Tenant shall place a sign on the park property providing information as to how it can be contacted to perform those duties, include [sic] the phone number of President Guy Falkenheimer. Tenant will collect docking fees from boats using the dock at the rate of $1.00 per foot for a 24 hour period, with renewal for up to three days. Tenant will weekly turn in collected funds to the Treasurer's Office.
According to the terms of that lease agreement, Falkenheimer had the role and title of "Dock Master." 


In May 2021, the Common Council rescinded a resolution that they previously passed to enter into a new license agreement with Hudson Cruises in favor of entering into an agreement with the Hudson Sloop Club. The terms of the proposed license agreement with Hudson Cruises are contained in the resolution:
. . . the Mayor is authorized to sign a License Agreement with Hudson Cruises, Inc. in the amount of $5,500.00 of which $2,100.00 shall be an in-kind contribution and $3,400.00 shall be paid within 30 days and for which Hudson Cruises will: (1) dock boats at the Hudson City Dock; (2) provide in-kind services for the installation and removal of city docks; (3) provide four free or low-cost sightseeing events for community members or organizations; provide free passage to the Lighthouse on Waterfront Wednesdays; and to take reasonable steps to accommodate visiting vessels using the dock as approved by the City including as part of Waterfront Wednesdays.
It is probably true that folks at City Hall are happier with the job the Hudson Sloop Club is doing managing the dock for the City than they were with Hudson Cruises, and the Sloop Club has played a role in bringing such boats as Solaris, John J. Harvey, and the catamaran Impossible Dream to Hudson for Waterfront Wednesdays, but it's not really true to say that the Sloop Club is "doing something that's never been done."
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Parking Advisory

Presidents Day is one of the eight holidays on which alternate side of the street overnight parking is suspended. Tonight, when you park your car for the night, you can park it on either side of the street without risking being ticketed. 


For everyone's reference, here are the other seven holidays on which the alternate side rules are suspended:
  1. New Year's Day
  2. Martin Luther King Day
  3. Memorial Day
  4. Independence Day
  5. Labor Day
  6. Thanksgiving Day
  7. Christmas Day

Saturday, February 17, 2024

News of HHA's Development Plans

On Monday, the Hudson Housing Authority (HHA) Board of Commissioners met at precisely the same time as the Common Council held its informal meeting. Having to choose between them, I opted to attend the Common Council meeting. Today, I watched the HHA meeting on YouTube. During the meeting, John Madeo, from Mountco Construction, HHA's development partner, appeared on Zoom to update the board. His report provides some interesting information.


Citing the board's interest in adding more units on the site, Madeo explained they were anticipating a two-phase plan. Phase 1 involves constructing a two-level building across State Street from Bliss Towers, where a playground, the basketball court, a parking lot, and the little park with the gazebo are now located. Part of this two-level building will be seven stories, the other part five stories, and the building will contain 138 units. This, as Madeo explained, will be the primary relocation site for current HHA tenants. (The last time around, in 2019, it was determined that the land at this site was not stable enough to support the 120 units then being proposed for it.)


Also part of Phase 1 are ten to twelve townhouses to be constructed on the three parcels HHA has an option to buy from Hudson Community Development and Planning Agency (HCDPA). Those three parcels are 202-206 Columbia Street, what remains of the community garden at the corner of Columbia and Second;


2-4 Warren Street, now an Urban Renewal Era park known fondly to some as "Promenade Prospect";


and 2 to 14 State Street, the land on the north side of State Street from Front Street east to what HHA is now calling "Site B."


Madeo said the primary source of funding for the project would be New York State Homes and Community Renewal (HCR) not HUD. He warned that HHA would be competing for funding with developers all over the state, but he said that housing authorities were a priority for HCR, and he assured them that Mountco has never had a project that was not funded. It should be noted that the project Galvan has proposed for 75 North Seventh Street has twice been passed over for HCR funding, and if Galvan continues to pursue HCR funding the "Depot District" project will be in competition for funding with the HHA project.

Regarding next steps, Mountco will be making a technical assistance submission to HCR within the next week. A more detailed report on the project will be provided at the March meeting of the HHA Board of Commissioners, which is expected to take place on March 18.

To view the meeting on YouTube, click here. Madeo's presentation begins at 24:40.
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Mussmann Apologizes

Around midnight last night, Fourth Ward supervisor Linda Mussmann posted this apology to Mayor Kamal Johnson on her Facebook page.


This account, which has the mayor telling Board of Supervisors chair Matt Murell and Austerlitz supervisor Rob Lagonia that the City has no plans for 11 Warren Street because the City does not own it, is almost as damning as the report that he had approved what the County was planning. It shows his lack of vision for Hudson or understanding of how this plan would negatively impact any effort to reconnect with the waterfront--one of the goals of the now stalled Hudson Connects project. In an ideal world, the mayor of Hudson would have spoken up for his city. He would have told Murell and Lagonia that what they were planning was a terrible idea, rallied the Hudson supervisors to oppose it, and let the public know what was afoot, but none of that happened. 

Gossips takes issue with this statement made by Mussmann, in particular the part I have italicized: ". . . however the Mayor clearly had little to say about any of this nor did the people of Hudson." Thanks to what seems to have been a well-orchestrated effort to keep the purchase of 11 Warren Street under the radar, no members of the public knew about this plan until Matt Murell announced it in a press release on August 11, and no public input was sought until January 24, when the plan was presented as a fait accompli but members of the public spoke out against it anyway.


The people of Hudson continue to speak out against this wrongheaded and wasteful plan. You can add your voice to the chorus of protest by signing the petition created by the 11 Warren Street Action Group. That petition can be accessed here
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Friday, February 16, 2024

Not Much Has Changed for Us

Yesterday, the New York State Independent Redistricting Commission voted in favor of a single Congressional plan and voted to submit that plan to the New York State Legislature.


In the redistricting plan recently submitted, nothing has changed for us there in Columbia County. As in the redistricting done in 2023, all of Columbia County is still part of a district that reaches from the border with Massachusetts (and a little bit of Connecticut) to Ithaca and extends down to Binghamton and the Pennsylvania border and separates Columbia County from both the Capital Region and the rest of the Hudson Valley. The first map below shows the 19th Congressional District as it is currently; the second shows the 19th Congressional District in the proposed new district map.


It is now up to the State Legislature to either, to quote the New York Times, "rubber-stamp the compromise . . . or reject it and risk ending up back in court. . . ."
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Thursday, February 15, 2024

The Naming of Projects

This evening, a reader informed me that there is now a banner at Seventh and State streets identifying the Galvan Foundation apartment building now being constructed at 76 North Seventh Street as "Hudson Depot Lofts." (The sun had already set when I received the intel, so I didn't rush across town to take a picture. I'll do that in the morning.)

The information led me to the website of Baxter Construction, where I found this rendering and description of Hudson Depot Lofts.

Totaling 72,000 SF, Hudson Depot Lofts features 63 apartments, and 5,000 SF of commercial space, this mixed-use development epitomizes modern multi-family construction. A concrete and steel podium support 4 stories of traditional stick framing, creating a modern mixed income, mixed-use housing and commercial development.
Update: Here are pictures of the banners that grace the site, provided by a reader. There is also a banner (not pictured) that claims the apartments will be leasing in 2025.


Regarding the website, the domain name HudsonDepotLofts.com appears to have been secured, but so far there is no website. 
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Thanks to Win Jackson to providing the pictures.

The Joys of Living in a Small City

Last year at Valentine's Day, I shared this cartoon on my Facebook page with the question: "What do you think, Jim and Kate Vasilow?"


This year at Valentine's Day, Jim and Kate (of Vasilow's Confectionery) had a special treat for my dog Freddy: a tennis ball, not chocolate-covered, because chocolate is toxic for dogs, but yogurt-covered, to make it dog friendly.  


Thank you, Jim and Kate and Youki, for this amazing Valentine's Day treat!

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Wednesday, February 14, 2024

A Stunning Revelation

This evening, Linda Mussmann, supervisor for the Fourth Ward, posted this on her Facebook page.


Mussmann's post does not indicate when or how Mayor Kamal Johnson approved the County's wrongheaded plans for 11 Warren Street. In his comment on the Gossips post about the "public input" meeting on January 24, Johnson wrote this in response to the statement "Why do we never hear anything from the mayor about these types of issues . . . the silence is deafening": 
I attended all meetings except for this specific one. At that juncture, I recognized that the outcome was predetermined, and the county had already reached a decision. Is it necessary for me to deliver a speech merely to formalize it in the records, considering the decision remains unchanged? This is a private sale the city does not have any say whatsoever over it. For there to be reuse all of which I agree on it would take someone to purchase the property and pay to have all that done.
This statement seems more than a little disingenuous if what Mussmann says is true. Had Johnson been at the meeting on January 24, would the speech he delivered have been in support of the County's plans for 11 Warren--plans that run counter to what is best for Hudson and its future?

Whether or not the mayor approves of forcing Hudson to live with this relic of misguided Urban Renewal Era planning for another thirty to fifty years, dashing any hope of improving the connection between a vibrant Warren Street and the waterfront, we can let the County know that we the people of Hudson do not approve by signing the petition created by the 11 Warren Street Action Group. The petition can be accessed here.
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The Progress of Another Initiative

As Gossips reported a couple of weeks ago, the City of Hudson (and every other federally defined community water system) must develop a Lead Service Line Inventory by October 16, 2024. To assist in this effort, the City is asking property owners to test the pipes that bring water into their homes to determine if they are lead.


At the informal Common Council meeting on Monday, Rob Perry, superintendent of Public Works, reported that so far only sixty property owners have done the test and reported the results, and about a third of those found their pipes to be lead. 

Perry also responded to comments, one of which appeared on Gossips, that Greenport was sending someone around to every house to check for lead. As Perry pointed out, Greenport has 1,200 connections; Hudson has 2,000. He also pointed out that most of the houses in Greenport were built in the 1950s and later (copper became the standard for water pipes in the 1940s), whereas the majority of Hudson buildings date from the 19th century. He explained that eventually Hudson will send people door to door to check the water service, but the request for property owners to check their own service was an effort to narrow things down.

Responding to Perry's presentation, Councilmember Margaret Morris (First Ward) said she had done the test but hadn't submitted her findings yet. City treasurer Heather Campbell said the same. Gossips' experience in complying with the request may be helpful to others. When I purchased my house in 1993, the previous owner told me he had replaced the lead service with copper. Fortunately, this was documented in the amazing Water Tap Book, which has been digitized and is available on the City Hudson website. There it was recorded that my service was replaced in 1988. (Lead was banned for use in public water systems in 1986.)

The principal purpose of the Water Tap Book was to record when buildings in Hudson were connected to the municipal water system, but a fair amount of information can be found there about lead being replaced by copper. 


So before you go down to your cellar to carry out the prescribed test to determine if the pipe carrying water into your home is lead, you might want to check the Water Tap Book to see if the replacement of your service, from lead to copper, has been recorded there. The Water Tap Book can be found here.
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Ear to the Ground

In September 2023, Peter Bujanow resigned as Commissioner of Public Works. Bujanow had served in that position since 2016 when he was first appointed by Mayor Tiffany Martin. It was rumored that Mayor Kamal Johnson's zeal to have the contract for the construction of the new Ferry Street Bridge awarded to A. Colarusso & Son rather than rebidding the project may have had something to do with Bujanow's decision to resign. At the time, Johnson said that "out of respect for Bujanow" he would not appoint a new Commissioner of Public Works until the beginning of the new year.

At the beginning of the year, Johnson did appoint a new Commissioner of Public Works, although that appointment has never been officially announced. The new commissioner is Jason Foster, who has been a regular attendee and contributor at meetings of the Common Council ad hoc Truck Route Committee. Foster lives on Green Street, the street in Hudson that sees the heaviest truck traffic because every truck passing through Hudson travels on Green Street. In June, Foster and his wife, Susan Vernovage Foster, wrote a letter to the Planning Board urging them to approve the Colarusso haul road. Linda Mussmann published that letter on her Facebook page. Also at the beginning of the year, Johnson appointed Susan Vernovage Foster to the Planning Board. 

Susan Foster is one of three new members of the Planning Board this year. Another is Gini Casasco, who previously served on the Historic Preservation Commission from September 2014 until sometime in 2017, when she moved out of Hudson. She has since returned. The third new member is Gene Shetsky, who was appointed to the Planning Board by Johnson in June 2021 but resigned last summer because he had taken a job working for the City as clerk of the cemetery. Apparently, it's been determined that being employed by the City no longer prohibits someone from serving on a regulatory board, because Shetsky is back on the Planning Board. 
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The Outcome of the Amnesty Program

Last year, at the urging of Mayor Kamal Johnson, the City initiated an amnesty program for people with parking tickets that had gone unpaid for a long time and had accrued substantial penalties. From October 1 through December 31, 2023, people with parking tickets that had gone unpaid for more than three years and whose cars had not yet been booted could clear their record with the Parking Bureau by paying only the original fines. Years of penalties and late fees would be waived. By this action, the City hoped to recoup a significant sum of money in unpaid parking fines. I recall $100,000 being mentioned as an anticipated amount.

It's been six weeks since the amnesty program ended, so I decided to check on its success. According to information received from city clerk Tracy Delaney, only three people took advantage of the amnesty program. A total of $391 in penalties was waived. Two of three have paid their original fines, for a total of $46. As of February 5, 2024, the third person, whose original fines totaled $55, has still not paid those fines.
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Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Say What?

At last night's informal Common Council meeting, Councilmember Jennifer Belton (Fourth Ward) requested a special meeting to inform the Council (and the public) on the status of the City's DRI (Downtown Revitalization Initiative) projects. Councilmember Rich Volo (Fourth Ward) suggested that there might be monthly updates on the status of the projects. (Gossips did a post about the City's DRI projects, only one of which has been completed, last month: "How Are We Doing?")  

In responding to these requests, Council president Tom DePietro said, among other things, "The Dunn building is in the process of being sold." Say what? 


In October 2023, the Common Council accepted the plan for the redevelopment of the Dunn Warehouse submitted by CGS Group in response to an RFP issued in April and authorized the mayor to enter into an agreement with CGS Group, a partnership of Caitlin Baiada, Gabriel Katz, and Sean Roland. One of the features of the plan proposed by CGS Group, which made it appealing to some of the members of the review committee, was that the City of Hudson would retain ownership of the building. 

The agreement involved a 90-day due diligence period, which would have ended sometime last month. Since then, the public has heard nothing of the outcome of the group's due diligence. Did CGS Group decide they needed to own the building? Did they decide to abandon the plan, and is there a different buyer in picture? Or did DePietro misspeak?

A request to City Hall for clarification has so far gone unanswered.
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Update: Minutes after publishing this post, I received the following email from mayor's aide Michael Hofmann:
President DePietro did misspeak. Dunn Warehouse is not in the process of being sold; the City will be engaging in a 30-year lease of the property to CGS and will retain ownership of the building throughout. We and our lawyers have been working on the detail of the lease terms with the CGS Group over this winter and expect to have a finalized agreement this month. The clock on the 90-day due diligence period begins once that agreement is executed, so at this point we're looking at May at the earliest for the conclusion of their study period. This is later than we anticipated, but we're still very excited to work with the CGS Group in redeveloping the warehouse and look forward to reviewing their final plans.

Monday, February 12, 2024

More Money for the Public Square

In November, Gossips reported that Friends of the Public Square (FOPS) had been awarded a $500,000 EPF grant through the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation to finance Phase I of the rejuvenation of Seventh Street Park--new paving, new seating, new signage, new lighting, new landscaping.  

Today, Assemblymember Didi Barrett announced another $125,000 in funding for the renovation of the park, secured through a NYS State and Municipal (SAM) Grant. According to the press release issued by Barrett's office, "These funds will be used for benches, picnic tables, drinking fountains, and support for the park's Veterans Memorial." 

From left to right: Katherine Kanaga, FOPS co-chair; Assemblymember Didi Barrett; Brian Zweig, FOPS grant consultant; Dorothy Heyl, FOPS co-chair
Barrett is quoted in the press release as saying, "I'm excited to help provide the Friends of the Public Square with the funding it needs to revitalize Seventh Street Park, ensuring this space remains a center for the Hudson community. As somebody who has attended many events at this park, I recognize its importance to local families and businesses. Preserving and rejuvenating open space like this, particularly in a dense city like Hudson, is a win-win for our community."

Sunday, February 11, 2024

Meetings and Events in the Week Ahead

After a few glorious days when it seemed spring was here, substantial snow is predicted for this week, expected to fall on Tuesday. There are lots of meetings scheduled for next week. It's not clear how they may be impacted by the snow.
  • On Monday, February 12, the Common Council holds its informal meeting at 6:00 p.m. The agenda for the meeting already includes a long list of items, among them a resolution opposing the County's proposed use of 11 Warren Street for offices and storage. The meeting is a hybrid, taking place in person at the Central Fire Station, 77 North Seventh Street, and on Microsoft Teams. Click here to find the link to join the meeting remotely.
  • Also on Monday, February 12, at 6:00 p.m., the very same time as the Common Council informal meeting, the Hudson Housing Authority Board of Commissioners holds its monthly meeting. HHA meetings are always potentially of interest because they might yield some information about Authority's ambitious redevelopment plans. 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.
  • Tuesday, February 13, is Shrove Tuesday or Fat Tuesday, the day Christ Church Episcopal traditionally hosts its Pancake Supper. This year, however, because of the expected snow, the event has been canceled.
  • On Tuesday, February 13, the Common Council Legal Committee is scheduled to hold a meeting at 5:30 p.m. There is no agenda available for the meeting, which can't last for more than a half hour because there's another meeting scheduled for the same space 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 Microsoft Teams. Click here to find the link to join the meeting remotely. 
  • On Tuesday, February 13, the Planning Board meets at 6:00 p.m. The agenda indicates that the Planning Board will be continuing its review of three projects that have been before them for several months already: the proposed subdivision on Hudson Avenue, the relocation of Lil' Deb's Oasis to 735 Columbia Street, and the boutique hotel proposed for 601 Union Street. The meeting is a hybrid, taking place in person at the Central Fire Station, 77 North Seventh Street, and on Microsoft Teams. Click here to find the link to join the meeting remotely.
  • Also on Tuesday, February 13, at 6:00 p.m., the Hudson City School District Board of Education holds its monthly meeting in the library at the Senior High School. The meeting will be livestreamed on YouTube. Click here to access the HCSD YouTube page; the click on "Live" to watch.
  • From 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. on Tuesday, February 13, the Columbia County Democratic Committee hosts a virtual Assembly Candidates Forum featuring Assemblymember Didi Barrett and challenger Claire Cousin (AD106) and Chloe Pierce and Kent Sopris (AD107). Registration is required, which can be done by clicking here.
  • On Wednesday, February 14, which is both Valentine's Day and Ash Wednesday, the Columbia County Board of Supervisors meets at 7:00 p.m. at 401 State Street. 
  • On Thursday, February 15, the Housing Trust Fund Board meets at 5:30 p.m. The meeting is a hybrid, taking place in person at the Central Fire Station, 77 North Seventh Street, and on Microsoft Teams. Click here to find the link to join the meeting remotely.
  • Also on Thursday, February 15, from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m., Dr. Juliette Pennyman, superintendent of the Hudson City School District, will be available to hear people's concerns and ideas for improving the schools in the district at the Hudson Youth Center, 18 South Third Street. Pennyman plans to hold these conversations on every third Thursday of the month throughout the remainder of the year school.
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