The Gossips of Rivertown--a blog of news and commentary exclusively about Hudson

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Last Post

I finally discovered on the Board of Elections website--they've probably been up there for a long time, but I just discovered them--the write-in results from the November election.

In the First Ward, one person wrote in Ralph Nader for mayor, and 33 people wrote in me for alderman--either in Column 8 (Sterling) or Column 9 (Cheddie). (The BOE did not specify how many votes in each column.)

In the Third Ward, 10 people wrote me in for mayor.

In the Fifth Ward, one person wrote me in for mayor and one person wrote me in for alderman in Column 8--Doc Donahue's slot!

I thank you--all 45 of you--for going to the polls with your writing implements in hand and making the extra (albeit symbolic) effort to vote for me. I love you all!

After the first of the year, I'll be reporting on the goings on at City Hall, and elsewhere in the county as it affects Hudson, on my new blog, The Gossips of Rivertown. At the moment, it's still under construction, but I'll let you know when the first post appears.

Meanwhile, I extend my very best wishes for a rich and happy--and perhaps even prosperous--new year to you all.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Charles Williams Has a Buyer

Since the City of Hudson acquired it back in 2003, in exchange for the lot on Columbia Street where county health department building now stands, the Charles Williams School has stood vacant but not for want of plans to reuse it. First it was going to house the police department and city court. Then it was going to be an intergenerational center. Then a plan was floated to make it the location of HCSD's Alternative Learning Program combined with a C-GCC satellite site and a business incubator. Most recently it was going to be the county's emergency shelter for women and children. The good news is that it's not going to be any of those things.

The City intended to sell the building at a public auction on October 17. No one showed up for the auction, but bidding for the building happened anyway. Last night at the Common Council Finance Committee meeting, Treasurer Eileen Halloran announced the winning bidders: Steve Johnson and Walter Sudol, who offered $275,000. Other bidders were Colin Stair, the Islamic Community Center, and a fourth party.

Johnson and Sudol, who have a house in Ancram, plan to use the prewar school building for artists' studio space and to exhibit their own art collection. They have expressed their intention of restoring its original interior configuration.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Guide to Living in a Historic House

I just learned that the Landmark Society of Western New York in Rochester has posted their comprehensive guide to living in a historic house on their website. Since virtually everyone in Hudson lives in an old house, it might be a useful document to be aware of. For anyone reading this blog who is on the Hudson Historic Preservation Commission, it may be something you would want to bring to the attention of those who come before you and the community in general.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Today Is Dutch-American Heritage Day

November 16 is Dutch-American Heritage Day. It was proclaimed so by Congress and the first President Bush in 1991 because on November 16 in 1776 Dutch forces on the Caribbean island of St. Eustatius returned the salute of the American brig-of-war Andrew Doria, making the Netherlands the first country to salute the flag of the new United States. In 1782, the Netherlands was also the first country to recognize formal diplomatic relations with the United States.

Of course, Dutch-American Heritage Day is of particular interest to me since I'm of Dutch origin--descended not from the Dutch who settled here in the Hudson River Valley in the seventeenth century but from the Dutch who immigrated to America in the nineteenth century and settled in southwestern Michigan. For anyone who's interested, I'm including a link to an opinion piece that appeared yesterday in the Holland Sentinel, the newspaper of the city where I grew up. If curiosity compels you to read it, you will understand why I accompanied this post with a picture of wooden shoes I danced in when I was in high school.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Latest News from North Front Street

The salvaged materials are being sold at the site, but if you need to speak with Jim Bent before going down there, I now have his phone number: 518 332-6848.

I learned today that there are no plans to salvage the brick. The walls will simply be knocked into the cellars. So if you need old brick, you might want to call Jim Bent and make some arrangement.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Demolition Update

The disassembly of the brick buildings on North Front Street next to the Fugary Boat Club continues, and the prediction is that the connector building and the north building will be gone by the end of the week. But there is hopeful news for the south building--the one that has been determined to be structurally sound.

The south building had been scheduled to be demolished in April, but I learned today that Eleanor Ambos--owner of the Pocketbook Factory and the Allen Street School--has gotten involved and is working to persuade Bentley Meeker, whom she knows, to keep that building standing. Of course, with the other two buildings gone, a major impediment to developing the site--lack of parking--has been eliminated, and with the $14 million upgrade to the City's waste water treatment plant soon to begin, another major impediment to development--odor from the treatment plant--may also be alleviated.

In the meantime, there are wonderful salvaged building materials for sale at the site. Douglas fir and heart pine flooring--all pegged, so there are no nails--and heart pine columns--8-foot columns selling for $30 a piece; 12-foot columns for between $30 and $55 each. If you have need for such materials, it would be great to keep these things in Hudson.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Some of Hudson's Last Historic Waterfront Buildings Are Coming Down

As I write this, the brick warehouse buildings on Hudson's waterfront, at the corner of North Front and Dock streets, are being taken apart in preparation for demolition. These are the last and only historic waterfront buildings remaining on the north side of the city.

Over the summer, a portion of a wall collapsed on one of the buildings--one that had been without a roof for several years. This created a hazardous situation, and a few months ago, the Common Council was asked to approve hiring a structural engineer to inspect the building so that, according to City Attorney Jack Connor, the City could condemn it and get it demolished. (I abstained from that vote because I couldn't bring myself to support a move whose ultimate goal was the demolition of a historic building.)

During the last week in October, I heard from a constituent that the buildings were going to be demolished within 24 hours. That turned out not to be true--at least not true at that time. I spoke with City of Hudson Code Enforcement Officer Peter Wurster who told me that the owner, Bentley Meeker, had been sent a certified letter to which he had 24 hours to respond. The letter, Wurster told me, informed the owner that he had 10 days either to agree to demolish the buildings or to come up with an acceptable plan for stabilizing them. Wurster told me that Meeker was already talking with Dan Proper at Crawford & Associates to come up with a plan for stabilization. At that time, only the north building and the connecting building were being discussed.

Yesterday I heard from the same constituent that all three buildings were coming down, so this morning I went over there to see for myself and take some pictures. At the site, I spoke with Bonnie Bent, the wife of Jim Bent who is the salvage contractor disassembling the buildings. According to her, the central building connecting the other two is coming down first, then the north building. The south building, which is structurally sound, is scheduled to come down in April, when the Bents and their crew return from wintering in Texas.

Talking with Bonnie Bent, I tried to get an explanation of how things had gotten to this point. She told me that Mayor Scalera had ordered the demolition and that the owner was agreeable, but she could not tell me if the owner had proposed a plan for stabilization that had been rejected by the City or if the owner had decided, in the face of the expense of stabilization, simply to let them go.

The real frustration here is that, in a city filled with historic buildings, in a city that owes its economic renaissance in recent decades to its historic architecture, there is no real commitment in city government--more specifically, in the mayor's office--to preserving the city's architectural heritage. The remedy the City regularly seeks for buildings that have fallen into disrepair--from the Fourth Street School in 1994 to the Chicken Shack in 1998 to these riverfront warehouses in 2009--is always demolition.

The justification, of course, is public safety. According to Bonnie Bent, when the salvage crew first entered the warehouse buildings, they discovered squatters living there. She assured me that they were now locking up to prevent people from getting inside. If these precautions are adequate to ensure public safety now, why couldn't the City have taken the same measures to protect the public while every possibility was explored to preserve an important feature of Hudson's irreplaceable architecture?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

A Hundred Years Ago in Hudson

A friend just brought to my attention this excerpt from a biography of Alexander Woollcott--the theater and literary critic who was a close friend of Dorothy Parker's, an original member of the Algonquin Round Table, the model for the character Sheridan Whiteside in The Man Who Came to Dinner, and a 1909 graduate of Hamilton College.
In the fall of his senior year Woollcott sought out the possibilities of gainful employment following his graduation from Hamilton.

"Primarily, I wanted to become a teacher and actually got as far as to apply for the principalship of the high school at Hudson, New York," Woollcott wrote.

"The Hudson school board was gracious and encouraging, but during the tea table conference in what passed for a mansion in Hudson one of its more taciturn members took me aside.

"In a whisper he explained that, whereas the ordinances of the town were modern enough to frown on corporal punishment, it was an open secret that the principal must be prepared to thrash the occasional hoodlum among the students. Tranquil months might drift by without its ever being necessary actually to join combat. But that would only be because the principal was able subtly to convince the entire student body that he could, were he so inclined, take the toughest brute in the senior class and beat the living daylights out of him.

"This colloquy was held in a bay window which looked out on the elm-lined street of the old riverside town not far from Albany. At the moment three students were on their way home from football practice, their alarming bulk increased by the doggy high-necked sweaters of yesteryear.

"'There,' said my counselor on the school board, 'could you scare the wits out of one of those?'

"So I decided to become a reporter."

--From Smart Aleck: The Wit, World, and Life of Alexander Woollcott by Howard Teichmann (Morrow, 1976)

Friday, November 6, 2009

Hudson Terrace Receives $2.25 Million in Stimulus Funds

I discovered this information on Wednesday in the Albany Business Review. So far as I know, this has not yet been reported in the Register-Star or the Columbia Paper. Part of the justification for using stimulus money for this project is that it will employ lots of local tradespeople and put money into the local economy. I hope this will be true.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Your Lame Duck Alderman

The Democratic Primary is over, and, although endorsed by the Hudson Democratic Committee, I lost my place on the ballot to Geeta Cheddie, the candidate who forced the primary. A total of 90 out of a possible 218 First Ward Democrats voted in the primary--each able to vote for two candidates--and a total of 148 votes were actually cast: 55 for Sarah Sterling, 47 for Geeta Cheddie, and 46 for me. Since I did not seek any other endorsements, I am no longer an option in November. Sarah Sterling--running as a Democrat and an Independent--and Geeta Cheddie--running as a Democrat, a Republican, a Conservative, an Independent, and on the Bottom Line--are the only candidates and will be your new First Ward aldermen.

I offer my sincere thanks to all of you who voted for me and my deep regret that, after the end of 2009, I will no longer have the privilege of representing you on the Common Council. Three months remain in my term, and although I'm a lame duck, I will continue to work conscientiously for all of us in the First Ward and for greater good of Hudson. I will also keep this blog going--through the end of this year and perhaps beyond--to keep you informed about the issues that matter.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Soccer and Henry Hudson Riverfront Park

In the question of whether or not to permit soccer playing at the waterfront, Mayor Scalera defines the issue as deciding if we want Henry Hudson Riverfront Park to be a passive park or a playing field. I don't agree with this, mostly because I think Mayor Scalera's definition of a passive park is too narrow and it limits the park's usefulness and benefit to the neighborhood in which it is located--the First Ward.

I spent two decades of my life living within a block or two of Central Park and using it as my "playground," so I decided to do some research to see if I could get some insight into how conflicting uses are handled in this park, which has got to be the most used park in the entire country. My research uncovered the report on a study done this summer entitled The Great Lawn: Its Public Use, Maintenance, and Repair.

For those not intimately familiar with Central Park, the Great Lawn is located in the center of the park from 79th to 85th streets. It is in many ways Central Park's equivalent to our big expanse of grass in Henry Hudson Riverfront Park. When I lived in New York, the Great Lawn was carved up into eight ball fields, and the term "Great Lawn" seemed to be something of a misnomer since there was very little grass on the Great Lawn. In fact, something I just read called the Great Lawn of the 1980s "the Great Dustbowl."

In the mid-1990s, the Great Lawn was extensively renovated, and efforts are now being made to prevent the same overuse and abuse from happening again. The study I cited is part of that effort. The Great Lawn today has multiple uses. It is where the New York Philharmonic and the Metropolitan Opera perform their summer outdoor concerts. It is where huge crowds gather for rock concerts and rallies. But the ball fields are also back--evidence that with some planning and oversight, entertainment and recreation can coexist in the same space.

One distinction mentioned in the Great Lawn report, which I submit may be useful to keep in mind as we contemplate the uses of Riverfront Park, is the distinction between spontaneous and organized recreational activities. We have several places in Hudson for organized recreational activities--the ball fields on Harry Howard, the ball field on Hudson Street, the playing fields at the High School and Montgomery Smith, Oakdale--but we should not be discouraging the kind of spontaneous recreational activity that happens when kids get together to kick a soccer ball around. I don't want to see that activity banned from Riverfront Park any more than I want to see kids running and playing tag, families tossing baseballs, footballs, or frisbees, families playing a casual game of touch football banned from the park. All these activities qualify as spontaneous recreation and should be permitted to happen in the park so long as weather conditions (and possible negative impact of the weather on the grass) permit and these recreational activities do not interfere with other scheduled uses of the park.

Monday, August 24, 2009


In 2006 and 2007, LWRP seemed to be the acronym on everyone's lips. The Waterfront Advisory Steering Committee, chaired by Linda Mussmann, was gathering public input--the lack public input being in large part the reason the Department of State had rejected the previous version. There was a questionnaire. There were public meetings. There were focus groups. There were meetings with stakeholders. And there was lots of frustration for people who believed the 2005 decision from the DOS on the St. Lawrence Cement project paved the way for the City to take back the deep-water dock and felt that at some point the committee had stopped listening to them. But, more or less on schedule, in the fall of 2007, the Waterfront Advisory Steering Committee had a document ready to be turned over to the Common Council for consideration.

In the past couple years, however, not much has been heard about the LWRP. When Rick Scalera returned to office in Janaury 2008, he decided there was no need for a committee, and work on the LWRP continued outside the public eye. In December 2008, when the LWRP reappeared on the aldermen's desks after a year's absence, some of us were horrified to find this statement repeated at least three times in the 262-page document: "The City supports plans proposed by Holcim (US) and its tenant [O&G] to reroute heavy truck traffic from the Holcim mine in Greenport, New York, to the deep water dock port via the South Bay causeway" (quoted from page 18 of the LWRP). And we were even more horrified to realize that we had earlier approved a Generic Environmental Impact Study (GEIS) that would not look at ten possible ways to get aggregate from the quarry to the river and determine which was best--what we thought we were approving--but instead would look at nine alternatives to justify the "causeway" as our route of choice.

This is the major flaw in the current LWRP. Of course, we need to get dump trucks hauling aggregate off our streets. They are a hazard to residents, their weight is damaging the infrastructure below the roadway, and the vibrations they cause are rattling our houses. But encouraging Holicm and O&G to create a private road through the South Bay is not the best solution to the problem, and it should not be the one that the LWRP says the City supports.

Earlier this year, before the City submitted its grant application for Round 3 of the Restore NY program in May, Mayor Scalera pitched to the Council a plan--which was to be our Round 3 Restore NY grant proposal--to purchase the LB building, demolish part of it, and construct a road to the waterfront along the south side of the building, skirting the north edge of the South Bay. I asked some questions and was assured that the roadbed would be constructed to absorb vibration and the roadway would be screened to reduce noise and visual impacts. The road was the perfect solution, even though it was tied in with some things that seemed less than ideal: paying what seemed an inflated price for the LB building and ending up owning part of a building we weren't sure what to do with.

No sooner was the plan pitched than it unraveled. It occurred to the mayor and The Grant Writers--right there at the meeting--that Restore NY funds could not be used to purchase property. Instead of taking the first step toward creating a new route to the waterfront, the City ended up using its Restore NY grant potential to apply for money to demolish the old Schroeder Chevrolet building so the new owner could build something else there.

Although withdrawn as soon as it was presented, the idea of a properly constructed public road from 9G to the waterfront is what the City should be supporting in the LWRP not a private road through an ecologically sensitive wetland. Beyond solving the immediate problem of getting the gravel trucks (and the salt trucks in winter) off our residential streets, the road would enable the preservation and renewal of the South Bay as a recreational resource and provide a much needed gateway to the waterfront.

The Namesake Celebration earlier this summer demonstrated to me how badly we need such a gateway. It wasn't easy directing people to the waterfront. A reporter from Hillsdale confessed that she had no idea where Hudson's waterfront was! The congestion on Saturday night after the concert and the traffic heading up Allen Street made it clear that another way out was needed.

A new road south of LB, along the north edge of South Bay, heading for Front Street and the grade-level crossing of the railroad tracks would be the perfect access to the river not only for gravel trucks but for kayakers and boaters heading for the boat launch and the Power Boat Club and for visitors coming to events at the Henry Hudson Riverfront Park. As a community, we should settle for nothing less, and our LWRP should support that.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Licorice Lampposts

Warren Street will soon be graced by fiberglass composite lampposts, which to my eye look a bit like giant straightened licorice twists. The "licorice lampposts" are the unsatisfactory conclusion to a process that, considering the effort and people involved, should have turned out better, but it didn't. (See my October 23 post, "New Streetlights.")

The Common Council and the City had a choice between cast aluminum and fiberglass composite poles. Cast aluminum poles were what celebrated lighting expert Howard Brandston recommended for the City. Some of us on the Council also preferred cast aluminum poles for several reasons: they can be recycled, the fluting has more definition, and they can be repainted if the color chips or fades. Fiberglass poles are touted to be "maintenance free," but in this case that mostly means they can't be repaired. Fiberglass poles will fade, and once that happens, there is nothing that can be done about it. Fiberglass poles also cost more--in the case of our poles, at least $30,000 more.

The Council should have had a choice, but the process seemed from the beginning to want to deny the Council that choice.

First, there was the resolution to issue a request for proposal (RFP) for the poles. As it was originally presented to the Council at the informal meeting on November 10, the resolution contained language--notably the stipulation that the poles be "maintenance free"--that would have prevented anyone from submitting a bid for anything other than fiberglass poles. Fortunately, Carrie Haddad and I, advocates for cast aluminum poles, read the resolution, recognized the restrictive impact of the language, and insisted that the resolution be changed to allow bids for cast aluminum poles to be submitted.

Then, there was the whole conflict of interest issue, which was not raised by anyone until it was too late. Three bids for the poles were submitted: one from an electrical supply company in Kingston, one from Red Hook Electric, and one from Hudson Electric. Two bids were for fiberglass poles; one for cast aluminum poles. The problem is that Red Hook Electric and Hudson Electric are both Haddad family businesses, and the only bid for cast aluminum poles came from a Haddad business.

Carrie believed that conflict of interest was not a problem so long as she recused herself from the vote. The fact that her husband would be bidding on the poles was a secret to no one. She had picked up the bid packages herself from Cappy Pierro, and reportedly then Common Council President soon-to-be interim DPW Superintendent Rob Perry was present when she did. Nobody suggested that it was a conflict of interest for Nick Haddad to bid on the project until the bids came in. It was only after the bids had been received--and presumably opened--that it occurred to Cappy Pierro and Jack Connor that the bids from Red Hook Electric and Hudson Electric had to be rejected. As a consequence, there remained only one bid--for fiberglass poles.

On December 16, a resolution to accept the one remaining bid was presented to the Common Council. We never got to see any of the bids, and it was never clear who had opened them or when. I objected to a resolution that stated we had "received the bids" when we hadn't. My colleagues in the First and Third Wards and I objected vehemently to being denied a choice. We wanted to reissue the RFP to be sure that we got at least one bid for cast aluminum poles.

Jack Connor, city attorney, told us if we didn't accept the single bid before us, the company submitting that bid "could sue the City." The only recourse we had was to bring the resolution to a vote and vote it down, which we succeeded in doing the first time, primarily because Abdus Miah, in the midst of a heated discussion about conflict of interest, municipal law, sole source bidding, and threats of lawsuits, decided to abstain, which--with Carrie having to recuse herself and the rest of the "southside gang" voting against it--meant that the resolution did not have the votes required to pass.

We had dodged another bullet, or so I thought. Defeating the resolution had bought us some time to persuade our fellow aldermen that cast aluminum was not only more attractive but less expensive. (How often does that happen?) It was reason for celebration, but then at the end of the meeting, just as I was about to move to adjourn, Mayor Scalera stood up and requested--maybe it was more like demanded--that we reconsider the resolution.

In my opinion, this request need not and should not have been entertained, but Wanda Pertilla, who was chairing the meeting in the temporary absence of a Common Council president, thought otherwise. For a motion to be reconsidered, someone who voted on the prevailing side--in this case the nays--has to make the motion to reconsider. Abdus Miah, who had abstained and therefore technically had voted with the prevailing side, moved to reintroduce the resolution. By this time, for reasons not disclosed, Abdus no longer felt he needed to abstain. He voted in favor, and the resolution passed, authorizing the mayor to enter into a contract to purchase 158 fiberglass lampposts for Warren Street.

Before casting her vote, Wanda Pertilla said, "We've spent enough time talking about streetlights. It's time to move on." Alas! In my opinion, there are few things that impact the appearance and character of our main street more than street lamps. Selecting new ones should be done thoughtfully and carefully--soliciting and following the advice of experts. But that's a minority opinion.

What will go at the top of the licorice lampposts has not yet been determined. You can view the options--Acorn, Aspen Grove, and Williamsville--in Council Chambers at City Hall. Go in anytime that City Hall is open. They are all sitting there on the floor.

I am unclear about how it will be decided which of the three is chosen, but I invite you to share your preferences with me. I do want to assure you, however, that lighting experts have offered the opinion that "light pollution" does not need to be a huge concern in making our choice. Given the relatively short height of our poles and the overall light production, the difference in amount of light spilling into the atmosphere from Aspen Grove, which has a "hat," as compared with Acorn and Williamsville, which do not, is inconsequential. Apparently, we have the luxury of deciding purely on aesthetic considerations.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Hudson Terrace

Let me start off by saying that what AIMCO and Evergreen Partners are proposing for Hudson Terrace, as reported in the Register-Star, is something that the Waterfront Advisory Steering Committee did not anticipate. We knew that in 2012 the development would be fulfilling its forty-year federally subsidized mortgage agreement, which provided tax breaks on all levels, but we imagined that we needed to prepare for the possibility that the property would be sold to someone looking to redevelop this prime site overlooking the river into high-end condominiums. Because of that expectation, the new zoning for the Waterfront Revitalization Area designates the area surrounding Promenade Hill as the only section of the city where there will be mandatory inclusionary zoning, to ensure that a percentage of the units will be affordable. We discussed establishing limits on the height of any new buildings constructed there and gave expression to our desire that, instead of being a wall separating the city from the river with a moat of asphalt further segregating the people who live in Hudson Terrace from the rest of the city, the configuration of any new development would re-establish the continuation of Union, Columbia, and State streets to Promenade Hill and re-integrate this part of Hudson with the rest of the city, as it originally was.

My first hint that we were preparing for the wrong scenario came several months ago, in a meeting of a committee created to define how we would implement inclusionary zoning in Hudson. Present at that meeting were Bruce Levine, developer of Crosswinds, and Kevin Walker, representing Eric Galloway. In the meeting, I learned from Bruce Levine that what is considered “market rate” in Hudson is too low to allow the construction of new rental units to be profitable. In order to make sense economically (according to Levine), new units had to be built in accordance with some kind of income-based program so they can qualify for state and federal aid for construction and tax credits after construction. I also learned from Kevin Walker that Eric Galloway is considering making all the apartments in the giant building he is proposing for the corner of Fifth and Warren “low income” so that he can qualify for state and federal grants to build it.

In this meeting also, I got my first hint that it might be occurring to Mayor Scalera that more subsidized, low-income housing would not increase the City's tax base and did not translate into adequate tax revenues for the City's future.

Last summer, City Treasurer Eileen Halloran announced that she had made contact with the owners of Hudson Terrace and invited the aldermen from the First and Second Wards--the two wards in which Hudson Terrace is located--to participate in a conference call with a representative of the owners. She had made contact not with the owners but with AIMCO (American Investment and Management Company), and the person we all gathered in her office on August 5 to talk with was Jesse Curll, Vice President for Northeast Asset Management for AIMCO.

In that conversation, the talk was all about Tompkins Terrace in Beacon as the model for what could happen with Hudson Terrace. Tompkins Terrace, to quote its website, is “not far from the Hudson River”--just south of the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge. This development is a contemporary of Hudson Terrace and of strikingly similar design. In the case of Tompkins Terrace, they rehabbed the old buildings-—installing HVAC systems, redoing the kitchens and bathrooms with new fixtures and appliances, “redesigning” the porches, replacing the windows and the exterior siding. To do the same for Hudson Terrace, they were looking for assistance from HAP (Housing Assistance Program), IRS tax credits, the opportunity to issue tax-exempt bonds, and an extension or reinstatement (for another 30 to 40 years) of the PILOT/Article V agreement that Hudson Terrace currently has with the City of Hudson.

After that teleconference, there was no further word from AIMCO until just before Christmas. On December 16, Eileen Halloran received a call from Charlie Allen, representing a new player: Evergreen Partners. On December 22, the same group met—-this time with the mayor as well—-to hear what Charlie Allen had to say.

Eileen reported that Evergreen Partners is entering into a joint venture with AIMCO to “acquire the interest in the property,” provided that they succeed in getting various tax credits and “an extension of the current PILOT with the City of Hudson.” First order of business, Evergreen is submitting an application to the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR) for funding, and they want a letter of support from the mayor. The application is due on February 11, and I suspect that the presentation on January 12 means that they’re also looking for a resolution of support from the Common Council.

This time out, Tompkins Terrace was not mentioned as the model. The new exemplar is Henry Hudson Town Houses in Glens Falls, now known as Village Green Apartments. Here the “rehab” was a bit more dramatic. They demolished the 1971 buildings, which looked a lot like Hudson Terrace, and constructed new buildings, which look a lot like a big version of Crosswinds. According to the Evergreen Partners website, “the comprehensive redesign of the property features a community center, playground, and new site layout.”

Interestingly, Charlie Allen told Eileen Halloran that Evergreen “may have an interest in turning Washington Hose into a community center” for the property. Yikes! This is exactly the outcome that the four aldermen who opposed selling Washington Hose feared. We believe that Washington Hose, positioned as it is at the entrance to Promenade Hill, needs to remain a public building in the control of the City of Hudson. Now we have this group of “national housing specialists,” who are looking to acquire “the interest in the property,” suggesting that they might like to acquire Washington Hose as well to remedy what they see as a shortcoming with Hudson Terrace: the lack of "community space.”

Washington Hose

After two resolutions to lease the building--one to Historic Hudson, the other to Charlie Davi--were rejected by the Common Council at a special meeting on December 8, Washington Hose has moved off the radar screen--temporarily. In the weeks following the meeting, Victor Mendolia, Chair of the Hudson Democratic Committee, tried to negotiate a lease agreement for Charlie Davi that the First and Third Ward aldermen would be comfortable with--one that allowed Davi to establish his business but also preserved the City's ownership of the building and protected the historic integrity of the building and entrance to Promenade Hill. Even though he had suggested that Mendolia find out "what we wanted" and try to mediate a compromise, the mayor scoffed at Victor when he presented the proposed solution. Davi was equally disinterested in compromise, declaring that he was content to wait until the four of us--Carrie Haddad, Chris Wagoner, Ellen Thurston, and me--were voted out of office, which he fully expects will happen in November.