A blog about Hudson, New York

Edifice Complex

I’ve read War and Peace, Magic Mountain, and all of Patricia Highsmith’s Tom Ripley mysteries. But it took a special effort to make head or tails of the saga of where Hudson’s Department of Social Services—and by extension its police headquarters and municipal court—will end up.

Right now DSS is located in an office park- type structure on Railroad Avenue (below right), where its lease is up very soon. Recognizing years ago how cramped that building had become, Columbia County planned to move it, first to a site purchased for the purpose many miles out of town in  Ockawamick (i.e.near Philmont)  and then, due to  vociferous community opposition to the distance, much closer to a vacant former Walmart building on Fairview Avenue.  But now because of  budgetary constraints, particularly  after wasting so much money on the (currently unused) Philmont site, the county has gotten cold feet about the Walmart plan, which would have required many millions of dollars to buy and at least that much to renovate. The last update is that they are thinking of staying in the current location and making do.

This has seriously frustrated Hudson mayor Rick Scalera’s plan to use the Railroad Avenue building for the police and municipal court —a move mandated by New York State  because of the glaring inadequacies of the building currently serving both functions  But now he can’t because of the county’s mercurial decision-making process.

How much easier at least some of this might have been had Scalera not authorized, as one of his first acts of mayor in 1994, the demolition of the historic 4th Street School, pictured above —a fine (and sizeable) example of  Romanesque Revival architecture designed by Hudson’s own Henry Moul. This sadly absent building would have been a terrific place for a court and police headquarters (if not large enough for DSS), a civic center crown instead of what is now an ungainly void (below left). –Scott Baldinger

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