March 11, 2011
Mr. Jeffrey Rovitz, Executive Director
Mental Health Association of Columbia-Greene Counties
713 Union Street
Hudson, NY 12534
Dear Mr. Rovitz:
I submit to you herewith a petition with 652 signatures urging the Mental Health Association of
Columbia-Greene Counties to reconsider its plan which will result in the demolition of 900
Columbia Street. This petition was initiated in the hope that MHA might be sensitive to public
opinion and open to seeking a way to achieve its goal without sacrificing a significant historic
building in the City of Hudson. I encourage you to review the petition and especially to read the
comments that many of the signatories have made.
I, and the people who have signed the petition, recognize the value of the work that the Mental
Health Association of Columbia-Greene Counties does in our communities. We are aware of the
opposition encountered when you tried to establish a facility in Greenport. We appreciate that
the plan now being proposed, involving a site in Hudson where MHA has operated a residence
without controversy or harassment for many years, seemed to be the course of least resistence
after a year of contention, but demolishing a building that has survived for two hundred years
in a city whose current renewal and continuing economic vitality can be attributed to its
historic architecture is ill-considered.
In the mid-1990s, Columbia Memorial Hospital wanted to demolish Cavell House, a building
named for the heroic World War I nurse Edith Cavell, to expand its parking lot. In discussion
with community members wanting to save the historic mansion, CMH President Jane Erhlich
steadfastly maintained that the hospital was in the business of health care not historic
preservation. Fortunately, it was discovered that the two causes were not mutually exclusive,
and the mansion, whose long history is a study in adaptive reuse, now houses the state-of-the-
art Cavell Cancer Treatment Program.
Cavell House and 900 Columbia Street already have something in common. Both, at different
times in history, have housed nurses training at Hudson’s hospital. It is my fervent hope that
the two buildings can have something else in common in the future: being spared from
demolition by creative thinking and cooperative problem solving.
I hope you will agree to meet with a small group of people committed to saving 900 Columbia
Street—representatives of Historic Hudson as well as other members of the community who
bring to the task the expertise needed to find a solution that will achieve MHA’s goals, while
preserving the historic house. If you are open to such a discussion, please contact me via email
at email@example.com or by phone at 822-1912.
We will make every effort to bring to the initial discussion “well thought-out, practical ideas,”
but please recognize that a satisfactory outcome can only be the result of cooperation and
commitment to finding an alternative solution by both parties.
I look forward to hearing from you.
The Gossips of Rivertown