It was standing room only at last night's Common Council meeting, but anyone who came expecting to learn what changes had been made to Hudson's Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (LWRP) during more than a year of discussion and negotiation between the Department of State and Hudson's "LWRP attorney" Cheryl Roberts was disappointed. Common Council President Don Moore announced his intention to hold the proposed final GEIS (Generic Environmental Impact Statement) and the proposed final LWRP in camera, for review only by the Common Council, until after a special meeting to be held on June 1. According to a memo distributed by Moore last night, on June 1, the "Council meets with BFJ Planners, Counsel [Cheryl Roberts], and possibly DOS staff to answer questions and explain the GEIS and changes to the LWRP." The public can attend the special meeting, but there will be no opportunity for members of the public to ask questions or make comments. The day after the special meeting, on June 2, the documents will be available to the public electronically on the City of Hudson website.
The proposed final documents were reportedly completed at the end of last week, but the Department of State did not have a copy until yesterday afternoon, when BFJ sent an electronic copy, and there were only four copies available last night to be distributed to the Common Council, which Moore did by drawing names from a hat. The lucky winners were Geeta Cheddie (First Ward), Chris Wagoner (Third Ward), Abdus Miah (Second Ward), and Sheila Ramsey (Fourth Ward). Moore told the other six aldermen that they would get their copies on Thursday.
Both Sam Pratt, of The Valley Alliance, and Timothy O'Connor, representing the South Bay Task Force, asked why the documents were being kept from the public. Moore explained that he wanted to "respect the Council's ability to examine the documents and have an unencumbered opinion," but Pratt suggested that withholding the documents only spread more distrust. It does seem odd that the aldermen, who are elected to represent their constituents, need to be shielded from the opinions of those constituents in order to form their own opinions. In its description of the special meeting, Moore's memo states, "If Council is ready, Council will vote on whether to accept as final the proposed FGEIS," which suggests that the Common Council could vote to accept the proposed final GEIS before the public has ever had a chance to see it.
The LWRP discussion from last night's meeting can be heard online at WGXC. Don Moore will be interviewed about the LWRP by Victor Mendolia at 10 a.m. this morning on WGXC's @ Issue (90.7 FM or online at WGXC).