Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Important Meetings Coming Up

In the next week, two meetings that relate to the waterfront and future development of this critically important resource have been scheduled.

On Thursday, October 18, the Common Council Economic Development Committee meets at 6 p.m. in City Hall. The announced purpose of this meeting is "to discuss development of the North Bay." It will be recalled that the decision to take up this topic at the Economic Development Committee came in response to Mayor William Hallenbeck's request that the Council move forward on plans for the site of the Furgary Boat Club. It is unclear what these plans are, if they exist at all, but many fear that what Hallenbeck has in mind involves the demolition of the Furgary cabins. 

On Tuesday, October 23, there will be a second public meeting about the City's application for a Brownfield Opportunity Area grant. This program impacts the entire waterfront. Sadly, the first public meeting on the topic was inadequately noticed, and no one showed up. This time things should be different. As proposed, the BOA grant will fund the following scope of work:

  • Development of schematics and cost estimates for Phase I implementation of the North Bay Recreation and Natural Area plan;
  • Preparation of a master plan for redevelopment of commercial areas within BOA Southern Redevelopment Node;
  • Undertaking a market and site reuse possibility analysis for key parcels.
This public meeting takes place at 6 p.m. at City Hall.


  1. For planning purposes it's a convenience that the themes of the two meetings overlap, at least for the North Bay. That should help with participation too.

    It could be that the mayor's greatest ambition is to see something implemented on his watch. The idea of stirring things up by citing Furgary could be explained as a step in that direction.

    The Common Council seems to be taking another approach, which is more comprehensive and thus in keeping with the spirit of the Columbia Land Conservancy's "Concept Master Plan."

    But where the conservancy did not avail itself of public opinion, the council presumably intends to gather information by respecting differences of opinion, heritage, and interest in the North Bay.

    On the other hand, no official has made the effort to reassure concerned parties that this is not the public's sole opportunity to participate in what could easily be some private, already settled, but nevertheless premature scheme.

    In the past, our public meetings were too often exercises in window dressing following agreements made in private. We learned in a recent Gossips thread that the public is coming to this dialogue after so many private discussions, which only serves to remind us that we're beginning at a disadvantage. Hardly a recipe for building trust.

    But the fact is that the conservancy's specific plans for North Bay are not as formed as most believe, and intentionally so. Whether anyone realizes it or not, there will simply be more planning discussions in store.

    Considering that the BOA "brownfields" grant we're seeking is still in the application phase, and that those plans dovetail with long-term plans to develop the North Bay, there will be lots more talk before anyone arrives at specifics.

    Taking this long view, it's apparent that starting the discussion by talking about the Furgary cabins is putting the cart a very long way before the horse.

    Stories about break-ins notwithstanding, the people of Hudson have overwhelmingly expressed an interest in the welfare of the Furgary cabins. We value the historic, cultural and aesthetic presence of structures which also happen to be prized by our new coastal management policies.

    The coastal management policies offer an untried framework for the comprehensive approach that is so far missing in the North Bay equation (missing because public input was never sought before now). These policies show the way to achieving a balance between a myriad of water-related interests. Yet whether in government or in the public realm, almost nobody knows about them!

    Long before anyone begins pressuring for the destruction or preservation of this or that cabin, the city needs a much better understanding of the entire situation in North Bay, and how the Furgary site fits into a plan which residents have not yet had a hand in crafting.

    Just because the land conservancy has proffered a plan doesn't mean that it's perfect in every detail, or that we must fund it as is. If it is basically an acceptable plan, that doesn't mean that we can't or shouldn't still tweak it as we see fit.

    Finally it is time for the public to begin thinking aloud about what it would like to see happen in North Bay. Let's just hope there's no one in city government who covets the idea that this is the beginning and the end of our welcome.

  2. Had there been a meeting three years ago like the on that took place tonight, there would have been no legal action and much less emnity.
    The issue here is inner city autonomy of a place for public use and the maximum use for that public.
    They were Happy hunting grounds before they were public hunting grounds. Gifts from nature not from Lords.

  3. The time has arrived to be partners, and not subjects. I hope that lots of people will get involved.