Thursday, October 11, 2012

Mark Your Calendars

Sheena Salvino, executive director of the Hudson Development Corporation (HDC) and Hudson Community Development & Planning Agency (HCDPA), announced today that there will be a second public meeting to gather input about Hudson's Brownfield Opportunity Area grant application on Tuesday, October 23. The meeting will take place at 6 p.m. in City Hall. The application can be reviewed here.

Although most of us, when we hear the term brownfield, think of specific sites, like Foster's Refrigeration, the Brownfield Opportunity Area program (people in the know like to pronounce the acronym BOA, as in boa constrictor), this program impacts of the development of our entire waterfront--North Bay, South Bay, and everything in between. The following paragraph is from the "Summary Project Description" in the city's BOA application:
The primary community revitalization objectives to be achieved by this project include; moving the North Bay Recreation and Natural Area Plan towards implementation; improving conditions within the commercial areas of the Southern Redevelopment Node; creating the capacity to link together individual nodes along the river, yielding an expansive and cohesive waterfront experience; successfully marketing and reusing key parcels within the BOA; and, completion of the Nomination document. Anticipated community benefits resulting from this project include job creation, an overall improvement in environmental conditions, investment in vacant commercial properties, a general increased investment in the waterfront neighborhood and additional recreational amenities.
The 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.
Although the document goes on to define what is involved in the analysis of the key parcels, the key parcels are not actually identified in the document available online. Finding out what they are seems to be a pretty good reason to show up for the meeting.


  1. Two Department of State publications available online treat as identical the kind and degree of intended public participation in the LWRP and BOA programs.

    The first is a handbook, or "notebook," which applies to both LWRP and BOA programs. It describes the first function of an advisory committee - such as our "Waterfront Steering Committee" - as that of generating public participation in the program.

    From the DOS notebook: "Community participation does not just happen. You will need to develop community trust in the process and interest in the project."

    The second DOS publication is a Powerpoint presentation which starts running the moment it loads. Titled "BOA Steps 1 and 2 - Planning Framework and Operational Tasks," it explains where we are in the process right now, and what we should be doing as we go along. (It doesn't go into Step 3, which oversees site inspections under the authority of the NYS DEC).

    The list of names on Hudson's BOA Steering Committee was a topic of discussion at Gossips last week. From the DOS notebook: "The advisory committee is the group that represents the public and its interests in the planning process."

    But while the BOA program is meant to be developed publicly in the same manner as the LWRP, so far the public doesn't know a thing about it. If it weren't for Gossips' reporting, I doubt whether Hudson's BOA program would have registered on the public radar at all.

    According to the DOS, what the public ought to be doing right now is taking an interest. In Hudson we should insure that the BOS Steering Committee doesn't go the way of the LWRP Steering Committee. Is there anyone left in Hudson who remembers that debacle?

    • DOS Powerpoint:

    • DOS notebook "Organization for Community Leadership: Orientation for the Advisory Committee and Municipal Staff":

  2. Grant-writer Bill Roehr emailed today confirming that "the minutes from the 10/23 meeting will be appended to the BOA application."

    I regret not having asked Mr. Roehr earlier, but finally we are certain that our public comments will mean something.

    This morning I spoke with our BOA representative at the DOS Division of Coastal Resources. He will be our Bonnie Divine for the program, so to speak (an LWRP reference).

    He hasn't had a chance to look at the already-submitted application and so couldn't address my question why the application includes the standard area-wide BOA proposal, but also individual projects within it. From the sound of it, that seemed irregular to him.

    Naturally he wouldn't hazard a further opinion before reading the application; I just hope he has an answer before the public hearing.

    He also confirmed that SEQRA can be triggered for individual Type I proposals.

    Recall that in order to implement individual LWRP projects such as the [IMO stupid] plan for Holcim's 7 acres, SEQRA may require a holistic approach whereby no aspect of the project may be "segmented" from any other aspect.

    If such are the conditions which apply to study site #14 on the parcel data sheet (#14 encompasses the entire Holcim yard), then this may be the first stage of a whole action the goal of which is the installation a gigantic municipal parking lot and boat launch at the edge of the new South Bay Creek and Marsh Significant Coastal Fish and Wildlife Habitat.

    Considering that there are several officials on Hudson's BOA Steering Committee who are hell-bent on seeing that parking lot realized, I don't believe we can get any further on the issue before the gentleman at the DOS reviews our application. The worry is that a parking lot has already been decided upon as a necessary goal of the LWRP in one of these private meetings Alderman Friedman alluded to yesterday. (Since this is Hudson I think it's fair to say "cabals.")

    Obviously, there are questions that must be answered before a public hearing is conducted.

  3. Anyone curious about the ill-advised plan for the 7 acres - within BOA study area #14 - should refer to the Valley Alliance's critique of the LWRP from 2011. The VA looked closer at the feasibility problems and potential adverse effects of that part of the program than the environmental impact statement did (concerns which are meant to be the sole focus of an EIS).

    Unfortunately, most of the VA's efforts followed the official public comment period, and were consequently ignored by Cheryl Roberts and the other shameless LWRP planners. You'd have to look elsewhere for those comments.

    Unfortunately (even as a result?) the inclination of nearly everyone in office today is to commit more and more funding to feasibility studies and further planning for the site, until we're so deep that we can only go forward.

    The inevitability will snowball after state matching funds are found with conditions wholly divorced from the advisability of the project's goals (cf., Charles Williams Park). Elected officials will eagerly accept grants for the 7 acres on the assumption that constituents consider it "free money."

    Afterwards, complications and unimaginable delays will give us pause, and years of disagreement and rancor will commence as the public gradually awakens from its torpor to realize that all was predicted in the critiques of 2010-11.