Sunday, December 23, 2012

Sharing the Vision

The City of Hudson is seeking a buyer for the former Dunn warehouse building across from riverfront park. The expected proceeds from the sale have been included as "anticipated revenue" in the 2013 city budget. The City is also looking for people to develop the City-owned land adjacent to the Dunn warehouse, extending between Water Street and the railroad tracks, from Broad Street to Ferry Street. The possibility of issuing an RFP (request for proposals) to solicit ideas from potential developers is often mentioned.

The City has enlisted the aid of the Hudson Development Corporation (HDC) in marketing its waterfront property, and at a recent HDC meeting, when the question of the community's vision for these parcels arose, reference was made to a seventeen-year-old document, the Hudson Vision Plan, which, if memory serves, was still a work in progress when it passed out of the community's control. It was never officially adopted by the Common Council, yet it informed the now ten-year-old Comprehensive Plan, which was adopted by the Common Council, and 2011 Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (LWRP). 

Since many people now in Hudson weren't here in 1996 when the Vision Plan was developed, it may be useful to share what was proposed for this part of the waterfront.

This rendering of the Hudson waterfront, which was part of the 1996 Hudson Vision Plan document, appears on page 78 of the New York State Department of State guidebook Making the Most of Your Waterfront, published in 2009.


  1. Thank you for this important post, Gossips.

    People with no knowledge of "The Vision Plan" can have little insight into how Hudson's fate is further entrenched with each new program that makes reference to it. We're held captive to an unofficial document from a previous era basically because a policy-maker's life is thereby made easier. They asked the public once, and once is enough.

    From "our" waterfront program's Generic Environmental Impact Statement [GEIS]:

    "Development of the Vision Plan involved extensive public involvement (Vision Plan, p.80)," [GEIS, p. 3-15].

    In the GEIS, and most recently in the state-sponsored "Brownfield Opportunity Areas Program," the yoke of the past compounds our predecessors' "vision" at every step:

    "[T]he zoning amendments implementing the LWRP incorporate virtually all of the land use and accompanying zoning changes called for in the Vision Plan. ... For example, the LWRP creates a 'Core Riverfront District' based upon the 'Waterfront Zone' as described in the Vision Plan [GEIS p. 3-7]."

    (Despite the 16 years our leadership has had to implement the Vision Plan's allegedly visionary zoning recommendations (/not), the Common Council is apparently incapable of producing an official Zoning Map before racing ahead to amend their last hasty error. At § 325-3, the city code specifies that a Zoning Map "shall be kept up-to-date in the office of the Building Inspector for the use and benefit of the public.”)

    But the following quotation in a footnote in the GEIS explains why we are now committed to one choice among three for the parcels across from the riverfront park, all based on a show of hands among participants in the incomplete Vision Plan of 1996.

    "Based upon public input, three concepts for waterfront development were presented to the public as part of the Vision Plan. 'The first conceptual plan emphasized open space and included extensive pedestrian and recreational amenities. The second plan also included open space but the main focus was a mixed use commercial development in the vicinity of the ‘tank farm’. The third, included little open space and called for adaptive reuse of the Independent Cement property and waterfront hotel. After a presentation of all of the concepts the participants had an opportunity to critique each concept individually. Plan number two, the mixed use plan was clearly the most popular plan' (Vision Plan, p. 80)" [GEIS 3-15 &16].

  2. The Vision Plan was truly instigated by the citizens themselves and brought to the City after many meetings. The City finally agreed to hire Saratoga Associates to draw up a plan based on citizen input. So although the Vision may be llimited, it was a product of ideas of up to 200 citizens who attended the meetings. It did result in finally the tanks being pulled down and the postage stamp riverfront park being created but only after 'The Plan' was picked off the shelf and dusted off. So in 17 years at some progress was made although the Comprehensive Plan was watered down and so the final vision has a long way to go and has been greatly hindered by the non-progress of the LWRP.

  3. But thanks to Carole for reminding us of 'The Vision Plan.

  4. J - I didn't really want to disparage the Vision Plan as much as I wanted to support Gossips' hint that it needs to be updated. Maybe yesterday's "vision" would benefit from a little revisioning seeing as how a few things have happened since then (!).

    But instead of being updated, the Vision Plan is being mined for lucrative foregone conclusions by those who know that today's public is totally bored and jaded with absolutely everything. (Our city has morphed into a mass of retirees with teenage mentalities, while the actual young people apparently don't give a damn.)

    I know that you're not saying that the Vision Plan should still be THE PLAN. But considering how it's being used and by whom, I think that banking what ought to be today's fresh efforts on a mere show of hands more than 15 years ago is foolhardy. And that's what we're doing by default, which is a shame since the involved citizens who created that plan are not the ones who are now studying it for loopholes and opportunities.

    (For an indirect example, the LWRP established the rationale for the causeway road - not to mention its rationale for ignoring other alternatives - on a single sentence fragment that some lawyer discovered in the Comprehensive Plan.)

    But compared with the level of participation in 1996, it's easy to see that something is very wrong with this place today. I hear too many self-aggrandizing stories that provide excuses not to be involved in the present. That's why I feel no sympathy for the victories of yesteryear, nor should I. It's a fantasy, and the sooner we get beyond the tedium of the "two square miles" the better.

    But you make a good point about how the Vision Plan came about, and about Saratoga Associates' place in it. - T