Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Fate of 208 Columbia Street

At their meeting on December 19, the board of HCDPA (Hudson Community Development and Planning Agency) passed a resolution to accept sealed bids for the purchase of 208 Columbia Street, which would be due by noon on December 24. 

Earlier in the meeting, city attorney Cheryl Roberts cited New York General Municipal Law Section 507, which deals with the disposition of property, and talked of the need for ten days' public notice, but after the board went into executive session, the need for adequate public notice seemed no longer a concern. The next day--Friday, December 20--this notice appeared on the City of Hudson website, accessed by clicking on "HCDPA--Special Meeting" on the calendar for Tuesday, December 24:
NOTICE: Seal Bid Announcement for Sale of 208 Columbia Street, Hudson, NY and Special Mtg Notice Hudson Community Development and Planning Agency (HCDPA) will sell property located at 208 Columbia Street for the purpose of construction of low to moderate income housing. Successful bidders must demonstrate competency and a proven track record of development and construction of low to moderate income housing. Information about the property may be obtained through HCDPA located at 1 Front Street, Hudson, NY. Bids are due by noon on December 24, 2013. Bids will be opened at a special meeting of the HCDPA board to be held City Hall, 520 Warren Street, Hudson, NY at noon on December 24, 2013. The purpose of this meeting is to select a successful bidder for the purchase of 208 Columbia Street and to conduct and [sic] environmental review of such sale prior to award of the bid.
The language of the notice suggests a predisposition to sell the property to Habitat for Humanity, and that's exactly what happened. Four days after notice was made--two of those days being weekend days--the HDCPA board met to open the only sealed bid received. Responding to an inquiry from Gossips, Sheena Salvino, executive director for HCDPA, summarized what happened:
Habitat for Humanity submitted the only bid for 208 Columbia Street. The bid submitted was $5,000. The Board voted to accept the bid and passed a resolution. Habitat provided a 10 percent deposit to be held in escrow until closing. The last step is to obtain Council approval for the sale of 208 Columbia and the lease at 202-204-206 Columbia to Gardens.
Asked if four days had been adequate public notice, Salvino explained, "There is no minimum time requirement for public notice." 

In the 2013 Final Assessments and Parcel Inventory, the full market value of 208 Columbia Street is given as $25,500.


  1. a less shady approach would have been to publically auction off this parcel - but shady is the Hudson way

  2. "The last step is to obtain Council approval"?

    How strange that on November 7th we were instructed by a city alderman who's also a Board Member for Habitat for Humanity that "the Common Council has nothing to do with this land."

    A misdirection? A conflict of interest?

    In Hudson? Impossible!

  3. I have been here for 26 years and I'm still waiting for the word "shame" to make a difference!

  4. I have way too much to say about this, so some other time, except that this is my neighborhood and it makes me very sad and depressed. What a rigged bunch of bullshit, that just never ends.

  5. conflict of interest, endorsed by Hudson

  6. Lucky for the friendly city, tricky Rick took charge twenty years ago during the Shrimp Box scandal, by implementing himself as "overseer" of the development corporation.

  7. Readers who have been here less than twenty-five years might find it interesting/ironic that Urban Renewal began by eliminating the Matice farm, to make room for the sewage treatment plant on Dock St.

    From an engineering point of view, the plant would have been much better placed on the odd side of Dock street rather than in the North bay.

    Be that as it may, the city pound could easily be moved to the other side of the street (or further upland) which would not only make room for a community garden but more importantly, give access to the tidal stream that lies hidden behind. This would create additional inner city river access, a boat launch at flood, and canoe sluice at ebb tide.

    1 Riparian

    1. Yes, "the [treatment] plant would have been much better placed on the odd side of Dock Street" from a legal aspect as well.

      Too many readers who've been here their whole lives still don't realize that the treatment plant was mistakenly built on state-owned property.

      Of course everyone from the North Dock Tin Boat Association knows this all too well. You fellows paid a great financial price for the privilege of having the state negate long-standing deeds, only to be evicted soon after.

      The City of Hudson, on the other hand, was absolved of the same error before the state revealed that the city was also a squatter for decades.

      To be accurate, the city also paid a small fortune in deed searches to prove that it held title, but the state invalidated all claims other than its own.

      This just seemed as good a moment as any to recount a typically bizarre Hudson story about waterfront property.

    2. "Land formerly under water returns to the sovereign". In the US there is no king, so it returns to the (people of the) state.
      The unresolved issue at North Dock is; the fishermens wharf is still below the high water line.
      We lost our case based on "the soil beneath navigable remains vested in the state".
      Fishermen are part of the state and are entitled to free and easy (equal) use of the wharf.

  8. In a place like Hudson, the ancient right you've described is cheerfully dismantled, while AMTRAK enjoys unrestricted shore access across city-owned upland and nobody bats an eye!

    Is there anyone else who's curious to see how the AMTRAK lease is written, or whether there is a written agreement at all?

    The price of liberty is eternal vigilance. But where a superficial uniformity of thought in the citizenry conceals a deep incoherence, then it's as sure as the tides the society becomes vulnerable to the proclivities of capriciousness law-makers.

  9. Back to the garden, if the conveyance of the Matice farm was not legal, is not the city pound on State property formerly under water? Might the public be better served by a community garden than a car lot?

  10. I believe that the 14.49 acres under the Waste Water Treatment Plant, now granted to the city, includes all previously underwater lands up to the high water mark of 1785.

    Curious wording though on the state OGS map, which describes the city bus garage and the lot behind it as "Lands Occupied by the City of Hudson."

    But because those areas were upland of the shore in 1785, they must already have been granted to the city proprietors by the state.

    In other words, the deeds that the Proprietors drew up where the bus garage is today were legitimate; the deeds they drew up beneath Furgary were counterfeit.

  11. The City's land grant application map was for land (14.49 acres) north of Dock St. The very same map shows the 1785 HWL protruding south of Dock to land "swapped" to Riverloft LLC and now to Craftec. If the city didn't own sewer plant property because it was formerly under water, how were these lands transferred without permission of the "sovereign"?
    The answer to this question is obvious, the city of Hudson is now the lord of land under water and this is no longer a nation of laws but a nation of little Lords...

  12. I'll definitely check out the map when I get home tonight.

    I hope that others can glean from our conversation how bizarre - and unfair - this place is.

    Of course the state has now granted certain underwater lands to the city in the North Bay. But it appears that the same rationalization for the state to do so was sustained when that fisherman's trespassing case was dismissed after being charged for fishing on that same shore.

    That tells me that the rarified conditions the state had to meet to grant underwater lands were in some way transmitted to the city, and that the city can't risk the same grant being invalidated by ignoring our ancient rights. This is a small compensation, but it's something.

  13. Yes! Now I'm in front of the map I see that you're correct, Joe.

    Whaddya know, the land south of Dock Street around Front Street should belong to the people of the State of New York.

    So, now what? A call to Hernick at OGS? (Like he'd do anything.)

  14. It's how the south bay was filled in. Incrementally, the city moves the HWL forward, fills it in illegally, and land formerly under water returns to the "sovereign".

    The least we can do, is let them know, we know.