Sheena Salvino and the HCDPA board thought they were exercising the wisdom of Solomon when they decided the split the lot at Columbia and Second streets between HUG and Habitat for Humanity, but, apparently forgetting that Solomon didn't cut the baby in two, they made a decision that serves no one very well--least of all the cause of affordable housing in Hudson.
At Monday night's informal Common Council meeting, Alderman David Marston (First Ward) initiated a conversation to get on the record the comments of elected officials about, as he put it, "something as delicate as bulldozing a community garden for the sake of affordable housing." John Mason reports on that conversation in today's Register-Star: "Council, residents critique Habitat deal."
Mason does a competent job of recounting all the comments made by elected officials and city residents, but the message to be taken from the discussion seems to be that the Habitat for Humanity model of building single-family houses is inadequate to address the housing needs in Hudson and is a very uneconomical use of the limited land available.
Back in 2008, the PARC Foundation proposed an extensive redevelopment plan for the Second and Fourth wards. The plan, designed by California architect Teddy Cruz, was inspired by the shantytowns of Tijuana. It gave nightmares to many Hudsonians who hold the city's historic architecture in high regard, but it made extremely economical use of the city's limited open space, proposing a mix of affordable and market rate housing which included some units designed specifically for students and others for senior citizens. The plan involved constructing a multi-unit dwelling on the site of the community garden, but plots dedicated to urban agriculture were incorporated into the design in several locations.
A recurring theme in the conversation on Monday night was the need to take a holistic approach to addressing the issue of affordable housing and to revisit both the 1985 Urban Development Plan and the 2003 Comprehensive Plan. Something else that needs to be revisited, if it is at all possible to do it at this point, is the PARC Foundation plan, a small portion of which is now being carried out in the city.
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