Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Another Look at HDC

In July 2012Gossips published a post about the Hudson Development Corporation, the not very well understood quasi-governmental entity that has been around since 1976 and has, over the past four decades, had some fairly significant and long-term impacts on the City of Hudson. Today, two years later, some recent events inspire a new look at HDC--in particular, at the HDC board.

It was recently reported in the Register-Star that Eileen Halloran, former city treasurer, "beat out" Marie Balle, owner of the vintage clothing store Look and a member of the Hudson City Democratic Committee, for a seat on the HDC board. It seemed odd that people were competing for seats on that board in light of the fact that, back in December 2012, the HDC board voted unanimously to increase the number of "at large" or community members from five to eleven. (Four elected officials serve ex officio on the HDC board: the mayor, the Common Council president, and the Common Council majority and minority leaders.) 

Checking the HDC website reveals that the HDC board is hardly a full house. Although the minimum number of members is nine, there are currently only eight: the four ex officio members (William Hallenbeck, Don Moore, Ohrine Stewart, and Bart Delaney) and four members from the community "at large" (Perry Lasher, a vice president with the Bank of Greene County; Duncan Calhoun, co-owner of Croff House and The Barlow Hotel; Seth Rapport, attorney and owner of Valley Mortgage Company; and Christine Jones, food producer and caterer). 

Halloran and Balle were not competing for the same opening. They both could have been appointed, but Halloran got the requisite number of votes from the current members to approve her appointment, and Balle did not. Halloran's appointment does not bring the board to its minimum complement of nine, because Seth Rapport, the current president of the board, has served for two three-year terms and cannot be reappointed.

It is often the case with boards like HDC that no one is stepping up to serve, but that's not exactly true in this case. Victor Mendolia, chair of the Hudson City Democratic Committee who ran for mayor last year, made it known that he wanted to be reappointed for a second term when his first term was up in May, but his fellow board members, who vote anonymously, did not reappoint him. Similarly, Balle did not get the votes needed to be appointed, even though she, unlike Halloran, meets the published requirements for board members: "The Directors must be employed by an entity which does business in the greater Hudson area or practice a trade or profession in the greater Hudson area."

A lot of initiatives originate with HDC--for example, the proposal to "re-imagine" the Public Square, a.k.a. Seventh Street Park; a comprehensive "wayfinding" project involving kiosks and signage; the marketing of the Dunn building, the only surviving historic building on Hudson's waterfront, and the former Kaz warehouses on Cross Street. Often, as with the Public Square when the proposed plans for its transformation were presented on a Friday evening before a Monday deadline for submitting the grant application, the public has no idea what's being contemplated until late in the game. Perhaps more people on the HDC board who live and work in Hudson would give us all a better sense that the initiatives and decisions that will affect us all involve us all, to the greatest possible extent.

Anyone interested in being considered for the HDC board is asked to contact Sheena Salvinoexecutive director for HDC, "to discuss the application process." Given the makeup of the current board, with equal numbers of elected officials and "at large" community members, getting the votes required to be appointed might be challenging, but it could be worth the effort.

1 comment:

  1. As much as I like Eileen, I'm disappointed Marie Balle didn't get the requisite number of votes. She's a very savvy and involved merchant, very aware of and a participant in local politics, very articulate, she would be a great asset to the Board. The vote shows that they are as ever out of touch with the commercial heart of Hudson.