Tiffany Martin Hamilton, who organized the Facebook group, opened the meeting by reviewing the issues she had identified:
- Development of the waterfront
- Establishing a dog park
- Better parking facilities for local businesses
- Realistic plan for improving Seventh Street Park
- Appropriate renovation of Promenade Hill
- Attracting new, green businesses to Hudson
- Encouraging educational institutions to establish a local presence
- Developing a "green belt" connecting Hudson with the Greenport Conservation Area and beyond
Comments about education took two forms. There was concern about the quality of public education in Hudson, voiced primarily by the parents of children who had not yet entered the public school system. (Parents present whose children who had successfully completed their educations in Hudson public schools responded to these concerns with some reassurance.) There was also interest in partnering with higher education--strengthening the tie between Hudson and Columbia-Greene Community College with better transportation as well as enticing other institutions of higher learning to establish a presence in Hudson.
Affordable housing was an issue mentioned by a few people--both by people interested in increasing the city's population and by those worried about being priced out of Hudson. There was also concern expressed about the number of buildings with potential rental units currently being warehoused in the city.
The state of the sidewalks has been an issue in Hudson for at least twenty years, and it was mentioned by several people at last night's meeting--one person expressing the desire to be able to sweep his sidewalk instead of mowing it. It seemed not generally understood that sidewalks, everywhere other than on Warren Street, were a responsibility the City has handed off to individual property owners, but the general feeling was there needed to be some comprehensive and standardized improvement to the sidewalks throughout the city.
Jake Plourde, who was greeted with applause when he rose and introduced himself, expressed his concern about banning dogs from the cemetery and with the state of disrepair in the oldest parts of the cemetery, particularly some of the mausoleums. He cited the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Tarrytown, one of the oldest rural cemeteries in the country, as an example of a cemetery where dogs are allowed and where there is an effective effort to preserve and maintain the historic and architecturally significant funerary monuments and structures. He suggested that a similar initiative should happen in Hudson.
The Internet, which was compared in importance with the coming of the railroad in the 19th century, and unacceptable disposal of trash were also mentioned as issues of concern.
A topic that ran through the discussion like a leitmotif was the lack of responsiveness and transparency in city government. Early on in the discussion, it was noted that achieving the goals being identified involved certain expectations of elected officials. A relatively new resident of the Fifth Ward expressed her sense that she was underrepresented in city government. A relatively new resident of the First Ward declared that she was "amazed by how difficult things are in Hudson, when there are so many bright, like-minded people here." A longtime resident of Hudson expressed the desire for "a more open, friendlier government." It's interesting to note that only three elected officials were present at the meeting: one alderman--John Friedman (Third Ward)--and two supervisors--Sarah Sterling (First Ward) and Ellen Thurston (Third Ward).
There was general interest among people at the meeting to learn more about how city and county government functions, and there was agreement that members of the public needed to attend more meetings of the Common Council and its committees.
A memorable statement from one person present at the meeting was that she grew up in Hudson but left "like my hair was on fire" after finishing high school. A couple of decades later, she has moved back to Hudson, because the city as it is today "is the place where I want to live."
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