Tuesday, January 19, 2016

A Field Trip to View the Erosion

At the Common Council meeting tonight, which begins at 7 p.m., it is expected that Maria Suttmeier, superintendent for the Hudson City School District, will be present to talk about the proposed capital project at Montgomery C. Smith Intermediate School and to answer questions about HCSD's interest in acquiring adjacent land currently owned by the City of Hudson. As the map below shows, the land is needed to construct an access road around the proposed new building.  

Environmental watchdog Timothy O'Connor has raised concerns about the impact of the proposed new construction, particularly about the erosion that has been caused by the storm water system currently in place at the intermediate school and the likelihood that the situation will only be made worse by the proposed alterations. 

On Friday, O'Connor and Suttmeier organized a site visit to examine the erosion. Accompanying them on the excursion were John Sharkey from Rhinebeck Architecture, a firm that is designing the new addition; Jeffrey Budrow from the engineering firm Weston & Sampson; Maria McLaughlin and Sage Carter from the HCSD Board of Education; Nick Zachos and Holly Gardner who serve on Hudson's Conservation Advisory Council; and Nate Davis from the Columbia Land Conservancy. The site of the erosion was extremely difficult to reach, and only the most intrepid ventured along the slippery, clay-bottomed stream bed to view the damage at close hand. 

Representatives of HCSD expressed concern about the impact of storm water runoff from the school's property on the adjacent City-owned property. Although their actions going forward could prevent further erosion, it is not clear if HCSD can be obligated to remediate the existing conditions. One possibility that has been suggested is that a deal be worked out whereby the land sought by HCSD from the City of Hudson be granted on the condition that the existing erosion be repaired with funds from the capital project budget--in other words, that the money not spent to acquire the needed land be spent to repair the erosion.


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  2. Tonight, the school district committed itself to fixing the erosion damage if and when the HCSD ends up acquiring the land where the damage has occurred. This was in answer to a well-worded question by Alderman Friedman.

    It's an excellent outcome for Underhill Pond and the North Bay, and for the district's Capital Project itself.

    Many thanks to the school district and school board for caring. Its members weren't aware of the problem earlier, but once they found out about it they really focused on addressing the problem.

    From a "green" perspective, let's give the HCSD everything it needs to achieve this positive goal.

  3. This seems like a good outcome. I appreciate the work of the watchdoggers, the CAC, the Council and the cooperation of the HCSD school board. That's community working together.

    1. Yes, this was a community effort beginning with the school district and school board themselves.

      In addition to the good questions from the Aldermen, weeks of individual contributions by members of the City's Conservation Advisory Council were invaluable in reaching this compromise. Then last night, the CAC's Chair, Mr. Lerner, asked the school district very good questions which helped clarify and solidify the deal.

      This was a success all around, as long as the deal which was outlined is actually implemented (I think it will be), which will depend on voters giving the school district's Capital Project the thumbs up, and will further depend on the Common Council remaining alert and interested. I think it will.

      Perhaps we've discovered a new model of "community working together." Certainly the CAC is new in this, so that's not too exaggerated a claim.

  4. Good News ... again.
    Maybe Hudson is turning a page.