Tuesday, December 20, 2016

$100,000 Here, $100,000 There . . .

and pretty soon you're talking about real money.

Tonight, at its regular meeting for December, the Common Council passed the resolution, initiated by Alderman Tiffany Garriga (Second Ward), to increase the funding for the ramp at Promenade Hill by $100,000, but not before aldermen John Friedman (Third Ward) and Garriga and to a lesser extent Abdus Miah (Second Ward) had a heated discussion about the wisdom of redirecting $100,000, which had been written into the 2017 budget against the possibility of a lawsuit over the City's weighted voting system should the Fair & Equal referendum fail, toward the proposed ramp at Promenade Hill.


Most of what was said has been said before. Friedman told Garriga and Miah, "You spend money like water." Garriga repeatedly invoked people with disabilities, as well as mothers with strollers, who were denied access to Hudson's most historic park. Miah complained that $20,000 had been appropriated for a ramp and asserted that those members of the Common Council who were unhappy with the ramp that $20,000 would buy were now obligated to support the resolution that would appropriate $100,000 to the ramp. Friedman had a different solution: "Do it right, and fund it slowly." To this Garriga countered, "Tell the disabled that we don't need a ramp."

Audience member Steve Dunn called for the vote on the resolution to be deferred and added a new wrinkle to the argument. He suggested that the $100,000, originally appropriated for legal fees, was needed for legal fees of a different nature: "to hire separate counsel to deal with Colarusso" and its proposal, now before the Planning Board, for a haul road from the quarry to the dock. 

When a vote was finally called, the resolution passed--but barely. The resolution required a simple majority, which is 1,015 affirmative votes; it got 1,019 affirmative votes. Those supporting the resolution were Council president Claudia DeStefano (190) and aldermen Robert Donahue (Fifth Ward, 364), Garriga (185), Miah (185), and Lauren Scalera (Fourth Ward, 95). Those opposing the resolution were alderman Friedman (180), Henry Haddad (Third Ward, 180), Priscilla Moore (Fifth Ward, 364), Michael O'Hara (First Ward, 95), and Rick Rector (First Ward, 95). Alderman Alexis Keith (Fourth Ward) was absent from the meeting.
COPYRIGHT 2016 CAROLE OSTERINK

15 comments:

  1. The City must not run out the clock by its inaction on these legal questions. In the circumstances, doing nothing can only harm the City's interests.

    Alderman Friedman made good arguments which he then left in the Council President's care. But the same attorney who advises the Council also advises the Office of the Mayor.

    Our attorney's must be asked to initiate an investigation, which begs the original question, who will let the clock run out due to their inaction?

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  2. Carole, could you put some directional arrows on the drawing of the proposed "ramp." It looks like it's going to be built above Front Street (I see two cars running under it) and that the houses are to be below grade. Where is the Chamber building? It would certainly help to see where this new construction goes compared to current park. Thanks.

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    1. Peter: It sounds like you need more than arrows to understand the placement of the ramp. It begins along the west side of the parking lot behind the firehouse that is now the Chamber of Commerce. The entrance (if you can see the small figure in a wheelchair) is at the southwest corner of the parking lot. The ramp then proceeds north to the boundary between City property and Hudson Terrace (15 North Front Street) and then west along that north boundary into the park itself. It ends at the top, where it intersects with the path that already exists there. The gray area you see, which the ramp borders on two sides, is the playground that is there now. There are no cars "running under it." Those are cars parked in the Hudson Terrace parking lot, and those houses "below grade" are buildings in Hudson Terrace. The Chamber building does not appear in the drawing. It would be located out of the picture in the lower left.

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    2. Thanks, Carole, for trying, but I still don't get it. Isn't there a drawing someplace that would show us a little more perspective, so we can see this thing in context? Front & Warren, for instance, would be a nice orienting landmark. The flagpole? St. Winnifred?

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    3. I suggest, Peter, that you go to the site. Just park your car in the Chamber of Commerce parking lot and recall what I said. The ramp is nowhere near St. Winifred or the flagpole.

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    4. Better than that, Carole, I jog down there most mornings and can testify to the fact that this drawing makes very little sense. (To my eyes the "ramp" in this drawing runs above Front Street.) And I'm not interested in all the "insiders" giving me detailed (word) descriptions of the thing when, as is standard in most building projects (especially those costing $100k), the public she be able to see a decent drawing of where their money is going. cheers, --peter

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  3. And not to tempt the political gods here, but your post raised a question I've heard from others: when do the new ward boundaries take effect? And will it be automatic or does the Council have to certify, and the Mayor sign, the new voting/boundary rules? Thanks. peter m

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    1. In November 2017, in the next local election, aldermen will be running and voters will be voting in the new wards. In January 2018, when those aldermen take office, Council votes will be one person/one vote. The vote on the ramp would have been a tie--5 to 5--since one alderman was absent.

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    2. Was more interested in when the new ward boundaries became law, but don't worry, I'll find it.

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  4. Peter: If you haven't done so, click on the illustration. It will enlarge to almost full screen. Upper left corner is the beginning of the hill upon which rests St. Winnie.

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    1. Thank you, Dick Donovan. What a difference a click makes!

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  5. I have to agree with Peter, the drawing makes absolutely no sense. This is the second time I've tried to figure it out.

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  6. Thanks, Dick. What a difference a click makes. --pm

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  7. It occurred to me, while reading another Gossips post, that this is a historic park and this "ramp" should probably have certificate of appropriateness from the Historic Preservation Commission.

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    1. It has gotten a certificate of appropriateness from the Historic Preservation Commission. It was presented and approved on December 9 and reported by Gossips on December 12: http://gossipsofrivertown.blogspot.com/2016/12/news-from-fridays-hpc-meeting.html

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