Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Last Night at City Hall

Two issues of critical interest came up at last night's informal Common Council meeting.

Photo credit: South Bay Task Force
US Army Corps of Engineers The plan to get the US Army Corps of Engineers to conduct a reconnaissance report on South Bay has been in the works for quite a while--the initiative of the citizens' group called the South Bay Task Force (Patrick Doyle, Chris Reed, Michael O'Hara, Meg Carlon, Timothy O'Connor). Almost a year ago, in April 2010, members of the South Bay Task Force met with USACE representatives Jason Shea and Karen Ashton to discuss South Bay. Others attending were Common Council President Don Moore, Mark Wildonger of Scenic Hudson, and Benedict McCaffree from Congressman Scott Murphy's office. The outcome of the meeting was the determination by the USACE that South Bay merited a preliminary study, comparable to a Phase I environmental study, to discover if there were contaminants in the wetland and to explore the possibility of remediation. In June, at the South Bay Symposium, Patrick Doyle reported that the only thing required to get the USACE to conduct the $100,000 federally funded study was "a call from Scott Murphy's office."

In August 2010, Mayor Scalera and Moore asked Murphy to introduce a resolution authorizing the USACE study. Unfortunately, the authorization was not secured before Murphy lost his House seat to Chris Gibson, so the request was taken up by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who has introduced the resolution in the US Senate. The Senate resolution requires a local sponsor, so at last night's meeting a resolution was introduced to make the City of Hudson the non-federal sponsor. According to Moore, it will be late spring before we know if the study has been authorized.          

The Sloop Eleanor Louise Bliss and Joe Kenneally were at last night's meeting, seeking the Council's help in finding a location on the waterfront to carry out the restoration of the 108-year-old Hudson River sloop Eleanor. Their original plan, explained at an introductory meeting on January 6, was to build a pole barn, estimated to cost $20,000, over the sloop at Kenneally's Clay Pond Farm property on Route 23B in Greenport and to carry out the restoration there. Last night, Bliss explained that there had been a "groundswell of interest that [the restoration] take place at the waterfront," and they were now seeking a building that could be used for the purpose. They require a space 40 feet by 20 feet with a 14-foot ceiling and electricity.

The Kaz warehouses on Cross Street, acquired by the Hudson Development Corporation (HDC) in December 2010, seemed to be the site Bliss and Kenneally were considering most seriously. Moore explained that the warehouses had been Mayor Scalera's suggestion but expressed his own opinion that "time might be a problem." (A family health emergency kept Scalera from being at last night's meeting to address the issue.) The restoration is anticipated to take three years, which Moore felt was too long a commitment for the warehouses since the City wants to demolish them and sell the site for development. Another HDC-owned property--the surviving building of the Hudson River Knitting Mill complex--was suggested as a possible site, as were some privately owned buildings on the waterfront, but the idea that Moore seemed to favor was that the not-for-profit venture rent space in the former LB Industries building. 

At the end of a discussion that came to no definitive conclusion, Bliss asked, "What should I do next?" Moore answered: "Call me in the morning."       

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