Sunday, July 22, 2012

All About HDC

HDC (Hudson Development Corporation) came into existence in 1976, in the era when Hudson was the poster child for Urban Renewal, busy destroying the historic fabric that would be the impetus for its eventual renewal twenty years later. HDC's mission statement, adopted in 2006 and since refined, describes its purpose in this way: "The Hudson Development Corporation (HDC) is a non profit Local Development Corporation (LDC) established to sustain, promote and attract projects that improve economic opportunities for businesses and residents, create jobs and enhance the quality of life in the City of Hudson." Over the past almost four decades, HDC, along with HCDPA (Hudson Community Development and Planning Agency), has played a large role in shaping Hudson, and it still does, but its activities and initiatives are not always well known to the people affected by them. This basic situation and a couple of things learned in the past few days have inspired this post.

The kerfuffle about the Furgary Boat Club and the City's position that it can't sell or lease waterfront property to a private entity raises the question of how the Hudson Power Boat Association acquired its land. It seems that some of the riverfront land on which the Hudson Power Boat Association is located--the land at the foot of Promenade Hill, north of the state boat launch and west of the railroad tracks--once belonged to the railroad. HDC acquired it from the railroad in 1984 and sold it to HPBA for a dollar. Of course, that was back in the day when people treated the Hudson River as if it were a sewer and no one in Hudson seemed to place much value on riverfront property. (In December 1984, Art Koweek, then chair of the Hudson Community Development Office, was quoted in Hudson Valley magazine as saying of our waterfront: "It's an industrial area. Let them go out of town to get access to the river.")

Today, HDC is typically the receiver of property acquired by the City of Hudson. For example, when the City took possession of the lone surviving Hudson River Knitting Mills building, HDC ended up owning the building. It was HDC that marketed the building and eventually sold it to Rob Kalin for his new venture, Parachutes.

The same is the case with the Kaz warehouses. When the City acquired the Kaz warehouses at the south end of Second Street in December 2010, the acquisition was done through HDC. HDC now owns the warehouses and is marketing them.

Sheena Salvino, who is young and full of energy and ideas, is the executive director of HDC and HCDPA, a position which, when last I heard, was only part-time. John "Duke" Duchessi, one of the principals of TGW Consulting Group (which used to call itself The Grant Writers), is also part of the HDC staff, responsible for preparing grant applications and administering grants received. HDC has a nine-member board of directors--four are elected officials (the mayor, Common Council president, and Council majority and minority leaders); five are members of the community. Currently, the four elected officials on the HDC board are Bill Hallenbeck, Don Moore, Cappy Pierro, and Ohrine Stewart; the five community members are Steve Anderson, a vice president at Columbia Memorial Hospital; Perry Lasher, a vice president at the Bank of Greene County; Victor Mendolia, chair of the Hudson Democratic Committee; Seth Rapport, owner of Valley Mortgage Company; and Lori Selden, co-owner of Mexican Radio.

Salvino submitted a report on HDC's economic development initiatives last Thursday to the Common Council Economic Development Committee. Two grant applications were mentioned: one for a grant from the Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Program, which we learned something about at the Police Committee meeting on June 26; the other for a "branding/wayfinding grant . . . for $200,000 to cover costs associated with hiring consultants to do a city brand & iconography, gateways, pedestrian kiosks, (fabrication & installation too) a reprint of the walking guide and banner program to highlight districts throughout the City."

Two other initiatives mentioned in Salvino's report are of interest. (The two bulleted items below are quoted directly from the report. Comments in parentheses are part of the original; anything in brackets was added by Gossips.)
  • We discussed, in brief, the idea of developing a linear park. A phase 1 could potentially include a walkway that connects Promenade Park [sic] to the waterfront via a pedestrian bridge. This park could eventually connect to the CLC planned park system by traveling behind [west of?] the housing units [i.e., the north half of Hudson Terrace] toward River loft [i.e., the surviving Hudson River Knitting Mills building] and further connecting to the Furgary site and beyond to the landfill park and Charles Williams Park.
  • There will be money left over from the Charles Williams Park ProjectMaybe $15K? (HCDPA Project) [i.e., the park project is funded by a grant awarded to HCDPA] Ideas: Dog Park (fencing & receptacles), Parking Lot (not my favorite idea), hand launch upgrades at Furgary Boat Club, terraced seating at Charles Williams Park on the incline to be used as outdoor performance space in lieu of the landfill performance space idea (it's perfect for it), Campsite Development (signs, grills, benches, tables) either across from CW Park or develop a passageway to a grassland w/ a view. 
It's interesting that both plans--the one involving an area overlooking and bordering the river, the other for Charles Williams Park, on Mill Street east of North Second--mention the site of the Furgary Boat Club, which suggests that there is currently is no plan for the site but the City--or at least HDC--is actively engaged in trying to come up with one.


  1. We are tremendously lucky to have Sheena Salvino heading up these two agencies. She is a true asset to the City of Hudson.

  2. Great history and breakdown Gossips.

    If the HDC owns the asbestos-laden Kaz warehouse, then I wonder who insures the HDC? How does that work?

    If the HDC is an NGO, then I'd imagine that residents of Hudson are not liable for the Kaz property.

    Surely it will be explained that the HDC is a quasi-governmental entity (with nearly half its board composed of local politicians!), in which case taxpayers will likely end up footing the bill for Kaz's lucky break.

    I'd like to know how the HDC can work for everyone, but that would likely require dropping its electoral component.

    It is a political entity after all.