Friday, September 28, 2012

Charles Williams Park Update

Charles Williams Park was a topic of discussion at the HCDPA (Hudson Community Planning & Development Agency) meeting on Thursday night. It was revealed that $214,242 of the original $250,000 has so far been spent on the project.

The grant was awarded in 2007 when Dick Tracy was mayor, but work on the park didn't begin until Rick Scalera returned to the mayor's office in 2008. Cappy Pierro, who was mayor's aide to Scalera and is now on the HCDPA board by virtue of the fact that he is Common Council majority leader, explained that there was "a lot of site preparation." Pierro went on to say that the project was "pared back because there was no way we could do it with that amount of money" and summed things up by saying: "When it comes right down to it, $250,00 doesn't go too far." 

So, how will the remaining $35,758 be spent? John "Duke" Duchessi, grant writer and administrator for HCDPA, indicated that "what we're talking about now are picnic tables."

Gossips has requested an accounting of how the $214,242 has been spent.


  1. Carol - One thing to keep in mind. If you don't get an accounting of how the money was spent, I believe you can submit a FOIL and obtain the information that way.

  2. I can say that Crawford and Associates did a huge amount of grading of the site.
    Then left it unseeded.
    After lengthy erosion the site had to be reworked yet again.
    Definitely ate up much more of that grant than was necessary.
    Double dipping.

  3. Proof of a bad application of the Environmental Protection Fund.

    Meanwhile we're waiting years to learn whether we'll have a chance TO EVEN ASK FOR a hundred thousand of federal money for a US Army Corps of Engineers study of the South Bay. I guess it just takes that long.

    When we finally win the appropriation, as I believe we will in 8 or 10 years, the study will be used towards a FEMA solution to prevent flooding on 9G south of the city, among other things.

    Again, we're looking for $100,000 for the ACE study.

    But consider that the federal government has already forked over $250K for Falkenheimer's locked bathrooms at the waterfront, and the state's foolish largesse has purchased everything you see in Gossips' photo for a total of $214,242.

    It's nearly incredible and totally disproportionate, until you remember the ambition of our grant-writers to keep their jobs. They have to turn out product no matter where the money comes from or what it's to be used for.

    They need us, but actually it's a symbiotic relationship. Together we gorge by virtue of the bloated host's inattention (government).

    In that case the grant writers take on the aspect of a cancer, with no responsibility or even the comprehension to be able to regulate growth. Or perhaps they're like hired gluttons for our vicarious gobbling, with no governor in sight and our collective culpability excused.

    Just as the Tibetans take on no karma when eating meat that's killed by someone else, as long as someone else is willing to bankroll the irresponsibility of perhaps thousands of municipalities across the state (and their grant-writers) then the recipients will continue to tell themselves that it's all free money.

    If the photograph above doesn't elicit some sense of shame then people need their heads examined.

  4. This may or may not be relevant. When the hill was being graded, I went down there to take pictures. One of the workers told me that the Mayor told him not to allow people to take pictures.

  5. When the police instruct you not to take pictures, that's a news story.

    When anyone else tells you that photos are not permitted, that's a gigantic red flag.

    Of course the moment is passed, but I wonder which mayor are we talking about?

  6. Very astute comments, unheimlich.

  7. Thanks J, I just went to have a look at the rain-soaked site with its eroding clay hill behind. Maybe they'd better hold onto that $35.7K for the eventual triple dipping (heh).

    Nobody who doesn't live on Mill Street is ever going to go down there. It's basically a playground for the few kids in the Habitat for Humanity houses.

    If someone asked me if I didn't think those few kids were worth that kind of investment from the Environmental Protection Fund, I'd answer "NO."

    Not that I regret the siting of the Habitat houses there - I don't - but keep in mind that we never secured an alternative firing range that the HPD could call its own. It's an easily forgotten detail.

  8. I stumbled upon this park during a walk this summer. Unaware of its existence or history, I was shocked because it was so unexpected and... surreal, like the park time forgot. And now we find out it almost did.

    I think it could have potential as a lovely spot on the edge of town. I'm happy that the neighborhood children can play there, but I think other people would go down if there were proper parking places, a few tables, trees, bike racks, rubbish bins, not to mention restrooms. And hey, throw up some fencing and put in a dog park. Make the most of the space available! I will remain hopeful that the POTENTIAL of this park can be realized.

    Yet I will wait with bated breath for the accounting of how $214k was spent... And god help us if the City tries to convince that $35k will only by picnic tables.

  9. “All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them.” - Galileo

    Thank you to all of you who persistently demand transparency from city officials.

  10. Speaking only for myself, you're welcome Lisa!

    I'm willing to bet that your recognition means a lot to others too, but I'm only guessing.

    I reckon in any community there will always be a few who doggedly chip away at the unfortunate results of unchecked human nature. In Hudson it feels as if those who demand the kind of transparency that only a few of us wish to attain can't be organized into groups of more than one.

    For those who are apt to abuse power, whether elected or appointed, it's easy to put further dampers on public participation under those kinds of social conditions. For a long time that's been the story here.

    Hudson's tribe of loners will continue to chip away at the edges, but the city desperately needs the participation of new people, younger people, and new leadership. The deck needs to be shuffled and the cobwebs shaken out.

    The saving grace among the fourth estate in Hudson is surely the existence of Gossips, and Gossips' invitation of our comments. Gossips is a giant step in the right direction for which I am very grateful.

    So stick around. Stay tuned. Drop a line every so often ....

  11. My wife correctly ridiculed me for the last thing I wrote, but we have to do whatever we can to get people involved.

    For instance, there are state grants that were awarded to the city for more than the amounts specified in this post, and which are still unaccountable. How can this be left to a handful of citizens, if that, to investigate?

    And don't look to the Register Star for help. The publisher half-understands their newspaper's function as covering the tracks of the misuse of power. But other than exercise a vote as potential customers, do we complain?

    So many of the Register Star's public comments after past articles dealt more directly with abuses of power in Hudson than the newspaper itself ever would - many of those comments coming from politicians themselves (either self-identified or not).

    With the paper's new format, those comments are all gone. A newspaper with no ombudsman and a history of siding with old, local power arrangements has unilaterally wiped the slate clean, and citizens say nothing.

    Who can say that we don't deserve our lot?

  12. I may as well add yet another observation to the creation of this park and the expense put into it. The original outlay of the land was a nightmare. Someone had put an earthen berm across the top of the first rise, forcing all the run off into a heavily eroded culvert which then created a marsh on exposed clay where topsoil once was harvested - and a shooting HPD range.
    The no bid contract went to - of course - you know - again.
    I had suggested many local earth movers for estimates but was quickly corrected . However it looked like as easy remedy.
    What may have added even more money into the expense was something that happened later that defies description.
    Behind the Habitat for Humanity houses (the last one btw was supposed to be the restrooms and picnic center) grew a huge overwhelming mountain of dirt fill where trees used to stand.
    Just why this was all deposited and graded into the property had nothing to do with regrading the proposed park - as far as i could tell - but it happened anyway.
    go figure ...

  13. Well then I may as well add another observation too.

    In 2011 the HCDPA secured an additional $240K grant for the Charles William Park from the NYS Department of Transportation, which equalled 80% of a projected total for walkways and bike paths.

    The money may not have been collected yet, and maybe it should stay that way.

  14. unheimlich I would like to be more involved but honestly wouldn't know where to start. How about a mentoring program? :)

  15. Lisa, please ask Gossips for my email and I'll send you in the best direction depending on your interests. The one thing that these "organized groups of one" have in common is that they each start out from their passions. It's a sound principle, and keeps the energies from getting spread too thin. (I can't imagine how Gossips manages the range she does!)