Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Acquiring the Nine Acres

On Thursday, February 28, the Planning Commission will be holding a public hearing at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall. The purpose of the hearing, as stated on the City website, is "to accept and consider public comment on a preliminary and final application submitted by the City of Hudson on behalf of Holcim (US), to subdivide parcels having Tax ID Parcel Nos. 109.11-1-24 and 109.15-1-1." 

This hearing appears to be connected with the transfer of nine acres of land from Holcim to the City of Hudson--a transfer that involves conditions that will be in force for the next fifty years. The Planning Commission obviously doesn't expect the public hearing to take very long. They have scheduled a special meeting on the same topic fifteen minutes later at 5:45 p.m.


  1. I wonder how the City expects anyone to be able to access those isolated parcels of land. The only road is probably within the CSX right-of-way, and also immediately adjacent to O & G's industrial loading operation. Are we supposed to charter boats or rent helicopters or what?

  2. If the Ferry Street bridge HAS to be removed,could it be used as a footbridge spanning that gap?
    I don't know where property line is, but surely Hudson would have seek an easement to get to the property if it is transferred.

  3. "They have scheduled a special meeting on the same topic fifteen minutes later at 5:45 p.m" (Gossips).

    How outrageously arrogant of our representatives. How contemptuous.

    For good reason this land transfer was an extremely controversial component of the Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (LWRP).

    On February 11 of this year, when the council voted in favor of accepting "A Resolution Authorizing the Transfer of Riverfront Land to the City of Hudson," we learned that "the parcel" in question from the language of that resolution was no longer 7 acres, as we've argued about for years, but is now 9 acres.

    In the last few days only, we've learned that "the parcel" is in fact two parcels, which now includes lot #109.11-1-24. (This fact is listed at the City of Hudson's webpage for the upcoming meeting, but good luck finding it!)

    It was only after the LWRP's state-required Generic Environmental Impact Statement (GEIS) was accepted as final by the Common Council in 2011 that we learned that the original argument for the acquisition of Holcim's 7 acres was based on a false claim: that an environmental study was already conducted for the site without finding any contaminants.

    That argument, made in July 2010 by the mayor's attorney, Cheryl Roberts, was retracted by the same individual in November 2012.

    Despite her untrue claim that an environmental study was already conducted, "the first or second phase done," Roberts later posited in the GEIS that in the event contaminants were found in future "the City will seek New York State Brownfield grants to investigate and cleanup the property" [sic] (GEIS 3.1.18).

    At the same July 2010 meeting, after the public erupted in unison in the overcrowded council chamber charging that Roberts was ignoring the former Standard Oil facility on one of the two riverfront properties owned by Holcim, Roberts claimed to have no idea what the public was talking about.

    Understand that at that meeting of Common Council the public notified the city about the history of Standard Oil in the South Bay, and with Cheryl Roberts' blessings the council chose to ignore it.

    Now back to the present. Guess what the second parcel is that the city intends to acquire, but didn't want to inform the public about until only a few days before the public hearing on the acquisition.

    Answer: the former Standard Oil property!!

    And guess what property the city intentionally DID NOT INCLUDE in the BOA ("brownfields") application to the NYS DOS.

    Answer: the former Standard Oil site!!!

    They have hidden all of this to maximize their chances that we're ignorant, or will miss it. (The public's opportunity to speak just got five minutes shorter!)

    Now factor in the "new" zoning, which was amended in 2011 but which we've only learned in the last week was always intended to accommodate a conveyor system in the South Bay.

    (Think of it: all of the work we did on the LWRP/GEIS was a farce! The planners knew what they wanted to do since at least 2006, when Linda Mussman delivered up the conveyor idea after her Waterfront Steering Committee fell apart, and after she then approached Holcim on her own. Everything since that time was an exercise of using the public to complete the necessary window dressing. It was all fake, and all an enormous waste of our time.)

    My guess is that this land transfer is about something much bigger, something about which neither the public nor even the aldermen may be permitted to know. Probably some big money deal, the outlines of which would astonish us. Whoever is behind it is whoever owns "our" political process. They're able to push their plans through their minions who employ deceit and subterfuge, and allow the public 15 minutes to speak only because they're required to. They figure we're pliable, and are of no account anyway.

    It's an outrage. It's totally obscene. Hudson is hundred years in the past, mired in corruption.

  4. Thanks, Unheimlic.

    This is from Public Comments on LWRP.

    "3.1.39 Comment: Two parcels of land are possibly available to the

    City of Hudson. One is the South Bay on either side of the causeway;

    the other, the seven acre parcel. Both will require considerable

    expense to remediate, and arguably neither is of any value to Holcim.

    (Donald Moore, City of Hudson Common Council President, March

    15, 2010).

    3.1.39 Response: There is no evidence to suggest that the seven acre

    parcel south of the port or that the portion of the South Bay owned by

    Holcim are contaminated.

    Whether the property is of value to Holcim is not relevant to

    development or passage of the LWRP. Please refer to Response 3.1.18.

    For the reasons set forth above, it is recommended that the Common

    Council not change the Draft LWRP or the zoning amendments based

    upon this comment.

  5. PA - most subjects in the GEIS referenced other citations on similar subjects in the same document. Not so with this land transfer. You have to hunt to put together the entire picture, which is actually a highly complex proposal.

    There were already all kinds of details and quasi-conditions to the land transfer that the city put on Holcim in the LWRP and vice versa, and none of them are being publicly discussed or disclosed today.

    For example, in an earlier iteration of the LWRP, the phrase "could include" was later changed to "would include" where the issue of the land transfer was being discussed. Well what is it by now, years later: would or could? Do you suppose the public deserves to know?

    What other "tax incentives" are we offering Holcim, which Holcim made a quasi-condition of its quasi-agreement in 2009 and earlier? And who are you to think you get to know that? "The public"?! Bah!

    The land transfer discussed in the excerpt you quoted above (3.1.39) should have cited GEIS Comment and Response 3.1.18, which concerned a question from a resident on the issue of potential contaminants in "the 7 acres."

    This is key: before this week (it is now Feb. 2013) the public never knew about a second parcel of land on the river that would be included in the contentious "land transfer."

    This new, second parcel of land was previously owned by Standard Oil, which had a "distribution depot" including petroleum tanks at their South Bay facility. (See the city's BOA Program application's Parcel Data Sheets under "Foster's," at an inset in the 1889 Sanborn map, which is the 3rd Sandborn map down. The facility on the peninsula is actually located in the South Bay; and yes, we have documentation of the fact.)

    Back to the hapless resident who had her excellent and most applicable question dismissed at 3.1.18, the mayor's attorney responded that "if contamination is found before or after the City obtains title to this parcel [i.e., the 7 acres], the City will seek New York State Brownfield grants to investigate and cleanup the property, similar to the investigation and cleanup efforts undertaken by the City on the former Best Oil Site which the City eventually restored to create the Henry Hudson Riverfront Park (GEIS 3.1.18).

    Yet in its brownfields application last autumn (2012), the city intentionally omitted the second parcel that it is now seeking south of the original 7 acres. They very well knew that they were about to negotiate for this second parcel, the former Standard Oil land, but did not follow the letter of their statement in the GEIS.

    Other comments in the GEIS concerned the absence of a feasibility study for the land transfer (from the Hudson Power Boat Assoc.), concerns about the river ecology from the NYS DEC, and other issues related to the previously-called "Seven Acres."

    See them all (or continue looking for any I missed):

    In the GEIS:


    In the LWRP: page 14, etc.