Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Back to South Bay

This morning at 10 a.m. on WGXC, Tom DePietro will be interviewing Patrick Doyle, Christopher Reed, and Timothy O'Connor of the South Bay Task Force. Topics for consideration will include Hudson's stalled Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (LWRP), South Bay, the Brownfield Opportunities Area (BOA) program, and related issues. The discussion can be heard at 90.7 FM or online at

Photograph of East Branch Creek is by Timothy O'Connor


  1. Thanks for the plug, Gossips.

    The gist of the talk is that the land south of the port, a portion of which is inside the newly designated state significant habitat, is a thousand times safer in private hands than it will be when the city gets hold of it.

    Which is only to say the city as it is today, still run by the good ol' boy network (big "only" though).

    This bunch had their chance when they entrusted the design and the fate of the LWRP to Holcim, by virtue of shutting out the incessant public warnings not to do exactly that. Now these same officials are complaining that they were tricked, which is utterly shameless!

    It's a very good thing that the LWRP is "stalled," and that the public can still take it back and reconfigure it to reflect how water flows, and how actual people actually flow towards it, and in it, and out of it again.

    We shouldn't be pushing the LWRP over the last hurdle, but preparing what to do after we take it back from the state. The first thing to do is to bar the same officials who commandeered it and mangled it into a vehicle for the aggregate industry and a tool for crowd control in the first place. That will take a braver group of aldermen to stand up to the clique, but more than that it will take an interested public. I'm pleased to say that the latter seems to be rising up again.

    The only reason to hope to save the current, nonpublic and botched LWRP is in order to save the feelings and careers of the handful of insiders who ignored the public in the first place.

    The photos at the South Bay Task Force website (address below) tell the other ignored part of the story, which is Hudson's hidden wealth.

    Not only was the city's wetlands ecology ignored by our LWRP technicians, it was used by our hired lawyer-demagogues to fashion a cheap either/or in resident's minds.

    The individuals who want to save the LWRP created a false choice: accept trucks through disadvantaged neighborhoods or the South Bay ecology, but not both. (I've rarely seen anything more cynical, except for what these same officials have continued to do since then!)

    So if the LWRP is "stalled," then we actually owe Holcim our great thanks! Let's not waste this last chance to set things right by the river.

    Take a peek at some photos, and you'll be ready for today's interview:

  2. Good work, Tim et al. Thanks so much for carrying the torch on this.

  3. Awesome Pics! Hudson's North and South Bays: Mother nature's bookends.

  4. On behalf of our old Task Force, you're very welcome Peter.

    The way I figure it, we know the laws, the policies, and the way the state intends these programs to work.

    And what does the Common Council have? A couple of lawyers instructing the aldermen during Executive Sessions on what it's all supposed to mean.

    Our representatives are clueless - mostly because nobody reads anything. I challenge any one of them to a debate on the LWRP, the BOA Program, or SEQRA. Even better, make it a lawyer.

    But in the years I've devoted to this issue, no First Ward aldermen has ever approached me with a question. Not one.

    How goes it in your ward? Probably the same thing.

    It's time to tell the aldermen what WE want, and to hell with these lawyers and their secret deals. That's the same as saying that it's time to find out if our aldermen have any voice in representing us at all. I see now that they don't, and that's something I'd like to get my neighbors to grasp.

    Here's a crazy example of how twisted things are: a city official recently confided to me that my credibility was at stake because I am seen to be over-using the Freedom of Information Law! This from a city that wouldn't turn over an "attachment" to the Common Council Minutes until the state's Committee on Open Government intervened last month! It turned out that the council had never seen the map attachment to a Resolution it had unanimously endorsed! Yes, that chapter certainly put my credibility in doubt. (Naturally I thanked the person for their advice; what else can you do faced with that kind of ignorance?)

    Our relentlessness will have to be a virtue, but we also must reach out and invite newcomers to give us their thoughts and get involved.

    It took years for me to get a word in edgewise around the local "establishment activists" associated with the previous SLC fight. From the ecological perspective that I was able to bring to the table, that was time and talent wasted to prop up old narratives.

    All of a sudden I'm running into people lately who know their wild plants! They're new in town, and they're young and they know about ecology - real ecology, the science and mechanics of it.

    For now on, we need less intense support from a few people, and a lot more general interest than has been expressed in the past year.

    It's not about hair-splitting legal and policy arguments anymore, this moment should be seen as a clean start for the LWRP (except we're already halfway to something useful).

    If we move forward with as broad a base as possible, we can bring the newcomers to know that they can be part of the planning too. (That would be opposite of what I found when I arrived in Hudson. We must fight against everyone's tendency to identify individual noise-makers - self included - with what belongs to all of us.)

    Once we take back the failed waterfront program, we can take what's useful in it and retool the rest to something that serves the public and the ecology, just as the state always intended.

    The city never thought to try that, but see: all of the people who were involved are still in public office! Of those, only Ellen Thurston said "No."

    With the exception of Ellen, the money that's been wasted on all of this should be laid firmly at their doors. Let's not be beholden to the bad policy decisions of the past. The fact that these characters are still in office means that we've still got some hard work ahead.

    Please, join us.

  5. Here's a link to the actual show:
    Thanks to all who participated. Let me say that the stalled LWRP proves the point of my own conservatism: sometimes it's better to do nothing.

    1. Tom, you're a true conservationist!

      Man, were you well-prepared. You're now more familiar with the issue than almost any politician in Hudson.

      And your closing words, just perfect. If people don't have the time to listen to the rest, please listen to the show's final minute. That's all you need to know to understand the rest.

      Thanks so, so much Tom,


    2. Every step forward that a land lover makes reduces littoral liberty for ever.

  6. The reason we "all gather at the river" because politics (should) end at the water's edge...