And there is another question: Why did an email from Philip Musegaas, Hudson River program director for Riverkeeper, which was sent to Common Council president Don Moore on April 16, and copied to Mayor Hallenbeck, city attorney Roberts, and First Ward alderman David Marston, never get entered into the public record. Here is the text of that email:
To the Common Council President,
I am writing on behalf of Riverkeeper regarding the potential transfer of a parcel of waterfront land in Hudson from the Holcim company to the City of Hudson, specifically "Parcel B". It has come to my attention that this parcel may have been previously owned by the Standard Oil Company and used as a distribution site for petroleum products. It is also my understanding that the site has not undergone a Phase II assessment, and if transferred to the City of Hudson would be used as a waterfront park.
I am also aware that the Common Council may be holding a vote as early as this evening to decide whether to approve the pending land transfer. Given the question and concern that has been raised regarding the historical use and ownership of the site, and the potential industrial pollution that may be present but not currently assessed or characterized, I urge the Common Council not to hold a vote on whether to approve the land transfer until, at a minimum, the following outstanding questions are resolved;
I appreciate this opportunity to communicate our request and potential concerns to the Common Council, and look forward to engaging the Council in further discussions as to the disposition of the site. Please don’t hesitate to contact me by email or phone at the number below.
- Please confirm whether the parcel of land referred to as “Parcel B” of the Holcim site was previously owned by Standard Oil and operated as a distribution facility.
- Please provide a public explanation as to why the site has not undergone environmental assessments, e.g. soil and groundwater testing, or a Phase II assessment, to determine whether Parcel B is contaminated as a result of prior use as an industrial facility.
- If environmental conditions on the site have been assessed, please provide the public with all sampling data and reports.
- If the site has not been assessed, I would urge the City to undertake, or require Holcim to undertake a comprehensive site assessment prior to deciding whether to approve the land transfer; such assessment should include soil and groundwater testing onsite, as well as the sediments just offshore in the Hudson River.
- Please publicly disclose under what terms the property will be transferred to the City of Hudson. Is this envisioned to be simple transfer, wherein the City assumes all the liabilities of ownership, including environmental remediation liability, once the transfer is complete? In the alternative, is Holcim indemnifying the City in any way against future liability related to site conditions or future remediation requirements?
Unfortunately I am unable to attend the Common Council meeting this evening, due to a prior commitment, but I will make every effort to attend the next meeting. Riverkeeper looks forward to working with the City to address any outstanding concerns regarding the site, to ensure that any development of the Hudson River waterfront in Hudson is conducted in a way that both benefits the community and protects the ecological integrity and health of the River.
Philip MusagaasMarston, who was copied on the email, made reference to it and read a part of it at the April Common Council meeting, but it was not distributed to all the aldermen and accepted as communication. The email was sent at 4:37 p.m. on Tuesday, April 16, the day of the meeting, which may explain why it was not distributed at that meeting, since less than an hour later Moore was at a Finance Committee meeting. There was, however, ample time between April and May Council meetings for the email to be copied and distributed so it could be accepted into the record at the May meeting, but that didn't happen, causing some to wonder why not.