Tuesday, June 11, 2013

About Those 4.4 Acres

Last night at the informal Common Council meeting, a letter from Ken Dow, attorney for The Valley Alliance, received by Council president Don Moore, was presented to the full Council to be accepted as correspondence. This letter, as we know, questions the legality of the 1981 transfer of 4.38 acres of land on the waterfront from the City of Hudson to St. Lawrence Cement and suggests that the City is now negotiating with SLC's successor, Holcim, to get back what it already owns. When the letter was introduced, Moore deferred discussion to the end of the meeting, but when the end of the meeting came, there was no discussion.

At the end of the meeting there was, however, a question from Timothy O'Connor who wanted to know about the title search that had failed to discover that Standard Oil had owned and operated a facility on a portion of the land in question from 1888 to 1917. He also wanted to know if the City still believed that a Phase II environmental study was not needed. He was told by Moore that the City was not proceeding on the environmental study because the land transfer was not moving ahead. When O'Connor wanted to know if any of the aldermen were surprised to have it proved that Standard Oil had operated a facility on the parcel, Moore told him that the question of whether or not Standard Oil was there is moot.

Map and legend from The Valley Alliance


  1. Defenders of the South Bay tend to focus on the malfeasance and near-continuous dissembling of our city's legal staff.

    But even as a purely fiscal concern the question must be asked of our aldermen, why did the "title search" they ordered for the Holcim land transfer last September not include a history of ownership?

    Presumably everyone knew that the title search would form the basis of the Phase I environmental site assessment (ESA) which the council ordered at the same time.

    In a September email to the mayor, to the council president, and to attorney Roberts, DPW Superintendent Perry correctly described how the title search would be used in the ESA. Even the incompetent "Crawford Engineering Associates" hired to execute the ESA acknowledged it, consistent with its own ASTM industry standards for conducting Phase I ESAs

    So apparently the aldermen were the only ones who didn't understand the uses of a title search at the moment they unanimously agreed to pay for something the public was trying to warn them about (CC Minutes, pp. 281, 282):


    Surely someone understood, but if so then where is their curiosity today? Mr. Moore got Mr. Perry's email, but where is the council president's curiosity now?

    The vendor's alleged claim that he has recently decided not to charge for his title work is immaterial; the aldermen believed they were paying for something.

    So even if it's only becoming clear in retrospect, it would benefit the city if some alderman were to inquire about how the council's wishes were perverted between the ordering of a service (via resolution), and the delivery of the final product.

    The fact is, the order specifications for this "title search" which could be of no assistance in an environmental review were never committed to paper, and were made by someone named Virginia Benedict at the Rapport, Myers and Whitbeck law firm.

    The aldermen are either a.) totally incompetent, or B.) in collusion with unaccountable persons at private law firms who privilege unknown and unknowable interests.

    In this example anyway, there's no in-between.

    Now let's look at the other examples ...

  2. Clean sweep,under the rug. Disregard the lump in the rug.

  3. So, when the City observes “unsavory” activity at North Dock, it’s highlighted and everyone there is painted with one muddy brush. When corruption is uncovered within the council, DPW, HPD ect. it’s overlooked. You can’t un-ring the bell. Two different city officials, one lying and the other swearing to it. This is what happens with one party rule. Time for change!

  4. If "the City [is] not proceeding on the environmental study because the land transfer [is] not moving ahead," then the LWRP will not be moving ahead either (authorization of the LWRP being conditional on the land transfer).

    We shouldn't be surprised to see the Department of State returning the LWRP to Hudson at some point.

    Whoever wins November's mayoral contest should be prepared for it.