Thursday, June 27, 2013

Sturm und Drang Over Fourth and State

Yesterday, Gossips reported on the Common Council's angst about selling the former Dunn warehouse on the waterfront. Last night, the Common Council Legal Committee discussed the other City-owned property it had agreed to sell last November: the vacant lot at the corner of Fourth and State streets.

The sale of this property--owned by the City but being used as a parking lot for the county office building at 325 Columbia Street--was not one of the nine items on the agenda for last night's meeting, but Alderman Cappy Pierro (Fifth Ward), who seems most eager to unload this vacant lot, brought it up at the end of the meeting. The discussion, which was heated at times, often alluded to things of which only members of the committee had knowledge. Pierro suggested at one point that the committee needed to go into executive session, but his suggestion went unheeded by committee chair John Friedman (Third Ward). 

Among the bits of information that emerged are these. An appraisal has been ordered for the property, although Friedman expressed the opinion that the property should "go to public auction and let the public decide the price." There is someone who is interested in buying the property to develop it as a commercial parking lot.

During the discussion, Friedman frequently spoke of trying to direct development on that strategic corner. He suggested the possibility of imposing conditions on how the lot should be developed and of soliciting closed bids that included proposals for development and use. In spite of Friedman's interest in applying principles of good urban planning and encouraging the best use of the lot, it was suggested that the City should keep the lot and use it as a parking lot for the proposed senior center at the Armory, although it seems unlikely, to this observer, that seniors will want to trek the long block between Fourth and Fifth streets to get to yoga or Bingo.

Audience member and Fourth Ward resident Linda Mussmann, recalling that the lot was the site of the Fourth Street School, whose demolition in 1994 remains a topic of controversy, called the lot "a key piece of property to the Fourth Ward" and stressed that she did not want to see it developed as "just another parking lot."

Although Pierro pressed to bring a resolution to sell the property before the full Council at its July meeting, and Council president Don Moore affirmed that "the Council has spoken on this," Friedman refused. "We're going to sell this to someone to pave it?" he asked incredulously. "This committee is not endorsing it." He called the idea of developing the land as a parking lot "very shortsighted and a poor use of important land . . . in a neighborhood that is in transition."


  1. From the report, it seems Alderman Friedman is trying to be a good urban steward and keeps hitting resistance...the sale of this critical property will have consequences for many years to come, and a slow, measured approach is probably the best. If something is done right the first time, it doesn't need fixing over and over. Alderman Friedman may be trying to turn the Common Council away from more hare-brained antics in Clown Town.

  2. Instead of urban planning I think we could benefit from some deurbanization - is that a word? A department of deurbanization, or parkification or deconstruction. Instead selling all these properties and packing in more buildings, why not deconstruct them and convert it into free park space that would benefit the people living here. take over abandoned condemned houses and do the same thing, open up the space, free the air, give people here some room to live and breathe.

  3. OMG, they do love parking lots. Maybe people should get out of their cars and walk more.

  4. Thank -you Gossips for posting photo of 4th St.School. That was what was there.
    So Beautiful.
    That land does not need to be sold now
    It belongs to Hudson, us. Leave the 4th St School land alone. Just WAIT. No hurry...oh except for Cappy. But who care's what Cappy thinks about our land, anyway? He's leaving. Why would Cappy get so hot under the collar ,over the sale of our land we do not have to sell anymore? OH...I remember now.
    And the land wasn't for sale then either.

    Register Star.
    Lantern eyes city parking lot
    Posted: Wednesday, June 20, 2012 1:00 am
    By Tom Casey Hudson-Catskill Newspapers | 0 comments
    HUDSON — Eric Galloway’s Lantern Group has requested to purchase property adjacent to the 401 State Street building from the city of Hudson, Mayor Bill Hallenbeck announced at the Common Council’s Finance Committee meeting Tuesday.

    The group sent a letter to the Mayor’s Office, Hallenbeck said, offering $150,000 to purchase the land which is currently used as a parking lot.
    “I just got this letter today at (3 p.m.) and tomorrow there could be another,” he said. “I just want you to know it’s out there, it exists, and it’s real.”

    The land sits in front of the area where Lantern had proposed to build the Civic Hudson police, court and housing complex. Fifth Ward Supervisor Rick Scalera, who works as an associate for Galloway’s GalVan Initiatives, said the city should move on the offer.

    “The lot at Fourth and State would still be parking provided at no cost and it is on the tax rolls,” he said. “That is a win.”

    Common Council President Don Moore had a brief argument with Scalera over whether the city should take its time with the decision.

    “The council will have to be cautious about this,” said Moore. “We still don’t know about the status of the Civic Hudson Building, there is no need to rush into that.”
    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. .
    Maybe a few people are in a hurry.
    Just leave the 4th St School Land alone.
    It's not going anywhere.

  5. Following the introduction of the parking lot theme, the meeting of the Legal Committee couldn't avoid becoming an urban planning discussion. Now matter their resistance, specific planning issues were ineluctable.

    At one point another audience member turned to me and whispered what I was already thinking, "this discussion is totally absurd without a map."

    In January, the Columbia Land Conservancy sponsored a mapping program through the Cornell Cooperative Extension. The workshop was designed for municipalities who were meant to appoint citizen representatives to learn mapping skills which they'd subsequently share with their respective communities' public servants. The program was free.

    Municipalities throughout Columbia County utilized this technical training opportunity, but the City of Hudson sent no one.

    Way to go, lame Hudson.