Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Turn Your Radios On

Tomorrow morning, July 17, at 10 a.m., Tom DePietro will be interviewing Cheryl Roberts, city attorney and principal author and interpreter of Hudson's controversial Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan (LWRP). The interview with Roberts on WGXC's @Issue is expected to continue DePietro's exploration of the LWRP, its content, its status, and its implications, which began with an interview with Chris Reed, Patrick Doyle, and Timothy O'Connor of the South Bay Task Force and continued in subsequent interviews with Linda Mussmann, who chaired the Waterfront Advisory Steering Committee in 2006-2007, and Common Council president Don Moore. The show can be heard on WGXC, 90.7 FM on your radio dial or online at wgxc.org 


  1. The Industrial Revolution gave us the Hudson River Rail Road which entrapped county fishermen on the eastern shore. Now the Industrial Development Corp gives us Hudson's LWRP, and it restricts Hudson's first industry even more.

  2. Side bar: How much was Ms. Roberts paid to reduce the tax paying citizens' (1st and 2nd amendment) right to peacefully assemble and Navigate to and from (our) shore?

  3. But the question is : who is she really representing as "our city atty" ???

  4. 1. November 2009

    Draft LWRP: 

    "Subject to a feasibility study including an assessment of whether contamination exists on the property, the LWRP envisions creation of a park for swimming, fishing, and passive recreational opportunities ..." (p. 127).

    2. July 12, 2010 

    From the "full council work session [on LWRP/GEIS]:

    (1:47)  Don Moore: "They're giving us seven [acres] that they really can't use that much. It's not as if it's a great gift.

    (1:48:02)  Cheryl Roberts: "That's actually not true, that's actually not true. They actually have looked at that for development of residential or a commercial or a hotel ... it has a value.

    (1:48:16)  Timothy O'Connor: "It's contaminated."

    (1:48:17):  Cheryl Roberts: "I don't know why they keep saying that."

    (1:48:18)  Timothy O'Connor: "That's where the Shell Oil site was" [sic / (damn!)].

    (1:48:24)  Cheryl Roberts: "There is a former dump on the, in the South Bay, but the seven acres below the port, our understanding is, and they're saying they've done feasibility studies, the first phase or second phase done, and there's nothing there that they're aware of - on the seven acres at the waterfront."

    3. September 19, 2012

    Gossips of Rivertown report on September 18th Common Council meeting:

    "The Common Council passed, without discussion and unanimously, the resolution to appropriate $6,200 for a title search and a preliminary environmental study of the seven acres south of the port that the City of Hudson hopes to acquire from Holcim. At the end of the meeting, Timothy O'Connor asked if a preliminary environmental study would not be redundant, since in July 2010, Cheryl Roberts, then attorney for the LWRP, had indicated that Holcim had already done an environmental study. Roberts explained that in 2010 the City had been told by Holcim that an environmental study had been done, but when Roberts asked to see the study, Holcim told her that no such study had in fact been done.


    4. September 25, 2012

    Roberts email to Hallenbeck; Moore; Perry: ".... As for the Phase I, Rob do you want to handle getting bids ... I believe that Crawford has a lot of background on this site ... Crawford should at least be included in the bid request, no?"

    5. September 26, 2012

    Unknown to the public, the City of Hudson submits an application from an unknown program for a grant from NYS DOS "Brownfield Opportunity Areas." This "BOA" application includes all of Holcim's Hudson properties, except for the site at the South Bay riverfront of a former petroleum storage and distribution depot owned by Standard Oil.

    6. January 21, 2013

    City enters into contract with Crawford & Associates Engineering.

    7. January 30, 2013

    Brandee Nelson of Crawford & Associates in email to Cheryl Roberts:

    "A Phase I Environmental Site Assessment is completed consistent with the standard practice outlined in ASTM E1527-05. ..."

    [ASTM E1527-05 specifically references "recorded land title records" and "fire insurance maps," such as Sanborn maps.]

    8. March 22, 2013

    Brandee Nelson of Crawford & Associates in letter to Mayor Hallenbeck: "As directed, we have proceeded with completing the records review portion of the assessment. To complete the Phase I, we need access to the property ..."

    [i.e., document search portion of Phase I completed.]

    9. April 1, 2013

    Gossips of Rivertown blog reproduces 1888 record of Standard Oil ownership from county deed index. Deed specifies that parcel is in the city's "South Bay."


  5. 10. April 9, 2013

    Gossips' report on April 8th Common Council meeting:

    "Although O'Connor had in hand a copy of an 1888 deed that transferred ownership of a waterfront parcel to Standard Oil, city attorney Cheryl Roberts reported that the title searcher hired by the City had not discovered Standard Oil ownership of any land south of the port. Roberts also dismissed concerns that parcel was contaminated." 


    11. April 12, 2013

    T. O'Connor mails letter to City of Hudson; DEC; DOS; Crawford; Monahan; Riverkeeper; et al.

    Letter critiques city's inadequate title search containing no title transfer history; offers ample and irrefutable evidence of former Standard Oil site on current Holcim property, including a contemporary Sanborn insurance map of petroleum facility.

    12. April 12, 2013

    Brandee Nelson of Crawford Engineering replies: 

    "Mr. OConnor – Can you please provide the entire Sanborn sheet as opposed to the little zoomed in view?  It will provide the location in better context and allow for your information to be verified."

    13. April 16, 2013

    Riverkeeper calls for Phase II study of the former Standard Oil site in an email to the Mayor, Common Council President and Ms. Roberts. A subsequent records request reveals that Riverkeeper's letter was not distributed to the aldermen nor was it entered into the public record as a "received communication" until the mid-June council meeting when Moore also announced at the same time that the issue of Standard Oil was now "moot" (i.e., "academic").

    14. April 18, 2013

    Gossips' report on April 16th Common Council meeting:

    "Roberts addressed the issue by saying that there was 'a serious misunderstanding about what a title search is.' She went on to explain that a title search did not trace the chain of title back to the beginning but only went back as far as a warranty deed. A title search, she explained, 'insures title for a specific period of time.' ...

    "[Roberts] maintained that the land owned by Standard Oil was north of the port ... [and] reiterated that Crawford & Associates would not be recommending a Phase II environmental study because the Phase I study was discovering no reason for doing a Phase II."


    [Crawford & Associates knew that it was basing its Phase I ESA on a limited title search with no "recorded land title records," as specified by the ASTM standards it informed the city it would adhere to in its ESA; see no. 7 above.]

    15. April 25, 2013 

    Gossips' report on April 24th Legal Committee meeting: 

    "Roberts questioned whether there were such things as oil tanks in 1888."


    16. May 3, 2013

    Monahan [SMPR] Title Agency acknowledges former Standard Oil ownership of South Bay riverfront parcel after providing exhaustive documentation and maps from the firm's in-house archive.

    [i.e., The presence of a former petroleum facility at the South Bay riverfront is not a new discovery; see no. 2 above.]

    17. May 14, 2013

    Gossips' report on May 13th Common Council meeting:

    "When the issue was raised of the title search that did not discover Standard Oil ownership of and activity on part of the parcel in question, city attorney Cheryl Roberts said simply that the City had made a mistake in what had been requested. She continued to play down the significance of Standard Oil's presence on this parcel by saying that 'Crawford is still indicating that that they may not be recommending a Phase II [environmental study].'"


  6. So what did she say? Anything other than the usual sophistry? I couldn't bear to listen.

    We've got to take back the LWRP, but without the involvement of anyone who gave Holcim/O&G all those goodies without getting anything in return.

    Mr. Moore & Ms. Roberts should be taught a lesson for ignoring public warnings about Holcim when they supposed they knew better.

    They screwed up, and now they should own up. Only then can we all move forward. Otherwise they're busy fixing their previous misjudgments with new misjudgments, pretending all the while that they're being industrious and making progress.

    The last time the public had a demonstrably formative role in the LWRP planning was in January 2007, and even that was debatable. (Note the miraculous recent reappearance of Linda Mussman's conveyor system plan which the public soundly rejected in 2007).

  7. Same people oversaw the Fosters fiasco and the closing of North Dock. Ponderous!

    1. Yup. Too few appreciate what really happened with Foster's, and why all those toxic materials which were contained within a structure became an open-air pile of rubble.

      Welcome to the "Hudson Renaissance," which is stuck somewhere in the mid-19th century.