Friday, July 19, 2013

What She Said

Tom DePietro's interview with city attorney Cheryl Roberts has been archived and can be heard at Although much of what she said in the interview she has said before, it's worth listening to hear her confirm that Holcim wants to sell the port and the mine and get out of the Hudson Valley and then dismiss the notion that the City of Hudson could buy it by alluding to the Common Council's struggle over the purchase of two police cars.


  1. Any admission that the city isn't in a position to acquire Holcim's waterfront land means that the LWRP cannot be authorized by the state or federal governments in its present shape. The document must be reworked.

    As we learned only a few weeks ago, the LWRP was never submitted to the state for authorization. It's just sitting in a file cabinet on Warren Street.

    Those who've failed us, mostly by excluding public participation, should disqualify themselves from any further waterfront planning.

    How stupid would we have to be to trust them a second time! (Wait, don't answer that.)

  2. We can, I do, wish that the facts were different. They are not. Here is what they are. Holcim will not sell the port separate from the remainder of their holdings in Hudson and Greenport, approximately 1875 acres, a total that includes the port and the contiguous parcels of land up to an including the mine on Becraft Mountain. That is a condition of the sale of the port (where the barges load) that has been acknowledged for years. The cost of purchasing the entire parcel alone is estimated at between $10 million and $20 million. This financial hurdle is what has stymied the City for years in developing a plan to acquire the port. For comparison, Hudson's 2013 budget is $11,955,870.


  3. Mr. Moore, you know very well that the purchase of all of Holcim's holdings, whether voluntary or forced, was always and only a suggestion from the lunatic fringe.

    From the beginning, most on the South Bay Task Force held that the ambition to include the port in the acquisition of any of Holcim's properties was unrealistic, utter nonsense. At least after March 2010, the matter of taking Holcim's property was never a subject of conversation. Those who preferred the idea had moved on.

    Ever since then, the uncompromising impracticality of that position appeared as increasingly churlish and self-indulgent to some of us. The predictable result was that people soon excused themselves from engagement with LWRP issues.

    For the task force, the notion that the city should attempt to acquire the port as a component action of the LWRP was not a matter we discussed.

    That's why your Gossips comment on June 19th was a bit offensive, when you wrote that "almost everyone who was involved in the LWRP wanted to see ownership of the port and the South Bay, including the causeway, conveyed to the City." No sir.

    You wrote that you also observed a general hope that "there must [have been] a way to exclude Holcim from the land it owned, [though these parties] were never able to present a practicable, legal way to achieve that goal."

    Again, you were writing of others.

    But perhaps you were writing more accurately about the evolution of the state's "condition," whereby the city must acquire an undisclosed amount of acreage south of the port as a prerequisite for the authorization of the LWRP:

    "The specific condition of conveying title to the seven acres resulted, I am reliably told, from private discussions and meetings between DOS, the Valley Alliance and Scenic Hudson."

    Earlier in the same Gossips thread (actually the day before), you asked whether it "[made] any sense at all that the City would impose such a condition on itself?"

    But while there was no suggestion that this "condition" came from anyone other than the state acting alone, both of your statements taken together suggest that parties other than the city (and other than the state acting alone) invited this prerequisite for LWRP authorization.

    These are new ideas to grasp, certainly new for me, just as it's a new idea that the LWRP was never submitted to the state for authorization.

    This means that there's brand new potential, if people are willing to revisit their erstwhile concerns and allow themselves to be open to new voices and talent.

    To revisit something already quoted above, you handily lumped together all and any who opposed your mere solution of "exclud[-ing] industrial and manufacturing activity not currently operated and using zoning [to] achieve some measure of control over the port's use."

    Such parties, you observed, "were never able to present a practicable, legal way to achieve [the] goal ... to exclude Holcim from the land it owned."

    In contrast to your straw man, the task force remains focused on the kind of ecologically-acceptable goals which the Final LWRP failed miserably to achieve. (Oh! if we'd only had the resources to legally challenge the city, a position which was enjoyed but squandered by others.)

    In contrast to your straw man, you know as well as anyone that the South Bay Task Force was nearly fixated on creating an acceptable solution to getting the landowner's aggregate to his own port.

    But along with our compromise, we also aimed to fix conditions for the use of the causeway that would end with Holcim's sale of the property. This was all discussed openly and approvingly at the July 2010 "full council work session," after which the planning returned underground for another 11 months.

    Now, only three years later, we learn that Holcim will sell its entire property. You better believe I'm going to point out a lost opportunity.

    Now sir, we'd like to finish our own LWRP.

  4. This is like a bad divorce. The thing is, it doesn't matter what they want, it matters only what they and the city are legally entitled to. Can't the city can take the port anytime it wants, by eminent domain, for the public good? This happens all the time, a friend of mine had his house taken for a railroad track, it didn't matter what he wanted, it wasn't up to him, they took it and paid him what they said it was worth - end of story.

    1. Considering the realizable options, eminent domain being the least practical, why allow the parameters of the dialogue to be set by politicians?

      You see how it happened right here. They've decided the terms of our discussion beforehand, to suit their own interests naturally. Now we've wandered into their landscape of either/or.

      Try and talk about what's really possible and they'll be off to the next distraction in a heartbeat. They count on being able to steer a pliable electorate. What a concept!

  5. The only question is what's a ravaged, polluted, junk covered raped piece of landscape that might even be a superfund site worth? Not much.

  6. Maybe if the Hudson leadership wasn't so obstinate and secretive over this situation all these years they may find a way to make this purchase.

    Its not impossible.

    Only if you make it visionless will it remain another 23 years of ridiculousness.

  7. I too have been victim of the (basically) shut up because we can't afford to take or buy that land, even though I have never suggested taking or buying the Holcim property.
    I say keep and eye on the causeway, don't let them expand it any more than it secretly has been already. It's a one way road now DON'T let them make it 2 way. Don't take their 50 year "deal" and for god's sake don't let them put in a conveyor belt, then sit back and wait.
    Holcim will go away like every other waterfront business has in the past
    100 years.

    1. Windle, I was also totally supportive of anyone who bought lottery tickets to win the money to buy the South Bay!

      But we already HAD a plan to reach that 100-year inevitability you talk about.

      If the landowner's use of the causeway had been zoned as a "nonconforming use" in a continuous Recreational-Conservation District, sunset provisions could have been attached to the use.

      Nonconforming uses generally end with the sale of a property, and that's where we could have been standing today, only a few years later.

      Now where did I get such an outlandish idea?

      THAT was the plan being worked out by the council based on the Draft LWRP! (I mean before the Final LWRP appeared in May 2011 as something completely changed.)

      Recall that Holcim and O&G rejected the Draft LWRP because, as they wrote in their own public comments, they wanted to have the option to build a conveyor system.

      So the zoning scheme in the Final LWRP was changed "due to the public comments," as Cheryl Roberts condescended to explain.

      A month ago, Mr. Moore explained in these threads that his "solution" to the problem was to use "zoning [to] achieve some measure of control over the port's use."

      So now that the South Bay is zoned for a conveyor system, he'd prefer that we spin our wheels re-vetting the old discussion that required a lucky lottery ticket!

      With NOBODY else to work with - and at that point NOTHING other than the wording of the law to use as leverage - at the Common Council meeting on February 11th I inquired about the width of the Core-Riverfront District along the causeway corridor. By knowing the set width of the district we'd be better able to control a road that's already been illegally widened! (Mr. Moore regularly expresses a profound aspiration to set controls on Holcim's activities.)

      Me: "I would just like to know yes or no what did the zone, the Core-Riverfront Zone that runs down the causeway, is any wider than the current width of the road”? [That's from the Minutes and not verbatim.]

      Mr. Moore replied that the zone is no wider than the current width of the road. (This is recorded on tape somewhere.)

      But here's the reply as it appeared in the Minutes, which amounts to a meaningless truism and another lost opportunity:

      "President Moore said 'the Core-Riverfront is the width of the causeway'.";/content/Minutes/View/449:field=documents;/content/Documents/File/1300.pdf

      For the first time in years we now have an opportunity to take the LWRP back and to change it around to suit ourselves.

      This renewed talk of eminent domain is a planted distraction, perpetuated by those who botched the LWRP.

      We can and should be setting the terms for them to scramble to, and not the other way around.

  8. "The cost of purchasing the entire parcel alone is estimated at between $10 million and $20 million"...

    Micro managers never get the big picture. No guts no glory. $100K/Mo for thirty years buys the 1875 acres waterfront included. Stop fighting the closure of HCF and the city gets a housing development adjacent to a brand new industrial complex.

    Jobs and housing for Hudson. A project worthy of Hudson's nouveau rich.

    Win win...

    1 Riparian