Friday, May 30, 2014

The Public Hearing That Wasn't

Late Thursday afternoon, there was a public hearing about the City of Hudson's latest CDBG (Community Development Block Grant) application. If memory serves, there are typically two public hearings connected with a CDBG application: the first, at which ideas for projects are solicited from the public; the second, at which the project being pursued is presented and the public is invited to comment. Citizen participation is an important part of the application process. The following is quoted from the HUD website:
A grantee must develop and follow a detailed plan that provides for and encourages citizen participation. This integral process emphasizes participation by persons of low or moderate income, particularly residents of predominantly low- and moderate-income neighborhoods, slum or blighted areas, and areas in which the grantee proposes to use CDBG funds. . . .
The purpose of the public hearing last night, as it was explained on the City of Hudson website, was "to give citizens an opportunity to discuss proposed activities relative to the City's request for $600,000 under the Public Infrastructure element to undertake sewer separation activities in the area of State Street and Columbia Street." 

The proposed project, as briefly explained by DPW superintendent Rob Perry, involves replacing old stone sewer mains, which allow ground water to get into the waste water treatment plant, with new impermeable sewer mains that would carry the ground water into North Bay and lessen the volume of water passing through the waste water treatment plant and into the river. Perry described the project as "one step toward separating the system entirely"--that is, separating storm water runoff from the sanitary sewer system to eliminate CSO (combined sewer overflow) events, when the waste water treatment plant is overwhelmed and untreated sewage is released into the river.

The one person at the public hearing who wanted to comment on the proposal was Timothy O'Connor, tireless advocate for South Bay and the river. He began by pointing out that the City's CSO Long Term Control Plan (LTCP), which is required by the Environmental Protection Agency's CSO control policy and is part of DEC's CSO control strategy "to reduce the frequency, duration, and intensity of CSO events," had been developed without public participation. "We have to go back," O'Connor urged, "and look at the LTCP." He predicted that because the LTCP had been developed without public participation--a federal requirement--the CDBG application would fail.

Council president Don Moore, who was chairing the hearing, told O'Connor his comments were "going far afield." O'Connor protested, "I'm telling you how you can perhaps fix it." He said of the the project being proposed, "This is not separating it properly. This is piecemeal." He cautioned that storm water runoff is "nearly as contaminated as sewage."

O'Connor didn't have the chance to say all he wanted to at last night's public hearing, but early this morning he published his thoughts on the topic on Imby: "Excluded Public Participation Dooms Hudson's Latest Sewer Grant Ambitions." It is recommended reading.


  1. Add the cost of the first treatment plant and its "upgrades", the time for pricey half measures should be over.

  2. This is what one gets when a political group has a "shovel ready" deadline, to spend millions. Dirty deeds and dirty water.

    1. SPOT ON!

      It's as simple as that.

      I've got DPW data from runoff studies we've already paid for that show that the intended purpose of this CDBG grant is contraindicated.

      The city is ignoring the data for the sake of available money.

      This is what Common Council President Don Moore is all about when he interrupts a comment at a Public Hearing to say that someone is "going far afield."

      What he means is: "Don't foul the deal! This is Big Money talking! Back off!"

  3. "Unfiltered runoff from developed areas frequently carries many of the following contaminants: zinc, cadmium, copper, chromium, arsenic, lead, sodium chloride, calcium chloride, nitrogen, phosphorous, pesticides, oil, gasoline, grease, soil, silt, oxygen-demanding plant detritus, viruses and bacteria (from animal waste)."
    Thiese are (some) of the items used to fill the old basement on the Riverloft property and now kids are digging through it. Curious...