Monday, July 7, 2014

Holcim on Hudson

We haven't heard anything recently about the land transfer that was a condition for Hudson's LWRP (Local Waterfront Revitalization Program) getting approval from the Department of State--not since The Valley Alliance revealed, more than a year ago, that the City of Hudson actually owned a big chunk of the land it was trying to get from Holcim. A few months before that, when the negotiations for those acres were going strong, an email surfaced, FOILed by The Valley Alliance, from then city attorney Cheryl Roberts to Holcim attorney Donald Stever, in which Roberts made explicit reference to Holcim's sale of its Hudson property to "a private entity."

Three months ago, on April 7, 2014, Holcim and Lafarge made public their plans to merge. Facing antitrust hurdles, Holcim and Lafarge set up a "divestment committee," and this morning, they published the list of holdings they intend to sell.
Nothing in the United States is on the list, but interestingly all of Holcim's assets in Canada are. This would include the Mississauga plant near Toronto, which, back in the days of the proposed "Greenport Project," was regularly touted by SLC spinmeisters as a prime example of a cement plant peacefully coexisting with residential development and other nonindustrial land uses.


  1. Carole: Held up as an example of coexistence—by whom? The Mississauga plant was fined heavily by the Canadians, and was heavily criticized and watchdogged by neighbors. Public officials in Mussissauga called them a bad neighbor. As I recall, John Cody took pictures of the plant, which we used to show how nasty their operations were. When we exposed this track record, even the company wanted Mississauga forgotten, not touted.

    1. Denise Brubaker, for one. Remember her? It was a claim St. Lawrence made early on. I remember passing near there a couple of times on my way to Michigan, wondering if I should make a detour and check it out. (This was before John Cody took his pictures.) I'm not the only one who remembers the claims about Mississauga. They are still touting their commitment to community and environment:

  2. What's important is how the company coexisted here, and who were its friends in Hudson.

    Last year's exchanges between Cheryl Roberts and Holcim's attorney were pure entertainment for the public and its handful of aldermen who knew in advance that we were screwed.

    I wonder, did the experience teach Ms. Roberts the importance of "trust but verify"?

    As for including and trusting the public in its own affairs, that's a lesson that will never penetrate the psychologies of people like Ms. Roberts, Don Moore, and too many other know-it-alls to list here.

    "Dear Mr. Stever,

    "Your phone message of this morning advising me that your client is not prepared to move forward at this time with the land transfer of the Holcim parcel ... demonstrates nothing short of bad faith on your part and the part of your client. ... "

    Tough luck, lady. Next time acknowledge that the public (a.k.a. your subjects) may know more about these things (or about everything) than you do.

    Now it's one Common Council President to go, after which Mother Nature may stand a chance.

    But Cheryl Roberts complaining about someone else's bad faith! What a laugh!

  3. Carole, why include not only the company’s spin on that facility, and not the citizen research which debunked it almost the instant it was made? (Remember, Brubaker was fired or resigned—the rest of us stayed, and prevailed.)

  4. Wouldn't it be great if all of us didn't make use of or need cement & petroleum products daily.