The presentation by Barton & Loguidice was promised to "familiarize the committee and public with transportation and waterfront sustainability planning concepts; introduce projects from other communities; and look at potential streams of funding that may help Hudson address impediments to sustainable development." It was also promised to take only fifteen minutes.
For people who were here in Hudson twenty years ago, the presentation gave a sense of deja vu. It began with Ted Kolankowski explaining how the firm had helped Mechanicville revitalize its main street and connect with its waterfront--which is where Hudson was in the mid-1990s, when people were attending Hudson Vision Plan meetings and Roberta Gratz and Norman Mintz gamely included Hudson in their book Cities Back from the Edge.
After a half hour of hearing about Mechanicville, Council president Don Moore, who chairs the Economic Development Committee interrupted. "We were hoping you would take the strategies you have and apply them here." Moore wanted to know specifically how Barton & Loguidice could help Hudson get funding to repair or replace Ferry Street bridge. The presentation went on for another fifteen minutes, with the audience making comments and asking questions and Nadine Medina of B & L talking about her areas of expertise, until Moore brought it to an end. "I am grateful that you folks came," Moore told them, "but I was expecting more about us and less about what you've done." The team from Barton & Loguidice is expected to return in two weeks with a presentation more tailored to the purpose.
Alderman John Friedman (Third Ward), who sits on the committee, urged that the letter be reviewed immediately. He then began reading the letter himself and declared, "I just read the first paragraph. This could have been solved with a phone call." Tossing the letter on the floor, he said with exasperation, "It took thirty days to draft a letter. It took three years to get to this point."
Alderman Nick Haddad (First Ward), also a member of the committee, stressed the urgency of repairing the bridge, noting, as he has before, that "when a bridge begins to rust, it loses 25 percent of its carrying capacity." He urged that the City find "engineers who specialize in this kind of thing" and move forward. Moore instructed Duchessi to prepare the letter for his and the mayor's signatures. "Send the letter," he told Duchessi, "and call right afterward. Let's get these people up here."
There was also information shared from the Capital Region Economic Development Council 2014 Progress Report, which came out last month. Of the thirty projects that document lists as "Primary Recommendations," three are of interest: the Hudson Opera House ($500,000) Columbia Memorial Hospital ($300,000), and Premier Brands ($274,000 to develop a facility in the old WalMart building in Greenport). Other Hudson projects are also mentioned in the report. Under the head "Priority Projects Beyond ESD that scored 20," there is one Hudson project: Hudson Opera House: Lighting and Rigging Equipment. In a third category, under the head "Regionally Significant Projects that scored 15," five Hudson projects appear: Hudson Opera House: Market Hudson NY; Hudson Development Corporation: Hudson Wayfinding Program; City of Hudson: North Front Street Stormwater Separation; Columbia County: Hudson North Bay Recreation and Natural Center; and City of Hudson: Hudson Urban Park Redevelopment (a.k.a., Seventh Street Park).
Gossips has made several phone calls to try to understand the significance of these recommendations, but so far none has yielded an answer.
One good piece of news shared at the Economic Development Committee is that the "transloading facility" has, in the words of Supervisor Sarah Sterling (First Ward), "gone away." This plan, which involved transporting goods by truck to a facility near the ADM plant and shipping them out by train, would have increased the number of trains passing through Hudson on the ADM spur and would probably also have increased the number of trucks coming through the city. The transloading facility was a favorite with the Capital Region Economic Development Council and had been awarded $2.6 million in grants. The explanation going around about its demise is that when the people behind the project found they would have to invest some of their own money to make it happen, they abandoned the idea. According to Moore, the $2.6 million now "goes back into the pot at CREDC."
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