Monday, December 22, 2014

Not That Long Ago in Hudson

One doesn't often see a picture of Carrie Haddad sitting next to Rick Scalera or of Dr. Norman Posner in conversation with Rick Scalera, but both these pictures appeared on the front page of the Register-Star for March 4, 1999.

They accompanied an article by Joseph Brill, entitled "HDC still in place--for now," which reported on a watershed moment in the history of the Hudson Development Corporation. 

Up until that point, HDC had a membership. For a very small annual fee, any citizen could be a member. At that time, the agency also had a fifteen-member board, none of whom were elected officials. The article explains the situation at that brought the agency to a critical impasse:
The Hudson Common Council and Mayor Richard Scalera had given HDC's 62 members the choice of disbanding both the membership and the board of directors or having the city cancel its operating agreement with HDC and requiring HDC to return the bulk of its assets to the city.
The members were told they would be given the choice of approving new bylaws that would replace the 15-member board with a new nine-member board, or have the HDC dissolved and its assets placed under the control of the Hudson Industrial Development Agency.
The nine-member board would be controlled by the mayor, Common Council leaders and city Planning Commission chairman.
Although the changes in HDC had to be postponed that day because the attorney for HDC questioned the legality of the proxies sent to the members, the unofficial word was the resolution to disband the membership would have been defeated. Scalera was reported as saying "he found out many of the members were deciding how they were going to vote based on information from a 'smear campaign' that was launched 'to sabotage this whole thing.'" Ah, those were the good old days.

Somehow, in spite of opposition from the membership, HDC's bylaws were changed, and the mayor, the Council president, the majority leader, and the minority leader, and the chair of the Planning Commission--a mayoral appointee--took the majority of the seats on the new nine-member board. Somewhere along the line (maybe during the time when the person who was Council president also chaired the Planning Commission), the chair of the Planning Commission (now the Planning Board) ceased to be an ex officio member of the HDC board, making the mix four elected officials and five community members. 

Two years ago, in December 2012, the HDC board decided to make another change in the bylaws to increase the number of community members from five to as many as eleven, which would bring the board back to fifteen, the number it had at the beginning of 1999. In spite of this initiative to enlarge the board, it today consists of only eight members: four elected officials (William Hallenbeck, mayor; Don Moore, Council president; Ohrine Stewart, majority leader; Bart Delaney, minority leader) and four community members (Perry Lasher, Duncan Calhoun, Eileen Halloran, and Chris Jones).


  1. In the intervening years, the damage to Hudson has been immeasurable.

    The HDC's sale of the former Meeker property at North Front Street, which immediately followed the announcement that the city itself would retain the property, is still staggering. This land was already identified in the federally required Long Term Control Plan as the most valuable property remaining for handling the city's waste water.

    The personal conduct of board members during the failed 2012 Brownfields application to remediate former industrial sites has set back development in Hudson for years, if not decades. And lest we forget, the lapses in that application dove-tailed with the city's dishonest and equally failed attempt to acquire the Holcim riverfront property at South Bay. (And no, I do not mean the property that the city arguably already owned.)

    I can barely distinguish one incident from the next when I had to refer, yet again, to the HDC's Code of Ethics.

    1. Can't help wondering if any Hudson Development Corporation monies went into either of the Finish Line properties, on Warren or Union, and did its "officer" profit from the injection taxpayer dollars?

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. How many times was Ricky's Refrigerator laundered after Tom Fink of Atmost offered to buy it? How many times did the Pirates of Municipal Property launder the Riverloft/Parachutes property, trying to disenfranchise the Tin Boat Navigators?

    Most business plans start with a "grand" idea. These so called development corporations start with a "grant" idea and work their way back, from Lowenstein, to Crawford, to Hudson Real estate agents, and of course, impartial city lawyers. It's no wonder these businesses fail, these "developers" can't wait to sell it again. They're like used car salesmen, getting paid again on a resale, by the taxpayer.