Sunday, May 10, 2015

That Was Then and This Is Now

In the spring and early summer of 2004, there was a lot of development going on in Hudson. Columbia Memorial Hospital was building its medical arts wing and parking garage. The City of Hudson was building the Central Fire Station and selling off its historic firehouses. Columbia County was building its human services building at 325 Columbia Street and surrounding it with a sea of parking lots. Condominiums were under construction on Mount Ray, overlooking the city. Eric Galloway was just starting on his reign of acquisition, construction, and alteration. A massive St. Lawrence Cement plant was still a possibility.

Those projects, though, were just the tip of the iceberg. All together, more than fifty projects were being "discussed, proposed, announced, or begun in the City of Hudson" in 2004, and that was cause for concern for those among us inclined to worry about unchecked development and its impact on the character of the city. The City of Hudson's Comprehensive Plan had been adopted two years before, but no one seemed to be paying much attention to it. So an unofficial ad hoc committee, spearheaded by Ellen Thurston and including other members of a think tank that called itself Columbia County Futures, as well as others with similar concerns, got together to map all the things being talked about or happening. The map they produced appears below. (Click here for a PDF.)

A meeting was called to present the map to the community, and on a Monday night in June, the people of Hudson filled the basement meeting room at the First Presbyterian Church. This panoramic picture shows the gathering. (Note the future Gossips of Rivertown at the right with the mike.)

Photo: Sam Pratt
At the beginning of the meeting, Thurston explained that its purpose was "to take an overall view of development in Hudson to see where we are right now, to see what lies ahead, and to see what might be missing from the picture." An account of the meeting can be found here.

This bit of recent Hudson history has relevance now because Sheena Salvino, executive director of the Hudson Development Corporation, has undertaken to update the map and revisit the projects included in 2004. The new map appears below. (Click here for a PDF.)

It's interesting to study the two maps to see what worried people back in 2004 and to compare what was proposed with what was realized. (There are some errors in the new map. One example is the Power and Restoration Church on Columbia Street just below Third, which is presented as Proposed on the 2004 map and Completed on the 2015 map. The church in fact was never built; four Habitat for Humanity houses now occupy what was to be its location.) What is even more interesting is to compare the tone of the titles and explanatory text in the upper left-hand corner of each map. In 2004, the tone is apprehensive and a bit skeptical.

In 2015, the tone is unabashedly and uncritically enthusiastic.



  1. Friends of Hudson was also involved, as was then Common Council President Rob O'Brien.

  2. The current administration's defenders on Voy say that few minorities are able to pass the entrance exams for civil servant positions. Guess it helps to be the son in law of the council president.

    Lowering the bar is how we ended up with a DPW "engineer" that has no clue that Clean Water Act grants are intended to promote clean water and its use to the "furthest extent possible."