Friday, May 29, 2015

The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men . . .

Three years ago, the 300 block of Warren Street was shut down on a Saturday in early spring by an auto show organized by Joe Fierro of American Glory. When the event was repeated the next year, the Common Council Legal Committee took up the task of revising the mass gathering permit process to prevent business owners on Warren Street from being blindsided in this way by street closures. 

As a consequence of the Legal Committee's initiative, Chapter 199 of the city code was amended in June 2014 to require that applications for mass gathering permits be submitted 120 days prior to the event in order to allow for notification and public comment. Regarding notification, the amended statute specifies:
If the parade or special event requires a street closure(s), the applicant must cause to be posted in the newspaper of record notice of such application within seven days of submitting an application for a special event or parade to the City Clerk. Said notice shall be published for two consecutive days. . . . Written public comments regarding the special event or parade application may be submitted to the Clerk within 10 days of the first publication of said notice.
So today, this notice appeared on page 3 of the Register-Star.

According to the notice, the application, which involves shutting down Warren Street between Third Street (the street on which most visitors enter Hudson expecting to make a right turn onto our main street) and Fourth streets for five hours on the first Saturday in June, was submitted on May 18--just nineteen days before the proposed event instead of the required 120 days. The first public notification of the event appeared in the Register-Star today--eleven days after the application was submitted and only eight days before the event is supposed to take place, completely eliminating the possibility for written public comments, which, according to the statute, must be submitted "within 10 days of the first publication of said notice." Within ten days of the first publication, the event will be over and done with. 

So what happened? Etsy, it would seem, has been promoting this Craft Party online for a while. Why did it take so long for it to occur to them that they might need a permit to shut down a block of Hudson's main street? And since, according to Etsy's own website, only two Etsy users are planning to attend this event, why do they need to shut down an entire block of Warren Street?

As we know, Mayor William Hallenbeck vetoed the 2014 amendments to the law pertaining to mass gathering permits, and the Common Council overrode his veto in order to adopt them. What the mayor seemed to fuss about most at the time was this sentence in the statute, which gives him discretion in granting mass gathering permits: "Exceptions to this application process may be made for good cause shown upon petition to the Mayor." Could it be that the mayor is using this sentence as license to flout the unwanted amendments altogether?

It will be interesting to see how the problem is resolved over the next week.


  1. John Davis submitted this comment:

    June through October are the best months for business during the year. Saturdays are the busiest days of those weeks/months. Already in June, two of the four Saturdays are taken up with parades. June 13th is Flag Day Parade and June 20th is Hudson Pride Parade. Parades are fun but not good for many brick and mortar businesses. They also don't close blocks down all of the business hours that shops are open.

    Now, illegally, Etsy is apparently going to close down the 300 block from 11 - 4 pm. Most places open at 11 or 12 and close at 5 or 6 pm. They plan to do this on June 6th - a week from today. That is 3 out of 4 Saturdays in one of the busiest months of the year. Not fair at all. Will the elected officials allow this? Did Etsy do its homework? Does it know how it affects its neighbors?

    I thought a law was passed to stop this sort of punishment of business establishments? And why does it always have to be the 300 block?
    John Davis

  2. The Law should apply to everyone.
    Move the Event down near the Chamber of Commerce