Thursday, July 23, 2015

More About Tuesday's Meeting: Part 1

We've already covered the big stories from Tuesday's Common Council meeting--the controversial grant-funded sewer project and new grant applications. Today, we'll start covering other issues of interest from the meeting, beginning with Foster's Refrigeration.

Cleaning up this major brownfield site at North Second and Dock streets, which somehow ended up being the City's responsibility, has been a topic of discussion for longer than most people have been paying attention. At Tuesday's Common Council meeting, Council president Don Moore asked former perennial mayor Rick Scalera to talk about the project's history. Scalera recounted that once upon a time the state had set the cost of remediating the site at $1 million; HCDPA (Hudson Community Development and Planning Agency) committed $100,000 to make the City's match; but it turned out the state had no money for the project, and HCDPA withdrew its match.

What Scalera didn't mention was his scheme to get Jim Bent, who in 2009 had demolished two of the three Hudson River Knitting Mill buildings on North Front Street for the salvage rights, to do the same for Foster's Refrigeration. Bent started the project in 2010 but abandoned it soon after he'd started, presumably because the site was too contaminated. 

On Tuesday, the Council was concerned once again with Foster's Refrigeration because they needed to appropriate more money toward its remediation. The City has a grant from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to clean up the site, and the City has agreed to reimburse DEC 10 percent of the total project cost. It was originally thought that remediation "at a fairly minimal level" would cost about $250,000, and in October 2014, the Council authorized a 10 percent match not to exceed $42,700. Now DEC has informed the City that the cleanup will cost $950,600, so the Council had to authorize the city treasurer to provide another $52,300 from the fund balance to make the 10 percent match.

So it seems that the Foster's Refrigeration site may finally be cleaned up, but for what purpose? 

Back in April 2012, Mayor Hallenbeck suggested the site as a location for a dog park, but by November of that year, Bill Roehr, of TGW Consultants, had his eye on it for other purposes. Gossips reported him saying at that time, "The thing we'd really like is to work with the Columbia Land Conservancy on this to take the site, which is pretty ugly and is a blighting influence, and do enough to provide for an environmental remedy [on order to turn the site into a parking area and entrance way to the hiking trails that are part of CLC's Concept Master Plan for North Bay]." It would seem that the site is large enough to accommodate both parked cars and romping dogs, but, of course, Tiffany Garriga maintains that her constituents don't want a dog park anywhere in the Second Ward.


  1. I find it so terribly (and tragically) ironic that taxpayers keep having to pick up the mess left by our government. So, we have to pay for remediation because a mayor's friend screwed up. And, in a few years, we'll be paying to remediate the North Bay to fix the new polluting sewer system.

  2. Last year former Mayor Scalera had the following to say in the Register-Star:

    “'We tried to take it on ourselves,' Scalera recalled, “ ... A state official drove by and said the intent was good, but the city had to get permission to do any work."

    Sure, that's totally believable.

    Meanwhile, the DEC updated its site description in April - unchanged since 2007 - at the insistence of the South Bay Task Force. The record finally reflects the fly-by-night demolition of 2010.

    "The possible presence of asbestos, as well as implementation of the remedy for the site, are currently being addressed through the state’s Environmental Restoration Program. ...

    "A Remedial Investigation was completed in June of 2007 which called for the excavation and disposal of approximately 1000 cubic yards of lead contaminated soil, as well the removal of approximately 25 cubic yards of PCB contaminated soils below the building’s slab."

    Also noted are arsenic and barium.

    NYS Environmental Site Remediation Database Search (search "Foster Refrigeration" "Columbia Co." "Hudson"):

  3. "The possible presence of asbestos, the excavation and disposal of approximately 1000 cubic yards of lead contaminated soil, as well the removal of approximately 25 cubic yards of PCB contaminated soils below the building’s slab..."

    Environmental laws must have changed, years ago the law was; if you find contamination below the flood line, leave it alone. Do not disturb!

    Furthermore, when Art Meyers got a permit from DEC years back the rule was; river dredge could not be transported upland, but the city piled it high where the Riverloft garden is now. Children were toiling in that soil there today.

    So, just like at the North Dock, if "Rick the flip" had done nothing, taxpayers would have had no liability.

    Moore cost, Moore government, and always the promise of greater future use.

    But then, what's a little arsenic amongst friends?

    1 Riparian