Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Senator Schumer in Hudson

Columbia County was the last stop on Senator Charles Schumer's annual tour of all sixty-two counties in New York State. He appeared this morning in Hudson, at the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce, 1 North Front Street. 

In his remarks before a gathering of elected officials and the media, Schumer began by mentioning previous visits to Hudson, recalling that from time to time he had come for the Flag Day parade. He spoke in particular about one visit made to Hudson, in the early 2000s, during the cement plant battle. He remembered that the mayor at the time, whose name he admitted he could not recall but described as "a heavyset fellow," supported the cement plant and that he, Schumer, was somewhat sympathetic because he was told the cement plant meant jobs. "The people who wanted a livable, clean environment won that battle," Schumer recalled, "and the number of jobs that have come to this area to support the creative economy is far greater" than the industrial jobs promised by the proposed cement plant. "The economy in Hudson is growing," Schumer declared, "because the beautiful assets have been preserved." He spoke of a painting by Frederic Church, on loan to him from Olana, which hangs in his office and reminds him of the beauty of our part of the Hudson River.

Schumer's particular reason for visiting Hudson was to announce his support and assistance for the $25 million redevelopment project proposed by Sustainable Community Associates (SCA) for the abandoned Kaz warehouse site. The opportunities for developing the Kaz site and creating "the foundation of a new downtown" are constrained by the presence of CSX, which owns a 7-acre parcel on Front Street, adjacent to the Kaz warehouses and to 41 Cross Street, being transformed into a hotel called The Wick. 

Schumer told the audience this morning, "This parcel houses a small building that functions as a resting spot and staging area for CSX crews. The 'crew shack' is utilized infrequently during train switching operations on the sidings of the railroad and is located about half a block away from the tracks." Schumer concluded, "This parcel is not vital to CSX, but it is vital to the SCA project. . . . CSX is being selfish, because they don't need the parcel, but SCA does."

The following letter, from Senator Schumer to the CEO of CSX, Michael Jon Ward, was distributed to the media this morning.
Dear Mr. Ward:
I am writing to request your assistance in addressing a piece of CSX owned property in the City of Hudson, NY. Though small in size and importance to the railroad, the parcel is key to a major development project that could transform Hudson's waterfront area.
The Hudson Development Corporation (HDC) is the local development corporation whose mission is to sustain, promote and attract projects that improve economic opportunities for businesses and residents, create jobs and enhance the quality of life in the City of Hudson.
The HDC, and the City of Hudson, is partnering with Sustainable Community Associates to bring a $25 million dollar mixed-used project to the former KAZ warehouse site on Front Street in Hudson, just southeast of Amtrak's Hudson Station. The proposed development calls for:
•  Residential Space: A mix of 67 one- and two-bedroom units with varied layouts
•  Modern Co-working Facility: Offered for independent contractors, startups, and self-employed people to have a flexible work environment, conference rooms, services and printing, without the cost of a full office
•  Commercial Space: 24,600 square feet of space (including co-working) centered on retail designed to serve the local community, as well as office space with a focus on job creation 
•  Live/Work: The proposal includes 10 live/work spaces suitable for businesses smaller than a storefront on Warren Street, but requiring first-floor frontage
An important component of this project is the acquisition of a small CSX owned parcel. Obtaining ownership of this parcel allows for the critical Front street frontage for businesses and access points for public infrastructure, including roads and sidewalks.
Beginning in February 2015, HDC has made consistent efforts to communicate with CSX's Real Estate Office in Jacksonville, Florida. With almost two years of outreach resultin in dead-end communication, little constructive feedback, and no formal response from CSX, the City's largest redevelopment project since the 1980s has effectively come to a halt.
The CSX parcel, located immediately south of 60 Front Street, contains one small building that is used infrequently as a "crew shack" when doing switching operations on the sidings a half a block away. The developer, Sustainable Community Associates, has proposed a one-acre land swap, which would replace the current CSX parcel with a one acre parcel directly on the CSX rail siding.
This parcel is of little significance to your great railroad, but it is of tremendous consequence to the people of the City of Hudson and the ambitious plans to redevelop this historic Hudson River city. I ask that you please give your attention to the matter and instruct your Real Estate Office to engage HDC in discussions to try and make this property available for this worthy project.
Charles E. Schumer
United States Senator
During a site visit this morning, NYS Assemblymember Didi Barrett points out to Senator Schumer the location of Basilica Hudson. Included in the picture, from left to right: Ben Ezinga, Sustainable Community Associates; Schumer; Barrett; Sheena Salvino, HDC executive director; Jeffrey Hunt, Columbia County Chamber of Commerce president & CEO; Tiffany Garriga, Common Council majority leader; Tiffany Martin Hamilton, mayor of Hudson

In a press release, Mayor Tiffany Martin Hamilton spoke of the project and expressed her gratitude to Senator Schumer for his support:
It is unquestionable that thoughtful, careful development of our waterfront is critical to Hudson's economic development and sustainability. The proposal by Sustainable Community Associates to redevelop the area in and around the former Kaz warehouse is truly transformative, and very consistent with the vision of expanding beyond a traditional main street model and embracing Hudson's river town roots. In Hudson's densely developed two square miles, we are faced with the need for more residential and commercial space to support growth. SCA's plan addresses those needs, while contributing to the steady evolution of our waterfront area from its historical industrial use. To maximize curb appeal and provide natural, unbroken connection between Warren Street and the south end of town along Front Street, SCA hopes to acquire property form CSX. On behalf of Hudson, I am incredibly grateful to Senator Schumer for his interest in our city, and for any assistance he is able to offer to facilitate discussions between SCA and CSX to help ensure this project's success.
While Schumer was addressing those gathered in the Chamber of Commerce conference room this morning, Timothy O'Connor, tireless advocate for South Bay and the natural environment, stood just outside the window holding picket signs, one of which, written on the back of a Tiffany Martin Hamilton campaign sign, read: "Enviro-justice NOT gravel expansion."



  1. Good coverage Gossips. You even got the crank out on the sidewalk.

    But it's true that Environmental Justice - which means getting the trucks out of the lower city - runs counter to an industrial expansion at the waterfront.

    Whenever you hear someone spouting the false either/or, "trucks on streets or trucks on the causeway," suspect this person, probably a politician, of mindlessly providing cover to even lazier politicians.

    Environmental Justice is in total harmony with the 2011 waterfront program. It's not the LWRP's fault if, after the document was adopted by the City, our politicians lacked follow-through.

  2. Ah, Unhiemlich.
    God bless you , you wonderful crank.
    We tried very hard for yrs now, and chickens now come to roost.It's a Port , it's a business, they have trucks. We gave them a way to stop it, These politicos and graft suckers did nothing.
    All deaf ears.
    I'm not so interested in community du jour of recent humans ..but of protections of all other forms of life including air,water flora and in turn will protect community du jour.So theorectically it could, all work out.But it won't $$$ Keep figting the good fight. Thank you, Tim
    the River that runs both ways.Mahicantuck thanks you. You have never given up. It does not go unnoticed.Mahicantuck

  3. Well said, Prison Alley. Tireless Tim, thank you.

  4. Words of wisdom UHL!
    "Whenever you hear someone spouting the false either/or, "trucks on streets or trucks on the causeway," suspect this person, probably a politician, of mindlessly providing cover to even lazier politicians."
    Be suspicious indeed. With Jennifer in thanking you for your service and standing up to suckiest of the graftsuckers.

  5. The question that should be asked repeatedly-

    Given that the Colarusso proposal would impose an enormous amount of downside abuse on the City of Hudson, what is the counter-balancing economic upside? What do the citizens of the city gain by hosting a gravel hauling operation?

  6. All I can say is that I am glad I voted for the Senator, and appreciate very much his interest in our city. And I also thank our mayor, who no doubt had a hand in all of this. CSX does seem to be a difficult player in all of this, as it has been in the past.

  7. For clarification, my "second" comment was meant to follow Jennifer's "Well-said, Prison Alley." --pm

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  10. I wonder who's arranging all of this? Where did this plan originate?

    Whatever the finished project will look like, it will certainly drive all future development at the waterfront, likely gobbling up any alternate visions, such as those which would appear in an approved waterfront program.

    Are any of the same individuals involved who commandeered the previous LWRP effort, and then failed to deliver due to their incompetence?

    Put another way, is this gigantic proposal another end-run around public participation in the waterfront process, being hatched by the same people who've undercut the contributions of minority views in the past?

    What proportion of this concept was developed during the HDC's executive sessions?

    At an HDC meeting a few months ago, right before corporation members were to retire behind closed doors, an innocent question by a member of the public revealed that there were several large issues left to discuss openly. Were it not for that question, it's likely the HDC would have continued the public's business in secret.

    Does anyone wonder that the HDC smells to high heaven?

    Let's finally get rid of it once and for all!