While our differences have been many, our agreement is complete in that the health and welfare of our citizens are our prime concern. . . . We cannot, in good conscience, continue the present conditions and expect an already long-suffering citizenry to endure still more. . . .
My spirit of personal compromise is based on my fervent desire to release our citizens from the almost annual binds of water bans and the resultant personal discomfort, loss of income, damage to motor vehicles, and loss of flowers, shrubs, lawns and young trees.Wheeler made four recommendations to the Council, the first of which was: "Securing an additional and plentiful supply of water for the future."
Five years later--and three years after the final year of the drought--the City did secure "an additional and plentiful supply of water for the future" when it acquired the 354-acre Lone Star quarry after Lone Star Cement ceased operations at its plant in Greenport (now the location of ADM). Speaking of the acquisition in October 1969, Wheeler told the Council: "It is believed that the purchase of the Lone Star Quarry, with its enormous water supply and great land usage potential, will prove to be the wisest venture the City of Hudson has ever undertaken." Fast-forward to 2002.
In June 18, 2002, the Common Council authorized the issuance of bonds, not to exceed $7.8 million, to finance the construction of a new water treatment plant on Mt. Ray, at the top of Rossman Avenue. Two months later, the Common Council was discussing how the City would pay off those bonds: a lease agreement with A. Colarusso & Sons, worked out by Mayor Rick Scalera, for all but 14.5 acres (those being the actual site of the water source) of the former Lone Star quarry. Colarusso would pay the City of Hudson $200,000 every year for thirty years, then $100,000 a year for another ten years, for the right to mine the quarry, and at the end of the forty years, they would own the property.
There was considerable objection to the deal at the time. In discussion of the lease agreement, recorded in the minutes of the Common Council for August 20, 2002, citizens voiced their concerns. Jack Harrell called the deal "a huge disservice to the citizens of this town." He asserted that the land could become a huge income producer for the City of Hudson and noted that the 354-acre parcel had not been addressed in the City's Comprehensive Plan, which had been adopted earlier that year, in April 2002. He suggested that a feasibility study be done to determine the possible uses for the land and told the Council that, in 1969, when the quarry was purchased, a professional planner had identified nineteen possible uses of the land, none of which had been explored by the City.
John Flynn, the former city engineer for Hudson who had negotiated the purchase of the quarry, questioned why the City was spending close to $10 million to clean up the water coming from the Churchtown Reservoir instead of utilizing the water from the quarry site as its primary water source. "That is what we bought it for," he told the Council.
Mary Hack asked why there were no competitive bids for leasing the land, suggesting that "by failing to offer [the land] to the public, you don't even make the pretense of avoiding the appearance of impropriety." Ned DePew called the land "an extremely valuable asset" and pointed out that the lease agreement was actually a sale agreement. He told the Council, "It is incumbent on this body to go the extra mile, the extra five miles, the extra ten miles, to exhaust the research for alternatives."
No further research was undertaken, and no alternatives were explored, One month later, at a special meeting on September 20, 2002, the Council passed a resolution authorizing the mayor to enter into a lease agreement with A. Colarusso & Sons. The only alderman who did not support the lease agreement was Rob O'Brien, who represented the First Ward.
In 1969, Wheeler predicted the acquisition of the quarry would "prove to be the wisest venture the City of Hudson has ever undertaken." After deacccessioning the quarry, no one had anything eloquent to say about the significance of that action for the future--at least nothing that ended up being quoted in the minutes of the Common Council. Two years later, however, at a special meeting to present the proposed budget for 2006, Mayor Scalera said this:
Our brand new water treatment plant costing 10 million dollars (2 million was granted to us) leaving an eight million dollar debt to the taxpayers. This debt service is over $250,000 a year but we are extremely fortunate to have $200,000 in revenue coming in each year from the Colarusso Quarry Agreement. However, to make up the difference along with an increase in operating costs we are forced to raise water rates by $2.00 per quarter from $41.00 to $43.00.COPYRIGHT 2016 CAROLE OSTERINK