This afternoon, the Board of the Hudson Development Corporation held a special meeting, the purpose of which, as described on the City of Hudson website, was "to build consensus to respond to the Sustainable Community Associates and clarify HDC's position with respect to the Kaz redevelopment project." Eager to learn the status of this project, Gossips showed up for the meeting, as did Rick Rector, First Ward alderman; Nick Zachos, chair of the Waterfront Advisory Committee; and Ellen Thurston.
The meeting was attended by seven members of the HDC board--Mayor Tiffany Martin Hamilton, Council president Claudia DeStefano, former City treasurer Eileen Halloran, former Fifth Ward alderman Bart Delaney, Bob Rasner, Christine Jones, and Alex Petraglia, development and marketing coordinator at the Hudson Opera House. Sheena Salvino, HDC executive director, opened the meeting by summarizing what had happened with the project to this point. She indicated that up until now discussions with SCA had proceeded "in a relatively informal way." She explained that SCA wanted a site that was larger than what was being offered and that HDC was "helping in any way it could"--working with CSX and the City of Hudson to secure addition property. She also reported that SCA had had an initial meeting with the residents of Tanners Lane and intended to engage the community in a six-month planning process before the project actually begins.
It will be remembered that Senator Chuck Schumer was in Hudson at the end of December to declare his support for the project and to announce that he was sending a letter to the CEO of CSX urging him to make the CSX property available for the project. Salvino reported today that Senator Schumer's office is "cautiously optimistic" that this could happen. She also reported that City attorney Ken Dow had made the determination that would be legal for the City to sell a piece of the train station parking lot for fair market value or swap it for land of equal value, with two-thirds support of the Common Council.
At the present time, HDC wants to enter into an option agreement with SCA, which would involve some percentage of the sale price to be paid as earnest money to hold the property off the market for a specified period of time. SCA proposed an option agreement, the terms of which were not acceptable to the HDC board. HDC offered other option agreements to SCA, none of which were acceptable. SCA has proposed another option agreement, which is what the board would considering at the special meeting.
Before the meeting went into executive session, Rector asked if the earnest money was nonrefundable. When told that it was nonrefundable, he asked if that was the reason SCA wouldn't agree to it. At that point, Halloran expressed her opinion that the board should not talk about this with the public.
Zachos wanted to know what specific items required that the discussion take place in executive session. Again Halloran responded by saying, "We as a board need to talk about all the moving parts of this. Having the public know what we are considering would weaken our position."
That being said, the members of the public withdrew, as requested, from the meeting room.
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