Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Protecting What's Unique About Hudson

The historic preservation ordinance, Chapter 169 of the City of Hudson code, which was adopted by the Common Council in 2003, was the most significant legislation for protecting the unique character of Hudson. Despite Rick Scalera, who was mayor at the time, later mourning, in the media, that signing the legislation into law instead of vetoing it was the biggest mistake he ever made as mayor, and his former aide, Carmine Pierro, launching regular assaults on the Historic Preservation Commission, when he was on the Common Council, for allegedly interfering with development in Hudson, the historic preservation ordinance and the commission that it created have succeeded in protecting the very things that make Hudson a sought-after destination: its historic architecture and its unique and quirky character.

Now, fourteen years later, the Common Council Economic Development Committee is working on legislation that would take a further step in preserving not only community character but also community wealth. The proposed legislation is a law that would ban formula businesses--chains and big box stores--from locating in Hudson.

The aesthetic benefit of such a ban is obvious. Hudson would not have to deal with businesses wanting to impose their iconic store appearance and signage on our main street. Such a law would also preserve Hudson's character by encouraging the kinds of unique, independent businesses that have developed here and ensuring that they would not have to compete with regional and national chains. The law would also ensure that Hudson continues to provide an experience that cannot be found anywhere else--certainly not in a shopping mall. And there are additional economic benefits. The law would ensure that wealth stays in the community. More than once in the discussion of this legislation, Alderman John Friedman (Third Ward), who is researching and drafting the legislation, has pointed out that money spent at a chain store leaves the community the next day, but money spent at businesses with local owners stays in the community longer. Another benefit anticipated is that a ban on formula stores would have the effect of capping the rents being charged for commercial space on Warren Street. Landlords might be more reasonable in their expectations if they knew that renting to a chain, capable of paying more than an independent proprietor, is not a possibility.

At the Economic Development Committee meeting last Thursday, the committee reviewed a draft of the legislation banning formula businesses from Hudson. Based on the discussion that evening, Friedman will be revising the draft. Committee chair Rick Rector told Gossips that the committee will hold a public hearing to help them refine the legislation before passing it along to the full Council for consideration.


  1. I received this comment in an email from former mayor Rick Scalera, with this in the subject line: "So sad 'Hudson's Tokyo Rose.'" I guess that's his way of calling "Gossips" fake news. Here's what he had to say:

    Once again you tried your very best to twist the truth to make it appear my bold move to create a Historic Preservation Commission in 2003 and was preparing to veto my own local law. I repeat my local law that I supported and lobbied the council to support. The Commission was made up initially of community members who served to help property owners understand the significance of their historic property, help them find grant monies for restoration and most important make them feel good about a commission that was there to help.
    As initial members left for personal reasons replacements were making life miserable for those that had to appear before them. Some called it "sadly oppressive," and it was then when I said to YOU that I wish that I never created that commission. It was not what I intended it to be and continues to be so difficult at times. I've personally witnessed people crying leaving the chambers. Maybe that invigorates you but it made me sick and yes angry.
    Even today commission members turn to see if you are satisfied. How sad!

    I'm betting this doesn't make you column....Rick Scalera

    1. So our former five term Mayor is stating that you are a) the enemy, b) a liar and 3) a mouthpiece of bellicose propaganda. Wow.

      Do millennials even know who Tokyo Rose was?

    2. Let's get the facts right, Observer. Richard Scalera was mayor of Hudson for not five but seven nonconsecutive terms: 1994-1999, 2002-2005, 2008-2011.

    3. I can always count on you Carole to get the facts right! My brain must have been reset to 2007.

  2. The new proposal is a valuable step. My dad's employer sold his business to a family in a town 100 miles away. That family used the profits from our business to shop in stores in their hometown -- they bought a luxury car from their hometown dealer, remodeled their house using their hometown resources, and on and on. Those purchases were not made in OUR hometown supporting our businesses. This is a microcosm of what happens when out-of-town ownership is involved. It's not always a bad thing -- a factory that brings jobs, for instance -- but in small business, don't just shop local shops, shop locally owned shops.

  3. Betcha if Whole Foods wanted to open in Hudson it will be acceptable.

    1. Mr. or Ms. tmdonofrio, you make a point. Or, rather, several.

      First, the draft we are working on exempts certain types of businesses including food markets, banks (but not predatory finance companies), pharmacies, etc. -- those sorts of businesses that the big box stores have already killed off and replaced wholesale.

      But the second point you make is equally, if not more, important, though I don't know if you meant to make it at all. And it's this: the chances of a Whole Foods market, or any other market that requires a large footprint (and they rather all do as even the gross margins on unprepared and even semi-prepared foods are very slim), locating in the city's corporate boundaries are likely about zero. There's simply not enough folks in the city and not enough parking either to make it an attractive business proposition particularly when you factor in the lack of regulatory costs in Greenport compared to Hudson. I believe the solution to Hudson's food desert status isn't a traditional approach but something like what's being proposed for a food store in a truck -- it can be a local business that visits various neighborhoods, sell its wares and moves on without ever needing to pay rent. Is this a good model for antique or art supply stores? No. And we shouldn't encourage it or permit it in my view. But for a food store solution? It beats nothing and nothing is what we've pretty much got now.