The question of the viability of HCDPA and the mention of another project the agency is pursuing pretty much off the radar of everyone but the most devoted meeting goer (in February, Salvino told the audience at an affordable housing forum that HCDPA was moving ahead with a "pilot program" that would focus on the 100 and 200 blocks of State Street) inspired Gossips to put together some information about HCPDA.
HCDPA is a relic of the Urban Renewal era in Hudson. (The pictures above show Front Street in 1971, when Hudson's Urban Renewal Agency, which morphed into HCDPA, presided over the demolition of all the buildings on the west side of the street and the construction of what is now Hudson Terrace.) The HDC website, HudsonFirst.com, includes information about HCDPA. (You'll find it in the drop-down menu under "Business.") Here's how the agency is described there:
HCDPA was established as the City's Urban Renewal Agency. HCDPA is a corporate governmental agency, constituting a public benefit corporation. Although urban renewal agencies were initially created for the purposes of implementing the Federal Urban Renewal Program, many, such as HCDPA, have remained active and vital by aggressively initiating and managing a broad range of community development activities.It seems questionable how "active and vital" HCDPA actually is today.
The agency has a five-member board made up almost exclusively of elected officials and mayoral appointees. Those currently serving on the board are Tiffany Martin Hamilton, mayor; Tiffany Garriga, Common Council majority leader; Abdus Miah, Common Council minority leader; Martin Martinez, chair of the Hudson Housing Authority board; Tom DePietro, chair of the Planning Board. According to the tax rolls, HCDPA owns twenty-four parcels in Hudson--all vacant land located primarily in the Second Ward. (See pages 420-423 of the tax rolls.)
HCDPA isn't often in the news. Aside from the brouhaha in 2015 over the $100,000 HCDPA allegedly owed the Galvan Foundation for the senior center (the City of Hudson ended up giving Galvan $100,000 in local taxpayers' money), the last time HCDPA made news was in 2013 when the agency sold half of a parcel it owned at the corner of Second and Columbia streets, which had for twenty years been a community garden, to Habitat for Humanity so they could build two more of their passive single-family houses.
Recently, a reader in an email to Gossips made reference to Hudson's "rather opaque, undemocratic 'planning' process." Perhaps phasing out HCDPA and creating a City Department of Planning and Development would bring more transparency. It might also make city planning more proactive and more inclusive--not only in the process but in its goals. A city planning department, presumably staffed by a professional city planner, would be able to look at Hudson's housing needs as a whole rather than having to focus, as HCDPA is apparently mandated to do by Hudson's nearly fifty-year-old urban renewal plan, on low-income housing concentrated in the Second Ward.
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