Before a vote was taken on the resolution to transfer funds to the Attorney Fees Account, Garriga moved that the Council go into executive session, with the mayor, to discuss the resolution. Friedman objected, saying he did not believe it was a proper topic to be discussed without the public present. He maintained that the only justification for executive session was discussing personnel issues that involve information about an individual or discussing ongoing litigation during which legal strategies might be disclosed. Andy Howard, counsel to the Council, said the Council might be discussing "potential litigation" and expressed the opinion that the Council could go into executive session. Friedman was adamant: "I want us to discuss in public things that should be discussed in public."
The Council then voted on whether or not to go into executive session, but before that happened, Friedman left the room. Alderman Henry Haddad (Third Ward) prepared to leave, too, but stayed for the vote, in which he, Rector, and O'Hara voted no. All the others--DeStefano, Robert Donahue (Fifth Ward), Garriga, Alexis Keith (Fourth Ward), Abdus Miah (Second Ward), Priscilla Moore (Fifth Ward), and Lauren Scalera (Fourth Ward) voted to go into executive session. After the vote, Haddad left, saying, "We shouldn't be discussing these things without the public here."
After an executive session that lasted for upwards of twenty minutes, the public was allowed back into the room, and the resolution was voted on. It was unanimously passed.
It is not known what was discussed in executive session, but one can hazard a guess. On Monday, the Hudson City Democratic Committee issued this statement and call to action:
The Common Council votes Tuesday night on whether to set aside $50,000 for legal fees. These funds are needed in order to protect our interests concerning the proposed haul road through the South Bay, which would increase truck traffic and limit how we use our waterfront for generations to come.
We have a tight deadline to respond to Greenport's recent negative declaration on this project's environmental impact. If we don't respond, we are allowing the road to proceed without Hudson's input.
Please attend and urge your representatives to vote "yes" so that Hudson can protect its waterfront and its people.At the meeting, the Council also received the following communication from the HCDC:
The Hudson City Democratic Committee (HCDC) supports the City's effort to protect the waterfront from unchecked development and from actions that would limit the future of the waterfront as an invaluable public resource and a driver of economic growth. In particular, HCDC hopes that the City can effectively address the negative declaration issued by the Town of Greenport's Planning Board with respect to the proposal to build a new two-lane haul road across the South Bay railroad berm. The Greenport Planning Board, as lead agency, has determined that the new haul road will have no significant environmental impact on the Hudson waterfront, precluding any further input by Hudson's citizens. This action is in contradiction to the 2011 zoning changes to the waterfront area. The HCDC, consistent with its vision statement calling for clean air, water, streets and parks, and appealing and accessible shared spaces, believes that the waterfront is a crucial part of Hudson's history and future development. With its extensive wetlands, iconic views of the river with the Catskills beyond, and multi-use waterfront docking areas with enormous potential for economic growth, the promise of a greatly improved quality of life for all Hudson residents is within reach. The awarding of the $10,000,000 DRI initiative only serves to underscore the importance of this area for the City's future economic development.
The HCDC urges the City to use all means within its power to make sure that this action by Greenport is not the last word on this highly important subject.For everyone interested in finding out what else happened at last night's Common Council meeting, Dan Udell's video of the meeting is now available on YouTube. Click here to watch.
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