When things got to the point of voting, well after 8 o'clock when the meeting was supposed to end, only 17 of the 23 members of the DRI Local Planning Committee were present--some had left early, two had not been there at all. A majority was required to adopt the list of projects in the draft DRI Investment Plan to be submitted to the Department of State. LPC member Jeff Hunt asked if it was a majority of the members present or a majority of the full LPC. The answer was the full LPC, and votes would be solicited from the members not present. Colin Stair voiced the opinion that it would be unfair to take a vote with only the members present, because the list might be adopted without giving the absent members the chance to vote. To this observer, that hardly seemed likely. A majority of 23 is 14, and it was not at all clear that 14 of the 17 members present were going to vote to adopt the list. It was decided that all members of the LPC would submit their votes to Steve Kearney by Monday, March 5.
The biggest sticking point for some members of the LPC and the public were the projects proposed for DRI funding by the Galvan Foundation. Five project proposals were submitted; only one--260 Warren Street--had been eliminated and that was because it was outside the BRIDGE District. Three projects--the Robert Taylor House, 22-24 Warren Street, the Salvation Army kitchen at 11 Warren Street--were recommended for DRI funding, totaling $842,570, and one--59 Allen Street--was to remain in the DRI Investment Plan without receiving DRI funding.
Stair was the first to express his opposition to the inclusion of Galvan projects in the recommended plan, saying that taking public money to award Galvan is wrong. "I don't know how they ended up staying there." When the public was allowed to make statements, which happened before the vote instead of after as the agenda indicated, Victor Mendolia said he was appalled by the notion that DRI funding would go to Galvan projects, calling the Galvan Foundation "bad actors." He noted that one of the principals of Galvan, Henry Van Ameringen, was "one of the richest people in the country." Mendolia attributed the affordable housing shortage in Hudson to the Galvan buying up properties and warehousing them and alleged "what they've done at Housing Resources is a real scandal." Linda Mussmann seconded what Mendolia had said, saying that Hudson was "losing housing stock rapidly."
LPC member Sara Kendall had a problem with $2 million of DRI funds--more than 20 percent of the total--going to the Kaz redevelopment project. Her concern was that the project was being managed by HDC (Hudson Development Corporation) and worried that it would not be "aligned with DRI goals." She spoke of "issues of community trust with HDC" and said she was "in an uncomfortable position because I cannot judge it in terms of our DRI goals and strategies." She asked if the LPC could have "some way to have input and know that it meets our goals." LPC member Seth Rapport told Kendall she was "operating from a place of distrust" which he said was "no way to function." LPC member Joan Hunt suggested that the LPC should be able to specify how much housing and what kind of housing--low income, workforce, market rate--is part of the Kaz redevelopment.
Early on in the meeting, LPC member Peter Jung, who left before the meeting reached the point of voting, asked, "What happens if approved projects cannot go forward as intended?" Someone from the Department of State answered, "That hasn't happened yet." The question to be asked now is: What happens if the LPC doesn't adopt the DRI Investment Plan? That probably hasn't happened yet either.
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