The Kaz redevelopment project was discussed at the HDC meeting earlier this week. At the beginning of the meeting, acting chair Bob Rasner noted that the next steps for Kaz "revolved around the question of CSX," explaining that "the project is not viable without the CSX property." The CSX property is needed to give the Kaz site access to South Front Street.
Later in the meeting, when public comments were entertained, the project came up again. Audience member Charlie Suisman alluded to it when he said, "Hudson doesn't want decisions made for it." Clark Wieman maintained there was a "huge gap in what the community understands about Kaz." Don Moore, who is treasurer of the HDC board, responded by saying, "If there is any lack of clarity … we have a new board." He went on to counter the intimation that the Kaz project has been going on for two and a half years because of mistakes by saying, "I prefer to think of it as due diligence." Of the CSX property, Moore commented, "We know without that property it will be very difficult to go forward."
The acquisition of the CSX property seems also to be on hold. The negotiations with CSX, which have been going on since December 2016 when Senator Chuck Schumer came to Hudson to pledge his support and assistance, finally reached the contract stage this past spring. CSX would sell an L-shaped portion of its property on South Front Street, approximately half an acre, for $85,000. HDC had a $90,000 loan from CEDC (Columbia Economic Development Corporation) in place to pay for it. Because one of the people who had resigned in May was HDC's attorney Matt Griesemer, John Friedman was asked to review the contract. At the June meeting of HDC, Friedman advised against entering into the contract because, as it was written, it would indemnify CSX of any responsibility for contamination on the site, and he warned, "It seems certain that there is toxic 'stuff' there." Friedman recommended instead that the City take the property by eminent domain.
If pursued, the eminent domain process will take some time, time that was seen as an opportunity to restart and rethink the project and to engage and educate the public. Newly elected HDC board member Steve Dunn declared, "The CSX issue opens up an opportunity . . . to open the process and to discuss what the options are." Julie Metz, vocal critic of HDC, said, "The stall is an opportunity to plan and make certain the area is integrated into the city." She went on to say, "HDC existing on its own is not a good thing. I am not comfortable with a board that is not elected."
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