Thursday, August 30, 2018

What About Kaz?

As the Hudson Development Corporation board reconstructs itself, one may well wonder about the redevelopment of the Kaz site, the project that inspired the crisis of confidence that led to the resignations that necessitated electing new board members. Slightly less than a half million dollars of DRI (Downtown Revitalization Initiative) funding has been earmarked for the redevelopment of the Kaz site, but the project has been stalled for the past three months.

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."       


  1. Julie is right. I would not trust Don Moore and/or Walter Chatham

  2. In 1850 city "developers" sold taxpayers on rail roads. One hundred years later they sold us on interstate highways. So why is our city still entrapped and bisected by roads of little use?

  3. There is an excellent and long thread on the Hudson Community Board on Facebook with over 67 comments on the subject of HDC and waterfront development.

  4. Why we need an HDC to make these decisions is beyond me. What exactly does the HDC bring to this table?

    1. What exactly does the HDC bring to this table?

      For one, if the citizenry begins to question the cost of a box of shrimp for example, a development corp will provide a convenient scapegoat to insulate city "laggers" from further scrutiny.

      They can also come in handy while laundering the people's riverfront for exclusive use to the highest upland bidder.

  5. It's curious that this same CSX-owned parcel which Mr. Friedman "seems certain" is contaminated did not feature in the City's 2012 application to the State-administered BOA program. The Brownfields Opportunity Areas program funds and manages the resuscitation of otherwise valuable sites now abandoned due to previous industrial contamination.

    It's unknown why Hudson's BOA application failed, other than that its drafters based their calculations on a Zoning Code superseded nearly a year earlier. (You can't make this stuff up!)

    But here's where an update becomes germane: the BOA application was produced for the City by the the Executive Director of the HDC and the TGW grant writers; it was then approved by Common Council Resolution No. 10 which was introduced by Alderman John Friedman under Council President Don Moore; and was finally authorized by Mayor Hallenbeck.

    All of this came to pass despite protests that required public participation in the program had been totally excluded:

    Meet the new experts - they're the same as the old experts.

    And wasn't this same CSX parcel actually City-owned only a few years earlier? Wasn't this the land swapped with CSX for what's now called Rick's Point? That would be an interesting footnote in an eminent domain action against CSX (heh!).