Monday, February 18, 2019

Fifty Years Ago in Hudson

The plan for renovation and new construction currently being proposed by the Hudson Housing Authority has brought community attention once again to Bliss Towers and the low rise buildings that were constructed during urban renewal. Recently, while exploring the Common Council minutes for 1969, I came upon the transcript from a public hearing on the project, then known as "Urban Renewal Project No. 1, First Stage." The hearing took place almost fifty years ago, on March 10, 1969. It is fascinating reading and presents an interesting contrast to recent public meetings about the current proposal. For those reasons, I share it here, in its entirety. A note about the people involved: Mr. Sheffer is Elmer Sheffer, the president of the Common Council in 1969.

You have heard the reading of the call of the meeting tonight. Before we get into it--the plan of procedure--First an explanation of the plan will be given by Mr. [Frank] Yankowski, Urban Renewal Director who will introduce Curt Mohr and Leonard Feldman. Mr. Mohr represents the firm of Raymond May Associates and Mr. Feldman is with the Housing Authority.
The ground rules--the public will be able to speak. Those in favor will speak first. Those opposed, next. Questions will be allowed from the floor with a two minute time limit for each speaker. No one may speak again until everyone has been heard once. The questions should be referred to me and then I will refer them to the appropriate individual who will answer the question. If you want the use of the floor, stand up, give your name and if you are a member of an organization or firm and you represent them, that should be stated also. Minutes will be taken. Speak slowly so we can understand. The Aldermen are here to listen to your comments on Project No. 1, First Stage. If you wish to speak raise your hand.
Excuse me, Frank will introduce Curt Mohr.
My job here tonight is simple. Mr. Curt Mohr, a representative of Raymond May Associates, is going to speak to you. This is the firm that is responsible for putting the project together. And Leonard Feldman of the Housing Authority will also speak to you. We have maps and displays and an Exhibit of the Project. May I present Mr. Curt Mohr.
Many of you were here four weeks ago this evening when we talked about this for the first time. With your permission, I will run through this and then with questions, we can go into detail.
Let me point out, where it is and the first stage under consideration this evening. (Pointed out on map.)
You enter the Urban Renewal area--both areas on this map and area in pink. The area in pink is the area under consideration this evening. About the area in pink (use of second map). This is the same thing but you just see the area itself. There are 30 buildings in this area. They meet all the Federal and State requirements for a project necessary for an Urban Renewal area. There are 32 families in this area and the area is approximately six and one-half acres. The proposal before you this evening is to start on this pink area in advance of the remainder of the project, so that people who are to be displaced in the larger area will have, available to them, housing which will meet their needs. The purpose of the public hearing is to explain the Urban Renewal Plan.
(Use of 2-dimensional map) This is a two-dimensional plan of the project, it simply shows the elimination of Chapel Street and designates both parcels for residential use.
The maximum height is eight stories or 80 feet. Total area, 1,000 square feet. Parking setbacks, restrictions, yards, etc., all of which would be met by the proposal in the model.
There will be houses acquired. The property owners will be notified so a fair and equitable agreement can be reached. There has been one independent appraisal and another to be made. The property owners will be assured two independent appraisals, to prove a maximum price for each parcel, insure equitable price. We hope to arrive at the prices to meet owner's satisfaction. The families being displaced also. Of the families to be displaced, 24 of these would be eligible under Federal criteria for low rent housing. The purpose of this plan is to build more, but to do so we have to displace people. We have made application to Federal authorities to lease units from private landowners and what they can pay and what the different is will be made us. The leased housing program has been okayed by the Federal agencies. Making provision for construction of new housing before anyone is displaced. Sometimes adequate provision has not been made but this won't be the case here because of the foresight in making the housing for families to be displaced before. No one will be forced into the street.
Probably the most interesting to you this evening will be, what is to be built. The gentleman to explain that is Leonard Feldman who built the model and will tell you the details about the buildings. Mr. Feldman.
As Mr. Mohr has pointed out, I represent the Housing Authority and to be created within the City of Hudson, to provide housing in the first part of the Urban Renewal Plan, by the Housing Authority, with funds from the Housing Assistance Administration, will provide low rent housing in the development for 140 families. These 140 families will consist of 90 family units and 50 elderly units, they are comprised of apartments, efficiency units and one bedroom units. The remaining 90 consist of 2, 3, 4, and 5 bedroom apartments. The project starts at Second and goes west, straddling State Street and goes over to Rope Alley, takes a portion into Rope Alley east to State Street. It closes off Chapel Street and goes off the bounds on the south by Columbia Street. The development consists of a high rise building, seven stories of apartments. Low rise of two story apartments. The two story have basically individual units with duplex type--kitchen, living room, etc. on the first floor and bedrooms on the second floor. Each of the low rise units has its own entrance to the building essentially self-sufficient. It has its own heating plant, its own hot water plant, providing the equivalent of a small apartment or individual tenant.
The high rise is--the elderly wing is to the south, consisting of one bedroom apartments. The wing running east to west is family units of 2 and 3 bedroom apartments. Construction is completely fire proof, concrete and masonry with two elevators and an incinerator. The low floor of the high rise consists of the service areas to support the entire development, including sitting room for the elderly and family--separate areas, hobby rooms, agency offices will be coming in, Golden Age Clubs, space provided for youth clubs, etc. There is a central laundry unit in the high rise unit, washing machines, etc., baby carriage room. The Housing Authority will have its offices in the first floor of the high rise building. In the surrounding area there will be play areas in the tots area. In conjunction with the high rise an additional large recreation area for teenagers. There are individual parking areas. Approximately a little over one parking area for every family in the development.
Basically, the low rise buildings will be constructed of masonry walls. It may be well to note that the individual low rise apartments will have provision for washing machines. All units will come provided with a new stove and new refrigerator as part of the apartment.
We have covered the parking, recreation and sitting areas as you will be able to view in the model, methods of going from area to another. All the landscaping you see on the model is actual. Planted as part of the Urban Renewal housing. It lacks some of the plants which will be planted in the development. There was no room on the model for it all.
The status of this development right now is that the working drawings are made and being reviewed by agencies charged with approving the same. As soon as the land is acquired, the Housing Authority will go out to bids and go into construction.
Now, question period. Will you kindly keep your questions on the Urban Renewal. Don't deviate.
I would like to make this comment, the Greater Hudson Chamber of Commerce is in favor of the project and they will, on its behalf, work with this group to facilitate this place or do anything for this or other plans to come into being. I would like to point out one thing, it has been called to my attention several times, the Chamber is working with large industries interested in location in this area. We have met with officials looking over the area. Every one of them asked about Urban Renewal. Do you have it? What is its status? When will it break ground? This is one of the most important factors to locating a plant in this area. The Chamber of Commerce is behind this 100%. It should have taken place years ago. We will help out.
Each speaker will speak for two minutes. I will hold that line because we could go on here all night. Someone else?
Tom Bluteau of National Commercial Bank. We will do anything in our power to help. It is a wonderful thing. A miracle.
I would like to congratulate everyone on this plan. It is a new era for our city and to see fulfillment on this--please feel free to call upon us.
I am with Urban Renewal 100%. Best thing that ever came to Hudson. I am with you. 100%. Anything we can do, we will be glad to do it.
I have lived in the Urban Renewal area for many years. I have seen it deteriorate and it is a wonderful thing and hope it comes to pass. To think Hudson could look so beautiful.
Anyone else? We will have questions later.
I have lived in Hudson a long time. This project is a very important thing to me. Especially to me, I am a young man and have a lot to look forward to. I would appreciate it if everyone would keep the ball rolling. Get this project for the whole entire area.
Those who are opposed to this? Anyone to say anything against? If you have anything to say, say it now against Project No. 1, First Stage. If not, we are ready for questions you might like to ask about the Urban Renewal Plan or Housing project. Mr. Mohr and Mr. Feldman will answer the questions.
I think probably the most important question here this evening, the question that they have, is when this project will be started in--In 1960, under Art Koweek, the first and only planning commission, he was and is chairman, I followed it and know the work he and his commission have expanded, I know how he feels. Even this model, having it here is front of you is progress. (The head) of the Housing Authority and his committee have worked since 1965. I am enthused. Never any doubt in my mind that this would come to pass, it is here. I do think the people in the area would like to know if there is any guideline or projected dates when buildings are going up. When construction will start and so forth.
I think it has been mentioned. The working drawings are completed. Federal government permits us to go for bids as soon as the Urban Agency can acquire land. It is not even necessary to make purchase from the Urban Agency. As soon as they will acquire land, within six weeks after they have acquired the lands, we hope to have bids back into the Housing Agency. Could go into construction. We are planning 15 months for construction period, outside the contract. There is our program from the bid period on. Six weeks and 15 months. As soon as we get the land we will go ahead.
Question is also asked, but with deadlines, I am going to underline the word tentative, my past experience, if you give a date and don't meet it, you are not doing your job. There is a great deal of paper work you never see. For example, letter of consent application in New York, expect approval of it by April 1, real test is getting acquisitions appraisals. We hire two experts who go around and inspect properties. He has completed his inspection (one of them) and his written reports have been turned in. He will put appraisal on the building. The Urban Renewal Agency has hired another firm--when we have the two appraisals, we will sit down with the Urban Renewal and arrive on the price. Send it to New York City. They will look it over. Can take two months for them to look it over. The schedule is like a whale. It flexes this way and that. Hope to keep it as strict as possible. From the time we start acquiring property and moving people out, I am giving a conjecture. April is too tight. We have to see the people and negotiate and talk prices. Tentatively around May, the middle of May, depending on the timing of the acquisition appraisals. Get title, then the Housing Authority can step in. The Housing Authority will do the demolition, a big factor, most important is the relocation of the people. We won't just rush them out. We are making every effort possible to make it a minimum inconvenience and in addition we have a junk yard and a slaughterhouse to move. A killer. The minimum time they have in which to move after notification is 90 days after you receive notice. When the Urban Agencies send you notice you have 90 days in which to vacate the premises. We assist you to get relocated. 24 units will be leased housing, eligible for public housing. It is up to us to get people to participate in the plan. I don't want to give you a schedule without being able to meet it. We hope to turn land over this summer. We don't want to lose a construction season. Need successful acquisitions of properties. As much as I wish I could give you a schedule. I have been in Mechanicville--slow process. Dealing with humans and moving the junk yard is difficult and the slaughter house. Do the best we can to eliminate inconvenience and relocate people and perhaps by late summer to turn the buildings over to the Housing Authority to put it up for bid.
On this drawing, demolition and new construction--only half of Chapel Street is being taken up. Is there another entrance?
Previous to coming up just below our site. Connection arose and through and into First Street. Right to our property. Chapel cannot be a dead end street. We are in close contact with the city and with the power company, telephone company. Fully aware of the proposals of closing of portion will provide access out to Chapel, come out on Columbia.
Before I call this public hearing to a close, I would like to thank you for coming up here. Tomorrow is a regular meeting of the Common Council. Aldermen are here. I will be happy if as many come out for that as are here tonight. You are citizens of the city of Hudson. You can come here to the Council meeting. Aldermen will be here. They might be missing something in regards to your comments. We have a general meeting tomorrow night. Would like to see some people here who might come back tomorrow night. I see a couple of eyes flashing. Do you have questions you want to ask?
May not seem important, but is is to the women. If a person within the 90 day period fails to find housing and cannot find it, then they may get help from your office?
They will never be looking on their own. Anyone who wants to relocate on their own may do so. At all times during the relocation each person will be advised and visited personally. If at the end of 90 days, you still have not found a place, no one will be evicted.
3 or 4 little quickies--Female questions. Will there be interior door on all the rooms?
If anyone has seen the new housing being done in low rent housing. Doors on every closet.
Can you tell us how much closet space per room?
Four foot closet, three feet of broom closet, etc. There will be tile around the tub, showers around the tubs, formica kitchen cabinets, to last 40 years or so. A good quality construction.
About the policy, paint replacement, will all the colors be the same, etc.?
The Housing Authority has not set up its policy program as yet. All will be considered as far as colors are concerned. We intend to make a choice of basic colors to satisfy everyone possible and so that anyone can bring in their own colors in furniture, etc. The Housing Authority will maintain and decorate.
Anyone else? Questions.
Dr. Bliss has asked us to communicate that this model will remain in Hudson until we get a full size one. The model will be in the Urban Renewal office, come and look at it. If you have any questions, we will answer them either personally or in writing. Most of the time the model will circulate out in the city. Banks will show them and large department stores, the model is here to look at and investigate.
Any more questions? If not, I declare this public hearing closed.
The model remained in Hudson even after there was a "full size one." It can still be seen in the Community Room at Bliss Towers.

1 comment:

  1. Very useful. Curious though, not a word, at least not at the point in the development of the project when this public hearing took place, about engineering assessments.