Last night, Council president Tom DePietro, who is a member of the DRI Committee, told Kopnicki he didn't know why the meetings ceased to be public. He then asked Jeff Baker, counsel to the Council, for an opinion. Baker said, "The DRI Committee cannot take any action, so it is not subject to open meetings law." Let's consider that statement in light of some of the things the DRI Committee has done, in particular regarding the Dunn warehouse.
Back in February 2020, when the DRI Committee was getting ready to draft a request for expression of interest for the Dunn warehouse, Chris Round, the consultant from Chazen Companies who chairs the DRI Committee, asked about housing. He said that, in the past, housing had not been identified as one of the desired uses of the Dunn building, and asked if that were still the case. Mayor's aide, Michael Chameides expressed the opinion that all possibilities should be considered. As a consequence, the REI gives no direction about the desired uses of the building, beyond saying: "The City's goal is to activate the space with uses that will complement the City's current improvements to the BRIDGE district as part of the City's DRI."
The REI (request for expression of interest) was issued at the beginning of March. Responses were due on April 10, and the only one received came from Bonacio Construction in Saratoga Springs, which seems to do far more residential development than commercial development. On May 13, several members of the DRI Committee had a conference call with two representatives of Bonacio. During that call, Bonacio expressed interest also in the three City-owned parcels north of the Dunn warehouse. In a follow-up call, Bonacio "explained that the additional parcels would be needed to round out the Dunn redevelopment site and make a potential investment viable."
Last night, the Common Council passed a resolution authorizing the mayor to issue "an expanded request for expression of interest" for the Dunn warehouse and the three parcels north of the site--everything east of Water Street, from Broad Street to Ferry Street.
Although many have had the fantasy that riverfront park might be expanded to include the land east of Water Street, now essentially a giant parking lot, conceptual planning exercises seem always to put buildings there. The 1996 Vision Plan did.
So did the feasibility study on the Dunn warehouse done by Saratoga Associates in 2015.
Although the idea of populating the waterfront with buildings is not new among planners, one wonders at what point the people of Hudson will get a chance to weigh in on what's being considered by the DRI Committee for the waterfront.
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