Sunday, March 21, 2021

The CAC Weighs In

The City of Hudson has had a Conservation Advisory Council since 2015. In the first years of its existence, the attention of the CAC was totally taken up with preparing the City's Natural Resource and Open Space Inventory, a document that was completed in the spring of 2019. Since then, the CAC has been engaged in such things as securing a grant to fund a professional street tree inventory and a tree management plan, advocating for the adoption of a tree ordinance, and now weighing in on the parking lot on Prospect Avenue being proposed by Columbia Memorial Health.

In a letter sent to the Planning Board last week, the members of the CAC recommend including bioswales to mitigate storm water runoff, planting native species trees to keep the parking lot from becoming a "heat island," using an alternative surface to asphalt (they suggest structural soil or porous pavers), and including electric car charging stations. 

The letter concludes:
We ask that CMH please keep in mind the nature of our shared “neighborhood” with appropriate sidewalks, street crossings, landscaping and lighting to retain the sensibility of this is a neighborhood, “people live here,” as opposed to “cars park here.”
The building on the site is not a special example of mid-century architecture, it is one of a million, not one in a million. The edifice was a cookie-cutter, cost-effective solution to a need that happened to be built in the mid-century. We assume that the structure drains money from CMH operating costs at a good clip. Surely, it cannot be properly and cost-effectively brought up to current code to meet energy efficiency and health standards of 2021. Well designed parking could be the best use of the land. It is allowed, CMH deems it is necessary, many residents would deem a CMH parking lot necessary, but let’s get it right, let’s encourage building with the grandchildren of our grandchildren in mind.
The demolition will be expensive, building a state-of-the-art parking lot will be expensive. There is savings in not having the old building to maintain and we are urging that Columbia Memorial consider a better, future oriented, environmentally friendly solution to the parking need. . . .
As we build out, renew or repurpose properties we must set aside short-term savings and think of long-term investment in our community, we must think about the health of the planet and the health of our citizens.

The entire letter can be found here.


  1. But does CMH take the letter to heart? Hell, they can't even offer decent sidewalks surrounding their property, why would we think they would consider the future or local residents' needs?

  2. Great suggestions, but the CAC should have the authority to regulate and oversee projects like this. They should be able to work with code enforcement to regulate landscaping and plantings on construction sites, tree plantings on sidewalk replacements, remediation of existing blacktop, etc.

    1. And what qualifications should these quasi-regulators possess, P. Winslow, other than the same capricious enthusiasm you exhibit to tell your neighbors what they may and may not do with their properties? ​

      We don't need more regulations and regulators, but tax incentives for property owners. Carrot not stick.

      Hopefully, the CAC has moved beyond the heavy-handed authoritarianism of its founding. The group should continue its focus on sound policy recommendations, and not be lured back into the counter-productive pursuit of power.

      CAC, keep doing what you're doing.