On Tuesday, the Common Council voted unanimously to issue the request for expressions of interest (RFEI) in developing a solar farm on City-owned land located along North Second Street. Although Council president Tom DePietro announced he was accepting public comment on the document for a few days prior to the vote, there is no indication that any changes were made to the document as a result. It will be remembered that the document includes a 21-page report done by the EPA in June 2017 which identifies the capped landfill as being, in the words of Peter Bujanow, Commissioner of Public Works, "ripe for development," even though the capped landfill is not actually the area being offered for development.
After the vote, Alderman Ryan Wallace (Third Ward) thanked the Conservation Advisory Council (CAC) for "all their input." DePietro thanked Bujanow for his work in the writing the RFEI. He then said of the RFEI, "It does not set out firm dimensions of the project," and offered assurances that the CAC and the Columbia Land Conservancy, which developed a master concept plan for the North Bay Recreation and Natural Area in 2014, would "be involved when the developers respond."
On the day the Council voted to release the RFEI, the CAC sent a statement to members of the Common Council expressing their position on a draft RFEI. That statement reads in part:
While we support deployment of solar energy in our urban environment, we hope the process will be thoughtful and the use of open land limited. As a general rule, we believe that built environment, hardscape, parking lots and rooftops across the city are far more appropriate for this purpose than a rare and irreplaceable stretch of public land—particularly one with as much conservation and future recreational value as this one.
We recommend that the capped landfill and surrounding grassland be excluded from any industrialization, including solar arrays, and that, as planned in prior deliberation, these areas continue to heal and gradually be developed as open recreational space in a city that has very little.
At the same time, we propose that the CAC, working with the Common Council, undertake a comprehensive survey of renewables opportunities across the city. The issues presented here—renewable energy and open space—are both important and, in a dense urban area, should not be antithetical. Our strong belief is that in the decades ahead, the city will need both.
The statement included a map on which the parcels the CAC considered suitable locations for solar arrays were marked in fuchsia.
Those parcels are located (1) along the west side of North Second Street, starting about 200 feet beyond the driveway leading to the Hudson Dog Park; (2) on the plateau north of Charles Williams Park; (3) in an area to the east of the building where Harney & Sons is located.
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Update: The final RFEI that was released on Wednesday can now be viewed on the City of Hudson website. The 21-page EPA report on the viability of the capped landfill as a site for a solar array is no longer part of the document. Click here to view the final document.