Thursday, April 18, 2024

The Future of the Shacks

At the Common Council meeting on Tuesday, the Council approved the proposal to hire Hudson Cultural Services "to prepare and implement a mitigation plan that documents the structures and history of The Shacks, installs at least one interpretative panel at the site and/or develops an exhibit to be displayed locally, and continues to study the feasibility of retaining at least one of the historic structures for use as part of the proposed park." 

Shacks being demolished on January 3, 2024
Introducing the resolution authorizing this action, Council president Tom DePietro referred to the historic fishing village as the "red-headed stepchild" of DRI projects, implying that it was neglected or perhaps even unwanted. Before the Council voted on the resolution, Councilmember Margaret Morris (First Ward) asked how the resolution had come about. It seems a valid question given that Hudson Cultural Services appears to have been hired to do an alternatives analysis, which was then submitted to the State Historic Preservation Office, without the Council's involvement or knowledge. Why was the Council to be involved at this point when it hadn't been involved before? 

As usual, the small amount of money--$150,000--allocated for the project was offered as an explanation of why the project hadn't been pursued in a timely fashion. Councilmember Jennifer Belton (Fourth Ward) suggested that some of the work involved in the project could be carried out by volunteers. In the past, when the use of volunteers has been suggested, the idea was dismissed because a study done in August 2015 found asbestos and lead paint present in most of the shacks. (That study can be found here.) It's not clear what Belton was suggesting volunteers might do, but the demolition of shacks containing hazardous materials, particularly asbestos, requires a crew trained to deal with such materials. According to Rob Perry, the four shacks that were demolished in January were the only ones that did not contain hazardous materials and hence could be demolished by the Department of Public Works.

Community member Ronald Kopnicki asked if there had been a committee involved in making decisions about how to proceed with the Shacks. He was told that it is not in the plan to have a committee and decisions had been made by the mayor and LaBella. (Chazen Companies, the original consultants on the DRI projects, was purchased by LaBella in 2021.) DePietro explained they had decided not to spend the consultants' time in meetings, adding that involving the consultants in public meetings was "just sucking money from the project funding."

1 comment:

  1. Typical Hudson in the Galvin Era: demolition by neglect.