Some recent postings here prompted a longtime local resident to share a copy of an old 1984 Hudson Valley Magazine article entitled, An Oil Refinery in our Backyard (There May Soon Be One in Hudson, on the River).
Its authors, Mary Beth Pfeiffer and Robert Miraldi, could not have imagined the extent to which their piece would underscore for future generations how the more things change in Hudson, the more its politics remain crude and unrefined.
First proposed in 1983, the Octane Petroleum project would have entailed a refinery, some 22 storage tanks holding up to 25,000 barrels of oil, and the discharge of some 2.6 million gallons of wastewater annually—all sprawled over 9 acres at the Waterfront, including parts of the river itself, 1.2 acres of which would have been landfilled.
Here are just a few of the more eerily familiar factoids and quotations which have been repeated, in so many words, in later and current controversies:
Then-Mayor Mike Yusko riffing on the then-ubiquitous Rolaids commercial, saying “Relief would be spelled O-C-T-A-N-E.”
Refinery opponents arguing that amenities such as “a restaurant, park or public boating facility could generate money for the city without the same risks.”
Officials of a foreign-owned company arguing that “this stretch of the river is good for little else but industry.”
HCDPA chairman Art Koweek stating that the oil refinery would “save this city” and was “a matter of economic survival for Hudson.”
Koweek adding that the refinery would “put out less pollution than the local hospital”; that those who want access to the river should “go out of town”; and that anyway, the Hudson is “not a recreational river.”
Initial promises of 300 jobs dropping to 146, and then to 43, and then down to 32, even with the State promising to loan $3.6 million to the company for job creation.
Activist John Cody of SHOW (Save Hudson’s Only Waterfront) noting that “the city has been unresponsive to their legitimate concerns.”
City officials trashing Cody’s 300-member organization as “a local vocal group that wants to live in the past.”
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department noting that a false choice was being presented to the citizens, with no justification for “the conclusion that only two alternatives are available.”
The same Federal agency expressing “concern for the effect of the project on South Bay Wetlands, a sprawling marshy area that would be cut by the facility’s access road.”
The NYS Department of State writing to Mayor Yusko that the refinery “would have a significant adverse effect upon the neighboring historic district,” into which $12 million in public funding had been invested in the previous 15 years—with the city seeming “ready [...] to give up on the revival.”
The Department of State also writing to the Mayor that the (now-endangered) American shad is active nearby, for example using the shoals of Middle Ground Flats “for spawning and nursery grounds.”
Fast-forward to 2010, and we have the New York State Department of State again contemplating a deeply-flawed new Waterfront plan for Hudson. That plan has been in the works since about the time the Octane Petroleum project was finally shelved in the late ’80s, with Hudson officials such as Linda Davidson acting to the bitter end as if the refinery idea was still viable and in play.
As previously reported here, concerned citizens and activists were also subjected to an almost endless stream of press releases and abuse from then-HCDPA director Edmond Schorno, as well as other City leaders such as Cemetery Commissioner Mark Salomon—who pronounced himself “thoroughly disgusted” with refinery opponents, arguing that they “oppose everything” and nothing would “satisfy” those “not interested in the well-being of our local citizenry.”
Click here to download a 2-page guide to sending comments to State officials who have the power to revise and improve the City of Hudson’s deeply-flawed draft Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan. We can do better, and you can help. A more extensive site, featuring research and alternative visions for the South Bay, is in the works. [PDF]
Peter Meyer has submitted the following letter to the Register-Star (in response to their article headlined, “Scalera Wants to Uproot Garden”), and has given permission to reproduce an advance copy here:
To the Editor:
It says a great deal about Mayor Scalera's priorities and his “vision” for the City that he would rip up a garden for kids and replace it with two parking places for cars for adults.
Please, Mr. Mayor, lets have a Youth Center that is for the kids. There's a big City-owned parking lot fifty feet away for the cars.
NOTE #1: Meyer is a Hudson City School District Board Member and former Hudson Boys & Girls Club director, though he is writing here in a personal, not an official, capacity.
NOTE #2: It’s interesting that newfound Scalera fan Linda Mussmann is cited in the article as being ready to scoop up the youth garden activity (and presumably some related funding) slated to be axed by the Mayor. As in some previous Boys & Girls Club controversies, there’s a sense that programs are being destroyed to consolidate political control.
NOTE #3: Readers are encouraged to email copies of any letters they send to area newspapers here as well, so that the public knows what is (and isn’t) getting printed.
It’s good to see that Rick Scalera is suddenly remembering his 1993
campaign pledge to make the Waterfront “one that we all can be proud of
someday.” Seventeen years later, residents are still wondering if
“someday” will ever come.
Rick’s 1993 Waterfront pledge is much
like two others he made that year. On election night that November, the
Register-Star reported that the newly-elected mayor “renewed his pledge
to eliminate the city’s meter maids and to rid the city of its drug
problems.” How’s he coming along with those promises?
agree when Rick says that progress on the Waterfront “speaks for
itself.” Even one look at the so-called “progress” there speaks
volumes. But the words it’s speaking are: “Is that all there is?”
only the Waterfront could talk, it would tell a tale of neglect,
inaction, indecision and political shenanigans to fill a very long book.
But for someone who’s always boasting about how long he’s lived here, Rick sure has a short memory.
forgotten, among other things, his spiteful move to derail the 1995
Vision Plan for the Waterfront. He doesn’t mention the more than
$500,000 in Waterfront funding that was readily obtained when he was
out office in 2000-2001. He’d like people to overlook his 1999-2005
support for a dry cleaning waste and a cement facility by the river,
which made Waterfront planning pretty much impossible during those
years. And then there were all the other years going back to 1993 when
the LWRP process got becalmed under Rick’s “leadership” —until others
jump-started it, again when he was again out of office in 2006-2007.
by the way: My own office is still in Hudson. Also, since Rick seems to
think that proof of ancestry is necessary to have an opinion about
Hudson, it happens that my great-grandfather’s grandfather used to buy
quahogs from ships in Hudson’s South Bay, and peddled them along what’s
now Route 23.)
A detailed review of the sorry history of the
Waterfront’s snail’s-paced progress is too long for a letter to the
editor, and this back-and-forth could no doubt continue indefinitely.
But those interested in reading a full chronology of the missteps and
evasions and obstruction which have taken place under the watch of the
current and previous mayors can do so at https://tinyurl.com/hudsonwaterfront
that link, readers will likewise find other detailed information about
the more positive, forward-looking vision along the river that citizens
have called for, but the city has thus far ignored.
Earl Swanigan’s new series of celebrity paintings opens this Friday evening, February 12th at Swallow (the coffee place in the 400 block) in Hudson. They’re actually already on view, if you can't make the opening.
... an item about this billboard (on Route 9 near the Alvarez modular homes site) featuring a photograph by Annie Leibovitz, appeared in the now-defunct Independent newspaper.
Today, Liebovitz is rumored to be selling her stone barns on River Road in Rhinebeck, possibly to David Bowie (details at The Real Deal). Below is a photograph of Claverack resident Peggy Ayers at the Leibovitz property, at a benefit held there in 2004 by cement plant opponents: