Tech note: The video is offered in two sections. At the end of the first section, the next portion of the meeting will load separately.
Tech note: The video is offered in two sections. At the end of the first section, the next portion of the meeting will load separately.
Peter Jung and Sam Pratt of The Valley Alliance were interviewed yesterday by Victor Mendolia and Debora Gilbert (of The Columbia Paper) on 90.7’s @Issue program on WGXC. Click here to listen to the audio, which begins about 3 minutes into the interview.
PHOTO: T. Alden Mann; click to enlarge
If you were among the many attendees of Tuesday night’s Alliance event at the Basilica Hudson and want to review the presentation materials—or missed it and want to find out what was presented—click here to download the slides as a PDF. Audio and video should be available in the next few days.
This plan could shape the future of Hudson and the surrounding area for generations to come. We hope you’ll attend, and maybe even bring a friend. After a half-hour presentation, the rest of the meeting will be devoted to questions, answers and some steps you can take to secure a better outcome. The meeting is intended to help inform and prepare citizens in advance of the Common Council taking up the matter for a vote.
For more information about the Hudson Waterfront and the Valley Alliance, please visit our website. If you’d like to read the proposed plan for yourself, you can download it in two parts by clicking here and here. We look forward seeing you on Tuesday, and to a productive dialogue.
At last, after a week of widespread public outcry and negative press exposure, the City has belatedly released the “proposed final” LWRP. You can download it in pieces (starting with the seventh link down on this page).
If it does not prove too large, we may separately provide this as a single omnibus file for one-click downloading. Also, the Alliance will provide a summary of what’s changed and what hasn’t once we have the chance to fully review the new documents.
“Doing it right to earn your trust” was the slogan which could be found for many years on the sign out front of the St. Lawrence Cement Catskill plant, before it was officially subsumed into its Swiss owners' global empire (a mere formality, as the company was already effectively steered by them).
The Catskill Daily Mail reports today that the multinational cement giant Holcim has paid “nearly all” of the $423,000 in fines its been assessed on over 300 citations they’ve received since 2008 here in the mid-Hudson Valley. The company, which has billions in revenues worldwide, apparently is still fighting three fines valued at $2,800, according to reporter Doron Tyler Antrim's Saturday article.
Holcim, of course, is the parent of the company which tried unsuccessfully for over six years to build a massive, coal-fired plant in Columbia County; which recently announced the closing of its smaller Catskill facility; but which continues to attempt to mold the City of Hudson Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan (LWRP) to suit its own narrow corporate ends.
Antrim's article, largely based on Mine Safety and Health Administration records, includes several illuminating details of the fines paid by Holcim:
• The $2,800 in still-contested fines "include failure to provide seat belts in haulage trucks," showcasing the company's lack of commitment to safety. Under the terms of the draft LWRP and an application to the Town of Greenport, over 200 truck trips daily across Route 9, Route 9G, the Federally-protected wetlands of South Bay, and railroad tracks would be encouraged.
• Two years ago, some Catskill plant workers “were taken off the job after the company failed to provide them with the required eight hours of annual refresher training,” again undercutting company claims of support for workers and their safety. Holcim was fined $18,000 for that... oversight.
• “Six contractors that have worked at the plant since 2008 have been cited for 19 safety violations with fines totaling $3,550.”
• A Boilermakers rep told the paper that a successful of cutbacks in workforce over the past two years “had left the plant without people to clean up spills and other hazards,” and that spotty training “had become prevalent as the existing workforce was forced to take on more duties.”
Here’s hoping no one gets hurt between now and the expected “mothballing” of the plant on June 13th.
HUDSON, NEW YORK — Valley Alliance attorney Warren Replansky has filed a new legal brief with the New York State Department of State, debunking four key myths which have wrongly influenced the draft Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan (LWRP) for the City of Hudson.
The six-page memorandum, accompanied by 21 pages of attachments, was submitted on Thursday as a follow-up to a productive meeting which the Alliance and Scenic Hudson had in Janaury with Deputy Secretary of State George Stafford and DOS Coastal Resources staff.
FOUR KEY MYTHS ADDRESSED IN MEMORANDUM
(1) The myth that City’s draft Plan can advocate routing hundreds of trucks daily through wetlands, without a full assessment of the likely impacts.
If the current draft of the LWRP is not revised, Replansky notes, the City and State could be violation of the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA). To avoid further delays in the passage of the plan, the Valley Alliance attorney recommends that “all references to the Causeway as a preferred alternative route be eliminated.”
(2) The myth that current Waterfront-bound truck traffic and associated barge activity is a grandfathered, permitted, “as of right,” or even necessary use.
Replansky states in this context that trucking gravel to the Waterfront by Holcim (the Swiss cement giant) and O&G (a Connecticut firm) is of “recent vintage,” and that aggregate mining is not “water dependent.” Indeed, the current traffic started only after the State’s sweeping rejection of the St. Lawrence Cement project in 2005, though aggregate businesses have operated in Greenport for generations.
“The reason for the current use, with its associated detrimental environmental impacts upon inner city neighborhoods,” writes Replansky, “was designed to pressure the City of Hudson, its residents and its Common Council” into supporting these companies’ private goals. (Such goals are otherwise are at direct odds with a host of official rulings and guidance, along with longstanding plans for economic development and conservation at the Waterfront contained in the Hudson Comprehensive and Vision plans.) The memo further notes that gravel mining on Becraft Mountain is not dependent on the recent River access.
(3) The myth that the abandoned South Bay railbed is a “road” exempt from permit reviews, and consistent with Hudson’s industrial zoning.
The Replansky memo notes that there is no local history of using the so-called Causeway as such; that such use had never been projected in past applications to the City and State; and that “the railroad bed has never been engineered, designed or otherwise designated as an active heavy haul road.” Citing City of Hudson site approval code, the Alliance attorney notes that construction of such a road would “require site development plan approval and SEQRA review.”
Moreover, Replanksy notes that such use would likely violate Section 325-17(b)(1) of the City Code, which “prohibits in industrial zones ... those uses which are ‘noxious or offensive by reason of emission of odor, dust, smoke, gas, fumes, or radiation or which present a hazard to public health or safety.” (The Valley Alliance has previously questioned why this provision of the City Code has not been applied to hazardous Waterfront truck traffic, so as to immediately relieve downtown residents of those risks.)
“The notion that the City is powerless to properly control and regulate O&G and Holcim’s truck traffic... to protect the health safety and welfare of its citizens, is utter nonsense,” Replansky concludes.
(4) The myth that there are economic benefits to the City from Holcim and O&G dominating the South Bay and Hudson docks.
Replansky finds that there is no evidence that trucking aggregate either through the City or over the Causeway, has, or will, result in job, tax, or other economic benefits to the City. The memo notes the recent attempt by Holcim to grieve its tax assessment down (to barely more than some of the larger private houses in Hudson), and cites a letter from Council President Don Moore, who stated in March 2010 that “[t]he reason why the City of Hudosn should show such deference to an entity that contributes little more than very modest property tax payment to the City escapes me.”
OTHER MAJOR DEFICIENCES FOUND IN DRAFT PLAN
The Alliance legal memorandum also expands upon two other “major deficiencies” in the draft Hudson LWRP.
(A) The lack of specific tools “to enable the City to control and exercise proper oversight over the future use of the port.”
Considering that the Hudson Waterfront dock is “adjacent to, and perhaps in competition with, adjacent recreational, residential and commercial uses,” special care must be taken to ensure that the plan’s public goals are not swamped by a single interest. The draft LWRP does not contain “clear, detailed and concise performance standards regulating such matters as noise, lighting, weight limits, building scale, traffic and hours of operation,” and the like.
(B) The lack of a proper and clear Harbor Management Plan (HMP).
Citing past State guidance to the City in 2003 and 205, which characterized the lack of such plan as a deficiency, Replansky notes that “given the potential incompatibility of harbor uses in a small area, it is absolutely essential for a stand-alone Harbor Management Plan to be drafted.”
Claims that a Harbor plan somehow has been “embedded” into the document do not adequately, specifically or credibly address this pressing need to protect the safety and viability of the Waterfront.
The memorandum concludes by recalling that for decades, citizens, organizations, and public officials have “worked tirelessly... to preserve the economic, social and environmental value of [Hudson’s] unique and irreplaceable resource,” its Waterfront. It urges that the suggestions, corrections and hopes of the public be incorporated into the draft Plan, “so that the LWRP and zoning amendments can be enacted”—sooner, rather than later.
ABOUT THE VALLEY ALLIANCE
The Valley Alliance is a citizens’ group which has assisted the public participation of area residents in the City’s Waterfront planning process, as well as related permitting issues in nearby Greenport. Its extensive comments in Spring 2010 challenged the accuracy, appropriateness and viability of the draft LWRP for Hudson, and were were accompanied by a petition bearing the names of hundreds residents, workers, voters, businesspeople, and other interested parties.
In addition to the Alliance and some 900 citizens, numerous groups have expressed deep concerns about the direction of the plan, including SThe Olana Partnership and the Village of Athens.
For more information regarding this release, please contact Peter Jung at (518) 755-4350 or Sam Pratt at (518) 755-6624, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
[ Click the image above to see it much larger ]
This colorized engraving of the Hudson Waterfront as seen from the river appeared in Plates 115 and 116 of Wade & Croome’s Panorama of the Hudson River from New York to Albany, published in 1846. One can see both the North and South bays, with Parade Hill in between, and Mount Merino farther downstream. The scale and some of the details are obviously fancifully-drawn, but one gets a strong impression of how the area looked in the mind’s eye of the artist, William Wade.
This image appeared early on in The Valley Alliance’s extensive comments on the draft Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan for Hudson. Historical and aerial images were sprinkled throughout those comments, which can be read online in a convenient, magazine-like format at Issuu.com. Click on the document to see it “full screen” for easy reading...
The Valley Alliance had a cordial and productive meeting this week in Albany with four representatives of New York State’s Division of Coastal Resources, including Deputy Secretary of State George Stafford—a session the group had requested late last year.
The Alliance also requested that Scenic Hudson be included in this important meeting to discuss Hudson’s controversial draft Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan (LWRP), and found their organization’s participation to be both welcome and beneficial.
“I’d like to thank both the State and Scenic Hudson for their roles in this two-hour, highly-detailed meeting,” said Peter Jung on Friday. “We covered a lot of ground in that time. And it’s clear that the State is mindful of the widespread, well-informed public concern about Hudson’s draft Waterfront Plan.”
Contrary to some suggestions in recent months by a few City officials and consultants, the Alliance did not get the impression that there is any “done deal” at the State level to ratify those heavy-industrial Waterfront options which have been pushed by Swiss cement giant Holcim and Connecticut gravel-movers at O&G.
The Alliance had an opportunity to point out to the Department of State many flaws in the draft LWRP—such as the impractical proposal to move the State boat launch to a non-viable location downriver, or the slanted, incomplete draft General Environmental Impact Statement (which was paid for by O&G itself).
The meeting also provided an chance to re-emphasize the outpouring of written public comments—nearly 2,000 total from 2007 and 2010—calling for a greener, more sustainable, and more economically-beneficial direction for the Hudson Waterfront. Those written comments have also been supported by extensive community surveys and workshops conducted in 2006-7 by the now-defunct Waterfront Advisory Steering Committee. (Contrary to practice recommended by the State, the City currently has no Waterfront Committee in place.)
Moreover, this forward-looking direction is strongly supported by the Hudson Vision Plan, Comprehensive Plan, the 2005 Secretary of State’s Coastal Consistency determination on the St. Lawrence Cement “Greenport Proposal,” and Department of State guidance on the draft LWRP over the past decade. These documents have consistently called for the City to enact a plan that zones out incompatible, destructive and short-sighted heavy-industrial uses at the Waterfront.
Noting that much of the draft plan was non-controversial and sound, The Valley Alliance urged the State to strip out those portions of the draft LWRP which do not conform with the clear direction of public input and the precedents listed above—so that Hudson can move forward speedily on a Waterfront plan that will benefit a broad range of residents, visitors and businesses.
Alliance representatives, including attorney Warren Replansky, further pointed out tools that the City and State have in their arsenals to relieve residents of the impacts of truck traffic (introduced into the City by Holcim and O&G to put pressure on the LWRP process) without sacrificing either the wetlands of South Bay or the economic viability of the Waterfront area.
As a next step, the Valley Alliance intends to present even more specific suggestions for how the City and State can finalize a well-grounded and positive LWRP as soon as possible—and with broad public acceptance.
The Witches’ Ball this Saturday at the Cannonball Factory (360 Columbia Street) in Hudson promises to be the most outrageous Hallowe’en party in the region... And the proceeds will benefit The Valley Alliance’s waterfront work.
Musty Chiffon hosts, with Mother Fletcher handling the live music, DJ Gio on the turntables, and a costume contest at midnight. $20 at the door, which opens at 9 pm, plus a cash bar by the Red Dot.