On Monday night, the Hudson Common Council took a key vote on the Hudson Waterfront plan, without allowing citizens to ask questions or make comments prior to a vote.
Despite the meeting (variously described as a “special meeting” or “work session”) not being publicly-noticed, some 80 residents and businesspeople attended. Council President Don Moore introduced a motion to accept the general environmental impact statement for the plan, released less than a week prior, and called for a vote without allowing for public input.
At the request of The Columbia Paper, the co-directors of the Valley Alliance submitted the following remarks on the conduct of the meeting:
PETER JUNG: Hudson has an extraordinary cadre of smart, committed, diligent citizens who are passionate about civic outcomes in our town. Why wouldn’t the Common Council (which is the Lead Agency for the LWRP) wish to avail itself of the wealth of experience and expertise that is available for free?
SAM PRATT: It is not every night that 80+ people show up for a local meeting, or that decisions are made that can affect the life of a place for decades to come. So to deny the public any chance to comment prior to a vote is doubly undemocratic, and even un-American.
It’s emblematic of the flawed and unresponsive process thus far for this plan. Council President Don Moore plainly was afraid of the Alderman hearing from the public, as there were many in the audience who had information that would have cast doubt on the misleading legal and planning info presented.
The plan as presented simply is not the result of citizen input, community consensus, and public acceptance, each of which are explicit State goals for waterfront planning. This is instead the product of a Spencertown lawyer and downstate planner working in private, who’ve catered again and again to the demands of a single foreign company and their Connecticut subsidiary.
Worst of all, the current version of this plan offers nothing to celebrate: no realistic hope of new jobs, restored habitats, social cohesion, or even basic riverfront amenities. After more than a quarter-century and hundreds of thousands down the drain, Hudson has little to show for it, except the likelihood of more controversy down the road.
Heartfelt and expert comments from local voices have been silenced, in favor of amplifying the clout of a few privileged interests. Under Moore’s desultory guidance, what began as a hopeful and positive initiative has become a dispiriting testament to the breakdown of democratic processes.