Draft LWRP Needs Revisions
City Should Resolve Serious Deficiencies Before Adopting the Plan
Needs More Public Engagement, Less Focus on SLC
LWRP Should Consider All Waterfront Assets
Our Vision: An Accessible Working Waterfront for the 21st Century that provides economic benefit to the city and its residents, maximizes recreation and scenic aspects for the public, preserves and enhances the ecology and maintains a sound and healthy infrastructure.
Friends of Hudson today (May 29, 2007) filed its comments on Hudson's latest Draft Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (LWRP). The Draft LWRP was created by a Steering Committee, created by the Common Council and led by Hudson Democratic Committee Chair Linda Mussman. The Steering Committee was supported by the work of Paul Buckhurst and other staff at BFJ Planning.
A Task Force of FoH staff, board and members reviewed the document, spent time at the
waterfront and on the River and brought together several years of working on issues related to the health and vitality of the waterfront.
The Task Force did find several aspects of the Committee's efforts to be appreciated. Among them:
-- The Waterfront Committee itself has been a dedicated group of volunteers.
-- Attention to the protection of habitat, the potential of commercial fishing, review of the study area's geology and history.
-- The definition of the Waterfront Zone considerably expanded to include substantial, underutilized open space assets further inland.
-- As part of that expansion, the Draft Plan emphasizes linking the waterfront and Hudson's major areas of open space by developing a system of pedestrian and bike trails.
-- The Draft LWRP provides new, more thoughtfully differentiated zoning recommendations.
On the whole however FoH's review found significant problems with the Draft, including the process by which it was created.
The LWRP Guidebook issued by the DOS' Division of Coastal Resources provides valuable counsel for creating a LWRP noting that communities that have recognized the potential of their waterfronts to bring new life and energy to their communities have found that the keys to making the most of their waterfront assets include a clear vision and plan, broad public involvement, creative partnerships, patience, persistence and a step-by-step strategy.
Unfortunately the FoH review found that a clear and compelling vision is not represented in the Draft, nor was there broad public involvement or creative partnerships established. The plan itself was drafted in a closed-door top-down fashion. Unfortunately therefore, because the Steering Committee's Draft fails to reflect the expressed wishes of the public and instead resorts to politically motivated compromises, the current LWRP is unlikely to be acceptable to any segment of Hudson's population.
In contrast FoH proposes a vision for the creation of an accessible working waterfront for Hudson for the 21st Century that provides economic benefit to the city and its residents, maximizes recreation and scenic aspects for the public, preserves and enhances the ecology and maintains a sound and healthy infrastructure.
The city has an unprecedented opportunity to establish a working waterfront in which long-standing competing values and uses can be reconciled and harmonized. To do so will require a hard look at the possibilities and the obstacles, the hard work of compromise and collaboration and courage in defending the possibilities of achieving a vision. In other words the patience, persistence and step-by-step strategy advised by the DOS' in the LWRP Guidebook. Therefore the Task Force has recommended the creation of issue-specific task groups made up of Hudsonians with diverse perspectives and interests in the waterfront to address and resolve the critical issues in the current Draft.
Six critical issues were determined by the Task Force to require significant rethinking and modification since these issues are essential to creating an LWRP reflective of Hudson's uniqueness:
-- Hydrological planning encompassing the entire City.
-- Restoration of the South Bay as part of an overall estuarine ecology strategy.
-- Resolution of land- and water- dependent uses and potential conflicts between commercial and/or industrial uses with public and/or scenic and recreational uses.
-- Maximizing direct, unmediated public access to the River.
-- Resolving deferred questions of ownership and land use.
-- Placing SLC within a community-defined vision for the waterfront.
The Task Force's overall assessment determined that the Draft did not adequately examine all the waterfront assets that could be enhanced to maximize public access, shied away from confronting obstacles that currently prevent the fullest use of the waterfront and therefore left certain problems unresolved. The plan overall lacks specific action recommendations that would enable the City to take fullest advantage of the possibilities for commercial shipping and the creation or enhancement of beaches, boat docking and other public uses.
On the other hand, the Task Force found that the LWRP inappropriately did specify actions designed to satisfy SLC's plans for use of the waterfront. FoH contends that the City must not undertake such moves while there are title issues with regard to SLC's ownership and without first investigating whether the proposed site is contaminated. The Draft LWRP also supports the notion of a conveyor belt to the dock or a road to be built through the South Bay (a federally protected Class I wetland) as means of transporting aggregate from the quarry to the dock for loading onto barges. The proposed accommodations to SLC are inappropriately specific in an LWRP and negates all that we and our allies fought for when we opposed SLC's plan to build its cement factory in Greenport.
With the close of the Comment period today the Common Council must now determine next steps. Possibilities include adoption of the Draft as written or calling for the creation of a modified Draft.
Friends of Hudson will continue to remain active in the process and watchful that the best interests and expressed wishes of the public and the City are protected.
Click Here for full text of FoH Comments
Click Here for Appendix II: Cover Letter, DOS LWRP Comments, October 28, 2005
Click Here for Appendix II: DOS LWRP Comments, October 28, 2005
Click Here for Appendix IV: Denial of Coastal Consistency, Decision of Secretary of State Randy Daniels, April 2005