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New Hudson Map Provides Overview of More Than 50 Local Projects

On Monday night, Columbia County Futures presented a new and evolving map project which gives an overview of more than fifty projects that have been "discussed, proposed, announced or begun in the City of Hudson."

A large blowup of the map was on view at the free public information session, which was entitled "Hudson Is Changing." The map presents over 50 recent proposals as well as projects already underway, including new civic buildings, medical offices, environmental remediation, hotels, walkways, condominiums, waterfront development, major rehabilitation projects, et al.

The purpose of the meeting was "to take an overall view of development in Hudson to see where we are right now, to see what lies ahead, and to see what might be missing from the picture," said Ellen Thurston on behalf of CCF, in remarks prepared for the meeting. "We are looking at this from the perspective of the former Vision Plan and the City's recently-adopted Comprehensive Plan."

Other speakers were 1st Ward Alderman Robert O'Brien, Historic Hudson president Carole Osterink, and CCF member Michael O'Hara.

Thurston emphasized that "we are not making judgments about these projects, but merely noting that there is an enormous amount of activity either happening right now or planned for the future. Hudson is changing, and this presents both challenges, and vast opportunity--so we need to talk about it. We are here seeking both more awareness and more participation."

Alderman O'Brien likewise noted that for the purposes of this meeting, the goal was not to analyze or debate individual projects, but instead to stimulate dialogue about development patterns in the context of overall community goals. "We hope that this map provides a tool to help residents brainstorm together about where we're headed," O'Brien said. "Let's look at the big picture. Let's compare the present reality against the goals the community has set for itself over the past 10 years, such as the Vision Plan, the Comprehensive Plan, and the Chamber's Patterns for Progress plan. Rather than letting these gather dust on a shelf, let's not be afraid to see how we're measuring up--and to make adjustments if necessary."

Osterink, speaking on behalf of Historic Hudson, said that "It's time to renew the spirit of cooperation and optimism that was fostered during the Hudson Vision Plan meetings of the mid-1990s. Today, many conversations are already taking place throughout the City about development topics such as affordable housing, zoning and historic preservation. This map project, which is just beginning, is intended to help bring those conversations into one framework where everyone's ideas, concerns and hopes can be heard."

CCF's O'Hara agreed that the map committee was interested in "encouraging open discussion on how these rapid changes in Hudson are affecting individuals and diverse neighborhoods. What needs are being addressed well, and what do we need that we don't see yet? And, how do we relate to the rest of the County and region?"

Local resident Arlene Boehm handled the graphic design, in consultation with a steering committee of Hudson residents and business people under CCF's auspices. At tonight's gathering, the speakers invited the general public to help them add to their "starter" map, correct any errors in it, and join them in future meetings to discuss the City's future.

O'Hara, who has reviewed some of the maps in the Comprehensive Plan, said the steering committee is open to the idea of creating even more detailed maps in the future. One option is to develop a series of map "overlays" showing other local land use patterns such as parking, greenspace, zoning, tax-exempt properties, and City-owned properties.

The meeting was held in the Fellowship Room of the First Presbyterian Church, located at the corner of Warren and 4th streets in Hudson. Over 100 local elected and appointed officials were invited to the session, which was sponsored by CCF in association with Friends of Hudson and Historic Hudson.

Columbia County Futures' mission is to advance the County's economic prospects through knowledge, experience and ideas. Since its founding in 2001, CCF has sponsored a series of forums, lectures and events to advance citizen understanding of a variety of areas such as agriculture, land use, waterfront development and the role of cultural institutions.

A blow-up of the map will be on display in the storefront at 437 Warren Street beginning Tuesday. To obtain a copy of the map or to learn more about the project, contact Ellen Thurston at (518) 828-3378.