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Affordable housing tops DRI priority list

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    From left, Sara Kendall, Jennifer Stockmeier and Roger Gilson decide what developments they would like to see from the $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative grant.
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    Ann Friedman/Columbia-Greene Media The first public engagement workshop for the $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative grant was held Thursday evening at John L. Edwards Primary School.
October 27, 2017 08:32 pm

The first public engagement workshop for the $10 million downtown revitalization initiative grant was held on Thursday at John L. Edwards Elementary School.

In early August, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Hudson was one of 10 municipalities in the state to receive a $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative grant to energize its downtown district.

Projects noted in the city’s plan include way-finding signage for destinations and parking, installing high-power charging stations for electric cars, expanding public transportation with the introduction of a short solar bus, and the improvement of bike lane connections, redeveloping the Dunn Warehouse for year-round public and private use and redeveloping and remediating the Furgary Fishing Village.

The DRI Planning Committee, which will spend five months building on the projects outlined in the Downtown Revitalization Initiative application, will collect ideas for additional projects and decide the final projects that will be implemented over the next two years, held its first meeting at John L. Edwards Elementary School.

The DRI is focused on the Hudson Bridge District, whose boundaries are the Hudson River to the west, Second Street to the east, Dock Street to the North and a protected wetland to the south.

Attendees at Thursday’s meeting were split up into groups and were given the task to place stickers on a map outlining the places they visit the most, areas they would like to see new stores, restaurants and other amenities and what areas redevelopment efforts should focus on first in the Bridge District.

Groups also had to determine their top five priorities for redevelopment.

Results included transportation, food access, historic preservation, Hudson River waterfront, lighting, sidewalks, covered bus stops, a job training center, a community campus for community organizations, affordable retail and food options and affordable housing.

“Hudson is full of substandard housing that not many people can afford,” said Hudson resident Sean Sawyer. “Workforce development is great, but you need housing for people to live and they are the people who will be shopping in the city year-round.”

Sara Kendall, a member of the DRI Planning Committee and assistant director of Kite’s Nest, a center for liberatory education in Hudson, said teenagers return to Hudson after college and are unable to find housing.

“There’s nowhere for them to live,” she said.

Kendall said she would also like to see a supermarket open in the Bridge District.

“There’s a need for a grocery store in Hudson, which would also provide job creation,” she said. “The city needs new food businesses, which would serve the full-time, year-round residents and the tourists.”

Kendall added, “I want to see projects that serve the entire Hudson area.”

At the Oct. 19 DRI Planning committee meeting, Hudson Mayor Tiffany Martin Hamilton, co-chair of the committee, announced that a housing task force, which will be made up of volunteers, would be formed. Its work will run parallel with the DRI planning process.

Steve Kearney, an associate with Stantec Consulting Services, led the meeting, and said the word “affordable” came up many times throughout the public engagement workshop.

“Affordable is the big theme, which is critical, and the waterfront was also a big priority to everyone,” he said.

Kearney said he would look at each group’s priorities and develop a list of top priorities the whole community shared.

“We’ll come back again and you’ll tell us whether or not this is hitting your priorities,” he told the audience. “We will continue to have your input throughout this process.”

Planning committee member Brenda Adams said Thursday’s meeting was open and inclusive.

“I loved the creative energy and everyone’s willingness to work together for a common goal,” she said. “I’m so excited.”

The DRI Committee must be finished with the plan by March.

Kendall said she has concerns about the five-month timeline to determine the DRI projects.

“I think nights like this are very important, but we have a lot of work to do as a community within these next five months,” she said. “I hope that deep and thoughtful community engagement continues to drive the process.”

While a firm date for the next meeting has not been determined, a DRI Planning committee meeting is tentatively scheduled for Nov. 14 followed by a public meeting on Dec. 7.

Meeting dates will be posted at www.ny.gov/downtown-revitalization-initiative/capital-region-hudson.

A copy of the city’s DRI application can be viewed at ny.gov/sites/ny.gov/files/atoms/files/DRIHudsonApplication.pdf.