Nov. 1 city council meeting
Hudson City Council voted, once again in a split decision, to defer legislation that would create a new set of guidelines for leasing city-owned property.
Council first postponed a vote on the leasing guidelines during its Oct. 18 meeting, after council member Kate Schlademan requested more time to review and discuss changes to language in the legislation.
President Chris Foster motioned for the latest deferment at the Nov. 1 meeting, citing “a discrepancy” between versions of the legislation under discussion. That motion carried 4-3.
Prior to postponing the vote, several council members sought to clarify the impact this ordinance could have on Destination Hudson. The nonprofit operates the Visitor Center on the first floor of the old Town Hall building and also facilitates and publicizes a number of community events.
While the Destination Hudson leasing contract with the city is not up for renewal until 2025, four residents spoke during the public comment period to express their concern the organization would be ousted under the new rules. Louis Young, a former Destination Hudson board member, noted that the organization had raised $350,000 “through blood, sweat and tears” to renovate the first floor for use as a welcoming hub. He also read into the record letters of support for the nonprofit and its current centralized location from Friends of Hudson Parks and Merchants of Hudson.
Foster responded to the public comments saying the leasing guidelines are meant to help the city remain neutral as it considers future leases and are “not about Destination Hudson.” He also suggested the organization become part of the city “at which point, rules and regulations regarding city leases would no longer apply.”
“As the legislation is written, it only applies to leases that are newly signed,” he said. “The current Destination Hudson lease is not up for two and a half years. We’ve got some time to figure it out.”
As further points of clarity came up during discussion on the legislation, Foster and council member Chris Banweg, who helped write the guidelines, explained that one guiding principle is that the discounted-rate, city-owned space would act as an “incubator” for charity groups, rather than house established organizations. The Nov. 1 version of the legislation would have restricted future leases to nonprofits that are 12 months or younger, although council was poised to extend that cut off to 24 months before the postponement.
Foster also contended that council would maintain the authority to override the guidelines at its discretion. City Solicitor Marshal Pitchford later confirmed Foster’s point, saying council would have the ability to direct the city manager to negotiate different terms and/or could approve terms outside of those standard guidelines.
Council is set to vote on the legislation at its Nov. 15 meeting.
In other legislative news, council passed an ordinance – brought forth by council member Beth Bigham – that requires city administration to provide council with a monthly report of city expenditures for the previous month. That legislation is meant to increase the transparency of tax-money spending. Currently, expenses that fall below $25,000 do not require council approval.
During the public comment period, two residents said council and the city should educate the public about coyotes and how to prevent unwanted interactions rather than adopt any measures to control their population. Foster said officials are “looking at what our options are” and cited numerous emails and calls from residents citing coyotes on their property and they were “worried about their children.” The issue is expected to be discussed in more detail at a future work session or council meeting. ∞