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Council Votes to Keep Riverfront Land, Remove Private Docks by Oct. 1

After months of lobbying from First Street property owners and park land advocates, the council voted to not sell its riverfront property and to order the removal of private docks from city property by Oct. 1.

The Common Council voted 4-0 to not sell riverfront park land, and the council has given First Street residents until Oct. 1 to remove docks they have placed there every spring for several decades.

Randy Morrissette and John Hoggatt recused themselves from the discussion and the vote. 

Before discussing the issue, the council heard comments for more than 25 minutes from 10 residents about the potential sale and the potential removal of docks. Six residents spoke against the sale of the land while four spoke for the sale of the land or some agreement that would allow the docks to remain in place.

District 6 Alderman Richard Vanselow said he had received two sets of documents — one from City Attorney Catherine Munkittrick, and one from First Street resident Dean Hanson — and he found Munkittrick's information more credible. 

"I'd have to say that based on all the comments I've heard and based on all the information I've read, that it is my position that this is a very important natural resource for the City of Hudson, and all the residents in the City of Hudson to enjoy," Vanselow said.

District 3 Alderwoman Lori Bernard said that if the city is looking to sell land to solve some of its budget shortfall issues, that it should do a citywide inventory of land that could be put up for sale and not make a special case for the riverfront property because of the private docks issue.

District 2 Alderwoman Mary Yacoub and District 4 Alderman Kurt TeWinkel also participated in the discussion before all four members voted to not sell the land.

With the property sale issue decided, the alderpersons directed their attention to the removal of the private docks from the city's shoreline property.

Bernard pointed out that city ordinance directs residents to remove the docks within 10 days, but she recommended a deadline of Oct. 1, which was suggested in a motion from a previous meeting.

Yacoub argued that the residents be allowed to use their docks for the rest of the 2012 boating season, which she said ends when the city requires moored boats be removed from the mooring area along Dike Road.

After discussion, all four voted to require removal by Oct. 1. 

Phiddy1 August 22, 2012 at 12:15 AM
Mayor Burchill made it a revenue issue. He referenced it months ago and recently stated that a sale of this kind could help the City budget right now. Citizens countered his idea with suggestions to find another, less short-sighted, less short-term, solution. The Park Board and Public Works both opposed the sale and letting the illegal docks remain. If we are not going to follow the recommendations of these people then let's just have a monarchy and take care of the favored ones. Enough.
Paine Reliever August 22, 2012 at 01:49 AM
Frazzle, no the council does not always follow the recommendations of the planning commission. Subcommittees sometimes only look at certain criteria. The common council can look at a broader scope of variables.
Paine Reliever August 22, 2012 at 02:48 AM
You are right Frazzle, my comment should have been directed at Phiddy. This docking issue was a slam dunk. From watching the meeting, I was amazed how the residents defended their docks as somehow protecting the natural character of the shoreline and how the city would ruin it. People need to remember that it was the city going down there and cleaning up the debris including old docks, abandoned boats and old gas grills that started this. They were approached by a first street resident who told the workers that they were on private property. So if they really thought they had rights to the property and were so impassioned about the shoreline, why the need for the cleanup? I am just glad that this Issue is finally over. I do not blame the residents on first fighting to keep the illegal docks. I would do the same if I was in their position, but the time had come to do the right thing and I thank the common sense of council persons Vanselow and Bernard. I also would like to thank the city attorney for putting up with a combative mayor Buchill and council person Yacoub.
Paine Reliever August 22, 2012 at 03:16 AM
So Frazzle, you are denying the newspaper account about the first street resident approaching the workers and telling them they were on private property? You say it would never have come up if Hoggat didn't own one of the docks in question. Seems like you are In favor of a council member enjoying a illegal dock and also enjoying not paying taxes on it either. Yes, the docks should have been removed years ago. I think your blame is misguided but whatever.
Paine Reliever August 22, 2012 at 03:49 AM
It was a tight spot for the council to be in but to keep up this argument of blaming an alleged whistle blower you are actually defending those who broke the law. Ask yourself what is worse? I don't know what issue of the star observer covered this. It was the first i had heard of this issue Also, the city could not raise taxes to cover something that is not on the deed. So you have blamed O'Malley and now the city. Don't you think the people who had the docks deserve any of the blame?
Paine Reliever August 22, 2012 at 11:17 AM
If you watch all the council meetings, it is clear from the start that the mayor is angry that this issue came up. Whether he feels it is O'Malleys fault or not, his hostility towards the city attorney or the DNR guy was insulting. Un-recusing himself before a obvious stalemate was interesting. Mary Yacob seemed to mirror whatever angle the property owners were pushing at that particular meeting. She has been pretty by-the-book when dealing with city ordinances but seemed overly perplexed by the people who spoke out against the first st resients and the opinions of other council members. In this case she repeatedly looked for ways to allow the docks to stay, and seemed to dismiss the well reasoned advice of the attorney. The fact that they even considered looking into selling the land (only to the people on first st) Is concerning. Legally, i don't think Mr. Hanson's 150 year old deed interpretation would stand up in court, just my opinion. In the end, yes this was and should have been a slam dunk.
Paine Reliever August 22, 2012 at 12:04 PM
You are right, the DNR guy did speak out if turn. His opinion was that this was all a waste of effort because the state was going to override any compromise and remove the docks now that the dispute was public. I agree with you about information gathering and I do thank the board for addressing something past boards let slide.
Phil McGraw August 22, 2012 at 02:44 PM
Frazzle, I agree that Scot O'Malley is a vengeful person. He was ticked that he lost to both Hoggat and Burchill. For those who do not remember his childish and bullying behavior, here is an authentic letter from just one of the past incidents... http://www.ontheborderline.net/our-view-o-malley-deed-is-inexcusable/
Hobbs August 22, 2012 at 05:20 PM
I found it interesting that Mayor Burchell, recused himself during the May meeting in which the public was invited to speak for the first time on the dock issue. As he left I believe his words were something like "I don't need to be here for this." I think he could care less about public opinion. Furthermore, "Randy Morrissette and John Hoggatt recused themselves from the discussion and the vote." It's no surprise when Mr Morrissette recuses himself, seems every time a controversial decision comes before the council he's nowhere to be found. Mr Hoggatt had a vested interest in the debate and had to step out. In the end, credit should go to the work of City Attorney Catherine Munkittrick. The Mayor and Council thought they had control to ramrod any decision they proposed. When in fact, this decision was made based on findings of City Attorney Catherine Munkittrick and the letter of the law. Seriously, would this city ever sell anything to benefit the Citizens?
Hobbs August 22, 2012 at 05:40 PM
Speaking of Bullying, let's not forget the time a local bar, on Second Street, was in front of the council for complaints of noise trouble and possible license revocation. The bar owner spoke of how Mr O'Malley is not welcome in his establishment, then went on to say that Mr O'Malley entered the bar and demanded the bartender show him his license.
Paine Reliever August 22, 2012 at 06:10 PM
To be fair, In this issue, council persons Bernard and Vanselow respected common sense and the recommendations of the city attorney from the beginning.
Hobbs August 22, 2012 at 06:19 PM
Rah Rah!
Paine Reliever August 22, 2012 at 07:25 PM
Yacoub was looking for an "out" to keep the docks owned by council members against all law and reason from the beginning. When she jumped on the notion of selling the riverfront only to the first street residents, she lost credibility but kept pushing anyway. She agreed with any option the dock owners came up with but argued with the city attorney. There is no defending this. If I was on the parks board and had a plan in place and the trail and lights are done and the council sold off control of the area to make 3 dock owners happy at the expense of the rest of the city, I would be as upset as they are. No crime or injustice was committed here. None.
Paine Reliever August 22, 2012 at 08:20 PM
Do you agree with the vote results or not?
Fedup August 22, 2012 at 09:10 PM
Morrissette probably left because his dad lives next to Hoggatt.
Big Guy August 23, 2012 at 01:17 PM
Frazzle, Any chance you are related to Go Red on the HSO website? I commend the council for finally making a decision and voting 4-0 not to sell the property and to have the docks removed. What difference does it make that Yacoub (seconded by Tewinkle and supported by Burchill) asked for more information on selling the property to only those 1rst Street Property owners you ask? It depends on how much it cost to have the city attorney to do the unnecessary research. Just another example of government waste. Do you think Yacoub would have been as excited to have this additional research done of the expense was coming from her bank account?
Concerned Citizen #1 August 23, 2012 at 02:13 PM
Big Guy....come on....
Concerned Citizen #1 August 23, 2012 at 02:20 PM
This was a waste of time and money....there was no logical end to this matter other than the docks being removed. No amount of discussion, time, requests for more time, or bantering back and forth was going to change that. Sometime the easiest answer and the most logical one is the one that presents itself first and in this case it was removing the docks. Can someone tell what information was gathered between the request for more information and the last council meeting that changed anyone's mind? What any additional information even presented at the council meeting at all? All I remember is citizen comments, some council people comments (more so directed at defending the request for more information than actual providing additional information) and then a vote.
Paine Reliever August 23, 2012 at 03:16 PM
Agreed, What bothered me was that Mary Yacoub seemed overly concerned with "could they do it" as far as leaving the docks instead of the bigger question of "should they do it." Rich Vanselow and Lori Bernard seemed to be able to do the math while also respecting the opinion of the attorney and I understand thier frustration. If Yacoub is offended that some people thought she had ulterior motives, I suggest she review the video of the meetings.
Lil Guy August 25, 2012 at 02:50 PM
There is that expert Pain Reliever on yet another article thinking he knows it all. Yup you are right the entire Council is in collaboration with each other. Oh I forgot except for Lori Bernard and Rich Vanselow. They are Saints. Well until they do something to rock your boat (no pun intended). Then they too will be the evil spawns of government.
Paine Reliever August 25, 2012 at 05:30 PM
So, Jack, as I see it, you don't stick your neck out and give an opinion, or state a position except to criticize those that do. I find that to be be a pretty week position to come from but whatever. You are right about one thing. I am sure I will not always agree with Bernard and Vanselow, but in this case I did. Isn't that the way it should be Jack? I don't claim to be an expert on anything but I do pay attention and I can do simple math. My opinion is of no more value here than anyone elses but if you are going to take the time to respond please come to the table with something more than claiming that I am a know-it-all.
Lil Guy August 25, 2012 at 11:54 PM
I would but you would just shoot it down like everyone else. What I do know is you consistently make negative comments. I am sure you will have a field day with the rezoning issue depending on what happens there
Paine Reliever August 26, 2012 at 02:17 AM
@Jack Frost. What you mean to say is that I keep making negative comments about people you agree with. Isn't that what really bothers you about my comments? I have noticed that you have not made a comment related to this thread. Do you have an opinion about the docks?
Lil Guy August 26, 2012 at 02:23 AM
Well let's see I am glad the docks are being removed but I don't crap on the council members for taking some time to make a decision or using the city attorney for her actual purpose. But you seem to think that everything was black and white which is the basis for most your comments. However, from what I saw it was not black and white. These council members are not attorney's specializing in railroad law. In fact I think there are only like 5 in the Nation. The current City attorney was not able to answer their questions. She simply inserted opinion not facts. I read her last memo to the council and it had actual substance unlike the first so maybe the blame should be placed on the attorney's original prep work. But I am sure you will disagree. So go ahead I am waiting....
Paine Reliever August 26, 2012 at 03:08 AM
Jack Frost, So if it would have proven legal to do so, would you have supported selling the river front but only to those with illegal docks or West first street residents? Tell you what, I will stop crapping (your description) on the council if you and your friends stop crapping on the school board. Deal? didn't think so.
Lil Guy August 26, 2012 at 06:22 AM
I would not have sold the land. Last I checked I haven't crapped on the S.B.
Paine Reliever August 26, 2012 at 04:26 PM
That is my point Jack, nobody on the board was interested in selling the property except Yacoub. She even claimed that the first street residents would take better care of the shoreline than the city would, even though they left old boats and junk that the city finally cleaned up. Yacoub stated that she wanted to work with the residents and when it became apparent there was no way to lease to them etc. that is when selling the land came up. So bottom line, if you agree that selling the shoreline would be a mistake, how can you defend Yacoub's motion to take more time and taxpayer $ to look into the legality of selling the shoreline? No amount of new information would have made selling it a good idea, and therefore it was a waste of time and $.
Lil Guy August 26, 2012 at 06:49 PM
Your statement is grossly exaggerated. Asking to explore all options is far cry from selling the land. The lawyer went from the land can not be sold to yes the land can be sold. So yes there was new information. And it should not matter either way, bottom line is after further research the decision was made. Funny thing is that it went the way you are advocating yet you can not get over the process that took place.
Lil Guy August 26, 2012 at 07:00 PM
You obviously have it out for Yacoub as it took more than her vote to pass the delay last time around. So I think whatever your personal vendetta is with her you should get over it. Continuing to pound on one individual only makes you look like a bully in the eyes of the people reading these remarks.
Paine Reliever August 26, 2012 at 11:25 PM
Jack, The ONLY reason for delay and the ONLY reason for asking for more info was to see if they COULD SELL the riverfront. It should have never got that far. The question should not have been could we sell, it should have been SHOULD WE SELL. The answer was NO with or without more legal research. I agree to disagree if you can't understand my point. I had no opinion or personal connections to Mary Yacoub before watching these meetings on the patch. In regards to this experience, I thought she was combative to the other council members and dismissive to the city attorney. I am sure she is a fine person and understand that this was a decision that had been left unanswered for far too long.

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