• James Armstrong

Hudson community consultation a positive step forward


PHOTO BY JAMES ARMSTRONG

The Public Works table discussion group, moderated by Councillor Robert Spencer attracted citizen attention at the Hudson Strategic Planning Consulting process on Saturday morning, April 27.

“The mood was clearly different from the town council meetings,” said Hudson Mayor Ed Prévost on Tuesday, in reference to the community consultation meeting held at the Stephen F. Shaar Community Center on Saturday April 26. “The overall message from citizens appears to be, stay the course and keep the right direction,” he added.

The Strategic Planning Consulting Process, hosted and facilitated by moderator John Angus, was organized on a table discussion model. Each table discussion group, headed by a town councilor or a town employee, was dedicated to a specific part of community life, including Parks and Recreation, Culture and Tourism, and Public Works.

“This is the first step in healing,” said Angus, on Saturday morning. “The demographers outside of the town are predicting a decrease in (population) size for Hudson,” he continued, “We have to have a goal – no goal, no future.” Angus pointed out that he thought that Mayor Prévost had the right idea of inviting citizens to share their ideas. He noted that he would like to convene a similar consultation with the youth and children of the community in the near future.

As a specialist in corporate turnaround, Angus views the Hudson administrative situation as a business model that has been badly handled by in the past. “It’s had two CEOs in a row who didn’t have the experience and they ran the place into the mud. Ed has a difficult task of getting it out of the mud and figure out where to go. This is his process and he wants to find a goal,” said Angus. “My job is just gently maneuvering things in a cohesive manner towards a solution.”

The consultation was well attended, according to the mayor, with approximately 112 registrations and over 135 response forms filled out by citizens. “We ended up with people still sending in the forms and e-mails afterwards,” said Prévost. The task of processing the information and creating a database has begun and should produce results in the next month.

The mayor indicated that a second consultation could happen and that the town council will be going on a retreat in June to assess the current information along with past reports and discuss their own planning ideas for the town. “We need to hammer out a vision statement and plan to present to residents,” said the mayor. “Hopefully, citizens will recognize their ideas and input in the end result.” The mayor gave a brief resumé of some of the recurring issues on Saturday. The restoration of Pine Lake, support of downtown business, road repair, paving, addressing broken and bent street signs, and additional directional signage to local venues and attractions. Prévost noted that some of these issues could be remedied immediately such as the repair of broken street signs and more directional signs. Other items could take more time.

Prévost said that more support for local initiatives such as Le Nichoir bird rehabilitation and further development of Hudson Village Theatre along with more affordable housing and seniors residences were also high on the suggestion list and were issues for longer term planning.