Letter to the editor 1, May 12, 2016

Dear Editor,

I would like to start by dispelling the criticism and contempt that will likely be directed my way from what I’m about to write. I sense anyone in Hudson who doesn’t engage in scathing, sarcastic, and vitriolic criticism is suspect and in cahoots with city administration. I do not personally know and have never engaged in conversation with any of our city councillors (although I have tried…).

About 18 months ago, I did however have a pleasant chat with mayor Ed Prévost and that conversation has no bearing on the issues currently at hand, other than I found him to be a competent, dynamic individual with plenty of private sector leadership experience. The comments that follow are based on what I’ve observed, either from council meetings, informal conversations, town documents or the reporting and letters found in this august publication.

Reading the letters in the May 5 edition has prompted me to write these few lines.

What seems to be getting everyone’s backs up is the strategic plan. There’s a consensus that “things need to change” and there also seems to be consensus on the completion of that sentence by “but whatever you do, don’t change anything….” City council is certainly breaking new ground by creating and putting a plan forward. In view of the current political climate in our town, that takes guts.

Having personally worked on many strategic plans, I know how much work is involved and I was impressed to see the effort that went into ours.

What is clear in the strategic plan is there have been public consultations and the conclusions have been summarized and published along with council’s proposals. Your reader who’s indignant about the 4797 residents who weren’t consulted, well, these folks (and presumably their children) didn’t show up when the consultations were held. Suggesting that everything stop until council consults some more is just expressing the desire that the town remains paralyzed and nobody benefits from that.

What should be remembered is we elected this council to make these decisions on our behalf. If we don’t like them, we vote them out next time. It’s that simple. Perhaps those who criticize loudest would want to step up and replace them, but I digress.

The development of our waterfront seems to attract the ire of some of your readers. One suggests if we did that, it would, “add more traffic and disruption.” Presumably that means that it would attract people that wouldn’t otherwise come to Hudson. Ashamedly, I missed the part explaining why that’s a bad thing. One thing is consistent throughout the plan; residents and businesses would like to see more visitors, and more specifically visitor money, coming to our town.

Having been a well-travelled yachtsman for 30 years, I have seen countless waterfront towns prosper by developing their waterfronts and making them boater-friendly with places to dock and restaurants nearby. Locally, Burlington VT, Plattsburgh NY, Ste. Anne de Bellevue and Oka as well as the Thousand Islands come to mind. (By the way, there is not enough water around the Willow Inn to accommodate yachts). Including a “performing arts center” in the plan can be in its simplest form, a properly equipped outdoor stage. To my knowledge, the few shows that have been held in Jack Layton Park have been well attended. I’ve heard it referred to by some as a “national arts center” in an attempt to ridicule the idea by conjuring the image of the NAC in Ottawa. That is demagoguery at its best and there seems to be a lot of that going around these days.

Another reader opines that rather than focusing on a vision for our town, council should be focusing on town finances and governance. I don’t see why these are necessarily mutually exclusive, as your reader suggests. In fact, a vision and strategic plan is a fundamental part of proper governance. As to the finances, the 2014 results released this week show clearly that the town is getting control of its operating costs. Notwithstanding the fact that the town’s auditors cannot express an opinion on the statements due to the skullduggery that is now well known combined with the appalling management complacency of past administrations, the operations part of the statements seems fine.

As to what will finance the plan’s execution, it is clearly stated it is predicated on outside investment.

I believe the strategic plan is pretty decent.

I’ve heard lots of criticism but so far, no constructive alternatives as to what we should do to improve our town’s prosperity.

None.

Perhaps I’ll hear some on May 12th.

See you then,

Bill Nash

Hudson

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