Letter to the editor 1, August 11, 2016

Dear Editor,

For several months, our group of concerned Hudson residents has been asking council questions regarding the $32 million strategic plan posted on the town’s website under ‘Our Town Our Future.’

We are now of the view that council is either deliberately avoiding clear answers, or is not competent to provide them.

A key component of this plan has been a 300-seat, $12 - $15 million ‘Waterfront Performing Arts Centre’ (Our Town, Our Future, Appendix 2 – pages 7 & 13) with projected annual retail revenue of $3,825,000 based on 45,000 ticket sales per year, a full house every 2.4 days, 865 visitors per week, each spending $85 per visit (Appendix 2, page 10).

At the July 4 meeting we were told by council that this project has been abandoned, that it is no longer a performing arts center but a Cultural Center - and told by Mayor Ed Prévost that, “…we know where we are going; we know how to get there; all alternatives are off the table.”

But on August 10, the proposed Waterfront Performing Arts Centre was still prominent on the town website with the same revenue projections in place.

Repaving our crumbling roads (digging and paving 1) and improving the aqueduct and sewage network and burying Hydro lines (digging and paving 2) are also part of the plan. When residents questioned the wisdom and cost of digging and repaving twice, council reassured them that no money would be spent before the town had the money.

At recent council meetings, various residents have asked when the town’s 2015 audited financial statements would be made public. By law, they were due to be published by April 30, 2016. At the August 1 meeting, Councillor Ron Goldenberg informed residents that the audited statements would not be available for a couple of months – hard to say when, exactly. When pressed, he refused to commit further.

Then council passed a motion for a 15-year/ $1.5 million loan by-law to repave a few roads, which Councillor Goldenberg admitted will, at most, last 10 years. When a resident stated that loan by-laws require a vote of approval by register/referendum, the council avoided any clear response.

Once again, town residents were denied disclosure by the team led by a mayor who was quoted in a pre-election interview published October 15, 2013 as follows: “Every move you make, every decision you make, you have to explain it, justify it. Everything has to be transparent.”

As concerned citizens who love their town and as taxpayers who are footing the bills, we hold Ed Prévost and his council to that commitment.

Sincerely,

Richard and Robin Grinnell

Graham Nesbitt

Gary Stroud

Rodney Birrell

Hudson