HUDSON — Proponents and opponents of Downtown Phase II and Issue 11 are making a final push with their respective messages before an advisory election on the project May 7.
Issue 11 on next week’s ballot will ask residents: “Should the City of Hudson continue with the redevelopment of the Downtown Phase Two area as a public and private development subject to final approval by the Architectural and Historic Board of Review and City Council?”
City Council in January decided to put the question on the ballot to gauge residents’ views about the project that would have 138,000 square feet of office space, 73-75 town homes, 50 condominium flats above businesses and a 250- to 300-space parking structure. The project, which is being developed by Testa Companies, is eyed for the area of Morse Road and Owen Brown Street.
As the issue heads to the homestretch, a political action committee that favors Issue 11 and another that opposes it are emphasizing why voters should favor their view.
Groups share perspectives
Joe Creehan, chairman of the pro-Issue 11 Citizens For An Informed Hudson, said his group is advocating a “yes” vote because they believe the Phase II project will support First and Main, provide housing for a lot of people who want it, and “bring significant revenue” to both the city and the schools.
The city is projecting that Phase II will generate $700,000 to $1 million in annual income tax revenue and $1.8 million in annual property tax money. Creehan noted the income tax figures are “based on existing data that they have in the city.”
Creehan said city leaders have worked on Phase II “to align it with the [comprehensive] planning process that’s been happening in Hudson for 20 years.”
Jessie Flagg Obert, a board member of the opposing PAC Hudson’s Voice, said her organization is promoting a “no” vote because they think the Phase II plan is too dense, offers “zero benefit to the general public and taxpayers,” and they believe the city’s projections for income tax revenue that would be generated by the project are “guesses at best.”
Obert said her organization feels “the plan could be changed and have a bigger benefit to the public,” and also “minimize” traffic issues.
“The city’s threat of possibly selling the property in a no vote result could all be managed by simple zoning changes,” Obert said. She said zoning could be changed to reduce the maximum density level that would be allowed in the development area.
Persuading undecided voters
For any voter who is undecided, Obert said she would encourage them to do a cost-benefit analysis on the project from a taxpayer’s perspective. The city is planning to invest an estimated $15.8 million in the project, according to city spokesperson Jody Roberts.
Before going to the polls, Obert said a resident should ask, “What’s it going to cost and what are you going to get out of it?
Additionally, she said she felt voters should examine “the recent history of spending of this city management and council and decide if these are the people that you trust with such a large project.” She noted her group is concerned with the amount of spending on items such as the city hall project and the Velocity Broadband program.
Creehan said the main concerns he hears about Phase II are traffic and density. He counters that smart signal technology will be implemented to alleviate traffic back-ups and congestion, as well as improve traffic flow.
Creehan said he would tell undecided voters that the signal technology and plans to re-direct traffic away from Owen Brown would reduce traffic congestion.
The downtown land is “extremely valuable,” Creehan said, and the city wants to make the most use of that property. Creehan said the density of residential units proposed in Phase II is “no more dense” than Hudson Commons or the Villas.
How each group is working to get its message out
Creehan said his group is focused on putting ads and letters to the editor in the Hub-Times. They’ve also sent letters to early voters, visited with merchants and attended community events. His group has put up about 150 signs to date and is focused on getting as many people to the polls as possible.
Obert said Hudson’s Voice members are hand-delivering fliers and marketing materials to as many homes as possible, as well as distributing their few remaining available yard signs to anyone who would like to post one on their property. She said there are more than 150 yard signs posted on properties throughout the city.
Members of her organization have been invited to speak to some groups this week.
“We’re looking forward to reaching out to as many people as we can,” said Obert.
Polls will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on May 7. For more information, call the Summit County Board of Elections at 330-643-5200 or visit www.summitcountyboe.com.
Reporter Phil Keren can be reached at 330-541-9421, email@example.com, or on Twitter at @keren_phil.