Council Workshop Update February 9th, 2021 - Phase 2 research
Other significant items include: General Fund overage potential uses Sidewalk and Trails Master Plan River Oaks dedication Phase 1 and 2 The Rest
Phase 2 – Tonight’s discussion goes back to the October 13th, 2020 meeting, about 2 hours and 15 minutes in should you have a desire to watch.
In that discussion I talked about the need for further research on the topic of phase 2 development because clearly the council who made those decisions at the time missed the mark. Research needs to be unbiased, and part of ensuring that it is unbiased is to not design the market research modeling it around the comprehensive plan. The why is simple - because it appears that plan may have gone too far in its assumptions on resident acceptance of housing diversity and density. This study needs to be completely random and not answered by interest groups as well. A conjoint study that would be segmented geographically (by ward) and demographically (age, gender, income) might require several hundred interviews in Hudson. 400-500. In the end in my discussions with staff I settled on the need for 200 per ward, 800 total.
Skylar Sutton reiterated “the loudest voices on either side” have been heard and we need to hear from a broad sample of residents. The best way to get the data we need is by means of a statistically significant random survey. That survey should not only focus on the mix of possible uses such as recreational, residential, commercial, style of structures (single vs multi-family). A survey should provide input enough to design a couple plans for the space and come back to the community for further refinement.
Hal, around 2 hours and 31 minutes, said what we really need to do is to revisit the comprehensive plan. The plan spent a great deal of time on Phase 2 and density. He said we should chuck what we did and restart the plan because it all stems from there. The plan can be found here
I do not entirely agree with tossing the plan out. I do believe the plan may have missed the mark in this specific area of density. Much of the plan focuses on “population loss” in Hudson and showed that our population was projected to decline rapidly – the assumption being that we needed more diverse housing options to keep empty nesters and look more attractive to millennials. The fact is that according to staff, our population grew from 2014 to 2019 by 2%, when Ohio had only projected state growth of 0.05% per year. When comparing to 2010, we have one more resident in 2019 than we had in 2010. Now, that’s not massive growth, nor is it a loss at all. We are slightly down from 2004 by under 1%... but keep in mind the 1990’s saw massive population growth in Hudson by over 30% and the 2004 comprehensive plan focused on slowing that growth rate down, not finding ways to accelerate it. See page 15 of the comprehensive plan showing 2010 actual population of 22,262. Our Hudson website says 22,282 currently. The 2019 actual is 22,263 according to staff – so where this projection of 21,429 came from is beyond me. This part of the plan is wrong, and the idea that we were rapidly shrinking is also wrong.
Bill said it sounded like we agreed that we need more information, and a statistically valid survey sounds like the right way to go and directed staff to start working on a survey RFP process. Everyone was asked to provide input into the survey process, but Bill also later formed the subcommittee to engage in the RFP process. That subcommittee consisted of myself, Skylar and Kate. Kate because she is the ward 1 rep and we are talking about a significant downtown issue. Skylar because of his data driven background, and I believe myself because I worked as the CTO in a global market research company for nearly a decade.
Now – on to last night it sounds very much like Nicole Kowalski and Hal DeSaussure are very concerned that Skylar, Kate and I assisted in drafting an RFP with staff, under direction of Bill and council at the time, to find a company willing to do the research. We did not draft the study. We just assisted in what needs to be covered in the RFP – number of interviews, possible survey topics (to be reviewed and approved by council). Nicole Kowalski has a whole slew of concerns, most of which were addressed in the October meeting or in e-mail as the discussion of this RFP did occur by e-mail from Bill to all of council. Now… all the sudden, its of great concern. That’s fine. I do not mind everyone weighing in on every step of the RFP collection process. It will slow down a pretty cut and dry part of just finding a good market research company. But if keeping every part of the discussion, even the most mundane, open in every meeting is important, count me in. Even though Bill again asked the 3 of us to continue working on the process, Skylar and I have largely said – no. Lets just do it all publicly the whole way.
On a side note – Nicole Kowalski said, in regard to this process, that we don’t want to turn into Government by Referendum, in that she doesn’t want to become a body in need of a survey to accomplish anything as a government body. It sounds like she believes Council should make the Phase 2 decision alone. We did design a 20 million dollar sidewalk and trails connectivity plan with input, we went door to door, we had HOA’s and interested residents weight in, provide input. We made a decision. We are funding it. Done. Its something that will hugely benefit the community. We don’t field surveys for stormwater problems. We address them. We don’t field surveys for pedestrian safety… we see a problem, we address it. Phase 2 is not something that will automatically benefit everyone and we all have a great amount at stake when it comes to downtown development. In a case like this, where it will fundamentally change the nature of the community, we DO want a survey. We DO want more input. We SHOULDN’T make this decision in a vacuum.
You know what happens when you don’t ask enough information and the right questions? A vote fails and you sit on $15k in interest per month for 12 months before you can send out a survey to ask and get it right.
The end – we will rewrite the RFP making sure everyone has input at every stage publicly before we even get to questions we might ask.
General Fund overage potential uses:
We have 2.3 million more than we thought, largely because of CARES act funds and workmans comp refunds. Otherwise, council stayed right on budget. Council decided to see how things looked closer to mid-year before making a decision on what to do with the excess funds. We did talk about using them to pay down capital purchase items this year rather than using debt. I pushed for some to be used for the grade separation at Hines Hill. And we had discussion with Nicole Alverson about possible uses to assist Hudson merchants, primarily in their marketing efforts. Nicole Alverson will come back to council with a plan in the coming weeks.
I mentioned concerned about our January financials and sent our VP of Finance all of the questions I had for this coming Tuesday’s meeting. General fund and Parks show large shortages in Income Taxes. It also shows lower water usage (15%), and lower power consumption (12%) but much higher power costs ($114,000 increase). Did we buy more power but sell less? Did we buy less power at a higher cost? I have mentioned HPP isn’t in the best spot financially and this doesn’t look good at all.
There is a widening gap between Velocity Plan customers and actual customers, noting that while they were able to maintain the bottom line – the gap is revenues is widening every month. That gap was 42 customers in November. 49 in December. 57 now in January. The plan and reality are diverging a bit too much.
Even our interest income is about -25% off from January last year to this year. The comment was that rates were lower. Okay – they were pretty low in January last year too. And -25% variance is pretty big difference. I just need more info on this.
Street maintenance showed a 309k increase and it was noted that 288k was spent in salt. I think we bought salt last year… and the brine well was supposed to assist with salt usage.
Sidewalks and Trails Master Plan:
The renamed “connectivity plan” sounds like everyone is on board. We will vote to accept this next week and Im fairly certain it will pass. Many segments in this plan are funded and will see construction this summer.
River Oaks Dedication: Phase 1 and Phase 2 are set to be dedicated (handed over to the city) – the first reading is next week. I told council of my intent to suspend the rules and pull this forward to allow the dedication to happen immediately rather than 3 reading plus 30 days from now. Obviously, it is just my request, but I do not want to blind side people. River Oaks residents have not had equal city services to other residents ever – and many have lived in their homes since 2017. I am glad Pulte and City Staff have dotted all of the I’s and crossed the T’s to get this process underway and River Oaks residents can get basic things like leaf collection, tree mulching, etc… just like every other resident receives. Phase 3 should seek dedication before year end from what I have heard. Phases 4 and 5 are still being built.
The Rest – That summed up all of the big issues. The Ingleside bridge is going out for quote soon
We are going to enter into a professional service contract with TMS engineers for the central adaptive traffic control system improvement project.
We are renewing our HPD Taser contracts. That’s it. Questions or concerns, let me know.