Town wants residents to ‘embrace’ development project
A petition demanding that Hudson hold a referendum to determine if a majority would support purchasing land around the Sandy Beach Nature Park has almost 630 of a desired 1,000 signatures. The petition, which was started on change.org two months ago by some residents, has been signed by people living in the town as well as many from outside of Hudson. In addition to wanting the town to purchase the land between Sandy Beach and Jack Layton Park, those in favour of the effort want to see the land preserved to thwart any future development plans. Suzanne Simon of Toronto, whose family once owned the property in question, was one out-of-towner to add her signature to the online effort. ‘When my grandfather, Allen Blankenship died we were unable to afford the taxes owed when my mother and uncle inherited it. The difficult decision was made to sell it and for years no one in the town had access to this beautiful property,’ Simon wrote, adding that she was happy to learn it had later become a public park. ‘I urge the town to make every effort to keep this area public. It is a jewel in the crown of your beautiful town.’ But Hudson mayor Ed Prevost said cash-strapped Hudson is in no position to pay an estimated $15-million price tag to acquire the property. “Land development is not the business we’re in,” Prevost said Thursday. The more than 2-million-square foot parcel of waterfront land is owned by Hans-Karl Muhlegg, who is listed as the company officer of Nicanco Holdings Inc., a Point-Claire corporation. According to Prevost, the town held a referendum in 1999 that resulted in approval being granted for Muhlegg to develop the land for single family homes, town houses, or potentially seniors’ housing. The town also negotiated beach access and the right to build access roads. Those accesses were granted in perpetuity. Prevost said that while Muhlegg can develop the land around Sandy Beach, public access to the beach will not be lost. “This is where confusion comes in. People are under the impression they already own Sandy Beach when in fact they don’t… they equate access with ownership and that’s false,” he said. The issue came up during the December town council meeting when some residents made Prevost aware of the petition. “Everyone and their uncle (signed it) but most are non-Hudson people,” the mayor noted. According to Prevost, Muhlegg is going ahead with plans for some kind of development project. The town will hold a meeting in February where plans will be presented for residents’ consideration. “Residents will be able to learn what this is all about. No one is shoving this down anyone’s throat. We want people to embrace the project and the developer is willing to make modifications.” What he said won’t be done will be holding another referendum. “We already had one,” Prevost said.