November 15, 1983: The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) held a meeting in Hudson to outline their plan to widen SR 91 or build an expressway just west of the Village Center. Since that proposed expressway would damage many local homes, it was a prudent or feasible alternative to the widening of SR 91. Many residents were understandably upset. (George and I were the newly elected co-presidents of HHA and noticed the map in the meeting announcement, which most definitely affected David Hudson’s green, not to mention an indefinite number of historic properties on the vaguely drawn bypass route just west of the Village Center.)
Homeowners' associations met. The Municipal Planning Commission met. The Village Council met, and as reported in the December 21, 1983 Hub, “Hudsonites who attended Village Council Monday in hopes of hearing ‘no Rte. 91 bypass’ left the meeting disappointed . . . some saying as much.” The Village Council was concerned about opposing ODOT—an important source of funding the building and upkeep of roads in both the Village and Township.
At the next board meeting of HHA, it was determined that a “bringing together” of all the groups that comprise Hudson was in order, HHA being in a unique position to do this. It was also determined that a preservation minded traffic expert was needed.
March 8, 1984: HHA held a Symposium on Traffic. Participants included Village and Township homeowner groups; safety forces; business; schools; and governments. There was full agreement that SR 91 should not be widened through the community, angle parking should be retained, and any “bypass” should skirt the community. HHA had retained Mr. Frank Gilbert, senior field representative of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, to chair this meeting.
Frank Gilbert, a Harvard lawyer, was the person credited with saving Grand Central Station in New York City. He was now a consultant with the National Trust specializing in helping historic communities with similar problems and had some experience with DOT‘s.
In the two days prior to the Symposium, he and I met with Village Council members, the Village Manager, Township Trustees, several of the Symposium participants, Mosure and Syrakis in Canton and Frank Fisher at ODOT in Ravenna.
As a result of those meetings and the Symposium, Mr. Gilbert impressed us with a need for a “paper trail” - documented evidence of Hudson‘s request for rightful treatment of our traffic problems under the law and ODOT’s responses, requests and intended actions. The HHA board voted to retain his services. Mr. Gilbert also described Hudson as a nationally recognized jewel, one of about 100 well-preserved small towns in America.
March 19, 1984: Council approved the Municipal Planning Commission’s recommendations on the matter calling for a “wide” westerly bypass route and reinforcing the community’s objections to the widening of SR 91 and/or elimination of angled parking.
Much lobbying of Council members was done prior to this meeting, showing maps and plans obtained from ODOT as a result of our meetings prior to the Symposium. It was clear from their conversation and maps that the widening of SR 91 was their objective.
April 3, 1984: ODOT held its second Hudson meeting on this matter. It was clear from this meeting that ODOT’s priorities had not been influenced by the community’s clearly defined and expressed wishes, as reflected by the Symposium results, the Planning Commission’s recommendations and Council’s actions.
Chuck Miller, an HHA board member, submitted an important statement to the record of that meeting noting the legal basis for Hudson’s position. The National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and Section 4 (f) of the Department of Transportation Act, which reads: “The Secretary (of Transportation) shall not approve any programs or project which requires the use of . . . any land from a historic site of national, state, or local significance as so determined by such officials unless (1) there is no feasible and prudent alternative to the use of such land, and (2) such program includes all possible planning to minimize harm to such . . . historic site resulting from such use.” (A copy of the statement is on file at HHA‘s office.) As president of HHA, we wrote to Federal and State representatives concerning the ODOT proposals. Congressman John Seiberling showed particular concern and contacted the director of the Federal Highway Administration in Ohio. (Letters are on file).
June 1984: Mrs. Patricia Eldredge (representing the Village), Mrs. Catharine Hoy (representing HHA), alias Katie Hoy, and Mr. Gilbert (retained by HHA as Preservation Legal Advisor) met with representatives of the Ohio Historic Preservation Office, the Federal Department of Transportation, and ODOT. (Although invited, no Municipal Planning Commission or Council representatives were able to attend these meetings.) The ODOT meeting was not reassuring with regard to ODOT’s priorities, and representatives were repeatedly referred from issues to procedural questions in ODOT’s well-oiled mechanism for getting roads built as ODOT perceived the public good.
Pat Eldredge, Frank Gilbert and I were in Columbus for an Ohio Preservation Alliance meeting and arranged these other meetings for that time. Upon entering the ODOT office, we were asked if any of us were elected or appointed officials of Hudson. Fortunately, Pat was on the Architectural Board, so Mr. Kauble, the Chief Engineer, agreed to talk to her. (We had asked to meet with Warren Smith, the director of ODOT.) Following this meeting, the “paper trail” in correspondence with ODOT began. HHA, with Mr. Gilbert’s able assistance, made a number of recommendations to Council. Council made appropriate additions and sent these along to the proper people at ODOT.
Council requested a formal Historic Preservation Report by a nationally respected expert specializing in historic preservation matters.
When the Chief Engineer, Wayne Kauble, replied that the Engineering Source
Document would contain information about the National Register status of
Hudson, Council asked who would be compiling this information.
Answer: Mosure and Syrakis did a “literature search and field survey.” A copy
was sent and it was an incomplete listing done by a high school teacher from
Canton. Council hired Frank Gilbert at HHA’s request and HHA offered to pay
half of the cost, as a donation to the Village.
Frank Gilbert asked Lois Newkirk, then HHA Survey and Research Chairman, to
compile a list of historical properties on SR 91 in the Village and Township,
which was done.
Council expressed concern about the incomplete list of historical properties in the Technical Appendices for the Preliminary Alternative Summary and asked for Hudson representation at any evaluation of historic properties by ODOT, FHWA, or SHPO.
John Seiberling was concerned about a response he had from Warren Smith,
Director of ODOT, stating that he (Smith) would not be in a valid legal position
to utilize Ohio’s transportation funds to support a system of highways bypassing
the Hudson area.
The Engineering Source Document was finally found in Washington by Frank
Gilbert and shortly after was sent to the Village—one year after the request
and several months after it had been finished. George Hoy undertook a line by
line critique of this work now called the Moser and Syrakis “Preliminary
Alternative Summary for SR 91" and found it flawed and unacceptable in terms
of its plan and implications for Hudson, Ohio.
August 1985: The Akron Metropolitan Area Transportation Study (AMATS) director, Ken Hanson, at a meeting with Village representatives, said they would make a final recommendation on what to do about the Moser and Syrakis report about six months after the Route 8 completion (scheduled for July 1987).
John Seiberling introduced a bill in Congress which finally passed April 2, 1987 under Tom Sawyer—Section 152 of the Surface Transportation and Uniform Relocation Assistance Act of 1987 which specifically states that no funds authorized by this Act or any other Act may be obligated for a project to widen any state route through the historic district of the Village of Hudson, Ohio or for a project to construct an alternative or bypass route for such a route within one (1) mile of such historic district, unless specifically approved by the Village Council of the Village of Hudson, Ohio.
At present AMATS has not yet made a final recommendation on the Moser and Syrakis Report. Flaws and all, it’s still living out there.
While the Act of Congress gives national recognition and support to Hudson, the key is the Village Council. Federal funds may be used to widen SR 91 (or any state route) with their approval.
With Frank Gilbert’s help, we enjoyed some success. The Hudson community was united in rejecting both proposals in the Mosure and Syrakis report— widening SR 91 or a close-in bypass. The paving equipment was scheduled for now—8 to 10 years from 1984. Frank Gilbert also recommended, however, that we keep pressure on ODOT to develop a prudent and feasible alternative to the traffic problem. This has not been done.
I hope, to borrow a phrase from Pogo, “We have not met the enemy and they is us.”
Thank you, everyone, for all that you did to protect our community; thank you, Katie for reminding us that this issue is NOT CLOSED. Keep aware, keep listening and maintain the quality of life of our community.