Thursday, August 9, 2012

Silent Protest

In protest of what they consider the inequity of the City of Hudson leasing a major portion of the city dock to Guy Falkenheimer and The Spirit of Hudson while refusing to lease the North Bay docks to them, members of the Furgary Boat Club tied one of their boats up to the city dock last night, where it remained during Hudson.Water.Music. concert in the park.


  1. At the July 9 meeting of the Common Council in answer to a question from Alderman Friedman, attorney Cheryl Roberts explained the fine distinction between "The Spirit of Hudson" lease and the inability of the city to enter into other kinds of waterfront lease agreements.

    Because The Spirit comes and goes from the dock, the lease arrangement with Falkenheimer is unlike a typical lease of property.

    (For a contrasting example, in another context Roberts cited the city's former lease of "the ferry slip parcel" to the Hudson Power Boat Association [HPBA] in 2005-06, which lease was not renewed after it was discovered that the arrangement was impermissible under state law.*)

    Leaving aside how Falkenheimer's ticket booth and dumpster enter into it, the key to Roberts' distinction, as she typically seemed at pains to explain, was that while the The Spirit is out cruising anyone can use the city dock. (At this, groans were heard throughout the Council Chamber.)

    The aldermen may have been satisfied by her answer, but the people would like to know why Falkenheimer displays a sign that reads "POSTED - no trespassing - KEEP OUT" on the waterside ramp down to his float, and also keeps the dock gate locked while The Spirit is underway.

    Can anything that Cheryl Roberts says ever be believed?

    (*The Columbia County tax maps indicate that the ferry slip "parcel" in question is simply a continuation of city-owned Ferry Street, which extends the street out into the river beyond the old slip and beyond the HPBA. Because the parcel is presumably still being used by boat club members in order to reach the docks that they do own, the agreement between the city and the HPBA must be in the nature of a "borrowing," which raises the same liability questions that were raised at Furgary. Isn't this a double standard? Why did Furgary have to go while the HPBA continues to enjoy the same arrangement which was repeatedly sought by the Furgarians?)

  2. The City does not, to my knowledge, lease any property to the PBA -- they own the land they occupy via 3 purchases, the last of which occurred in 1985 if I recall correctly. Two of the purchases were from private sellers; the third (and final) was from HCDPA. That last transfer is somewhat eyebrow raising in that HCDPA, while not technically a City agency, is essentially an off balance sheet entity of the City.

    As to why the SoH displays the signs they do on the pier: I can't fathom how this permitted -- the City should certainly a) force the removal of the signs and b) ensure that when the SoH is not tied-up alongside the pier that the gate is left unlocked.

    It's clear that the City has made errors in the past as to how the waterfront was used and how private individuals or groups were permitted to exercise near-fee "ownership" of those parcels. But I think what Cheryl was saying, between the lines, is that the current mayoral administration desires not to repeat them. That's my sense.

  3. When you reach the end of Ferry Street, at the bottom of the hill, a fence prevents you from reaching the historical ferry slip.

    Looking beyond that fence and out to the river, one can appreciate just how much of the parcel is used by the boat club, while they also use and block off the surface of the water which is the inviolable property of the people of New York state.

    The Furgarians are asking for this same arrangement that is extended to and enjoyed by the Hudson Power Boat Association. Anything else is a double standard.

    (Please hurry, as goose hunting season begins September 1st.)

  4. Tim, you'd be right if you weren't wrong. The City cannot legally extend an "arrangement" to the TBA that mirrors or approximates what the PBA was able to cobble together from private sellers. Whether it was "right" or "wrong" morally for any private entity to own waterfront, back in those days they clearly could and, as owners, they could sell; they sold to the PBA. It wasn't the City that did that. The third parcel purchased by the PBA was sold by HCDPA in 1984. That parcel was the northernmost I believe and gave them access to the bulkhead and its setback under the Terrance complex.

    You call it a double standard. It's not. It's changing times and different owners (private v. public). You refuse to understand that the law changes and, with it, what's acceptable. Prior to the clean up of the Hudson River, no one wanted to be on the shore except avid boaters and polluters. Since the river has been restored (at least somewhat) that has changed and, with it, society's valuation of the waterfront. This change in valuation is reflected in NYS GCL Sec. 20(2). You can rail against this all you like, call it a "double standard" or "unfair" -- but you can't reasonably expect the City to violate the law. It may have in the past, but there's new people in the mayor's office and on the Common Council dedicated to the rule of law, not the rule of man. You'd prefer the old way?

  5. John, what you've written about the right and the wrong of things is most interesting, but they were never my subject.

    The tax maps unambiguously show that of all their properties south of the parking lot (there's another parcel to the north), the northernmost boundary of the Hudson Power Boat Association ends a few feet away from their clubhouse wall.

    The next adjoining property (which is mostly underwater at that point) belongs to the city. The HPBA's ramps traverse city property to access boat floats which are on yet another public property, this time the state's.

    To correct an impression I certainly never intended to give, I'm not complaining about this unless the city prohibits Furgary from doing the same.

    For starters, let's see if we can get the city's new Furgary fence removed from barring water access that's located entirely on CSXT property. We would like to access our own floats from the CSXT slip, but as with the DPW's fence the HPD is incorrectly barring people from entry there.

    It's simply not the city's property to fence off, but who in city government possibly cares either way?

    If I'm unable to illustrate what a double standard this presents with the HPBA's arrangement, you must still be able to recognize that it isn't right.

    I'm glad that I conveyed Falkenheimer's attitude anyway, which can finally be compared with his lease arrangement as Cheryl Roberts explains it. Their two stories are obviously inconsistent, not that that sort of thing ever bothered anyone before.

  6. The same argument without any of the previous examples:

    The city should not be barring access to the river on a property that it does not own.

    My goodness, can't anyone else see what's wrong with that?!

  7. So, no reply and no other takers either. A silent protest indeed!

    Furgary wants what the Power Boat Association already enjoys. But the city has fenced off a lot more than city property, and this makes what the HPBA enjoys impossible at North Bay.

    It is blatantly unfair.

    Is there anyone honest enough in city government to acknowledge that city authority is being applied disproportionately?

    Where are the people who supported Furgary during the open house and in its hour of need?

    Please help us correct this final iniquity and spiteful overreaching. It may be your cause next.