Wednesday, January 22, 2014

About North Bay

Peter Paden, executive director for the Columbia Land Conservancy, addressed the Board of Supervisors County Government Committee on Tuesday night, presenting CLC's proposal for the North Bay Recreation and Natural Area, a plan that would create a network of trails around the base of the capped landfill to connect North Bay to the Greenport Conservation Area and conservation areas farther north along the river. Joe Gentile reports on the meeting in today's Register-Star: "County supervisors look at proposed North Bay recreation area."

An element to be considered in any plan to make the North Bay a recreation and natural area is the presence of the industrial building that was once the Emsig button factory and most recently and briefly the location of Phoenix Hudson, which was supposed to manufacture plastic fencing. At the meeting, Gallatin supervisor John Reilly is reported to have asked Paden if the project could be approached "from both conservationist and commercial angles." Gentile reports that "Paden could not account for the principal property owner's plans." According to, the building is currently for sale for $1 million.


  1. So many stories and angles in Hudson are about money, and this is no exception.

    Obviously we need more ways to spend money so that the state has a reason to dole out more. Thus a place that's finally pretty wild after being a landfill must now be developed as a recreation and "conservation area," as if its wildness needs to be baptized.

    But the front half of this story is how big money circulates without the public having much say.

    The Register Star quoted that the Hudson River Foundation "had offered the city a grant to fund [the] study." Actually, the money itself was from the Athens Generating Company, as a sort of a tribute forced on them "in the course of the regulatory process leading to approval and construction of the Athens Generating Plant" (Concept Master Plan, p. 3). That's sobering.

    The Concept Master Plan's "Natural Resource Inventory and Ecological Assessment" was actually quite good, although it was too limited in the seasons it studied. For instance, it couldn't have discovered the breeding presence of New York's only wading bird with a Threatened status, which may argue against things like an "observation tower." But then I'm not thinking like a bureaucrat; for them, if something's not in a report then it never happened.

    But that same resource inventory also honored the Furgary community in a touching way that the Master Plan itself did not. Against a montage of Furgary photos, this environmental outfit out of Pennsylvania recognized with both poetry and a sound ecological vision that "an ecological assessment of North Bay cannot deny the central role of its human occupants - their work, cares and concerns. To those who are attuned to its historical and cultural currents ..."

    The inventory also envisioned refurbishing "the interior of the building [i.e., the former Hudson Fabrics] with artist studios [and to] hold summer residences/retreats." (Has anyone in local government actually read these reports? Don't bet on it!)

    I'm all for having visions, but if you don't temper them with a little reality, then you make messes.

    Here's a local example of how reality works against mere good intentions. After a failed trial that didn't even make it to the next nesting season, two years ago the county disregarded a mowing schedule that was crucial to the North Bay's now-formerly breeding Bobolinks. That was after a new mowing schedule was carefully worked out between the Columbia Land Conservancy and the County Supervisors, and they couldn't even manage that.

    Is there a way to preview the potential "realities" which may attend an already implemented North Bay plan? The politicians and planners are never going consider it, because their eyes are fixed on state grants (read: free money). So that leaves the public to employ its own imagination and common sense.

    Take the town of Lansingburgh, on the Hudson River outside of Troy. In Lansingburgh, a similar recreation-and-conservation trail was established, and for awhile anyway its intended purpose was enjoyed by all. But nowadays it's only a dangerous place frequented by unlawful types, and is avoided by decent people who fear being attacked.

    That's the sort of reality that these planners never, ever envision. It's always the sunniest of outlooks propped up by the promise of endless, free money (and then the true source of that money is suppressed [see above]).

    Surely not a single one of these planners, county superintendents, or aldermen has stood at the 1st bay trestle to witness firsthand the treacherous current emptying out of the bay midway through an outgoing tide. Yet these will be the very politicians who'll seek to establish a boating facility for children at that very spot! It's actually in the plan that none of them read. If you suppose we're in the best of hands, think again!

  2. Stay tuned for a class action; Columbia County fishermen versus the Columbia County Landgators.

  3. Kaz, Interpace, Local Ocean, Emsig, Phoenix Hudson; after "piloting" these companies out of business, the Hudson “development” agency will start promoting county recreation and they begin by removing county fishermen from Hudson's shore.

    These expert developers should have a limit one of grant application per developed property, otherwise we run the risk of having no place left to work or play.

    Remember, when the fishermen maintained North Dock, artist didn't need a “special dispensation” just to be there.