Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Mayor's Goals

In today's Register-Star, John Mason reports on an interview with Mayor William Hallenbeck, at the start of his second term in office: "Mayor's goals: Hotel, parking garage and college bus routes." At the risk of being counted by the mayor among "those who continue to criticize me for personal or political gain," Gossips finds it hard to get behind two of the mayor's more ambitious objectives: a "substantial hotel" built on "the three acres where the Dunn's warehouse is located" and a four-tier parking garage constructed behind City Hall to accommodate the "influx of traffic from all directions" that he expects will descend on Hudson "if a casino goes to the Catskills."


  1. Maybe as important as what Mayor Hallenbeck said is what he didn't say.

    I give the mayor credit for not dredging up the LWRP. It would have been too easy to throw the wounded waterfront program into the mix, as if its chances were languishing merely for want of a little guidance from the executive. (The mayor's predecessor, whose fingerprints are on every page of the thing wouldn't have been able to resist claiming it for the umpteenth time.)

    Perhaps the wrong-headedness of the LWRP document, and the shoddy way the program was conducted in Hudson, is finally sinking in in a broad way.

    If we're unlikely to convince anyone that the document was authored by people who are totally ignorant of the actual waterfront (most of the people you'd want to convince are themselves ignorant of the waterfront), by now it's generally accepted that the waterfront program was conducted with a minimum of public participation. There's no shortage of evidence, and no politician is foolish enough defend the opposite claim.

    The mayor's silence today has relinquished the LWRP to the Common Council ownership. It is the council's own debacle.

    It also puts the public one step closer to taking the incomplete program away from the incompetents who voted it as "complete" over two years ago. (Well, not all the same aldermen as now, but enough of them.)

    I suppose the merest test of our ability to influence the LWRP going forward is to see whether we can substitute the correct local fauna for the mistaken fauna in the document which don't reside or even visit here. They were inserted in generic way thanks to the ignorance of the authors. (In the South Bay, two state-protected species of shellfish, both with a conservation status of "critically imperiled," were omitted from the LWRP.)

    Last year the public went to the mat with the city over the existence of a Standard Oil depot in the South Bay. We won that fight, and we will insert a statement to the effect that the site has never benefited from a proper environmental survey. (Last year our taxes paid for a deficient and incomplete survey.)

    Of the Ferry Street Bridge, in their Final LWRP the Common Council stated their commitment "to restore the bridge to its former carrying capacity of 15 tons." Ten months later the council passed a Resolution committed to demolishing the bridge. Today the public is taking restoration grant matters into its own hands, but we expect maximum resistance from the city.

    The brownfields claim in today's Register Star was incorrect. Governor Cuomo put millions more into the program, but the Hudson Development Corporation screwed up the grant application primarily by ignoring the state guidelines which recommend public participation in the process.

    The final test to see whether the LWRP is henceforth conducted in a fair way is whether we can launch a discussion on the potential to amend the city's zoning through the South Bay's Class I wetlands. On behalf of a rare ecosystem that's under local stewardship to an alarming degree, residents should analyze the possibility of taking back the gift made in our names to Holcim and O&G Industries.

    The fools who threw in with Holcim without the public's knowledge are the same individuals who have obfuscated and cheated this process all along. The worst of them are still in office, or remain appointees of the city.

    I'm very heartened to learn today that the mayor is not offering them any cover for their past misdeeds. Now it's up to us.

  2. “HDC has sold Riverloft to Rob Taylor for a school. “I’m not criticizing the project, but if you’re going by the model of economic development, how does the school become economic development?” Hughes asked. “It won’t generate revenue”…

    Not only will the Riverloft project not generate commerce but is now restricting the commerce that use to flow freely through the wharf at North Dock. Boat and trailer licenses, fishing, hunting licenses, Outboard Motor Fuel taxes, gas, gear, etc.

    County residents pay state user fees and are severely restricted by the RR tracks, and now the city plans to restrict access farther yet.

    The HDC planned for additional use for CLC by removing people (fisher folk) who are entitled to use these “lands for public use”.

    Can they now request federal funding for projects that restrict (fishing) trade and Navigation?

  3. I wonder if there's an update in that conflict of ownership between Riverloft and the state, I mean at the formerly underwater lands south of Dock Street?

    Is there possibly a double standard where squatting on state lands is concerned? (Silly me, of course there is: the city got to keep the state lands on which it had built its Waste Water Treatment Plant, while others got the boot.)

    But never forget that it was more than the contested land which the city took from Furgary and the North Dock Tin Boat Association. The LWRP waterfront planners erased their memory and function entirely.

    When the Department of State devised its 1984 "Technical Memorandum," creating and defining Significant Coastal Fish and Wildlife Habitats (SCFWHs), it took great care to include traditional and cultural contributions in its assessment of coastal ecosystems. Integral to every SCFWH's "Rating Form" is a numeric formula, one of the terms of which assigns a value for Human Use. The latter figure features traditional activities, such as hunting and fishing. Considering the high Human Use number assigned to the SCFWH within which the North Bay lies, the DOS Division of Coastal Resources should have offered some protection for hunters and fishers when the same office was advising the city on its LWRP planning.

    That the DOS couldn't help the public in this small way was a testament to its own incompetence.

    After the Furgary eviction was announced, Council President Moore got on WGXC to say that the Furgarians should have reached out during the LWRP process.

    How disingenuous that was, when indeed they had!

    Furgarians took part in the meaningless LWRP workshops in January 2007, in which they made the case for valuing their traditional community. Then, among the dozen residents who spoke at the January 2010 Public Hearing on the LWRP, one of the speakers was a Furgarian explaining and defending Furgary.

    In its drive to keep the land and preserve its millions of dollars in grant money, the city did its best to wipe out any role for the Furgarians whatsoever. The equally disingenuous Division of Coastal Resources looked on and said nothing.

    When we get this thing up and running again, the first thing we do is banish attorney Cheryl Roberts from having anything to do with our waterfront. The second thing we do is to insist on a replacement for Bonny Devine, of the NYS DOS Division of Coastal Resources.

    If these two conditions are not met, there should be hell to pay.

    Now who will join me? And who will join the resurrected "South Bay Coalition"?

    All are welcome.

    1. Four things for the municipal monarchs to keep in mind as the attempt the land lover's "lofty" goal:

      The law of land under water, protecting fishermen from Kings, was last amended in 1647.

      A more perfect union was formed in 1787.

      King Andrew's Empire joined the union in 1788.

      Fourth, last name of the Lady Faithful is not Equity, it's Liberty. Until the City of Hudson makes fishermen free, by allowing the historical use (shacks notwithstanding) of North Dock, all will be equally restricted.

      1 Riparian

    2. The purpose of a Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (LWRP) is to balance these first rights among all of the other potential water uses. It exists as a means for planning a more efficient use of a limited resource, the state's coastline.

      It was thanks to the perverse manipulation of the City of Hudson's LWRP that these ancient rights in particular were effaced rather than reinforced.

      But the perversion of Hudson's LWRP went further. Our document, to which the public made almost no contribution, actually imperils rather than protects the rare wetland ecosystems within the city limits.

      Hudson's waterfront program, its LWRP, is a near-total botch. It was created by a variety of technicians, none of whom live in Hudson. These people knew nothing about our waterfront and nothing about us, but they knew just enough about the law to circumvent the State Environmental Quality Review Act.

      (For a humorous example of the ignorance of outsiders who nevertheless preside over our resources, see GEIS 3.1.108, where in her official response to a public comment attorney Cheryl Roberts referenced the wrong bridge in the comment. After so many years, she never went down there to see the second trestle bridge!)

      Anyone who lived through the long, painful chapters of our still-unauthorized LWRP has an obligation to tell and re-tell the story to newcomers.

      The state Division of Coastal Resources itself learned a terrible lesson in Hudson, but whether the individuals involved had the wits to perceive their own contributions to the abomination is another question.

  4. Supervisor Hughes comment "And, he said, HDC has sold Riverloft to Rob Taylor for a school. “I’m not criticizing the project, but if you’re going by the model of economic development, how does the school become economic development?” Hughes asked. “It won’t generate revenue.” is inaccurate as (1) I believe it is Rob Kalin, not Rob Taylor, and (2) as HDC Chairman Seth Rapport stated "HDC cannot give or sell property to an entity that does not directly support economic development and HDC’s mission to promote job development, job training and industrial and commercial growth."

    Schools, and/or job training, was part of Mr. Kalin's plan for the Riverloft property, and is important to economic development.

    1. It can't be emphasized enough. Thank you Mr. Weckler.

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Unbeknownst to the Riverloft owners, they do seem to have purchased property not owned by any predecessor except the people of the State New York. Welcome to Hudson!

      But are you saying that Riverloft has posted "No Fishing" signs at these previously underwater lands? Did someone cast a fishing line into an empty dirt parking lot? I should think the result of fishing on dry land would be deterrent enough.

    2. Unbeknownst to most land lovers, the high water line passes the area that Riverloft has sequestered for their personal use.
      DEC regulations say that area is to be used, explicitly for fishing access.

      The landgators encroach upon the high water line, ileagally fill it in and move it ever toward the river, just like tricky Ricks road through the south bay.
      Do you suggest different rules for each bay?

    3. I agree with everything you've said, except for the implication that anyone is ever going to attempt river access from Dock Street across from the treatment plant!

      Actually, we should encourage the owner to put "No Fishing" signs in that empty lot, just to get people to think about where the shoreline was in 1785.

      That is your point, I believe, and not that Riverloft is actually barring anyone's access to navigation.

    4. Precisely, your map overly exposes Crawford's crooked land grant map. Their application was for land "formerly" under water but it encompasses land still under water and river banks that regularly flood over the Riverloft lot.

    5. Crawford's incorrect map was even officially adopted by the NYS OGS (as map no. 3233, I believe).

      But whether the land was formerly underwater - or is intermittently still underwater - we mustn't assign evil intentions where no evidence of such exists. Riverloft is guilty of nothing.

      If anything, we might pity them for having purchased land that cannot possibly belong to them.

    6. Ever bought a piece of property that didn't include a title search or an attorney?

    7. Did the CEO of HDC (tricky Rick) advertise it as riverfront property?

    8. That's there problem. You are making it yours.

    9. Incremental environment is the issue.Riverloft's hay bales are clearly past Hudson's only remaining (original) high waterline and blocking access is "a taking".
      Can the possessor of stolen (state) property claim ignorance/innocence?
      Little wonder that parachutes pulled their rip cord.

    10. The hay bales were put there to protect the grass seeds, not anyone's boundary. There's no "taking" in that action.

      The real taking that bothers you is their alleged ownership of those lands at all. I encourage you to challenge that, but not by generating malice where there is none.

      You yourself mistakenly believed that Furgary belonged to private parties before our time. Riverloft is making the same mistake you once made (which we all made).

      So rather than generate and exploit more invidious nonsense, why don't you go and make the case that the land is still state-owned. Go speak to Riverloft, even to warn them about a situation they surely won't know anything about. It happens that I agree with you on the merits, but your approach is unnecessarily malicious.

    11. We'll put you down as a maybe on the class action...

    12. Ha! Funny.

      I just like to have a plan that suits the field, the stochastic approach being an imposition on everyone's nerves.

    13. NOR has been contacted, let the game begin...

  6. My belief is that HDC, knowing they wanted to inject the CLC, was obligated to Promote river use by including landgators and fishermen. Instead, their plan replaces Navigators overall.

    This would require more parking, not less. This was a real estate deal that diminishs river access, where they were obligated to expand interaction.

  7. Far be it from me to upset the delicate sensibilities of politicians who have (with malice of forethought) dis-membered our association.

    The shacks are but a byproduct of the historical use of "free soil beneath Navigable water".

    What's missed most now is access to each other.

    1 Riparian

  8. Far be it from me to upset the delicate sensibilities of politicians who have (with malice of forethought) dis-membered our association.

    The shacks are but a byproduct of the historical use of "free soil beneath Navigable water".

    What's missed most now is access to each other.

    1 Riparian