Friday, April 4, 2014

Has That Ship Sailed?

Ever since the Half Moon visited Hudson in 2009, the centerpiece of the Namesake Celebration commemorating the four hundredth anniversary of Henry Hudson's first visit to America, the notion that the City of Hudson might become the home port to the replica of the ship in which Henry Hudson discovered the river that bears his name and sailed on that river to the city that bears his name has been the persistent dream of many in Hudson. 

The idea was first publicly articulated by then mayor Rick Scalera in his speech at the dedication of Henry Hudson Riverfront Park, and it is regularly mentioned whenever waterfront development is discussed. Yesterday, though, when the possibility of Hudson becoming the home port of the Half Moon was brought up by Ellen Thurston on WGXC's Thursday Afternoon Show (Thurston chaired the committee that planned Hudson's Quadricentennial celebration and brought the Half Moon here in 2009), Jennifer Schwartz Berky, a conservation architect and urban planner who is working with Damara Stolfo and Sarah Dibben on the Hudson Praxis project, said matter-of-factly that the Half Moon was going to Troy. 

Troy? Those of us who long to see the replica of Henry Hudson's ship make its home in the namesake city want to know: Is this true? And, if it is, when, how, and why was this decided?


  1. Might there be a 'Trojan Horse" process afoot?

  2. For a thought experiment, try posing the How and Why questions after removing "The Spirit of Hudson" from the equation (and now by association, "The Tahiti Queen" too).

    If our city dock wasn't already spoken for, might the story have turned out differently?

    When he was mayor, Mr. Scalera stuck his neck out for The Spirit's owner, first by illegally issuing a contract for the dock (§C12-23: "The Common Council shall have exclusive power to lease to property belonging to the City"), and then by procuring public funds to provide a berth exclusively for The Spirit, a private enterprise.

    The owner of The Spirit took whatever the mayor was willing to give him, including an emergency appointment as "Harbor Master" by Mayor Scalera. That was in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene, though a mayor has no authority for creating emergency offices, let alone the officers to man them. Unsurprisingly, the mayor's emergency "Harbor Master" turned out to be a belligerent, and there was trouble.

    But a third party in the shoddy history of our city docks was the Common Council itself.

    After the first five-year lease which was issued unilaterally - and illegally - by the mayor, The Spirit of Hudson operated from the city dock for three summers with no lease at all, not even a fake one!

    The Common Council was indifferent.

    Then, late in 2011, the council voted to award The Spirit's owner, Mr. Falkenheimer, with his first legal lease. The council also appointed him Dock Master and Harbor Master, making this business owner's dominant and dominating position on our waterfront legal at last.

    Since then, Mr. Falkenheimer has serially exceeded the limits of his lease, with little complaint from anyone. He doesn't even comply with the minimal requirements of his Dock Master appointment (he only keeps the key to his own dock).

    For anyone wishing to figure out how Hudson's waterfront was less than interesting for the operators of the Half Moon, perhaps we should begin by unpacking the first story first. It's nothing less than a disgrace.

    1. ... Not that the Common Council's leasing arrangement at the City Dock is consistent with state law, at least not in the way the business owner actually conducts himself on public property.

      But until people complain, actual practice means little compared with ideality and general principles.

      Sadly, if there's one thing our representatives can count on it's the general passivity of Hudson residents, made worse by the inexplicable disengagement of successive generations.

  3. I recently sent an email to the Mayor, Don Moore and the City attorney. I made mention that they should try to secure the HM to be based on the waterfront if they could. I also mentioned that I also have a new (old) boat, and as a licensed USCG captain, would like to offer charters. This is the boat, I got an initial response from Don Moore, who shared that he "questions the legality of the deal with SOH." But, I support Guy and SOH. He was there when no one else wanted to be, and it'a good win/win. As for the exclusivity of the deal, I am not in favor of that. I asked if I could have 35' of the SOH dock. Or the end of one of the finger docks (by adding a T). I added that I am more than willing to pay, and will even offer some free cruises and workshops, and participate with Sloop Club. I have yet to get a response. But, I am still looking for a good slip to operate from. What goes better with B&B than a lovely old sailboat?

    1. I'm sure the city would be happy to give you the middle finger dock.

      I'm less certain that someone's having been somewhere "when no one else wanted to be" is a recommendation for an illegal arrangement.

      But don't you think that if the Common Council really wanted to find out whether its leasing of public lands to private businesses was legal that they'd have done so after two and a half years?

      Letters to our legislators should be addressed to the entire council, and then submitted to the City Clerk to be entered into the record. Otherwise it's as if they never existed, so don't hold your breath for more replies.

      After any request is in the record, I suggest you approach the council and ask why someone with a demonstrable stake in the community - even better if you're a Hudson resident - cannot have the same berth enjoyed last summer by the Tahiti Queen, a second paddle-tub from Peekskill.

      Seriously neighbors, what was our arrangement with a second business at the waterfront? Was there a contract? Was rent exchanged? Was it a special favor among the old boys? Was Falkenheimer who is a non-resident helping out another non-resident friend, but at Hudson's expense? And did the Common Council play dumb about the Tahiti Queen too?

      Why should we be nice when we're continually being played for suckers?

      Anyway, your boat "Teja" would be a welcome addition to the waterfront; she's proportionate and handsome. I wouldn't hold your breath though.

  4. I'm such a lucky man. No I am a fool. To think that in my lifetime, 63 years, that someday I will see a Hudson waterfront with docks for boaters (non-club members) to come to shore, spend time in Hudson, maybe a night or a weekend, have a place to dine, relax, refuel , etc. So now I have a multi-million dollar water front park with a gazebo & gravel lots. Lucky me. I guess the saying "there's no fool like an old fool" is now a truism for me & many other Hudsonians.
    Well at least the Native Americans welcomed Hudson & his mates when they sailed into Hudson.

  5. Middle finger dock? Good one...
    Only a fool would use their money if the King can snatch it back.
    Were just stuck paying the "Moore tax" for less use.

    1. The public restrooms at the waterfront are a good case in point. They cost a half a million bucks in the end - I believe all of it federal - as a boondoggle gift to Hudson from that lout Sweeney.

      Since there was "free" money being thrown around, why would anyone have stopped and thought first that our DPW wouldn't be able to sustain maintenance of the facility? (And I'm not arguing the DPW should be able to; I don't know if that would be true.)

      But was Mayor Scalera really so shocked when the bathrooms were vandalized and had to be closed? Give me a break! You could have set your watch to their destruction.

      Now - because there was money that had to be spent on a plan (from the Athens generating plant deal) - the Columbia Land Conservancy has come up with a design for an observation tower in the North Bay, evidently to be made of wood. But does anybody WHO LIVES HERE believe that this tower will be an improvement to the bay once it's graffitied and destroyed.

      Just don't think of people's actual behavior though; always stay focused on the money.

      At least with freebies like those restrooms, you can always just leave them locked after our fool government lavishes a half million building them.

  6. I understand and sympathize with the aforementioned points of view. What is being demonstrated on the waterfront in Hudson is pure favoritism. It is unfair to say the least. Furgary should have been given a chance to be inclusive. And, the entire waterfront should be inclusive too. Teja will seek out other dockage - somewhere hopefully where controversy and unfair politics do not rule. Having thought about it, it is too hard to see Furgary go and a "for profit" business benefit. Then, there's the PB Assoc - In a word, ridiculous. Band together people of Hudson and good luck. It is a fight you can win.

    1. We could win better with Teja's help. Just sayin' ...

    2. There would be room for everybody if the (pre)historical use of shoreline, Navigation were employed, rather than new land use.

  7. Wharf: place where people Navigate, freely and easily, from land to water,
    Columbia county has many parks but very few ports..
    Increase the number of wharves and increase the free flow of Navigation.
    Make room for the HM & Teja!

  8. I am willing to get as involved as people want and help where I can. I put it to the people of Hudson to take back their waterfront - that there should be no favoritism, and that anyone there should pay market rate ($30 to $45 per foot) for the season. I also want to see Furgary, in one form or another brought back; as it was but inclusive, and perhaps even with a village of shops. Teja would be willing to pay said rate, but only once the taxpayers of Hudson get access (and return) financial or otherwise without any question to the legality of deals. Clearly, SOH is a monopoly and paying way to little for what they earn every season. The PB Assoc sends a wrong message. That is all I can say on the subject, except that it's up to the people of Hudson.

  9. would like to help bring this message to those on the Hudson Community Board FB page, but I have been put on a time out from HCB (Liv Carrow) for supposedly placing too many commercial posts on the site. It is pure hogwash, and just another sign of a small town power grab. In the past couple of months, I listed our local home for sale, I made two mentions that our charter boat is seeking a home port, and I otherwise wished everyone a happy (hard earned Spring). Hardly, too many posts. We currently live and work in the Hudson Valley, and the FL Keys.

  10. You've got my support Tortillaville, but I don't see much in the way of self-determination among Hudson residents, an impression that's shared by our betters in City Hall. (Is the problem too many young people?)

    The North Dock Tin Boat Association was quite a rarity, actually contesting the city in court. Yet though they lost fair and square, there's no reason other than resentment that the city shouldn't try and come to some other arrangement.

    For the record, the three HPBA properties are privately owned. There's no point in generating our own resentment about that, although one might second-guess the vision of the HDC for originally selling them the largest parcel. The deed records that that sale was for $1.00.

    1. ...states can never lawfully “abdicate” their “general control” over “lands under navigable waters,” because “such abdication is not consistent with the exercise of that trust which requires the government of the state to preserve such waters for the use of the public.” (1)

      - See more at:

      So slick rick takes off his hat as mayor, puts on a HDC T-Shirt and all's right on the waterfront?

      PB doesn't own the state launch but controls it entirely. They also attach their floats to land beneath Navigable water, lands for public use.

      Finally, unlike the PB, a handful of tin boat Navigators made (safe) use possible for hundreds of county small craft fisherman and hunters.

      1 Riparian

  11. It is because the Hudson sophisticates, and otherwise people in power, (all good people), are not avid boaters, and as yet, do not fully appreciate a) what they have and b) what sort of shenanigans are taking dollars from their coffers, and tax roll. The Tin Boat Assoc were the boaters of Hudson. No one currently in power (politically or monetarily) is tuned into the river and what monies it can generate. The Dunn warehouse should be a brewery/restaurant that also has a boathouse and historical information about the river. The aquarium is great except for the expense. The upkeep of an aquarium is extremely costly. A little village of cedar shake shops along with a brewery / restaurant found be so sweet. Ideally, the Half Moon would agree to be based there (because there is no sailing north of Hudson on the river.) Then, comes the hotel. Just my humble opinion.