Wednesday, May 21, 2014

What They Said: Part 4

On the final topic, conservation, the Hofstra Law students who spent the spring semester studying Hudson's charter suggested the City consider amending the charter to:
  • Formalize the City's commitment to the conservation of the Hudson River and its surrounding ecosystem.
  • Establish a Conservation Advisory Council.
On the second recommendation, the City is already well on its way. Last night, the Common Council unanimously approved two local laws amending the city charter and the code to create a Conservation Advisory Council, whose members will be chosen by the Common Council.

Exploring the idea that the health of the river is linked to the health of the surrounding land, the discussion touched on combined sewer overflows (CSOs), general municipal runoff, which goes directly into the river, and replacing impervious surface with green infrastructure. In their investigations, the Hofstra Law students uncovered an interesting bit of Hudson history. The 1856 charter addressed the topic of planting trees in the city, suggesting that a hundred and fifty years ago, the city fathers recognized the benefits of trees in an urban environment.

Windle Davis asked about South Bay and the impacts of the road through South Bay used exclusively for hauling gravel. The response was that the effects of a road through a wetland extended well beyond fifteen meters from the road and included noise impacts on birds and wildlife. Linda Mussmann, who chaired the LWRP Advisory Steering Committee in 2006-2007, when work on the City's current LWRP began, objected that the road through South Bay had been there for decades--more than a century, if you count the time it was the rail bed for Fred Jones's railroad to the quarry. She was told that just because the road is there and has been there doesn't mean it doesn't have negative impacts and shouldn't be eliminated.

If you are curious to know more of what the Hofstra Law students had to say, Victor Mendolia and Debora Gilbert are talking about it right now on @Issue on WGXC. You can listen at 90.7 FM or online. The written report from the Hofstra Law students will be available in a couple of weeks, and it is promised that it will be available to the public.


  1. 10 short years ago there was a path through the South Bay where the old rail tracks had been. Now as if by magic that path is a road. Soon as if by magic there will be a two lane road that um of was always there

    1. It's a crying shame there are no known photos down the length of the causeway anytime between the 1950s and 1990s.

      My own photos begin in 2010, a year before the road was resurfaced and first widened.

      Of course the new road is now routinely widened, which flies in the face of all the nonsense Cheryl Roberts promised us during the waterfront program's environmental impact statement.

      For what it's worth Windle, this incremental widening is being carefully documented.

      Thank you for keeping the conversation going.

    2. "Of course the new road is now routinely widened"...The filling of our city's unique bight begins with trails made for land-gators...

  2. I look forward to seeing the report itself, but anything is welcome which might raise our awareness that we're surrounded by - indeed, embedded in - the natural world!

    Welcome then to Hudson's new Conservation Advisory Council (CAC), which I think of as a kind of librarian's reference desk for questions which effect, and are effected by, our natural surroundings.

    A CAC is not really designed to be an advocacy body, but to be able to provide correct and accurate information for all. In the past, we've sometimes had to rely on the unqualified environmental insights of politicians, and even on their off-the-cuff legal opinions! Perhaps they were accurate in their views after all, but now everyone can expect some assurance of corroboration from Hudson's own CAC in dialogue with other county CACs.

    I'm amazed that the discussion with Hofstra touched on the Combined Sewer Overflow issue (CSO). Considering that this subject gets next to no coverage, this was certainly unexpected!

    Do my neighbors realize that between 2003 and 2009 Hudson completed its EPA-required "control plan" for its CSO without required public participation? I'll repeat that: the federal government REQUIRES public participation throughout these plan's developments, yet Hudson had its plan approved by the state without any public awareness whatsoever.

    (This wasn't through lack of trying; consider the multiple requests for green filtration infrastructure in the public comments on the LWRP.)

    So where can you learn more about the state's breach of federal policy concerning Hudson's CSO?


    Case in point: in 2006 the DEC came down hard on the city for a small sewer disaster generated by the Hudson Fabrics plant and the city's failure to mention that there was such an industry using the city's sewer system. There was a sizable fine imposed, and directions to repair the deficiencies of our system and our reporting on it which were to comply with a state schedule that we would repeatedly fail.

    None of the above was ever mentioned in The Register Star, our newspaper of record, not once.

    The paper was then under different leadership, but back then the public could never trust whether such lapses were due to the usual negligence or to some understanding between the "Old Boys."

    Ms. Mussmann certainly manipulates history and circumstances to suit her own agenda. Is her description of the causeway "road" the legal one, the historical one, or the actual one today? To her the answer is situational, depending on its utility. Welcome to Mussmannian postmodernism, where bad faith is good faith as long as it serves your own argument.

  3. "Formalize the City's commitment to the conservation of the Hudson River and its surrounding ecosystem".

    Will Hudson give equal effort to conservation to land beneath Navigable water as they do to land above?

    1. Believe it or not, that will be part of it for certain, Joe.

  4. From the DEC webpage:"Since 1935, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has worked with private landowners to ensure access to prime fishing waters. During that time, more than 1,300 miles of public fishing rights (PFR) easements have been purchased on more than 400 streams across the state. PFRs are permanent easements purchased by the DEC from private landowners, giving sportsman right-of-way access to fish and walk along the bank. Fishing rights also allow the public to park in designated parking areas and to access the stream via marked footpaths. Please note: the DEC has only purchased rights for the public to fish along a stream corridor, not the land itself. The land where PFR exists remains in private ownership".

    Why would this city sell riverfront property and allow private owners to block public access when the DEC's mission is to ensure access?

    1. That's a rhetorical question, right? (Heh!)

    2. If there isn't room for us and them, isn't the City of Hudson obligated to serve (justice) just us?

      1 Riparian

    3. "Why would this city sell riverfront property"

      The City cannot sell riverfront property once it takes title, nor does it have any ambition to do so. It would help your case immeasurably if you had a basic grasp of the facts.

    4. Power boat, Lone Star Riverloft? Not a dollar's worth of difference between HPBA and the fsherman's wharf at North dock.
      My argument has always been use.

    5. Yes, lots of people make the mistake of conflating the HDC with "the city," which is an easy mistake to make considering that the city created the corporation.

      On the other hand, the HCDPA is certainly a governmental agency.

      And considering the similar or same directorship and board members of both corporations both past and present, the shenanigans that have always passed in this town for "business as usual" may continue today for all the general public knows.

      A general suspicion that may well have been accurate once conflates and conflated these agencies because the agencies themselves conflated the agencies!

      So while technically speaking the HDC has nothing to do with city government, in practice that may not always have been true.

      Some people who've seen what they believed were unsavory deals concerning the HDC don't easily relinquish their long memories.

      For example, the HDC sold much of the riverfront to the Power Boat Association in 1984, and several of the officials involved in that deal are still in local government today. The city uses the same lawyer who oversaw that deal!

      Was it sold fair and square? Sure, why not, even at its sale price of one dollar.

      Except that the price provided on the deed ($1.00) doesn't match the claims of previous HPBA member who maintain that they actually payed in the thousands for it. But who did they pay, and what was the real deal?

      Since it's the same people involved then and now, and since both agencies continue to struggle with their public relations, I think we can forgive a little bit of lingering suspicion and conflation here and there.

      Actually, unless and until Hudson government becomes a lot more transparent, I'm going to let my own suspicions linger too.

    6. And since we're on the topic, the same city attorney whom we continue to employ and who oversaw the 1984 sale of HDC-owned land to the HPBA (below the Promenade) also oversaw the illegitimate sale of city-owned property to Holcim at the south end of its riverfront yard. It remains to be seen whether the land was literally on the waterfront, or just land within a few feet of the river.

      Who can answer for the city's "ambitions"? I'd just like to find out if this same attorney who oversaw the 1984 sale of land to the HPBA also managed the sale of city-owned riverfront land to the HPBA at the bottom of Ferry Street. That sale was also illegitimate, and has since been nullified.

      However, continuing issues with the latter "ferry slip" parcel are a particular theme of Mr. Gallo's, and should not be dismissed lightly. Although the HPBA has a minor claim to block river access from this city-owned launch, Mr. Gallo is entirely in the right, just as Victor Mendolia was on the same issue during his mayoral campaign.

      I don't believe the HPBA will end up having to abandon its docking system, but anyone can understand the resentment over the double-standard, especially from the Furgarians and the NDTBA. None of it is right, and the city's stamp is evident in all of it.

    7. Tim, I appreciate your sense of history, and while history can generally inform a sense of future actions, this persistent yawn about the North Bay being sold to CLC is just plain stupid.

    8. Dave, I definitely agree with you.

      Not only do I agree, but I've said the same thing in reply since the first moment I ever heard the ridiculous, conspiratorial charge that the CLC (or more accurately OSI) was even interested in possessing the North Bay.

      However, I took Mr. Gallo's meaning to be more general above.

      Perhaps he didn't mention the CLC because he knew I'd refute the idea? On the other hand, perhaps Mr, Gallo didn't mention the CLC because he was talking about something else (the mention of Riverloft notwithstanding).

      I took his words at face value, and I know that, broadly speaking, there are many people besides myself who feel their agreement with him is valid. I gave my reasons above, and I'd just LOVE to hear someone refute that history. Bring it, anyone!

    9. HCDPA, HDC and city of Hudson all use federal funds and predicated the sale to Riverloft and transfer to CLC on eliminating the tin boat association and their historical use.

    10. Now mapmaker, history quiz, who was HDC head when HPBA took possession of their second helping of city shore and were they ever dock master at Power boat?

      Been watching these sly puppies since 95.

    11. "The snake's in the garden"

  5. Municipal property laundering, silent auctions, back room deals restricting public use. Besides no possessor can (legally) block river access.

    Our turtles hatched here and everybody knows, riparian turtles return...

  6. Wasn't tricky Ricks duty as mayor to not sell?

  7. One business eliminating another is competition, when three collaborate to eliminate one, it's restraint of trade.

    Riddle me this Mr Marston, why did the governor change the Industrial developers into Economic development agencies?

  8. The following is what we already have in the LWRP, and what would that disingenuous commitment have accomplished if it had been authorized? Perhaps a fig leaf?

    "Formalize the City's commitment to the conservation of the Hudson River and its surrounding ecosystem."

  9. If there isn't room for the new wealthy, eliminate the poor from shore.

    One needn't own a boat to fish from shore.

  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Okay, so now we get to rehash this too. What a waste of time, but here goes.

      The CLC is only a manager for those sections of the North Bay - mostly 2nd bay - which are owned by the Open Space Institute.

      I know of no restrictions placed on anyone's use of those bays and underwater lands except for the standard regulations promulgated by the State of New York and the US Army Corps of Engineers.

      Geez, give the CLC and OSI at least a little credit for not attempting to do what some have supposed for years they might do at any minute.

      They haven't restricted anyone's water activities here and they won't because they can't, and for the very reasons you keep laying out.

      But they also wouldn't, which goes right to the heart of your objection.

      Did the tribute to Furgary in their biological assessment mean nothing to you? I call that ingratitude, especially when faced with so many truly deserving targets.

    2. "I know of no restrictions placed on anyone's use of those bays and underwater lands except for the standard regulations promulgated by the State of New York and the US Army Corps of Engineers".

      Guess it all comes down to where you draw the high water line.

      ACE doesn't allow any private use of land under water, except in the case of stewardship...

      The wharf at North dock is closed because the city removed the (volunteer) stewards, not CLC. Mr Marston inferred that.

      Just trying show the city has two faces and (at least) two lawyers prepared to tell any lie when it comes to the use of "our" shore

      Two years have passed and four slips at North dock remain unused. The empty docks at Rick's Point are are a testament to the City's lack of know how needed keep people flowing.

      Now they want the responsibility of maintaining the CLC's trails? Who pays for that?

      1 Riparian

    3. Now you're making a totally different argument, and one that I agree with.

      But the shifting back and forth looking for some advantage to grind the same axe is a turn-off for people.

      Focus on the city's wrongs instead, which are plentiful and mostly ignored.

      So yeah, "who pays for that?"

      The federal government bought the toilets at the waterfront park, but who pays for the mess and destruction when the boondoggle doors are left unlocked?

      Now that's the right axe to grind.

    4. With all due respect master map maker, ours is a double bladed ax.

      The city has dismembered our not for profit association of (citizen) tin boat fishermen.

      If my associates can't peacefully meet where the fish are, in the only place where one can wade into water, who can?

      1 Riparian

  11. Like any animal, even the "stupid" inner city folk recognize when they're being further entrapped.

    The shacks are but by-products of the (pre) historic use of the wharf as an age old place for people to meet and slip into the Lady Faithful...

    A velvet rope should take the place of Hallenbeck's fence...

    1. Captain Everett had a permanent parking space at North Dock as eldest and the king of North Dock is now a politican.

    2. Tim would call it local vernacular, the locals, respect.