Saturday, June 23, 2012

What's Planned for the Furgary Site?

In light of the recent court decision about ownership of the land on which the Furgary Boat Club sits and Mayor William Hallenbeck's adamant determination to evict the boat club in 30 days, the question has arisen: What does the City plan do to with that land? Gossips doesn't have the answer to that question, but here is a review of the plans that have been proposed for the site over the years.

The Furgary Boat Club has been in the sights of planners since at least 1996. In that year, the Hudson Vision Plan--a document that was never officially adopted by the City but has been religiously followed for the past sixteen years--proposed "Summer Rentals, Environmental Center & Canoe Launch" for the site occupied by the Furgary Boat Club.

The text of Hudson Vision Plan has this to say about the boat club:
Fugary Parcel There is some debate as to ownership of this parcel of approximately 2 acres. The master plan depicts this area as a site for an environmental/recreational center that would include a small interpretive center, a canoe launching area and a connected to [sic] a network of elevated pathways carefully located in the North Bay wetland area. The proximity of the environmental center to the waste water treatment facility and the former landfill could be an advantage if the treatment of waste could be part of the program at the center.
Hudson's Local Waterfront Revitalization Program builds on the Vision Plan's suggestion for the Furgary parcel. One of the projects proposed in Section IV of the LWRP is the North Bay Recreation Area, which surrounds and possibly also includes the Furgary Boat Club.

This is what the LWRP has to say specifically about the Furgary Boat Club (page 136):
Based upon surveying work and the feasibility study, the North Bay Recreation Area may also include the area known as the Fugary Boat Club. The City must improve public access to and use of this area. For many decades the property has been used by a group of people known as the Fugary Boat Club. The Club has erected seasonal structures on the City's property where the members are able to gain limited access via a viaduct to a small boat basin located on the inland side of the Amtrak railroad. The existing link to the river under the viaduct is extremely limited due to the height of the viaduct. Clearance for canoes and kayaks is only possible during low tide. 
A planned extension of Dock Street could however include improved small-boat launch facilities into North Bay for the general public. The area should also be viewed as a possible "gateway" for the proposed network of pedestrian and bike trails leading to the North Bay wetlands, Charles Williams Park and other recreational facilities.
The Furgary Boat Club is part of the study area in the Columbia Land Conservancy's Master Concept Plan for the North Bay Recreation & Natural Area. In the description of the study area, mention is made of the Furgary Boat Club:
The City also owns a parcel at the extreme southwest limit of the study area where there is a potential water access site adjacent to the CSX railroad tracks. The site is located very near a trestle over the inlet from the Hudson River to the North Bay, which offers access to and from the Hudson River for canoes and kayaks. Seasonal cabins and houseboats in this area currently occupy what is know as the Furgary Boat Club. 
The Concept Plan for the proposed North Bay Recreation & Natural Area shows visitor parking and canoe/kayak access in the vicinity of what is now the Furgary Boat Club.

The Phasing Plan indicates that development of the area that is now the Furgary Boat Club is anticipated to occur in Phases 2 and 3. Each phase in the Master Concept Plan is three years, and implementation hasn't started yet, which means that the development of the Furgary site in this plan is at least four to nine years away.


  1. [A comment in 2 parts:]


    In presenting the idea of a North Bay Recreation Area, the "Concept Master Plan" of the Columbia Land Conservancy (CLC) is a bit incoherent on the subject of Furgary.

    For some reason, the plan's "Recommended Additional Studies" overlooks the likelihood of a SEQRA-recommended "cultural resources survey."

    I say "for some reason," because we find in the CLC's "Resource Inventory and Ecological Assessment of North Bay Recreation Area" a noteworthy recognition and respect for the historical legacy of Furgary. On its final page here is how the inventory describes what it terms the “Little Venice on the Hudson”:

    "North Bay is already a gem, merely in need of some polishing in spots. An ecological assessment of North Bay cannot deny the cental role of its human occupants - their work, cares and concerns. To those who are attuned to its historical and cultural currents, the landscape speakes poignantly about the potential for revival" [sic] .

    Although under SEQRA a cultural resources survey is not a requirement for every project that a municipality may plan - something about which the CLC is surely aware - the state recommends that a lead agency (in this case it will likely be our Common Council) "search available existing public reports and data to determine if any resources are likely to be impacted."

    (See no. 7:

    In fact such records about Furgary do exist, although I have no confidence that anyone in city government has any curiosity to learn about them (thus the bum's rush).

    1. My point, unheimlich, in discussing CLC's plans for the North Bay Recreation & Cultural Area is that whatever is planned that may affect the Furgary Boat Club is years away. Hence there is no need for the City to be in such a hurry to evict them.

    2. I beg pardon Gossips. I should have made it plainer that I was in no way impugning your coverage or correcting your good reporting.

      Your point was not only made well, it is probably clearer than mine!

  2. 2.

    While it's true that the Columbia Land Conservancy's "Phase I" calls for the resolution of property issues, now completed, the failure to do so was never an obstacle to any other part of the plan. This is evident if you look closely at the map from the plan which is the final graphic in the above Gossips's post. (The remainder of this comment intends to explain that map.)

    Yet despite the fact that an unmolested Furgary nowhere impacts the CLC's "Concept Master Plan," the language of Phase II does muddy our understanding of what is down there right now. This goes to the plan's "incoherence" vis-a-vis Furgary, which I mentioned at the beginning of my preceding comment.

    The language of the CLC's Phase II introduces a fallacy about river access at Furgary which people who don't use the city-owned boat slip at Dock Street (as I do) are now perpetuating.

    Please note that the LWRP did not commit this fallacy - at least not in the passage excerpted by Gossips.

    Whereas the LWRP correctly acknowledges AN EXISTING BOAT LAUNCH when calling for "IMPROVED small-boat launch facilities" (emphasis mine), the CLC plan inaccurately calls for the "completion" of a boat launch at the west end of Dock Street (p. 31), in addition to calling for "limited parking facilities."

    The difference in the language is substantial. The LWRP acknowledges an existing boat ramp, and next implies that the city might maintain it. What a great idea which the city could have done at any time, as I've argued in the past. The current ramp may be small, but it's fine for kayaks, canoes and small trailers, and it is separate - even effectively walled off - from Furgary.

    The language of the CLC and of anyone who doesn't use the extant public boat ramp would lead you to think that such a facility does not now exist. It does.

    The same language would lead you to believe that there's currently no public parking at the boat ramp site, when in fact there is limited parking for several vehicles on the uncontested land nearest the tracks.

    And if and when someone does finally acknowledge the existence of that public ramp, there are those who'd have you believe that in using it one would feel they were trespassing against Furgary. But from one who uses it regularly, I hasten to report that it never felt that way to me, and that's because the ramp is walled off from Furgary.

    Admittedly, it might have helped their case if the Furgarians had contributed to the maintenance of the now decrepit surface of the public ramp, but don't let those who were always required to maintain it - the City of Hudson - perpetuate the falsehood that the public ramp doesn't exist. Better yet: go use the facility yourself and help quash what essentially amounts to propaganda.

    Finally, for anyone with an eye to maps, the CLC's "Concept Master Plan" reproduces a detail from the 1888 Beers Atlas depicting the Furgary-to-Fosters area. Along with other maps, the 1888 edition of the Beers Atlas merely repeated what the 1839 map showed in much greater detail (sadly, that's the same 1839 map that city attorneys used to convince the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals that the facts were otherwise). On page 4 please see for yourself that everything south of the the Mill Street extension was within the original purchase of the Proprietors, including the underwater lands beneath today's Furgary. I'm not trying to reargue a lost case, but we should never let any story be re-written by Hudson's usual suspects.