Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Time Is Running Out

Mayor William Hallenbeck has set the date for evicting the Furgary Boat Club (a.k.a. the North Dock Tin Boat Association): Monday, July 16. Someone who met with the mayor recently to plead for a stay of execution reported that Hallenbeck said the eviction would go forward as scheduled despite petitions and public outcry opposing the action. If Hallenbeck is turning a deaf ear to his constituents, you have to wonder who he is listening to.

The Furgary Boat Club is planning an open house on Saturday, July 7, from 1 to 4 p.m. You can access the online petition by clicking here.


  1. Our civic officials probably figure that the former Furgary site would make a dandy gravel dump for O & G Industries. Or perhaps a toxic sludge processing plant. Or maybe some more subsidized housing...

  2. Why does this remind of what Hudson just did with the CCClub - now a vacant lot ?!

  3. How are these people earning a living?

    Pretty much all I have the energy to care about anymore is whether or not I'll be forced to support another unemployed citizen with my exponentially increasing taxes each year.

    Do these people hold jobs? Do they pay taxes? If they don't pay taxes.... Get hem to start!

    We can't handle the tax load on our own!!! It is getting out of control!

  4. Benjammin--People don't actually live at the Furgary Boat Club. These are fishing shacks, weekend cabins. People spend the day there and then go home.

  5. But, to answer Benjammin's question: no, they've never paid taxes on the property. This is, however, a different question than should the shacks be preserved or otherwise saved for their cultural/historic value. It's likely a mistake to conflate the 2 issues. It has always been the Club's argument, as I understand it, that they were squatting and acquired ownership rights through adverse possession. This argument was hamstrung from the start though: legally, no one can claim adverse possession against a sovereign (either NYS when it owned the land or the City of Hudson post-transfer); second, the most compelling adverse possession argument is that the arguer has paid the property taxes on the parcel(s) at issue while the title holder didn't. Since the Club never did . . . of course they would have had a hard time if they tried: when the State owned the land it was exempt (as it always is) from locally-imposed property taxes, and when the City acquired title it, too, was exempt. Kind of a catch-22 for the Club.

  6. There are two considerations here.

    The ousting of the Furgarians is one thing, what will become of their cabins is another.

    When I asked the Director of the State Bureau of Technical Services to list the options as he saw them, he answered as if I was born yesterday:

    "This is a Home Rule state," meaning that if concerned citizens don't directly pursue their own interests through local government then the agents of those municipalities will do as they please.

    It now 2012, not 2004. I've heard lots - too much in fact - about citizens' successes before I arrived in Hudson. But in the short 6 years I've been here it's been abundantly clear that citizens themselves are the principle positive reinforcers for the city's Executive and its departments to do as they please. That's one advantage power has over hollow calls for transparency, but it's the only lesson that matters faced with a citizenry that does little more than complain.

    So what is the Mayor's plan for the site, Furgary's buildings and infrastructure?

    Do you to think you have a right to know?

    (Hint: you should find out this week, not later.)

  7. Alderman John, if they'd had a crystal ball and knew in advance how the courts would find on the Proprietor's original purchase (and I still say the courts were wrong if I could only share the maps with anyone), the camp would have stood a better chance to incorporate itself as a village on state land. Well, that's water under the trestle now.

    But as to the sensitive tax issue, the Furgarians had put forward a tax proposal in 1992. The deal the Furgarians were looking for was a quitclaim deed specifically in return for being placed on the tax rolls.

    Whether or not the deal was a lot to ask, a 20-year old dialogue on the terms of establishing the payment of taxes is a matter of record, and was initiated by the Furgarians themselves.

    The city responded to the offer by drawing up a lease which looks eminently reasonable from this distance (at least it does to me). Unfortunately the negotiations fizzled following the death of Mayor Allen in 1993.

    As a traditional shad fishery camp, the sale of fresh shad and prepared shad, and of live herring (as bait), were the mainstay of the Furgary economy.

    Currently there is a non-profit located there; "The North Dock Tin Boat Association" is not identical with "Furgary."



  8. It appears that there are "fishing shacks" with electric power & meters installed by a licensed power company; Nat'l Grid or previously Niagara Mohawk.
    Is there also a water & sewage line to the Fugary Boat Club? If so does that mean that the City of Hudson recognizes individual ownership of shacks?
    Did a licensed electrician inspect & approve the power installation for the City of Hudson? Likewise a licensed plumber.

  9. The question that might be asked at this point is less whether the Furgary has some absolute legal right to be there (which presupposes an adversarial attitude from a City government looking to remove it). Rather, the question is whether it is in Hudson's better interest to keep the Furgarians there, avoid a needless confrontation, and work out a way to accomplish whatever the City's other goals are for North Bay, and address any liability issues.

    If one visits the Club, one quickly sees the value of keeping them in place -- and not only for its heritage and character and value to the occupants. An equally important and maybe even more crucial value is their presence as guardians of the area. How many kids have been saved from drowning thanks to their presence? How much illegal dumping would have occurred without them standing in the way? What kind of criminal activity might that isolated spot attract, if it were unoccupied? What other land management tasks would the City have been responsible for, had the Furgarians not cared for and monitored the site?

    And: Who is going to pay for all those services that the Tin Boat Association has provided for free for decades, if they're cleared out?

    At minimum, the City would need a whole lot more policing to keep that area safe, if the Furgary's eyes are taken off the embayment, the river, and the North Bay marshes.


  10. tmdonofrio, with the exception of one or two cabins, these are indeed authentic fishing shacks, many surviving from the days of the extensive Hudson River shad fishery.

    The camp harkens back to a previous time and culture that's all but gone. It's authentic Americana, and I'm proud to say I feel at home there. One photo I'd love to share is from the late 1950s, and shows the once vital, retail side of Furgary. Signs read "Shad Just Caught."

    National Grid goes to separate shacks and individual accounts. Last year our former Mayor announced in the Register Star that the power was being stolen from the utility, which was untrue and unfair. It turned many people against the camp, and the harm from that one statement lives on.

    As for water and sewage, nothing has changed since the Columbia County Department of Health issued the following statement after inspecting the premises:

    "There is no water service to any of the cabins. Several of the cabin owners were present at the time of the inspection and allowed us entry. Underneath the cabins confirmed that none were connected to any source of water. Since there is no water service to any of the cabins, significant waste water discharges to the wetlands or the bay from these structures could not exist."

    Thus, no plumber was ever required.

    A licensed electrician installed all of the panel boxes that I've seen at Furgary. I can't vouch for the specifics in the code, but they look good.

    I posted above about former failed agreements 'tween Furgary and the city that included the subject of taxes. So while it's true the Furgarians could have tried harder, it's also true that things are rarely as straightforward as advertised.

    1. Love to use the "Shad for Sale" photo in a documentary video I am preparing on the subject.

  11. I would love to get some photos before this piece of history disappears, but I am away for the open house. Do you think it would be appropriate for me to go there sometime during the week to take photos, or is there someone I should ask first?

  12. If you wander down and say hello to anyone you meet at Furgary you'll find that you're warmly received on any day of the week.

    So many of the photos I've seen at the Facebook page are beautiful artworks, and by a host of photographers. The photos have really made a difference. More, please!