Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Furgary Through Time

We've often heard that the Furgary Boat Club has a long history on the shore of North Bay. That history was the basis for the North Dock Tin Boat Association's adverse possession lawsuit. Recently, a reader brought these details from Hudson Sanborn maps to Gossips' attention. The maps show the evolution of the Furgary Boat Club from 1889, when the buildings on the site are identified as "Fish Market," to 1949, when the buildings are identified, as they are on the maps for 1911 and 1923, as "Boat Houses."

Detail from Sanborn map for 1889

Detail from Sanborn map for 1911

Detail from the Sanborn map for 1923

Detail from Sanborn map for 1949


  1. Because of the BOA program I've been seeking out and finding people with memories of Hudson's waterfront in the 1930s. (Does everyone know about the BOA program yet?)

    These 90-year olds have never heard of "Furgary," but always called the boat houses "the shacks."

    (I did some polling, and it was agreed by all that the term "shanty" was disparaging. It did however bring to mind a "hobo village" that formerly stood on the shores of the South Bay in the West Creek, near to where the WWII plane crashed. Two old timers agreed: "those hobos never gave anyone any trouble.")

    It seems that everyone back then had "a shack," or was connected with someone who did.

    Among the names recalled:

    Johnny Malinowsky, Browny Nunnimaker, Benny Drabeneke, Augy Olman, Johnny Krisakenis (a.k.a Kenas), Frank Roetina, Bud Krafte, the Swintock family, the Rowens, the Pladelaskys, and so on.

    I see that the arrangement of cabins stayed relatively stable in the first half of the 20th century. I wonder how they match up with today's configuration? (Recall that some of the old cabins have been moved from their original positions.)

    To see a "fish market" at Furgary in 1889 is just amazing. It corroborates the old timer's accounts that when they were kids the camp had already been there since time out of mind.

    In the '90s they'd have sold fresh-caught shad and sturgeon (a.k.a. "Albany beef").

    A photograph shows that it remained a fish market with a retail outlet into the 1960s, but of course shad gill netting continued right up to the moratorium two years ago, and during the time that our LWRP was being prepared (needless to say there was no acknowledgement from that quarter).

    One old couple described the common sight of the fish cart out of North Dock making its rounds through the lower half of the city. A hawker blew on a special horn while a second man administered the fishy bits.

    Hudson's history begins at the waterfront.

  2. Frustrating river access during hunting and fishing season,from mid November through mid May, when no one else is using it is inane. It is an abuse of power, an overreach and a perversion of the public use doctrine.
    1 Riparian

  3. 1.

    Suggested bumper sticker:

    "Hudson's LWRP is a Gentrification Machine."

    In fact, representatives of Furgary took part in the LWRP workshops in January 2007, and were even invited guests to Linda Mussman's sham interviews involving the famous "47 stakeholders." (Incredibly, the current BOA program cites these two examples of "public participation" as direct evidence of its own public outreach record! It's nearly a scandal, yet nobody flinches.)

    The Furgarian's LWRP input was ignored, even though the issues they raised should have been incorporated during the drafting and application of the state's coastal management policies to Hudson's circumstances. It was these contents that were central to the LWRP, and not any silly planning items which may never come to pass.

    The Furgarians shared a common dilemma with the South Bay ecologists. The only way to defend our interests in the Final LWRP was to bring an Article 78 legal challenge against the Common Council through the State Environmental Quality Review Act.

    Never forget that the council's way of including the public was to steamroll it.

  4. 2.

    After Friday's Gossips piece titled "Selling Off the Assets," Alderman Friedman expressed his exasperation that people tend to wait for someone else to "start the process." He advised people to come to the Common Council meetings to make their interests and ideas known.

    But on October 18th the Furgarians did exactly that, and they were tricked.

    For an actual example of what comes from speaking before the Economic Development Committee, the Furgarians had the same results as they did when they took part in the LWRP.

    To quote from Gossips' account:

    "The committee expressed some concern about the cabins' ability to survive the winter. At one point, Furgarian Dennis Malloy volunteered the Furgarians to "shore up the cabins so they can make it through the winter." Pointing out that they knew what needed to be done, he said they would be willing to do it at no cost to the City. This led Friedman to suggest that there might be a way to "work out some kind of stewardship agreement" with the North Dock Tin Boat Association. This led to talk of insurance and liability ..."

    After Dennis corrected the notion that the Furgarians were now anything other than "just a bunch of guys," the aldermen discussed the liability issues until most of the assembled committee members were agreeable to Dennis' suggestion, including the Chairman Mr. Moore.

    Within days we signed releases which took care of the liability problem (the CCCA provided their own releases the day the artists visited Furgary).

    Now inside of Furgary for the first time in months, we began shoring things up for winter. The mayor's aide Gene Shetsky proved himself a most agreeable companion.

    So with liability was no longer an issue, and the people who understand the old cabins best volunteering to shore them up against neglect while keeping the grounds clean, why did Mayor Hallenbeck and Common Council President Moore renege last week on this agreeable solution?

    By what convoluted personal chemistry do individual politicians who are allegedly obsessed only with liability issues first learn to solve the problem; then next invite the hands-on participation of an eager public; and finally abolish all reference to the option with no further explanation?

    There can only be one explanation. Mr. Hallenbeck and Mr. Moore desire the Furgary cabins to fall down on their own.

    A physicist once told me that for him the ultimate sin was to contribute to the amount of entropy in the universe, to which all wrongdoing ultimately contributes. The actions of individuals who have reversed themselves on this small Furgary issue - even after their obsessive liability issue was solved - are entirely inconsistent with a historical sensibility.

    Do the individual aldermen on the Economic Development Committee who were agreeable to the nascent stewardship arrangement know that their own suggestions were first engaged, then suddenly reversed with no further consideration? I'll wager that they do not.

  5. HDC the City of Hudson Inc and (most likely the Land Conservancy) have worked in concert to eliminate NDTBA INC. They obstruct the free flow interstate, intrastate and international trade. "To prevent trusts from creating restraints on trade or commerce" Ive appealed to City leaders on the level of a citizen to no avail. Keeping poor fishermen from "air and light", fore shame! They should prepare now for a business war.
    1 Riparian


  6. Thank you, Carole, for providing these maps. True, the shacks at the north dock have a long, amazing history. I was so encouraged at the recent meeting of the EDC - it was the first time I sensed a genuine desire from some city officials to preserve some of the structures and include a couple of folks from the Furgary in discussions regarding the future of the entire north bay. The offer of FREE help from some Furgarians to help prep the shacks for winter seemed to be well-received provided liability waivers were signed.

    The hope I felt only a few short weeks ago quickly disappeared when the mayor's aide delivered the message from the mayor and the common council president that the Furgarians' free assistance, offered up last week again in Sandy's wake, would not be accepted. Of course if makes PERFECT sense that a city strapped for cash would turn down the offer of free labor and repairs with no liability. Instead, I now clearly see the likely outcome that the city will simply let the shacks rot so that demolition will be required for reasons of "safety" and "liability."

    To those we dutifully elected and put our trust in, remember that people ARE paying attention. We've seen Hudson brazenly destroy significant bits and pieces of the city's history in the past and we're tired of the act now and make pathetic excuses later tactics we've too often seen employed. We're watching...we're vocal...we vote.

    The north dock tells countless stories of generations of Hudson's fisherman, of willing stewards of the bay and the river, of families who loved and cared for a strip of land in which - until just a few years ago - no one but them showed any interest. City of Hudson, EMBRACE and protect the history and significance of the north dock! Do the RIGHT THING!

  7. Right on, Tiffany.

    Probably nobody got through my long-winded comment above, but at the end I suggested that the aldermen themselves may not have been apprised of this reneging.

    The Furgarians are not unique in their interest. The landscape painters who visited Furgary in October had also signed liability waivers, or "releases," which the CCCA had provided on its own.

    Why did the mayor and the council president suddenly and quietly change their minds after letting the public see how generous they were regarding the trial "stewardship" proposal?

    Neither of my aldermen in the 1st Ward are members of the Economic Development Committee, and so they weren't privy to the encouraging discussion in which the Furgarians took part at the last EDC meeting.

    It's almost as if Mr. Moore wasn't there either, although at the time he was among the most encouraging voices!

    If your alderman attended the last meeting of the EDC, please ask them what has transpired to cause the about-face?

    Judging from this one experience, these council and committee meetings are a total sham. Why would the public attend these meetings only to be subjected to such cynical treatment?

    Wait, I know the answer: they don't.

  8. Strictly speaking, the decision to let the Furgary buildings collapse is no longer contained as a "ministerial" action of the mayor.

    The mayor's decision of ministerial neglect is actually the first action towards the creation of the North Bay Recreational and Natural Area.

    The co-decision of Messrs. Hallenbeck and Moore, as was presented to me by the Mayor's office, illustrates a factual over-lapping of responsibilities now taking place between the executive and legislative branches of city government

    In time, these leaders' intention to commit what amounts to municipal vandalism will become less and less attached to the mayor, and more evidently and properly belonging among the duties and concerns of the council.

    Not only has he reneged on his fair treatment of the Furgarians, Mr. Moore was careful to say at the Economic Development Committee meeting that the city wasn't committed to the Columbia Land Conservancy's "Master Concept Plan" for the city's North Bay.

    But at the subsequent BOA hearing, I revisited Mr. Moore's words as a warning to the city's BOA presenters who were "all in" with the conservancy plan. I paraphrased Moore's noncommittal tone about the plan at the previous EDC meeting, adding that the BOA committee had better take care not to over-commit to a plan the city wasn't at all sure about.

    Mr. Moore who serves on the BOA Steering Committee was visibly annoyed. The city's grant-writer then suggested that ours was a side-discussion, which might be discussed elsewhere. I contradicted the suggestion, telling him that the conservancy plan for the North Bay, whether people liked the plan or not, was a central feature of the BOA application.

    That was the moment when Mr. Moore publicly committed the Common Council - and the City of Hudson - to the conservancy Concept Master Plan, and thus a Rubicon was crossed.

    So now it is a matter for the council to decide. The over-lapping of executive and legislative responsibilities is increasingly on the side of the council.

    The moment that Mr. Moore reversed himself on the council's commitment to the conservancy's Concept Master Plan, something which he was undoubtedly hoping would remain in the Economic Development Committee became the concern of the entire council.

    A decision to let the cabins fall apart is the first phase of a whole action, which the State Environmental Quality Review Act instructs us must not be "segmented" from the rest of the plan.

    And when it comes time to implement a plan for North Bay, the Common Council will invariably serve as the SEQRA Lead Agency in the environmental review. At that point the mayor's responsibility should have passed entirely to the council, although that's not what happened with the LWRP during the tenures of our previous, extremely timid councils.

  9. Update:

    Even aldermen who serve on the Economic Development Committee were not aware that the mayor and Mr. Moore had reversed their positions since the EDC meeting.

    A meeting which all agreed was productive, and which left all parties with a feeling of progress and mutual respect, has come to nothing.

    I'm grateful to Gossips for providing the opportunity to air this evident derangement of the usual City Hall monologue (if that's not too redundant).

    In the meantime, calling all historically-minded people of Hudson (!?) .... damned crickets again! I guess I'll never figure some folks, but I'll still say hello.