Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Mayor's Memo

At last week's Common Council Legal Committee meeting, assistant city attorney Dan Tuczinski presented a memo from Mayor William Hallenbeck, which was addressed to him, as legal counsel to the committee, but was intended for all the members. This intention was stated in the opening paragraph:
I have before you matters to address at the upcoming legal committee meeting. There are various matters and concerns the legal committee representing the Council should be aware of and in some cases cause for action. The Mayor would like to report the following.
Because the memo was a communication to the Legal Committee, Gossips was able to get a copy of it. Six issues are addressed in the memo, but two of them are of particular interest. The first of these two has to do with dogs and the cemetery. The following is quoted from the memo:
The legal committee and Council should be aware that the Public Works Commissioner [James Folz] and I have met several times in producing a new Rules and Regulation booklet in the cemetery. While this book is still being revised and is not complete, this would allow after great deliberation and discussion between the commissioner and I a section allowing dogs to enter the Cemetery with their owner, on a leash, on the pavement only, without walking on the grass. All rules and laws of clean up under sections currently provided for public streets in the code would be enforced.
The second issue of particular interest in the memo is this one:
Fugary: Over the last year or so there has been much discussion as to who is the authority in the next stage at the Fugary (Tin Boat Association) with this City owned property. While Common Council president Moore and previous City Attorneys have implied that the Mayor has the discretion, I think we can all agree that planning is crucial in opening the land owned by the City of Hudson for public access. The Mayor has provided the Council with a letter more than 15 months ago requesting the Council provide to the Mayor a plan for phasing out the fugary for future consideration. To date it is my belief that the council agrees that a few of the "Shacks" should be saved for Historical consideration and that the land should be cleared and open for recreation to the residents of the City. Structural integrity of the shacks, and the health and safety of our residents become even more of a concern in this area each and every day.
So I am requesting that the legal committee within 30 days representing the council and working with the members of the common council come up with a viable and agreeable plan for this area and present it to the Mayor who will decide on an immediate time table for action at the fugary.
Presumably the thirty-day period during which the Legal Committee is to come up with a plan started last Wednesday, July 30, when the memo, although undated, was presented. The next meeting of the Legal Committee is scheduled for August 27.


  1. I will be the first one running with my dog on the paved parts in the cemetery. We miss it greatly.

  2. Two very important issues that need attention.

  3. Positive steps! I commend the mayor for acknowledging these issues, and for showing flexibility and willingness to move toward solutions that are workable for everyone in the community.

  4. This is very good news! Cedar Park is such a beautiful place. I look forward to walking there with Augie!

  5. This makes me and Max HAPPY! Exactly what should have been discussed in the first place, and I so hope to see it happen!

  6. Yes! Thank you mayor. This sounds like a great compromise.

  7. If they have not already done so, the Council and the Mayor should look at the extensive study of the North Bay done by the Columbia Land Conservancy, and involve the Land Conservancy in any discussion of what is to be done with the Furgary area. I believe the Conservancy wants to involve the community as the plan moves forward.

    And...IMHO, a good outcome cannot be achieved within 30 days.

  8. 1.

    In the space of 30 days a bad outcome is guaranteed.

    For its part, the Columbia Land Conservancy's "Concept Master Plan" didn't take the North Bay's legally protected fauna and flora into account, examples of which reside where the bay meets the river.

    The efforts of residents to educate self-important conservancy staff were largely ignored (pertinent data collected by people who actually live here), but the conservancy workers are convinced they know what's best for us.

    What might strike some as being worse than the ecological ignorance of the conservancy is its failure to call for safety feasibility studies for the planned boating facility at the Furgary site.

    The arrogance is astounding that someone might barge ahead and redesign an area about which they obviously know very little. In this case, the scoping phase of the conservancy's Concept Master Plan was conducted by a worthy outfit from Pennsylvania who made all of two site visits to Hudson.

    I doubt that there are many in City Hall with any familiarity about the tides and the treacheries beneath the North Bay trestle, yet these will be the same individuals making all the decisions concerning the North Bay plans. (The Legal Committee - sheesh!)

    Nor does the Concept Master Plan consider water quality in the North Bay, which is a health issue.

    Where the conservancy might have done some good this year by weighing in on the city's obscene proposal to increase the volume of untreated street runoff flowing directly into the North Bay, the conservancy is not known for taking a stand and being confrontational. Rather than the difficult work of advocacy, the conservancy has found a role providing cover for town boards and common councils, a relatively safe niche.

    Speaking of health and safety, did these self-wonderful planners ever think to include the HPD's outlook on whether these plans are wise from the standpoint of illicit behavior, and whether the force can expand its monitoring to these attractive new areas? The same type of plan was implemented in Lansingbergh (Troy), but the Uncle Sam Bike Trail was soon taken over by a frightening element. No one goes there anymore who's concerned for their safety.

    These are the things I've wanted to say for years, but who would listen?

    If the conservancy really wanted to involve the public before now, it had ample opportunities to do so in more than 5 years of planning for the North Bay. Multiple attempts to meet on-site with conservancy staff have failed just this year, which has subsequently generated an inquiry (ongoing) into the terms of the funding for the Concept Master Plan.

    It's unfortunate, but the Columbia Land Conservancy was never interested in public input.

    For a County Supervisor (above) who knows the history of this place to state that the conservancy "wants to involve the community," only makes my argument that the conservancy thrives in a mediocre niche which ultimately provides cover for bad elements in government, of which there are many (though I do not mean this particular supervisor). The idea that the conservancy wants to involve the public is contradicted by the evidence. It is parroted from the pages of The Register Star, which quotes the conservancy's self-portrait at face value.

  9. 2.

    And while there's apparently very little general interest in Hudson in local ecology, and a dwindling supply of informed skepticism among Hudson residents (way to go self-styled Progressives!), the North Bay is too rare an ecological treasure to risk being transformed into a faux-eco theme park by planners who don't know the place. Please don't let all these self-appointed amateurs mismanage the North Bay as well (several key players being the same individuals who ignored the public and then screwed the South Bay).

    It's just beyond me why the conservancy has refused to meet with members of the public unless local officials are also present. That's either naive or controlling, neither option being very complementary.

    To the City of Hudson which will invariably exclude the public in deciding which Furgary shacks should remain and why, I'll repeat something which previously caught Cheryl Roberts by surprise, and which she subsequently had confirmed:

    1. The State of New York requires a freshwater wetlands permit before any action that would remove any the Furgary shacks;

    2. A New York State-Threatened species of arrowhead (Sagittaria montevidensis var. spongiosa) resides everywhere at the base of the old Furgary site, and will become the subject of the granting of the required permit.

    Naturally the self-appointed experts at the Columbia Land Conservancy know nothing of these things, which is why I say to the conservancy, please stay away. And while you're at it, you might want to re-think what it is you believe you do, because in my view you're hypocrites.

    Do not attempt further planning in the North Bay unless conservancy staff members personally pay taxes in the City of Hudson. And if the latter is the case, then stand with your neighbors and ask why the people most knowledgeable about the bay were purposely excluded by the foolish planners at the Columbia Land Conservancy?

    1. All great points Unheimlic, that I am afraid will go unheeded.Since you have covered the plight of the ecology there ,the health and safety issues of North Bay are paramount.
      As Mr.Gallo would say "the landgators" have no idea with what they are dealing with.They are still looking at that leftover fantasy drawing from that discarded, rotting LWRP.,that doesn't provide the true reek of the sewer plant,,when the wind shifts.
      The contamination of that area from it's surroundings, requires a Phase II ESA, from a real & reputable Environmental Engineering firm, NOT from Hudson or Columbia County for that matter,due to continued conflict of interests.CLC can't pretend what an environmental disaster,has been left in this area.
      The very citizens ,who should be consulted from an ecological/environmental expertise of the our Riverfront and the citizens with generations of experience ,in the secret beauty,& tricky and treacherous North Bay,( the ones that were evicted ,locked out),and both these categories are treated with disdain, by some self imagined upper caste of local people in temporary power . Tossing out knowledge/experience, for ignorance, egos and petty power, is inexcusable dangerous ,expensive and destructive, but
      remains the status quo around these parts.

    2. My understanding is that CLC does not do maintenance and will leave that duty to the city.

      Mr. Perry doesn't need more tasks, Ron Gaylord and Chief Moore don't have the man hours and Mr. Hallenbeck is trying to move forward without increasing taxes.

      There's room for everybody without increasing cost or liability. But, that would require everyone working together.

      The city should have started this conversation by asking how to increase use rather than replace users...


    3. For what it's worth, the EPA is finally taking a look at the city's unwise sewer plans for the North Bay which were evidently entirely designed by our non-engineer DPW Supervisor.

      Unfortunately, the attention of the federal government (especially that agency!) probably shouldn't add to anyone's confidence.

      Nor should we put much stock in what the DEC can manage. The Region 4 permitting office is "under new management" so to speak, and there's little evidence that anything has improved there.

      Finally, add into the picture the Columbia Land Conservancy working with local government and we get a vague idea of the knot of new master (mis-)managers.

      There's so much arrogance, poor planning, and bad faith, but that's just who we are now. These agencies have no fear of working in the shadows.

      Actually, no one remembers there can be anything else, so we make our little donations towards big troubles we can do nothing about (e.g., Bakken oil), do nothing on behalf of local environmental issues where we have the most power (North and South Bays), and then tell ourselves happy stories when people who don't even live here plan out our fates.

      But is it the same everywhere? How can we have ruined ourselves like this, believing all the while that we represented progress?

      We're pathetic children drunk on the unfounded sense of our own wonderfulness. There's hell in a handbasket for ya!

    4. Just so, Joe!

      We should also be talking about the projected burden of this plan for the HPD.

      For some reason the conservancy didn't heed all the advice of the Pennsylvania outfit that scoped out the Master Concept Plan. Where the initial plans did not call for an observation tower at the water's edge, the conservancy staff added this feature.

      This tower, which the conservancy envisions will have permanently mounted optical equipment (!), will be a magnet for bad people. It will be carved with graffiti from head to toe.

      Currently the North Bay is unattractive to vandals and bad elements (if you don't count the municipality itself), but the planned "improvements" will surely change all that. Again, look what happened in a similar situation along the river in north Troy, where no one with any sense visits the Uncle Sam Bike Trail.

      Almost all of the Concept Master Plan's photos of the North Bay were taken in winter, and nowhere does the plan convey the currently creepy feeling of walking a hallway at the base of the landfill between the hill face and the tall stands of Phragmites.

      This green hallway will be the only approach to the planned observation tower, but the conservancy's single idea to mitigate the problem is its general commitment for someone else to combat the Phragmites!

      Back to the real world, the extirpation of Phragmites - which is what it will take - is not yet achievable anywhere. But rather than look at the true complexity of the kinds of issues which locals and local taxpayers are best suited to consider, the conservancy papers over an invariable crime scene by virtue of its remaining dreamy and vague.

      This is totally unacceptable. Even now the conservancy's name should be identified with the inevitable problems some of us are trying to warn them about. Promises of public involvement notwithstanding, what else will make them pay attention?

      I want details in the present as to how the HPD envisions itself protecting residents at what will likely become a dangerous place to walk.

  10. (Second try -- if it's a duplicate please ignore.)

    CLC refused to come out publicly against SLC plant no matter how often they were asked. Didn't want to ruffle feathers -- wanted to "work behind the scenes". Dutchess Land Conservancy by contrast was way out front. CLC was pathetic.

    -- Jock Spivy

  11. thanks Mr. mayor. There are those who will oppose anything that you can think of, merely because, well, you thought of it, but I say thank you and congratulations to coming up with a compromise!