In October, a resolution to raze the Furgary shacks was introduced in the Common Council but never voted on. Instead it was decided that a "small working group," made up of the mayor, Common Council president Don Moore, and aldermen Nick Haddad (First Ward), Bart Delaney (Fifth Ward), Abdus Miah and Tiffany Garriga (Second Ward), would take the next sixty days to investigate "what might be done down there." Many more than sixty days have passed, and, until last night, there had been no public word on what the findings had been.
A few weeks ago, at a Hudson FORWARD meeting, someone asked, "What ever happened with the Furgary?" Tiffany Martin Hamilton, an advocate for the legendary fishing settlement, answered by saying that the City wanted someone to select structures to be saved, but the historic significance of the place was not individual structures. Rather it was the location and the traditional use of the site.
Haddad, who was part of the working group tasked to figure out what to do with the Furgary, said there was no plan to preserve any of the shacks "because no one has selected the shacks to be saved." He asserted that Linda Mackey, the representative from the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) who had visited the site in October, had determined there was "nothing worth saving." Hamilton disagreed, claiming that, from her conversations with Mackey, "there were some possibilities" of significance, based on the "tradition of use of the area."
Last night, at the informal Common Council meeting, the Furgary Boat Club came up for the first time in a long time. Council president Moore introduced the topic by explaining that "the mayor wants the Council to move ahead on a resolution about the Furgary." The resolution in question would allocate $5,000 to do an environmental assessment of the seventeen shacks to determine "what process is needed to remove them." The resolution, Moore explained, was still in draft form but would be ready for the regular Council meeting on May 19.
Always watchful of the municipal bottom line, city treasurer Heather Campbell asked if the City had the ability to identify the owners of the shacks and make them pay for the demolition. City attorney Carl Whitbeck noted that the City did not own the property when the shacks were built. Alderman John Friedman (Third Ward) suggested that, whether the State of New York or the City of Hudson owned the land when the shacks were built, the builders had "created a nuisance on public property." Whitbeck advised that it would be "way more expensive and very dysfunctional to try to hold shack owners responsible."
When the discussion turned to the historic significance of the shacks and the site, I offered the information I had learned that morning from Kathy Howe at SHPO. Moore said that he had never been told this by SHPO and was of the opinion that the State had no interest in the site. He then returned the discussion to the proposed resolution, telling the aldermen, "If we do not wish to demolish the shacks and want to put them to some other purpose, we should not pursue this."
Finally, Alderman Rick Rector (First Ward) suggested that if there was interest in keeping one of the shacks to be used as a kiosk or public facility or for kayak rental, the task of selecting the building and creating a budget for its restoration should be taken up by the Common Council Economic Development Committee. It was then agreed that the Council would go ahead with the environmental assessment of the shacks.
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