Tuesday, April 5, 2016

More Waterfront News

Yesterday, Mayor Tiffany Martin Hamilton announced the re-formation of the Waterfront Advisory Steering Committee, tasked with aiding the City in overseeing the redevelopment of the waterfront. Today, she announced a meeting to take place on May 1, which will bring together the new WASC, the Columbia Land Conservancy, and the community to discuss an often overlooked part of the waterfront, the North Bay and the now abandoned Furgary Boat Club.

The mayor's press release follows:
Mayor Tiffany Martin Hamilton today announced she will host a public conversation about the future of the North Bay. The meeting will be on Sunday, May 1, at 1 p.m., outdoors near the corner of Front and Dock streets.
Hudson's waterfront is a precious resource, with potential for economic development, recreation and conservation. Mayor Hamilton is committed to its revitalization. The May 1 meeting will bring together representatives of the City's new Waterfront Advisory Steering Committee (WASC), the Columbia Land Conservancy (CLC), and other community groups for an exchange of ideas for the North Bay area.
Discussion will include how to utilize the former Furgary Boat Club; ways to open access to the river for kayaking and fishing; the CLC's concept for the North Bay Recreation and Natural Area; and other concerns and proposals for this part of the city.
Following a brief presentation by the Mayor, the event will have an outdoor "open house" format. People will be able to circulate and speak informally with representatives of CLC, WASC, and other groups.
"Right now, the North Bay area is underutilized," said Mayor Hamilton. "But it represents an enormous opportunity for the city. I hope everyone who shares my passion for our waterfront will bring their ideas and energy to help us create a jewel of conservation and low-impact recreational use."


  1. If we don't see North Bay in the context of the entire waterfront, then we have no business making decisions which impact the watery element(als) in any part of the whole.

    A holistic approach to waterfront planning must include the publicly-owned shoreline south of the waterfront park. For the time being, that entire coast is merely occupied by A. Colarusso and Son, Inc., but that won't always be the case.

    Short of getting the occupiers to retreat (North Bay's shantytown was forced to retreat from an identical occupation [note the double standard]), nevertheless, we must plan decades in advance for the whole waterfront, well beyond the incorrect and dismembered image we have of it today.

    That means setting out with the understanding that the entire riverfront - with the exception of the HPBA properties - is public land. From that perspective, we will whittle our expectations to what's achievable in the present, and what will be achievable later on.

    Staggering the overall plan reveals potential actions which were otherwise unthinkable to us. For example, a negotiation to reach a land use compromise with the current occupiers ought to be initiated sooner rather than later.

    (Surely the company didn't invest without knowing what the previous owners knew, so this necessary conversation is already further along than anyone realizes. Unknown to anyone in City government, the State is already working on this problem.)

    Staggering the plan also puts our immediate ideas about the North Bay in a different light. North Bay is an ecological jewel worthy of our most strenuous protections.

    So, inasmuch as a trade-off is at hand, why would anyone with any vision increase the pressure on North Bay simply to alleviate the self-created burdens of A. Colarusso and Son, Inc.?

    The first waterfront plan saddled us with the limitations of its autocratic authors. Now that their failure is behind us, we finally have an opportunity to think more broadly, and to think for ourselves.

  2. It is a very welcome development that the Mayor has staked out Hudson's precious Waterfront for a serious community focus. As a port that once drew 200 ships a week to Hudson, it is our past. But as the picture of the new dock renovations and park make clear, it is also our future. This initiative is sooo important.

  3. The potential impact of rising sea levels as a result of global warming should be discussed. High tide could be several feet higher by 2010. It is not inconceivable that the entire waterfront could be under several feet of water within our generation or the next generation.

    1. The new Scenic Hudson sea-level rise map agrees with the old FEMA insurance map, that the 500-year flood would return Hudson's shore to roughly the same position it held in 1609.

      It's better to be specific about these things, because then we see that Hudson's not a very useful candidate for panicking about sea-level rise.

  4. Today's Register-Star article on the newly appointed waterfront panel begins well, with Mr. Mason characterization of the mayor's desire to study "the best way to develop - or preserve - North Bay." (The two ends are not necessarily harmonious.)

    But as we read on, the distinction disappears, when the mayor speaks of "underutilization" of a resource, and "a unique opportunity to develop [it]." Why is the development and/or preservation question already being answered?

    I don't believe that Mayor Martin-Hamilton has made up her mind one way or the other, but we must all be careful not to let our language do our thinking for us.

    Is it even "our" language? Nearly all of our current thinking about the waterfront is taken directly from the failed waterfront program (LWRP), which was developed between 2007-2011 by people who've left the scene. Aside from its authors, I don't know anyone who believes the public had much input into that document. It was written FOR the public, by self-regarding management types whose pompous efforts ended in failure.

    So when the current mayor speaks of "work on the current LWRP" (meaning the failed one), I'm wary of hearing another subliminal answer to a question no one's yet asked. The usefulness of the old LWRP in the hands of the previously excluded public is yet to be determined.

    It would be tempting for someone whose single goal is an approved LWRP to claim that there's much about the failed LWRP that's worth preserving. I surely don't know the mayor's thoughts on the matter, but there are plenty of people in local government who think this way (none of them otherwise involved, in any meaningful way, with the waterfront).

    So please, let's not assume what's useful about the old LWRP until taking a second look. Let's not front-load the work of the new committee before it's even convened.

    My own approach to waterfront planning would draw upon "A Pattern language," by Christopher Alexander, et al. But it's possible that any holistic approach to the waterfront will be at odds with the linear, rigid thinking which produced the last LWRP.

    We can do a whole lot better.

  5. Here's a link to the New York State Sea Level Rise Task Force report. It might be worth reading before the meeting on May 1.

    1. That is useful, thanks.

      As I said above, this is less pressing for Hudson than it will be for other tidal communities.

      In Hudson, it actually makes more sense to restore our wetlands than it does to write them off.

    2. Given the severity of flooding that has occurred in the past and that is going to occur in the future, it might be a waste of money and time to renovate the Dunn building at the riverfront park. It's in a significant floodplain. It could be used to store kayaks and small boats that could be moved to high ground in the event of flooding. Other than that, let it be.

    3. An actual instance of severe flooding - during and immediately after Hurricane Irene - had the Dunn building above the flood at all times. That was when the flood waters reached the CSX tracks and crested the South Bay causeway.

      We've already made concrete observations of the Dunn building during a very serious flood, so there's no guesswork.

    4. The fact that floodwaters reached the CSX tracks is cause for concern. The Amtrak station is a critical part of Hudson's infrastructure. Any plan for the waterfront should examine how to protect the train station and the train tracks from damage and disruption caused by rising sea levels. Regarding the Dunn building, what happened during prior floods is irrelevant. What is happening today is unprecedented. Perhaps the Dunn building should remain unchanged to serve as a monument to our generation's failure to solve the problem of global warming.

    5. As a"high water mark" state, New York controls all the submersible land along the shore of the Hudson, up to the ball of the rail on the HHRR line.

      Any deed that mentions "to the center of the channel" falsely transfers to the holder, property held in trust, which belongs to the people of New York.

    6. CSX is on its own, jkhunka. Isn't that always its message to us, and to every municipality in the nation on which its interests touch? (Incidentally, what was that ungodly maintenance noise from the train yard which woke us this morning?)

      One day the earth will be consumed by an expanding sun, which will alleviate our current climate concerns. Come to think of it, why do anything anymore? Thanks for the religious conversion.

  6. The fate of the Lady Faithful is now placed in the hands of a faithful lady.

    In the best of all possible worlds, all is for the best...

  7. Speaking of global warming, Cornell University Cooperative Extension Service of Columbia and Greene Counties is offering a workshop on the topic "Vegetable Gardening in the Time of Climate Change" on April 16. Here's a link for more information...

    1. Thank you for another useful link.

      It is vexing, though, that you avoid addressing my site-specific replies to your general statements.

      Why do you expect Hudson residents to sacrifice other priorities to come to the aid of CSX and Amtrak?

      Why do you insist that a "prior" flood from 2011 is "irrelevant," as opposed to whatever is supposedly "happening today"?

      I repeat that Hudson is not a good candidate for advertising what may very well turn out to be gradual sea-level rise.

      I understand the value (for you) of the whole bandwagon thing, but you'd do well to slow down and consider what you're ready to sacrifice for the sake of CSX, or when you're erecting monuments for causes which may be more appropriate elsewhere.

  8. Here's a link to an article published today about how sea level rise threatens U.S. historic sites. It is a growing problem.

  9. This conference is taking place at the Newport Restoration Foundation this week. It's unfortunate no one from Hudson went to the conference...

    "Keeping History Above Water will be one of the first national conversations to focus on the increasing and varied risks posed by sea level rise to historic coastal communities and their built environments. This is not a conference about climate change, but about what preservationists, engineers, city planners, legislators, insurers, historic home owners and other decision makers need to know about climate change—sea level rise in particular—and what can be done to protect historic buildings, landscapes and neighborhoods from the increasing threat of inundation."