Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Future of the Furgary

It's been almost two years since the State Historical Preservation Office determined that the Furgary Boat Club, a.k.a. The Shacks, a.k.a. Shantytown, was eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. Since then the arduous journey from eligibility to actually being listed has been somewhat stymied by a lack of commitment on the part of city government. (SHPO doesn't like to pursue National Register designations when the property owner doesn't support the effort, and in this case, the property owner is the City of Hudson.) But things may be changing.

Gossips learned recently that Bill Krattinger, the staff member from the National Register Unit of SHPO assigned to Columbia County, will be visiting the site of the Furgary Boat Club on Thursday, July 6. Krattinger has some good history with Hudson. He wrote the successful and highly praised National Historic Landmark nomination for the Dr. Oliver Bronson House and helped get 400 State Street individually listed in the National Register of Historic Places back when the Hudson Area Library owned the building. The Furgary Boat Club, however, presents unique challenges, since it isn't your garden variety historic site.

Following his visit to the site, Krattinger will meet with the mayor and members of the Common Council to discuss state and national historic designation for the Furgary site. That workshop/ informational session will take place at 4 p.m. on Thursday, July 6, at City Hall. 


  1. One can only hope Mr Krattinger will consider the continuous historical use of the property, "shacks" notwithstanding.

    1. He'll not only consider it, but SHPO makes both historical and ongoing uses part of its evaluation of "cultural landscapes."

      For me the most exciting part of the evolving field of "cultural resource management " is that it's an APPLIED discipline. It's not just about studying and preserving artifacts, but also discerning and fostering the integrity, completeness, and continuity of living systems too.

      For instance, SHPO's 2013 "Cultural Landscape Initiative" included in its example of maritime cultural landscapes everything from the natural world itself (from wave actions to local colors), to oral history, stories, fishing techniques, local navigation, artifacts ... everything.

      These are the kinds of things the SHPO official was alluding to this week when he said he'd need to see "some pretty strong context."

      That's why it's the height of absurdity and even arrogance to suppose that the usual parade of City grandees, several of whom openly resent the North Dock experience, are the best spokesmen to lead the State official on a site visit.

      What would they know about "context"? The problem is, we're not the ones throwing the party.

      But I have to say I'm glad you don't seem to care about the shacks themselves. That means some of us can focus on the threatened structures, while others can convey the value of threatened traditions. To increase our chances of success, naturally it would be foolhardy to separate these things.

    2. Columbia County Fisherflok didn't gather at north dock 150 years ago out of malice. Neither was it by design. They will forever gather there by default. And it's Still the least expensive way to promote and protect the place.

      Denigrating the historical users hasn't changed that.

  2. 1.

    To what extent, and when, can the public begin its repairs to the shacks which are necessary after years of municipal neglect? Or has American government finally vanquished every last inclination to voluntarism and public initiatives? For now on, public participation is for window dressing only.

    As far as I can tell, though, these are matters of local "Home Rule," nor does SHPO require that it only meet with City officials during the upcoming site visit. Instead, local government will settle things on our behalves, even those questions which are essentially cultural in nature.

    This is why I worry that among the privileged few to meet privately with SHPO in two weeks time, we'll find some of the same officials who previously expressed an irrational determination to demolish the shacks.

    But they did more than express themselves: on May 19, 2015, the Common Council passed unanimously Resolution No. 9, "in order to accomplish the removal of sixteen dilapidated structures without delay and to study the feasibility of retaining one such structure."

    Of the Aldermen and other City officials who were then so enthusiastic to demolish the shacks, none of them expressed any concern or interest over the fact that the site was currently undergoing a review by SHPO.

    These are same individuals who are ultimately responsible for the municipal vandalism visited on the shacks ever since their eligibility for federal listing was announced in July 2015.

    Those who attempted to accomplish a "demolition by neglect" which their otherwise successful Resolution failed to achieve will now be leading SHPO on a tour of a site they despise. There they will enjoy the private ear of the State official as all "evaluate" the site.

  3. 2.

    But unsupervised by their employers - which is to say taxpaying residents - these same local officials will sympathetically shake their collective heads in sorrow at the site's present condition. With no one else present whose ears are trained to Hudson's unique brand of municipal doublespeak, they will regretfully admit to the SHPO official that no amount of money thrown at the highest-paid contractor can possibly save what really doesn't amount to much anyway.

    As SHPO acknowledged this week, "there is going to have to be some pretty strong context and discerning analysis of physical features" to consider the site for actual listing. In that case, who better to lead the site tour than some of the same people who openly expressed their ignorance and hostility towards Shantytown only two years ago:

    SHPO is not traveling to Hudson to tell us what to do with the site. The State will make recommendations, but it's also coming to listen.

    The question is, who will have the inside track? Will it be the ignorant and previously hostile officials who plan to visit the site alone with SHPO, and there shape the State's expectations about the site's alleged worthlessness?

    Will those who care for Shantytown as a historic maritime resource have their voices reduced to window dressing by the same local officials who deliberately put the shacks at risk?

  4. Vernacular architecture: concerned with domestic and functional rather than monumental buildings.

    If the property doesn't function, its form doesn't matter. Call it Shantytown or call it an orange, it functions best as a Fisherflok's wharf.


    1. See my reply to you earlier.

      To say a resource must be this way or that before it can have a value is to make the same mistake in reverse which you hoped SHPO wouldn't make in your first comment above.

      Nobody can possibly guess what you expect should happen after your intrepid court challenge was lost fair and square.

      A few of us, though, are proposing that one shack in particular - a very healthy one - be reserved exclusively for a potential lease agreement, perhaps for a boat rental business or sport-fishing operation. The unwritten local understanding would be that it stands in wait for any former denizen of the shacks enterprising enough to launch such a business.

      When former City attorney Cheryl Roberts stated that leasing out a shack would be an impossibility, sometimes I think you were the only person she fooled.

      After the land and life was lost (at the Appellate Division even!), I can only think of sticking to the idea we're suggesting above. Why not support the effort or else suggest something different.

      I like the things you write, generally speaking, but from time to time it would be constructive to actually propose something. Now would be a helpful time to start doing that.

    2. Just one year ago we were told by the mayor of Shantytown, "Furgary is no more and you guys are out." Why would we support it now?

      Ok I'll help out, if you plan on using a building that someone else built, install a good sprinkler system.

    3. You mean to say you'd burn it down.

      But because the State's highest court rightly judged that you should get NOTHING,* wouldn't it be a coup to make a reasonable proposal and end up with something tangible instead?

      *Thank our City proprietor Cotton Gelston.

    4. You assign motives that do not exist. I have no connection to the shack that you desire.

    5. It's hard to interpret vague threats, but now you assign a motive that doesn't exist: a personal desire to possess other people's shacks.

      As you always say, and rightly so, everyone was a "steward" down there. When I spoke with a 90-year old about his memories from the 1930s, he seemed to agree with that idea, although he had no idea what "Furgary" meant, nor had he heard any of the usual surnames associated with the camp in the 21st century.

      In other words, he exhibited none of the monotonous entitlements we encounter in Gossips comments.

      I invite you to do something, and to propose something, which keeps that man's traditions alive, and is less limited to your own personal part of the story.

      I think a lot of people would like you to do that for them, perhaps many people who are no longer with us - people who wouldn't recognize either of us anyway.

  5. Your protest are falling on deaf ears. The SHACKS are not on the new-bees grand view of" Hudson on the Hudson. 'The Shacks were a hoval for the local Poor White Trash , which has no place in " Our Town " The City Fathers are all about progress, Climate change , and getting arrested people out of Police station at 3AM. Demanding no charges be filed when you CROTCH KICK A COP..

    1. Well, well,well...we'll have to put together a pity party for first warders without second homes.

  6. Seven years ago, the City of Hudson, it's mayor and development corporation conspired to resrtain interstate trade.

    At the same time mayor Rick was telling county Fisherflok they had nothing to fear, he was laundering the Parachute property through HDC, puffing it as riverfront property. Taxpayer betrayal numbers one and two.

    Removing city Fisherflok at gunpoint, public trust betrayal number three.

    When the Propritors found Hudson for "navigation of the deep," they ment water, not enmity.

    Conspiracy to restrict trade by a "development corporation" should be a criminal offense.

    Columbia Littoral Conservancy Inc

    1. Let's say that's all true (you've conveniently forgotten the judgement of New York's highest court); it is certainly true enough. So now what?

      Why not PROPOSE something reasonable?!

      Because you've never tried that, it's a certainty you've minimized your chances of still coming away with something.

      But why am I appealing to your selfishness? What about the river folk who've come before us, or those not born yet? If you're truly the "steward" you keep saying we were down there, then you have an obligation to the shacks that goes beyond your personal story, and your personal sense of loss.

      As a conservationist principle, that's opposite to entitlement thinking. So why not reject the latter and take up the spirit of stewardship by PROPOSING something.

  7. PROPOSAL: Zero cost to taxpayers, zero liability, zero policing, people flowing through freely and safely, to and from shore.

    If you would like to stabilize the shacks and make the place safe, restore the historic use of countywide citizen synergy...

    Worked for 150 years until hard times and desperate mayors tried to sell the peoples' property.

    1. I said "reasonable" - as in the real world - not utopian fantasies.

      A real proposal includes taxes, liabilities, and the inevitable need for the HPD from time to time.

      It's ironic you always make it sound like anyone with an interest in history is the one pressing dried flowers. Your wistfulness has created a shantytown that never was, a petrified figment which refuses to move forward.

      Please, a real proposal.

    2. After five years it's obvious the city can't manage the place, they should be made give it back to the people of the state, so the county's littoral society can once again flow freely.

    3. The City can't be "made" to give the land back to the State of New York, not in any universe except the bizzaro one.

      Yes, the City has wasted years as the shacks have continued to deteriorate, but there are two things you're overlooking, both of which undermine the soundness of your comment.

      1. The City is finally engaging the only entity which can shape the parameters going forward, NYS SHPO. Let's remember that lesson of wasted time, but move forward now that there's movement. (I had some small part in this and I noticed that you did not.)

      2. The harbor itself was never in disuse, though you talk like the river was taken away. Not os. Several of the former occupants of the shacks have installed docks which float on the navigable waters of the U.S. All that was really required to do this was a phone call to the US Army Corps of Engineers (re: mooring poles), and then find someone to install them. Acting alone, me and DM did all of this for everyone back in 2012, though I don't remember you helping at all.

      I'm always happy to see you using those docks, but it's because of that that it's inaccurate for you to say that people and boats don't flow.

      You want the flow and not the shacks, though when it's pointed out that you actually have some flow there, then you start complaining about the shacks again.

    4. The most common activities which are exempt from the requirement to obtain a Protection of Waters Permit for a Dock and Mooring Facility are:

      The seasonal replacement or reinstallation of floating docks and other structures, exceeding the thresholds for regulated activities, which legally existed prior to May 4, 1993 or for which a permit was previously obtained.

    5. That's a total non-answer to all my comments and questions for you.

      Are you sure you're not a politician at heart? You've sure twisted everything around like a politician would, and provided no reasonable answers.

      Why not propose something reasonable?

    6. 8. State and local restrictions on use of navigable rivers have to be legitimately related to enhancing public trust value, not reducing it. Rivers cannot be closed or partially closed to appease adjacent landowners, or to appease people who want to dedicate the river to fishing only, or to make life easier for local law enforcement agencies.

  8. Proposal; free and fair competition without corrupt development agency interference.

    You seem to think that because county Fisherflok were removed from the shacks they have no standing on the shore of a federal waterway.

    With the City's title comes the responsibility to promote "Navigation to the fullest extent possible, for fishing, commerce and recreation."

    The data is back, five years after eliminating the traditional stewards, there are higher costs, (Don Moore's grant tax needed to maintain the place) less use and fewer users.

    If north dock is declared a historic fishing village, then demeaning the (pre)historical stewards in order to degrade the historical site should/will be actionable.

    1. 1. After losing your court challenge, "free and fair competition" at North Dock must take place in the context of a leasing or licensing agreement with the City. There's no other way.

      2. You seem to think that when county Fisherfolk actually have and use river access at North Bay, they can still say to a judge that they're denied access. Go ahead and try claiming that ...

      3. The City has promoted navigation by opening up the slip (though I still use the railroad-owned slip which was only closed down for an hour or two in 2012). "To the fullest extent possible" must take the site's liabilities into account which the City is finally doing. If it's not fast enough for you - and it wasn't for me - then that's a different subject.

      4. Oh course there are "higher costs" in running a public park. News flash: you lost your case before the State's highest court, which is why the site is now a public park with river access supported by our taxes.

      5. "If north dock is declared a historic fishing village ..."

      What the hell are you talking about in that last paragraph? Who's demeaning whom to degrade what?? "What's "actionable"?

      Looking through all your comments, it doesn't appear you've said anything terribly coherent or useful to anyone who doesn't share your wistfulness.

      Instead, you should make a reasonable proposal - and I'm going to continue to say that until you do.

  9. Ok, I give, get the mayor to restore the poor man's pathway to paradise, our so called "permanent" easement and the tin boat stewards will right captain Red Wright's, cabin for the fee of $1.

    1. Oh you're prepared to make a deal, are you, on the condition of a newly invented "permanent easement." That's demagoguery. You just make it up as you go along.

      What we actually have is nothing, zero, zilch. We need to rebuild our interests from there and we're about to do that.

      Why not join us, and build something other than sentences designed to mislead people.