Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Resisting the Fences

On Sunday morning, people gathered at Germantown Town Hall to discuss the fences and gates proposed by Amtrak to be installed along the railroad tracks and the river. Yesterday, the Germantown Waterfront Advisory Committee issued the following press release.
The Germantown Waterfront Advisory Committee hosted a group of about 40 people for about 1.5 hours early on Sunday morning to review and plan a course of action to respond to the proposed Amtrak gates & fences. We were joined by Scenic Hudson, Riverkeeper, Germantown Sportsman's Association, the Columbia County Sportsman's Federation, Trout Unlimited, the Germantown Fire Department, residents, and local business owners.
Germantown's Supervisor, Robert Beaury, was also in attendance. He plans to write a letter to the Department of State to request additional information. The letter will also request that the current comment period be halted, as many feel there are too few details with which to make informed comments. The Town will instead request that the DOC conduct meetings with the public in each affected municipality, and that a new 30-day comment period start at the conclusion of the last meeting. Riverkeeper and Scenic Hudson plan to write a joint letter requesting the same.
In parallel, the Germantown Waterfront Advisory Committee plans to continue research and outreach efforts in order to fully comprehend the potential impacts to the Town, and to form alliances with potential partners in addressing the proposal. We can be reached at germantownwaterfrontcommittee@gmail.com.
The letter from Scenic Hudson and Riverkeeper to the Department of State referenced in the press release begins:
Scenic Hudson and Riverkeeper have each received numerous phone calls and emails expressing opposition to Amtrak's proposal to install gates and/or fences along the railroad right-of-way in Rhinebeck (Rhinecliff), Tivoli, Germantown, Stockport and Stuyvesant. As longstanding proponents of expanding public access to the Hudson River, we share their concerns. . . .
The letter concludes:
Given the outpouring of public concern and the need for the public to participate meaningfully in this decision-making process, both Scenic Hudson and Riverkeeper believe the 15-day public comment period is partial to the applicant's interest and insufficient for affected stakeholders. Fifteen days is simply not enough time to capture the public's concerns regarding the proposal's impact on the loss of river access and to viewsheds. Public information provided by Amtrak to date is completely inadequate making meaningful public comment impossible. Additionally, we believe that the proposed gate and/or fence installation, while part of one application, have very different ramifications at each location, and as such require separate public meetings.
Therefore we request that public information meetings be held in each municipality where gate and/or fence installations are proposed--Rhinecliff, Tivoli, Germantown, Stockport and Stuyvesant. Rail representatives must provide each community with the specific details of all proposed gates and/or fences and provide data to justify each project individually. Each meeting must be part of the official public record with a stenographer recording all public comments. Only upon the conclusion of the final community meeting, should a 30-day comment period begin. This would ensure that everyone interested in this issue has ample opportunity to submit informed written comments to the Department of State.
Gossips will stay on this issue as it develops. Meanwhile, the current public comment period ends on Thursday, March 29, at 4:30 p.m.


  1. Many are sharing and signing the petition. AMTRAK needs to be more community minded. Hopefully the Germantown approach will make a difference !

  2. There are no approved LWRPs in Columbia County, which puts Hudson and Germantown in the same boat. (The shotcrete soon to be slathered over the Promenade cliff should remind us that we're not our own masters.)

    But crossing south into Dutchess, there are LWRP Areas one after another. With the exception of Hyde Park and 5.5 miles around Poughkeepsie, the entire Dutchess shore is inside the boundary of someone or other's LWRP.

    It will be interesting to see how coastal consistency really works if those communities are impacted by plans to fence off their portions of the river. I doubt that open access will trump trespassing.

    Going by the recent experience of Hudson, a non-LWRP community, it seems that the State will give Amtrak anything it wants. Despite our submitted complaints that a widespread alternative to shotcrete was deliberately withheld by Amtrak during its lame presentation in City Hall, two days after the Public Comment Period the NYSDOS ignored our specific complaint and thus ignored the alternative (slide fences). They couldn't even wait a week?

    The railroad wins every time, and the public gets to continue its pointless crusade against cheaters (ALL cheaters - no exceptions).

  3. Like unheimlich, I do see some parallels between shotcrete-gate and the current fence-gate. And yes, LWRPs are important and in Germantown I hope that we are going to heed that lesson. Public support on fence-gate is really strong, and it's wonderful for Riverkeeper and Scenic Hudson to support the public's efforts to keep the shoreline open. Write to CR@dos.ny.gov with a cc to gates@gtel.net and express your opposition. Keep the shoreline open!

  4. Which will prevail, the RR right of way or the people's permanent easement?