Wednesday, May 2, 2018

What Fresh Hell Is This?

Gossips has reported more than once about the fences and gates that Amtrak is proposing to install at various points along the river, to keep people from straying onto the railroad tracks and getting hit by fast-moving trains but at the same time restricting access to the river. On Monday, Gossips reported about a meeting with Amtrak officials, organized by Congressman John Faso, that took place last Tuesday, April 24, to which Mayor Rick Rector, along with the mayors and supervisors of all the affected towns and villages, had been invited. Yesterday, Rector invited Billy Shannon of Hudson River Zeitgeist, Amanda Purcell of the Register-Star, and Gossips to a press briefing about that meeting.

Rector recounted that at the meeting new copies of the proposal for fencing were distributed. They contained that same unclear renderings of the sites in Rhinebeck, Rhinecliff, Tivoli, Germantown, Stockport, and Stuyvesant that have been available since January, but something new had been added: a map showing where fences and one gate would be installed in Hudson. That map is reproduced below. Interestingly, although the key indicates that red lines represent the proposed fences and the dark blue line represents the proposed gate location, the map is in black and white.

Rector protested the apparent last-minute addition of Hudson to the proposal, discovered only days before the end of the public comment period. He requested an extension of the public comment period and a public hearing in Hudson. Assemblymember Didi Barrett, who was also at the meeting, told Amtrak officials about the DRI (Downtown Revitalization Initiative) and the public investment being made in the very area where the fences are being proposed--something of which they had no knowledge. They seemed only to want to talk about about the harrowing challenges of keeping people off the tracks on Flag Day. 

Last week's meeting ended with confusion. Had Hudson, without anyone's knowledge, been added to the fencing proposal in the eleventh hour? Was Hudson where the missing mile of fencing was going to go? (The proposal released in January speaks of 8,200 linear feet of fencing, yet, as the Germantown Waterfront Advisory Committee discovered, only 2,270 linear feet are accounted for on the maps.)

The fencing being proposed--photograph from original proposal
Yesterday, Rector told the press that, after a week of trying to get answers, he had that morning heard from William Hollister, senior manager of government affairs, Northeast, for Amtrak. According to Hollister, Amtrak was "completely backing off on Hudson." It was not part of the plan that was submitted to the NYS Department of State for Coastal Consistency Review. To include it would mean that another plan would have to be submitted, and such a plan has not been drafted. So it appears that Hudson is off the hook for now, but no one knows for how long. One has wonder, though, what would have happened if Faso hadn't organized the meeting and hadn't included the mayor of Hudson. Would we have known nothing of the plan to install fences at the waterfront until some vigilant resident noticed the work had begun and sounded the alarm, as happened with the escarpment?

In the next few weeks, Amtrak will be doing some work around the train station. It involves crosswalks and approaches to the trains and is part of a nationwide program to achieve ADA compliance. Our previous mayor, Tiffany Martin Hamilton signed off on the work last year.


  1. Many thanks to Mayor Rector. When this happens again, providing we catch it in time, the City should launch an immediate investigation into the public's interests beyond the proposed gate (which is next to the entrance of the Colarusso yard). We need a proper understanding of the Right of Way deed, and also what it will entail to reverse the City's unlawful sale of riverfront property into private hands in 1981.

  2. What is it with these mega powers like Amtrak and Stewarts dictating how they are going to make our lives better - at our expense ?

    1. Vince, this is interesting.... who else would be on your "mega power" list?

    2. I just assumed he was talking about the DRI (heh).

    3. idk they all seem to find us - mega power lines, cement plants , pipelines , t eric galloway ...

  3. I'm not sure why Amtrak is so prissy about adding a Hudson map to the mix long after the rest of the proposal was submitted. Man up! After all, you also added a picture of the proposed fence weeks after the initial proposal was submitted. That didn't seem to trigger anything.