Friday, December 28, 2018

About Those Fences and Gates

This evening, Gossips received a press release from the Germantown Waterfront Advisory Committee about a meeting that has been scheduled regarding the Amtrak proposal to install fences and gates along the Hudson River. The most salient parts of the press release are quoted below. 
The New York State Department of Transportation and Amtrak have scheduled a meeting in Germantown for Amtrak to present its plans and reasoning for installing fencing and gates along the Hudson River in Dutchess and Columbia counties.
The meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 29, and is tentatively set to go from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Kellner Community Activities Center, 50 Palatine Park Road, in Germantown. An inclement-weather date has been set for the following Tuesday evening, Feb. 5.
The format of the meeting is unclear, as is the degree to which public comment during the meeting will be sought or considered. . . . 
Robert Beaury, Germantown's town supervisor, has requested the meeting's start time be shifted to 6 p.m. to ensure people working until 5 p.m. can attend. To confirm the start time, people should check or the Germantown Waterfront pages on Facebook or Instagram leading up the Jan. 29. . . . 
Lee Park, a spokesman for the state Department of State, said the scheduled deadline for declaring whether Amtrak's proposed project is consistent with New York's coastal management policies--which among other things encourage increased access to public waterways--is February 8. But, he added, the schedule could be amended with a mutual agreement with Amtrak. The review period was extended multiple times in 2018. Asked if a representative from the state's Department of State will be in attendance to observe at Germantown's January 29th meeting, Park said, "We look forward to the meeting and expect to have representation there." . . .
The state's Department of State requested that the state's Department of Transportation hold at least two public informational sessions for the Amtrak proposal. Mr. Park said recently that, "the information presented during Amtrak's informational sessions will determine whether DOS may hold a second public comment period."
For more information and context on Amtrak's proposal and the opposition it has sparked throughout 2018, please visit   


  1. In its abject timidity, Germantown's Waterfront Advisory Committee will now invite Amtrak to explain a proposal which disregards landowners' deeded rights to waterfront access, and without ever exploring those rights for themselves!

    If Germantown is incapable of conducting its own title search, relying instead on faint protests, then why should the rest of us get worked up? (People of Germantown: see Liber 71 at pp. 252, 253.)

    Because Germantown excels at showing its backside, it's a foregone conclusion that Amtrak will simply crush them.

    Germantown may be lost, but this is an important object lesson for Hudson seeing as the City has its own deeded rights to the shared access road recorded in the deed history as a "public way" (see L453, p. 16; L559, p. 533; L787, p. 228).

    Hudson, don't take this lying down as the feckless citizens of Germantown are doing.

    1. Thanks for the tip! We have certainly been exploring deeded rights throughout the process. If you have additional research to share, our ears are always open. Please send info to


  2. Jen, I have 500 MBs of info for you. The next time you visit Hudson bring a flash drive.

    In my opinion nailing down the deeded rights, if any, is the first thing to do. Sorry to use Germantown as the bad object lesson, but if a landowner already has crossing rights then any other approach to the problem is a total waste of precious time.

    Hudson learned two important lessons from its shotcrete experience: 1) mere protest against Amtrak is futile and, 2) the state's coastal consistency review process is broken.

    Determine the current owner of the L71 parcel and follow the chain back to March 17, 1882. It's an hour's exploration, if that. (Also intriguing is the sliver of likely-state-owned underwater lands between the access road and the ice dock.)

    So unless Germantown has already ordered a title search, Hudson must not follow its poor example. Hudson will explore its deeded rights first, not last.

  3. Now that my memory is refreshed, it's the Germantown ice dock itself which is on state-owned underwater lands.

    Sometime mid-century, the dock was accreted with illegal fill west of the original, terrestrial Lasher parcel sold to Edmund Rockefeller in March 1882. Subsequently, when Rockefeller "and others" got their underwater grant from the Legislature in October 1882, the grant's eastern boundary was formed by the outline of the illegal dock.

    The ice dock itself was always owned by the State of New York.

    Unfortunately such circumstances are not unusual. In the City of Hudson's North Bay, illegal fill on state-owned underwater lands in the 19th c. was so extensive that the city came to believe it owned the accreted land since the time of the Proprietors. The city even built its wastewater treatment plant there in the 1960s, thereby becoming a squatter on state-owned underwater lands. (In 2012, the state granted the filled lands to the city.)

    But a near perfect analogy with Germantown is found at the Colarusso bulkhead in South Bay. There, illegal fill in the 19th c. extended an existing dock westwards into the river and onto state-owned underwater lands.

    Although acknowledged in maps made by Colarusso's predecessors, St. Lawrence Cement and Holcim, it's far from settled how much of the wharf is built on state-owned lands.

    In my opinion, these are the types of issues the Germantown Waterfront Advisory Committee should have been focused on throughout 2018.

    I'm sorry to be so harsh, but it appears that Germantown is blowing it. When the same issue comes to Hudson in the near future, please let's NOT replicate Germantown's example here. (In fairness, Hudsonians have less distance to travel to study the actual deeds, so we have no excuse for mismanaging the same task.)

  4. When the HRRR came through 150 years ago it increased the free flow of interstate commerce...

    ...reserved to the states or the people all powers either not specifically delegated to the national government or specifically denied to the states.

    NYS Coastal policymakers now allow Amtrak to reduce interstate commerce, obstructing that free flow, a power reserved to Congress, wherever the rail severed old roads, blocked even older docks or entrapped ancient bays.

    Reducing the free flow of people is by definition a fundamental failure of federalism.

    Columbia Littoral Conservancy Inc.