Thursday, April 16, 2020

Plans for the Historic Fishing Village

With no public access to DRI Committee meetings, it's hard to tell what progress is being made on planning for the future of "the Shacks," now being called the Furgary Fishing Village. There was a draft RFQ for the project, which sought to identify a landscape architecture firm to design a "historical, cultural interpretive park." That RFQ was tabled, and it was decided that the scope and intent needed to be adjusted "to better reflect DRI Committee consensus." (At the last public meeting of the DRI Committee on March 4, Timothy O'Connor, one of the driving forces in getting DRI money for project, spoke of "mission creep," insisting that the original vision for the future of the site was much simpler.)

Since then, the original proposal for DRI funding surfaced. The summary of the committee's meeting on April 1 reports: "The DRI application was acknowledged to contain helpful information. The committee still needs additional detail, design and planning assistance." It seems DRI Committee may have met yesterday in a conference call, but there has been no confirmation of that meeting and no summary of the meeting has yet appeared on the City of Hudson website.

In the meantime, there is this. In 2017, Daria Merwin, co-director of the Cultural Resource Survey Program at the New York State Museum, made a presentation called "The Many and Varied Maritime Cultural Landscapes of New York State." In it, she makes the case for the historic significance of what has come to be known as Hudson's historic fishing village.

Merwin concludes her presentation by telling about "a case study our office has after some debate determined to be eligible for the National Register, and it is in a historically marginal environment that some locals would now like to transform into a park." The case study she uses to wrap up her talk is, of course, the Shacks. Merwin's presentation can be heard and read here. The part about the Shacks begins at about 12:26 and continues to the end. The "current mayor" she mentions is Mayor Tiffany Martin.


  1. The last sentence says it all, "by looking beyond the architecture to consider the natural history of the maritime landscape, we were able to build a case for the significance of The Shacks."

    In other words, if you also listened to the opening remark to this section, a person with an obvious contempt for (shown by her condescending attitude) waterfront parkland and development, has constructed a false narrative of historical significance for "The Shacks", based on the natural history of the landscape. So essentially, this is an elaborate ruse to prevent the city from creating a park at this site, by manufacturing historical architectural significance and applying it to a bunch of rotting shacks thrown together from discarded materials and stuff from Home Depot.

  2. Dear P. Winslow, you've used a lot of words to say nothing. Reasonable people can disagree about "historical significance," but to exclude the public from the decision-making process is the real political sin here.

  3. The natural setting and the vernacular architecture were evaluated together.

    As the Columbia Land Conservancy explained in its biological assessment, neither makes sense without the other considering the degree to which human intervention shaped the surrounding bay. For most of the 19th c., the North Bay was open water.

    The existing bay and its wetlands are a quasi-artifact shaped by the denizens of the shacks, among others. What is gained from erasing that history, or any history?

    And don't be fooled by the naysayers; there's no trade-off whatsoever between preserving several shacks and having a wide open, parkland view of the bay.

  4. Fishfolk wharf with free ingress and egress for navigators, the historical use, or new land use/users with perpetual maintenance expenditure.

  5. As one of the forces behind this proposal, I'm as concerned as Peter about how the DRI Committee is handling the task.

    The City isn’t providing any funds for this, so the City's not a benefactor beyond its managing of state funds. That being the case, is it more or less likely that its members will take care not to mismanage the funds?

    I keep getting assurances that the committee is only in a discovery phase, which is fine as nobody's in any great hurry. But read back through the Minutes and you realize that they repeatedly get the facts wrong.

    When offering corrections, and only after the Minutes are available, you're told that it's "only discovery." What is the purpose, though, if the discovery is incorrect? And what's the chance that errors during discovery won't lead to erroneous decisions later on?

    At that point you're told not to worry because there will be "a Public Hearing." For a reply, can anyone imagine anything more worrying than that?! (To the uninitiated, public hearings in Hudson amount to window dressing after every decision is already reached.)

    Peter's concern is spot on, that to "exclude the public from the decision-making process is the real political sin here."

    For another example, in the April 1st Minutes we read about a "structural assessment" by the CEO which was, at that time, already in electronic form. Having discussed the Code personally with the CEO to learn his idea that the shacks should attain "occupancy" status (though that wasn't the intent of the DRI proposal), I want to figure out for myself which criteria were used to make a structural assessment.

    After directly requesting the document, though unsuccessfully, yesterday I was forced to use the Freedom of Information Law to acquire it. FOILing anything can easily take a month, which means that no member of the public will see an assessment created in March until mid-May. And for no good reason.

    There's a sense of purpose to this committee's secrecy which, nevertheless, may not be clear to its members. Either way, the tendency breeds bad habits and bad social hygiene, particularly when the committee members are getting so many things wrong combined with the fact that the City's not even a benefactor of the project.