Tuesday, December 15, 2020

On the Waterfront, It's Always Something

At its meeting tonight, the Common Council will be voting on a resolution related to Amtrak's plan to install fences and gates along the Hudson River to prevent people from accessing the river using the railroad right of way. This is a subject that Gossips has been following since it first surfaced in March 2017. This past August, the Columbia County Board of Supervisors weighed in, calling for a state-sanctioned regional river access plan to protect local access to the river. When the resolution now before the Council was introduced last week, Gossips wondered what new development had inspired it. It turns out that information is provided on the third page of the three-page resolution:

Calling it "the gate at Broad Street" is a bit misleading. It is actually on the access road that leads to East Jeezus and the 4.4 acre waterfront parcel that research has shown belongs to the City of Hudson. The gate in question is next to the gate that gives access to Colarusso's fenced yard at the dock. Concrete barriers have also been installed to the left of the gate to prevent vehicles from circumventing the gate. In the photograph below, the gate is standing open.

It may be that the City can do more than just pass a resolution objecting to the gate. An easement and right of way deed between Consolidated Rail Corporation and St. Lawrence Cement dated January 25, 1995, grants a permanent easement along this strip of land "for vehicular and pedestrian ingress, egress and regress." A deed for the City-owned 4.4 acres, dated January 24, 1969, speaks of "the right, title and interest in and to the right of access . . . from the public way." It is possible, maybe even probable, that Amtrak is not within its rights to obstruct this access road.   


  1. But what is the action or proposal which has led to this resolution? The gate at the access road next to Colarusso's gate has been there for years, and so has CSX's illegal "No Trespassing" sign visible on the pole in the photo.

    If there really is no emergency and the Resolution is gratuitous, for show, then that makes its timidity doubly irresponsible when this is precisely the occasion to assert the City's "right, title and interest in and to the right of access."

  2. How dare anyone restrict access to East Jesus.
    I’ve have visited the sight for over 60 years.

  3. The upshot was the Council's unanimous support for the Resolution, as if Scenic Hudson can’t fail in the face of a DOS consistency review. (The nearest contradiction of that assumption would be the shotcrete beneath the Promenade.)

    I just hope that the Aldermen who read this Gossips post and asked some good questions will now help move the City towards overt ownership of the old Brennan-Kennedy Dock, i.e. the 4.4 waterfront acres.

    According to Ken Dow, the City’s former Corporate Counsel, but back when he was retained by the Valley Alliance, the City never sold that property to St. Lawrence Cement in the first place.

    Rather than follow Scenic Hudson’s assurances that other municipalities are passing the same sorts of [bland] resolutions, Hudson should take heed from Germantown’s identical wager that the town’s likely deeded access to its own riverfront property is less important than a prospective p.r. campaign with lots of self-aggrandizement and donation-raising protests.

    That’s all well and good if that’s what Germantown wishes to do (admittedly, their deeded access is murkier than ours), though their failure to keep access will mean that the town’s riverfront property will only be accessible by boat.

    Because Hudson could end up in the same situation, with the 4.4 acres becoming a property-island accessible only by water, expressing solidarity with Germantown is not a gamble we need to take.

    We should begin by having Amtrak remove its illegal "No Trespassing" sign at the start of the access road ner Broad Street. Otherwise, any resident taking that road is subject to false arrest.

    And is that what the City's waiting for? A hapless city resident who just wanted a prettier view of the river to have to defend the public's rightful access in court? If so then that's cowardly, and our representatives are cowards.

  4. The city of Hudson's claim to accessing the 4.4-acre parcel seems way, way less murky than the potential access rights a few private Germantown residents claim. I also don't think it has to be explore/assert legal access rights (for that stretch) OR pressure Amtrak, elected officials & state DOS reps to see and agree that the access road that's been utilized for generations ought to continue to be open. Both can and should be done. --Billy Shannon

    1. Yes, I should have specified that any cross-track claims in Germantown would be those of a private owner or owners.

      Otherwise, just like Hudson's 4.4 acres, the Germantown-owned "property island" is also an old ice house dock.

      As for our own segment of the same access road, once it's blocked the City will have to assert the public's right of access in court. Silly me, I was just hoping to avoid that even though our politicians, like politicians everywhere, are probably happier to kick that can down the proverbial road.

      It's really the sort of issue that a mayor might spearhead, so we'll continue to hope for the best.

  5. The process by which the City can claim the 4.4 acre parcel is straighforward-- it's called an Article 15. The legal work has already been done, so it would require a minimal effort to start the proceeding.


    1. Thanks Peter, it's great news to learn that the way forward is already known.

      It's appropriate that everyone look to the Valley Alliance for guidance like this since, as you say, the legal research is done.

      Maybe it's time for the people to lead and trust that Hudson's politicians will follow.

    2. did you mean trust?
      their arrogance won't allow them to "follow"