Sunday, January 3, 2021

Withdrawn But Not Forgotten

Two years ago, in January 2019, Amtrak withdrew its plans to install fences and gates along its right of way on the Hudson River, limiting public access to the river. One year ago, Scenic Hudson began work on its Hudson River Access Plan (HRAP), documenting how and where people access the river with the goal of protecting that access. The 2020 Hudson River Access Plan was published in May 2020.

Photo: Jeff Anvezino|Scenic Hudson
While Scenic Hudson was working on the HRAP, Amtrak was confidentially working on a draft plan of its own, called "Five Year Fencing Program on the Hudson Line Section of the Empire Corridor." The new plan significantly increases the number of barriers proposed in the original plan, calling for 23,935 feet of fencing--about four and a half miles--spread over twenty-two sites from Rensselaer to Poughkeepsie. 

Roger Hannigan Gilson was able to obtain a copy of the new Amtrak plan and reports about it today in The Other Hudson Valley: "Amtrak's Secret Plan to Fence Off Parts of Hudson River." It is recommended reading.


  1. The furgary chapter is a joke. Scenic Hudson recommends preserving the shacks -- it's so easy to say that, but who is going to pay for it and actually do the maintenance? Hudson DPW? Then they recommend re-opening fishing access to the river. How on earth do you even do that? There's no room for a bridge over the tracks, so what else is possible? Stop signs for the trains? Crosswalks with a solar signal ala Dominic Merante? No, expect a fence there instead. I would hate to see one, but the tracks are far too accessible and dangerous there. Something besides the recently installed NO TRESPASSING sign should be done. The sign hasn't turned anyone away, certainly not the fishermen. B Huston

    1. Sir, you are ignorant of so many aspects of this subject - both on the upriver and downriver sides of the city - that it's hard to know where to start.

      The easement deed for the access road between the Colrusso yard and the railroad allows for "pedestrain ingress, egress, and regress," and that's because the deed for the acreage just downriver from there refers to the access road as "the public way." (That acreage is arguaby still owned by the City, seeing as the City's 1981 sale of the parcel to St. Lawrence Cement was invalid.)

      As for the shacks, there are extensive plans underway to preserve and maintain select shacks longterm. From your tone, though, I doubt that any of that really matters to you. I can spot someone who's contemptuous of history from miles away.

      All I can say is, you have a uniquely dramatic way of throwing in the towel, except that here you need to be corrected.

  2. Over the years, Amtrak service has been slashed around the country due to inadequate funding by the federal government. Now, Amtrak plans to waste money constructing unnecessary fencing. It is a poorly managed corporation. Fencing would be justified if people were being struck and killed by trains, but that rarely happens.

  3. How then, expert of all things riparian, do you suggest, as Scenic Hudson does (without any ideas), to re-open access to the river down by the ugly ass shacks? Do you think the tracks should be so accessible along what is essentially a public park?

    1. Our "river" access at North Bay is in no danger at the shore of the bay. But we'll have to accept that will be the extent of our access there.

      I see no way to prevent Amtrak from fencing off the river itself in the city's northwest corner.

    2. I am curious, most the shacks appear to be rotted beyond rehabilitation and/or have no historical, material or architectural significance. If certain shacks have already been selected for restoration as part of a historical, fishing village park display, why haven't the shacks that are not selected to be a part of that display been removed? It has looked like an abandoned rotting junkyard for years. It is not that hard, expensive or time consuming to demolish a bunch of shacks and put them in a dumpster.

    3. Because this is Hudson, where things take forever to happen, or the dysfunction doesn't allow it to happen when it obviously should. Throw in a few loco vocal local yokels who think the shacks are the most precious things in town and it's a real crap show. Expect the shacks to remain there for our lifetimes in various states of ugliness.

    4. P. Winslow, you are very outspoken on this topic, but here your typical glibness concerning the shacks combined with your usual lack of knowledge (quite aside from your relentless aesthetic pronouncements and general hostility towards all-things historical) warrants the harshest kind of scrutiny.

      In fact, it is very hard, expensive and time consuming to remove even those shacks which are slated for removal.

      First, the State of New York requires a Freshwater Wetlands Permit to remove even a single shack, and that entails an environmental review. That process hasn't even begun, and that's not due to anyone dragging their feet. These things simply take time.

      Same goes for the shacks slated for repair; they will also require a SEQRA review.

      Then, prior to demolition, certain shacks must be remediated for low-levels of contaminants. It's state law for cities that, even to remove the same window glazing you can still buy at Lowe's, we're likely to see the full Hazmat suits come out.

      (Seriously, for someone so opiniated on the subject of the shacks how do you not know this already? This is all discussed in the greatest of detail in public documents availble at the city website. My guess is that you are laden with opinions, but even more weighed down by your civic laziness.)

      For a number of reasons, removal of the razed shacks will not use dumpsters (you'd need so many of them), but removal will require dump trucks making round-trips to the dump. Even that takes time, and it is very expensive.

      Between the remediation and removal (and all following the proper state AND local permitting processes), does anyone suppose there's a lot remaining of our DRI award?

      There's almost nothing left over, and that's what's so demoralizing at the end of so many years of our hard work.

      I know this will be exciting news for someone of your caliber, P. Winslow, but all those people who at least pretended to care about the shacks for all those years have vanished - all but three. Congratulations, fly-by-night friends!

      Hudson residents are egregiously unworthy of their own past, and while I usually consider you unworthy of any sort of reply, P. Winslow, today I'm fed up listening to you. You don't know anything.

  4. Whenever I'm at the shacks, I look at the derelict boat launch ramp that is blocked by a tree limb. I'd like to hear from any folks with canoes and kayaks who'd like to help me move the limb so we can launch our boats directly in the North Bay. It would be a small step in the right direction.

    1. Let's do it *Magic*. I invite Gossips to share my contact info with you (and with you alone!).

      I don't know which boat launch you're referring to, because there are actually two at the site.

      The one nearest the tracks is useful in all tides and is owned by CSXT (/Amtrak). I hope they continue to let the public use it.

    2. Well, Magic Christian, you will have to reveal your identity to me if you want unheimlich's contact information. You can do so at

  5. I have sent 2 emails in the past 3 months to DPW with pictures of the shack nearest the boat launch which has a broken window with large shards of glass sticking out. Nothing. Tomorrow I send another. This is part of the problem, Mr. Shankman.
    B Huston

  6. I'm pulled into the tumultuous discussion of the value of the Fugary. If anyone cares to know more about the so-called shacks, Google them and you will immediately come across several pieces. I believe 1 or 2 written by a local, young writer William Shannon. It is also covered in the NYT. There is a reason the NYS Preservation Department awarded this group of shacks preservation status. Read up and hopefully some of you may understand their importance. If still, you don't get it, that's why there are professional historians and Preservationists around, so we don't totally willy nilly take stuff to the dump. I'm assuming the oversight of the historic site is under somebody's watch. If things are progressing slowly it maybe partially due to regulations as mentioned here and who's got the monies to move things forward. I imagine with a little investigating, all that info is available.

    1. Thank you for this, Cheviot Views.

      Ultimately, responsibility for this historic site falls to the City of Hudson. To be more specific, it now falls to the DRI Committee overseeing local uses of the state’s DRI funds.
      The state historic preservation office will take a backseat to whatever the City decides.

      The Committee members’ interests in local history notwithstanding, they do need to know what can and cannot be achieved with the limited funds awarded for the proposal. They also want and deserve to hear assurances about a long-term commitment to maintenance which won’t burden the city’s resources.

      These are very reasonable requests, particularly if the City lacks confidence that it will be reimbursed for its initial lay-out.

      That said, I’m confident we’ll achieve the original site plan which won the award, or something very close to that plan. In the meantime, we appreciate the patience of the DRI Committee as we continue to seek nonprofit affiliation and also to re-comply with all the requirements found in the original DRI application. (Enough time has passed that the old estimates no longer apply, while other components of the plan have become considerably cheaper.)

      It’s a lot to do, and it’s made a thousand times more difficult by the virus. Now factor in the public's predictable apathy, and also the loud ignorance of the kinds of blowhards we read above, and it’s nothing short of a miracle that this project is still alive.

      And it is!

      I hope to have more to report soon.

      Anyone who's interested in taking a part, we need you!