Sunday, February 18, 2024

Licensing the Waterfront

Among the resolutions introduced at the informal Common Council meeting last Monday was one authorizing the mayor to execute a license agreement with the Hudson Sloop Club for docking boats at the waterfront, dock management, and river recreation.

Photo: Our Hudson Waterfront | Facebook
The City has licensing agreements with other entities. There is the agreement with Hudson Paddles LLC "to provide paddle board/kayak recreation opportunities for residents and visitors to the City of Hudson at Oakdale Lake and Henry Hudson Riverfront Park" from late May to early October. By the terms of this agreement, Hudson Paddles LLC paid the City $450 last year. There is also an agreement with Big Towel Spa LLC  "to provide mobile sauna recreation opportunities" from September through January at Oakdale Lake. For this, Big Towel Spa LLC paid the City $250. What is different about the proposed license agreement with the Hudson Sloop Club is that the entire payment of $8,000 is in-kind services, and it appears the Hudson Sloop Club gets to keep the first $4,700 in docking fees collected from other boats. The resolution explains:
. . . the Mayor is authorized to sign a License Agreement with the Hudson Cloop Club Inc. in the amount of $8,000.00 of which $1,900 shall be an in-kind contribution for the installation and removal of city docks; $2,800.00 shall be in-kind services of managing the dock which shall include making the dock available for commercial boats; $3,300 shall be an in-kind credit for services associated with public programming. The public programming credit to be calculated at $20 per passenger with an expectation that free programming will be provided for approximately 165 residents; in the event fewer than 165 passengers are served, the remaining balance will be paid to the City. The City shall establish the fees that will be charged to vessels other than those operated by the Sloop Club with the first $4,700.00 of such fee revenue, Sloop Club shall keep 100% of the amount received. All revenue received over the total of $4,700.00 shall be remitted to the City.
In an exchange between President Tom DePietro and Councilmember Rich Volo (Fourth Ward) after the resolution had been introduced, DePietro said of the Sloop Club, "They're providing a service. . . . They're doing something that's never been done. They're managing. . . ." When someone apparently made a reference to previous licensing agreements for the dock,  DePietro responded, "That was just the guy who owned that cruise company, and he did nothing." 

DePietro's statement is not entirely true. Guy Falkheimer, the owner of Hudson Cruises, had a lease agreement or a licensing agreement with the City for the use of the river-facing dock in Henry Hudson Riverfront Park for seventeen years. Early on, the amount paid for use of the dock was pathetically small, but over the years, it increased. In 2011, the City entered into a five-year lease agreement with Hudson Cruises for the use of half the river-facing dock. The fee paid to the City for the first year was $500, and the amount increased by $100 a year for each year during the five years of the lease. The lease agreement also assigned duties to the tenant:
Tenant agrees to be available 7 days a week from Mother's Day to October 31sr and the rest of the year Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. to open gates to the dock and organize and coordinate the docking of other large vessels. Tenant shall place a sign on the park property providing information as to how it can be contacted to perform those duties, include [sic] the phone number of President Guy Falkenheimer. Tenant will collect docking fees from boats using the dock at the rate of $1.00 per foot for a 24 hour period, with renewal for up to three days. Tenant will weekly turn in collected funds to the Treasurer's Office.
According to the terms of that lease agreement, Falkenheimer had the role and title of "Dock Master." 

In May 2021, the Common Council rescinded a resolution that they previously passed to enter into a new license agreement with Hudson Cruises in favor of entering into an agreement with the Hudson Sloop Club. The terms of the proposed license agreement with Hudson Cruises are contained in the resolution:
. . . the Mayor is authorized to sign a License Agreement with Hudson Cruises, Inc. in the amount of $5,500.00 of which $2,100.00 shall be an in-kind contribution and $3,400.00 shall be paid within 30 days and for which Hudson Cruises will: (1) dock boats at the Hudson City Dock; (2) provide in-kind services for the installation and removal of city docks; (3) provide four free or low-cost sightseeing events for community members or organizations; provide free passage to the Lighthouse on Waterfront Wednesdays; and to take reasonable steps to accommodate visiting vessels using the dock as approved by the City including as part of Waterfront Wednesdays.
It is probably true that folks at City Hall are happier with the job the Hudson Sloop Club is doing managing the dock for the City than they were with Hudson Cruises, and the Sloop Club has played a role in bringing such boats as Solaris, John J. Harvey, and the catamaran Impossible Dream to Hudson for Waterfront Wednesdays, but it's not really true to say that the Sloop Club is "doing something that's never been done."

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