Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Opposition to Plans for the Boat Launch

It's been almost three years since Governor Kathy Hochul announced plans for the Hudson Eagles Recreation Area, an initiative to "improve public access and resiliency on the wild stretch of the Hudson River between Albany and Kingston and enhance connections to the waterfront communities in the region," and it's been almost two years since Gossips first posted about it, but it's only now that people in Hudson are taking note of the initiative and objecting to it.

The Hudson Eagles Recreation Area involves upgrades to five state boat launches--Coxsackie State Boat Launch, Schodack Island State Park, Crailo State Historic Site in Rensselaer, Athens State Boat Launch, and the Hudson Boat Launch. The upgrades at Coxsackie were first to be completed. Now it seems work on the project is getting around to the Hudson Boat Launch, and people are not happy about the changes that are coming.


Opposition to the proposed changes first came to light a week or so ago on Facebook. The biggest objection to the new design seems to be the loss of parking at the boat launch. A petition, titled "Preserve Parking at the State Boat Launch in Hudson, NY" and directed to Assemblymember Didi Barrett and Linda Cooper, Regional Director at NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, makes this appeal: 
Boaters and anglers, help STOP NYS from limiting our parking and access to the boat launch. Where will you park? The new design for the Hudson boat launch will severely limit parking for trucks and trailers.
The issue of parking also includes our local first responders who often report to the boat launch parking lot in emergencies. These men and women keep us safe on the water and are quick to help in an emergency. It could be detrimental to their response time to have to park far away.
The drawings below show the amount of parking now available at the boat launch and the amount that would exist after the proposed upgrades are completed.


Last night at the informal Common Council meeting, Nick Pierro, presenting the monthly report for the Fire Department, brought the issue of the proposed changes to the boat launch to the Council. He urged the Council to "get behind not supporting the changes," which he predicted would cause problems for emergency equipment needing to access the river and would reduce docking space. He described the proposed improvements as "turning the boat launch into a park" and called upon the Council to do something to prevent it from happening. 

Councilmember Rich Volo asked about the state's rationale for proposing the changes. In responding, Pierro implied there was no logical reason for making another park next to a park that already exists. A better answer to Volo's question can be found in the press release announcing the upgrades to the Coxsackie State Boat Launch back in September 2021. In that press release, Governor Hochul is quoted as saying this about the initiative:
The Upper Hudson River Estuary, a 60-mile stretch of the Hudson River from Albany to Kingston, is a globally significant ecological and recreational asset. The Hudson Eagles Recreation Area offers the opportunity to create a destination unlike any other, a water-based linear park that will draw more people to the Hudson River and better connect communities to the waterfront and waterway travelers.
In the same press release, Erik Kulleseid, Commissioner for Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, was quoted as saying this about the Hudson Eagles Recreation Area:  
This project is an exciting first step in better developing the recreational and educational potential of the Hudson River. New York State's work to foster cleaner air and water, and protect open space, has helped lead to the return of growing numbers of bald eagles to Hudson River Valley. The Hudson Eagles Recreation Area will celebrate this tremendous environmental accomplishment, improve access for active recreational groups, increase resiliency, and inspire more New Yorkers to appreciate and protect their natural world.
It was not determined last night if the Common Council intends to take any action to show opposition to the plan to upgrade the state boat launch in Hudson.
COPYRIGHT 2024 CAROLE OSTERINK

11 comments:

  1. Detective/Asst. Fire Chief Pierro is right -- it makes no sense to build a park next to a park, particularly one as underutilized as Hudson's waterfront park. But the reason for the underutilization is because it is not within easy walking distance of where most Hudsonians work and live, particularly the city's older residents. On the far side of a RR crossing and on the edge of the city, far from almost all development. So parking is of paramount importance to the very folks the Parks folks believe they're helping by building a park next to a park. The secondary effect of the reduction in parking is it will make it exceptionally more difficult for boaters to put in and take out via the public launch. Again, Parks' plans seem to run counter to their stated aims which may indicate a certain arbitrariness and perhaps capriciousness to Parks' decision making. Implementation will certainly be interesting given Hudson's already crowded public parking options.

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  2. That area could and should be more pedestrian friendly and less auto- centric. Have you sat in the park-y area at the top of the ridiculously steep stairs from the parking lot recently? It's like DPW gave up on it decades ago.

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  3. I go down there all the time and I have never seen more than a handfull of cars. Putting 1st responders into the mix is just a way to garner support against the plan. This town continues shooting itself in the foot because of certian groups' opposition to anything new. If someone wanted to put up a bird feeder there w/b immediate backlash.

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  4. I think its important to remember that we are discussing an NYS Boat Launch Site which is one out of 616 sites NY provides to the public on various waterways. The point that some seem to be missing is that this area is specifically provided to launch watercraft for Hudson River Access. The public will not be walking here from Austerlitz or Acram (especially not with a boat!). One can also expect to run into people from neighboring states who wish to boat in the Hudson. Its undeniable that there is a park in the vicinity that provides nice spaces to relax or walk. Those park visitors even sometimes utilize the Boat Launch parking lot as well. People also often use the parking lot to enjoy lunch (remember not to feed the sea gulls please!)

    NYS lists the Hudson Launch as our county's largest with space for "46 cars and trailers". It wasn't built to be that large by accident. I'd ask that people please keep an eye out on nice days and weekends this summer and see how well utilized the space is. Then imagine it being smaller, after that sign the petition!

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  5. Most of the time the parking lot there is empty aside from a few people that park there to eat lunch and throw bread to the birds. It seems like a big improvement to me. The waterfront park is really very small and since the city seems to be stuck with the continuation of the gravel transfer station expanding the park footprint slightly into the boat launch area makes sense.

    Also the only reason I have seen the firetrucks down there is to practice hose training which could be done elsewhere. Perhaps those extra acres south of the gravel station could also be developed into another park with a launch? There could also be access for smaller boats down at the North Bay. More trees, less pavement and concrete is a good thing. On some city blocks, lower State for example, the City should take the initiative to plant grass strips and trees as many owners seem to have no interest in improving the streetscape.

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  6. Nick Pierro is the same person/city employee who spoke for ten minutes at a recent council meeting claiming that the existing stop sign at the Paddock Place intersection in front of his house (at the tennis courts) makes the intersection less safe ("false sense of security") and that the now missing stop sign there was a bad idea, it never should have been installed and should never be replaced. In other words, Nick feels that there should be no stop signs at all at the often busy twice a day 5 days a week intersection near his house and the elementary school. Take whatever he says with a healthy dose of skepticism.

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  7. Bill you also on this same thread said a parking lot should be "less auto-centric"

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    1. Read my words, Wut! I said the AREA, not the parking lot. There are benches surrounding the parking lot on all sides (some poorly situated), there are designated places for people to sit. To get there, though, pretty much everyone has to WALK through a parking lot with no pedestrian access. Read my words, then go to the AREA if you are still not convinced and see for yourself that there is something amiss and that the boat launch area was designed with automobiles, not humans, in mind. If the boat launch area were to be redone from scratch it would look a lot different and be welcoming to humans not behind the steering wheel of a two-ton vehicle.

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  8. Hudson began work on its Waterfront Revitalization Plan in 1985, which is now 39 years ago. A quick look at the area today leaves one wondering how any city could fail so badly? We've got a nasty gravel dump / truck route, an asphalt parking lot / boat launch to rival Walmart, a big empty lot opposite the Hudson Hudson park, a crappy patch of dirt with some boulders known as 'Rick's Point,' some crumbling shacks that need remediation,, and an abandoned garbage dump that features 'No Trespassing' signs. Most communities would die to have the waterfront potential that we enjoy, but our local civic culture clearly isn't up to the task of maximizing the possibilities.

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    1. Apparently the focus of local civic culture isn't improving the waterfront, it is obsessed with converting every open space in the city into an affordable housing complex.

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    2. Peter is on point. There are hundreds of towns who would love to have access to one of the most famous rivers in the world. I am pretty sure most Hudsonians don't have boats but do love the beautiful views and cool breezes down there. There s/b food options and easier access. An electric shuttle that goes up and down Warren would greatly increase usage and also make it easier to connect the upper and lower parts of the city.

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