The Democratic Caucus received the full support of all 25 Dutchess County Legislators for the letter circulated by Legislator Brennan Kearney (included below) to support efforts to fight unnecessary restricted access to the Hudson River by Amtrak. Thank you to all the local officials who have led the charge in this important effort! A signed copy will be provided to Scenic Hudson and shared at the state level to help support our position that access to the river must never be compromised.
January 13, 2020
We, the undersigned Dutchess County legislators, encourage our constituents to take part in Scenic Hudson’s effort to gather public input and develop a Hudson River Access Plan with the goal of protecting the public’s right to access the Hudson River Shoreline. We urge Dutchess residents to give their input at HudsonRiverAccess.org, sharing where and how you use the river and, more importantly, where and how you want to use the river in the future and protect access for our children and grandchildren.
People in Hudson riverfront communities have long treasured places where they can fish, launch boats, bird watch, hunt, take a walk, or just sit and be inspired by the river’s majesty. In the 20th century, the increase in railroad-created barriers offset benefits provided by the riverfront parks created by Scenic Hudson and others—especially on the eastern shoreline between Poughkeepsie and Rensselaer. The last comprehensive evaluation of river access along the rail corridor occurred in 1989. Hence, we believe that it is time for a 21st-century reassessment.
In 2018, Amtrak announced its intention to construct 8,200 feet of fencing and locked barriers at locations along the tracks between Rhinecliff and Stuyvesant. In January 2019, Amtrak withdrew its plan after an outcry from local officials and citizens in a dozen riverfront communities. The New York State Departments of State and Transportation helped Amtrak reach this decision. However, the rail carrier has stated that it intends to reconsider the fencing proposal as part of a comprehensive five-year safety strategy along the entire Empire Corridor — the train line that stretches from Niagara Falls to New York City.
The proposed eight-foot-tall barriers would: 1. Disconnect communities from their waterfront. 2. Eliminate public river access at sites long cherished for fishing, boating, swimming and duck hunting. 3. Mar outstanding river views in many places. 4. Prevent economic development and tourism opportunities along the river.
Scenic Hudson has commissioned a report: At-Grade Passenger Rail Pedestrian & Trail Crossings, Empire Corridor, which offers effective alternatives to gates and fences—a plan that would enhance rail safety and allow public river access.
To set a course of action that can be supported by river lovers and key stakeholders, Scenic Hudson has engaged experts to draft a Hudson River Shoreline Access Plan. In addition to completing an updated documentation of places (formal and informal) where people currently enjoy water-related recreation, the plan will identify gaps in public access, recommend places for safe new shoreline access and suggest ways to improve safety at these locations.
As local officials in Dutchess County communities, many of which are riverfront, we share Scenic Hudson’s deep concerns about additional loss of public access at places where people have connected with the river for generations and encourage constituents to participate in this effort at HudsonRiverAccess.org.
Thank you for doing your part to take care of our beautiful Hudson River.