The Hudson waterfront is many things to many people; open, beautiful, historic, nature, commerce, and a gathering place to name a few. What it is not, is accessible to all. I cannot for the life of me understand why.
Why does the Power Boat Association own the only long term slips? Why is it such a private club? Why does the Spirit of the Hudson have 100 feet of city dock space for a “for profit” business, which turns a handsome profit each season, but does not pay nearly the market rate?
The market rate BTW is a dollar rate times the length of the boat – per season fee. Together with its pontoon boat, SOH comes in right around 100 feet. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for the Spirit of the Hudson. It is a good arrangement for the business and for the people of Hudson. They give and they get. But, the deal is such that they have a monopoly on the waterfront, mostly at taxpayer expense, and that is not fair to Hudson residents.
I sort of understand why Furgary was closed, but not entirely. I wish they had been given the opportunity to be inclusive. I look at that location now, and I see the bayou meets a very cool city. How amazing would it be if there were shops down there, while allowing fishermen and hunters to enjoy it as well – an other world that is inclusive? It would be a boon for the city. Even an offshoot local tour business could take advantage and do well.
The newer docks by the Spirit were paid for with grant money, but those docks, and the docks that the Spirit enjoys takes a team of a half dozen city workers to haul-in and haul-out each season. Then there’s the electric and water. My point is, that there needs to be more inclusiveness on the waterfront in Hudson. I understand the old boys network and long time locals, but taxpayers are taxpayers.
It cannot, or should not, go to the few. There should be something for all. The City power brokers will tell you that Spirit’s dock is not exclusive – that they share it with other boats, but that is stretching the truth at best. Sure, one might see the Clearwater there on a weekend or two a season, Or, maybe some odd visiting yacht, or another tour boat, like the Tahiti Queen. This is not sharing the dock (that brings any taxpayer relief). It is a stall tactic.
I have my own selfish reason for writing this post, but I feel this way regardless whether I benefit or not. I personally would rather see the Halfmoon (Hudson replica ship) call Hudson its home port. I have said as much to the mayor. My own boat, Teja,( photos on web link), http://www.cruises.homestead.com is a restored 50 year old 31 foot sloop rig. I would love if I could be given the opportunity to run my sailing charter business out of Hudson’s waterfront, and I am trying to do so. I would only do so by giving Hudson taxpayers a fee of at least $900 for the season to share the dock with the Spirit. But, even if I don’t succeed, it is time that others get an opportunity to share the waterfront.
Although founded by whalers, Hudson is not in its modern self, a boaters city. That title goes to the Furgarians, and the Power Boat Association, and otherwise, Catskill and Athens folks. It is understandable that the waterfront issue is one that is late to surface, if only due to the familiarity, or lack thereof. But, now is the time to savvy-up, to get with the program, and to – take the helm. There is too much at stake, and potentially, a lot to lose (or gain).
It is mostly true that all ports benefit from having beautiful boats on its shores. The waterfront screams with opportunity, be it a museum, aquarium, brewery, burger joint, schooners, hotel, or all of the above. How about a kayak lock-up rack for locals, so that they get the opportunity to use their boat ten times a month, instead of a few times a season? It is high time to take the strangle hold off of the waterfront, and let the taxpayers profit.
My boat, Teja, offers something different from the Spirit, so there is no competition. I too, hope to get involved with local clubs, schools and groups. My very fair fee of approximately $20 per person per hour, includes sailing lessons. I am a licensed captain, one of the few in the area. I have been in business in Hudson in one form or another since 2006. I only want a win / win. It’s up to you Hudson. Take back Furgary. Take back the waterfront. Embrace the Spirit, but let them know that they have to pay too. It’s only fair.