Like an old-world patriarch willing to give away his spinster daughter to any deep-pocketed suitor who comes along, no matter how desultory, many of Hudson’s village elders (and various youngins) have over the years been willing to entertain less than ideal proposals for its neglected waterfront. Which isn’t all that surprising: once the inspiration for gorgeous landscapes by Hudson River School painters but now littered with ungainly relics from a long-extinct industrial past, the area no doubt requires a little extra effort to be able to envision its potential as a beautiful, even lucrative destination.
When plans for a massive cement plant nearby were defeated a few years ago, there was hope that the necessary collective consciousness had been raised. But a whole new proposal has shown that this isn’t the case. With the support of much of the local government, there is now a proposal to build a truck route, a lot of it through scenic countryside and wetlands, from limestone pits on the city’s borders to a hulking shipping depot (see pic below) right next to an attractive (if sadly truncated and overshadowed) greensward that the city recently built. The building of this road, critics say, will lead to a dramatic expansion of mining in the hills to the east and industrial-scale shipping on the river’s banks below, thereby muscling out for perpetuity all but token recreational and environmental uses that most see as the real economic future of the region. But what the hell? It’s “all just a swamp” anyway, as one of these elders, an elected official, exclaimed during a recent public hearing.
“This town sometimes has a real self-esteem problem,” says Peter Jung, whose Valley Alliance, with Sam Pratt, is leading the opposition to this plan. “People just don’t seem to realize the amazing resources we have here, and the enormity of what’s at stake.” The best way to demonstrate all of that, Jung realized, is to simply pack a lot of people into his Subaru and drive them around. Which is what he is willing to do — so give him a ring for a simultaneously wondrous, eye-opening, and hackle-raising grand tour. (To contact Peter, call 518-755-4350)
— Scott Baldinger