Friday, December 01, 2006

A Tale of Two Emails:

Today, I'm just going to post 2 emails, sort of to try to close out the train-wreck issue:

The first is from Noreen Doyle at the Hudson River Park Trust, in response to an email I sent her after trying & failing to find an easy way to find out about future meetings. I'd decided to do that became evident that the paddler's grapevine (formerly fairly reliable) was now apparently suffering from phylloxera:

I'll ask that your home address be added too, and we'll correct your email. And of course, people can email me if they want to be on the circulation list for meetings. It would be helpful if they could understand that the Advisory Council itself includes organizations that are specifically named to the Council. There is a legal cap on the number of members that can be added. Others are welcome to attend in that the meetings are public (though as I said space is limited at most meetings). It is up to the Chair to set the agendas, and the Trust does not control this process. People who want to know more can read the Hudson River Park Act, available on our website. Pier 63 Maritime will shortly be added to the Council as a result of last week's vote, subject to our Board's confirmation.

So...she may not thank me for the but wotthehell, Archie, wotthehell:

Better than nothing. Still these meetings are supposed to be public, and if the public can't find out about 'em easily, maybe that's not really public enough. It shouldn't be any easier for noted squeaky-wheel Bonnie Q. Frogma to find out about this stuff than it is for Jane Q. Paddler who paddles a Feathercraft Java & has never heard of any of our assorted local list & clubs & what-have-you, but is curious & finds the Hudson River Park website through a Google search.

Now here was the other email - from one of the folks who DID get word about the last meeting:

Dear Bonnie,
Hi, my name is Bill Bergeron and I am a paddler who used to store his boat at Pier 63. I am writing to you today to announce some exciting news that I know you'll be interested in. I, along with a number of local paddlers, have formed the Hudson River Paddlers Guild. The "Guild" is a non-for-profit corporation devoted to the interests of independent paddlers, like yourself, who use the Hudson River and surrounding waterways. We formed the Guild to give a voice to our community when we found that, as independent paddlers, we had none during the closing of Pier 63.

While the situation at Pier 63 has been our first focus we have incorporated with a larger mission ahead:

• To promote and support the practice of recreational watersports, in particular kayaking.
• To encourage training, technique, competition, and safety programs for the community of paddlers who seek ways to improve their skills and knowledge.
• To provide a forum for human-powered boaters, not-for-profit organizations and commercial entities that share the Hudson River to promote safety and communication for all.
• To improve and protect safe public access to rivers and to promote care for the aquatic environment of all rivers, in particular the Hudson River, for recreation and enjoyment.

This vision, of an organization that represents the paddlers point of view, would be incomplete without you. I am writing to ask for your input, let me know what you think the Guild can do to meet the needs of our community.

As you may, or may not be aware, independent paddlers are already having an impact. As part of a team of paddlers and water-front community advocates, we are supporting John Krevey in his ongoing efforts to modify his existing DEC permits. These amendments would provide for both storage and launching facilities to return to Pier 63 Maritime when it reopens at Pier 66A.

Recently, we were encouraged when The Hudson River Park Trust Advisory Council voted, unanimously, to recommend that the Hudson River Park Trust support John's suggested amendments. In addition, the Advisory Council will be sending a letter of support to the DEC. While this is encouraging progress it will be months before we know if these amendments will be granted.

In addition to our efforts to restore what has been our community's home, the Guild has joined a consortium of other non-profit and private groups to make what we hope will be a successful bid on the recently released Pier 66 RFP. The details of our proposal are still in progress but so far we are supporting:

• Boat Storage that is convenient and reasonable priced.
• Safe and clean facilities, including docks that are well maintained and not slippery; good lighting; readily available emergency equipment.
• Flexible launch hours, as per independent paddlers needs
• Hot showers, changing area and lockers

We would like your suggestions about how the design and operation of this new facility can serve your needs.

We also need your support. If you believe that independent paddlers should have a strong and unified voice, if you believe that access to our cities waterways should be safe and unfettered, if you believe that paddlers should be caretakers of the river environment, then join us.

Becoming a Guild Member is simple. For just $35 you will not only have a seat at the table where your voice is heard and information comes to you first-hand but you will enjoy these additional benefits:

• Website, currently under construction, with timely news and information on the issues that effect our community presented in a clear, concise and timely fashion
• Bi-monthly newsletter covering the greater Hudson region
• Subscription to Adventure Kayak Magazine, a fresh new voice in paddlesports.

To become a member simply fill out the attached PDF and send it along with a check to the address below. I will follow up within a few days of receiving it with information on how you as a member can get involved and send your suggestions.

You can get involved today by sending this message and the attached membership form to anyone you think shares the interests and ideals of our community.

Yours truly,

William Bergeron-mirsky
Hudson River Paddlers Guild

Interested but not ready for membership? Reply to this email with "Friend of the Guild" as the subject line and we will continue to send you updates as we make progress in this exciting time for our community.

As I'm handing out emails - Bill's is .

Some of what they're proposing sounds useful, but I'm having a really hard time swallowing: "For just $35 you will...have a seat at the table where your voice is heard and information comes to you first-hand".

I thought that's what my tax dollars were supposed to get me.

I also have a problem with the fact that they got word of the last Advisory Council meeting & did not spread the word. No, it's not their responsibility, but it just bothers me that they didn't.

Ah well. Lovely paddle I had yesterday, wandering the mazelike grasses of the Elder's Point Marsh with TQ, looking down at the shells on the bottom through water clear as glass, musing over important questions like "If sailors get sea legs when they've sailed for a long time, what does a paddler get after paddling for a long time?". I'm pretty much settled on staying where I am. In some ways, I think it may a far, far better place for somebody who's as burned out on the Hudson River Park access issues as I am.

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