Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Public Notice and the Hudson River Park Trust

Ah, meant to put up some pretty pictures tonight but I just remembered that there was something I'd wanted to post about a while back, but never gotten past bothering the poor people who are on various lists that I'm on. Going onto the Community Board 1 website & having such an easy time finding information about their upcoming meetings reminded me.

As I've mentioned before, I've been active in Hudson River Park stuff since I joined Manhattan Kayak Company in early 1999. Being a partner in a company that needed the Park to accomodate kayaks to even exist was a great motivator for going to all the various meetings where the Park was discussed. Once I left MKC in early 2002, I eased up on my activities of that sort - once I spoke only for Me Myself & I, LLC, I was inclined to leave the bulk of that stuff to the Officially Involved. Still, since access was still important to me, I tried to keep abreast of developments, follow the various changes, and when it seemed like it would help the Trust to hear what paddlers wanted if a whole lot of us were all shouting at the same time, I was always ready to join in on email or letter-writing campaigns & try to rally others to do the same.

I was cleaning out some extremely old emails late last year, and I ran across one that I'd sent to NYCKayaker back during my time as an independent-though-involved paddler at Pier 63. It was dated July 2003. It was entitled "Having a Voice in the Hudson River Park", and it was basically one of my usual over-wordy diatribes about how good it would be for people to take an active role in Park stuff by attending meetings, listening to what was going on, and speaking up if they didn't approve.

Most of it was just generic rah rah, blah blah, if we all speak together the Trust will have to listen stuff - but the first sentence was pretty interesting & sort of sad, considering all of the really unhappy exchanges I ended up having with a lot of people I really didn't want to fight with from late September on (as the closing of the barge played itself out). If you were for some bizarre reason actually paying attention to the various plot twists, you might recall my December 1st Tale of Two Emails post - for those who missed that, there'd been a meeting of the Advisory Council to the Hudson River Park Trust that I would have really liked to attend, except that word never spread beyond a very small group who'd taken the lead (the rationale I was given later was that the meeting room was too small for wider attendance). I was frustrated with both the Trust (for not having anywhere on their website where a person who wasn't in the "in crowd" could find out about Park-related meeting) and the (then) newly announced Hudson River Paddler's Guild", whose stated goals are sounded admirable enough in their introductory email, but who I nevertheless felt were taking advantage of the lack of freely available information on park-related matters by presenting themselves as an intermediary between the Trust and the independent paddler (for which service the "independent paddler" need only pay a $35 membership fee). I would rather have seen the Guild immediately go to work on getting the Trust to re-open a process that used to be very open, but has evidently closed down some over the last relatively uneventful year or two. Interactions between the Trust and the paddlers have often felt like a two-steps-forward, one-step-back process - somehow this time, though, it's felt more like no steps forward, three steps back.

That was really driven home by the first sentence of this email I'd written back in 2003 -

Hudson River Park Trust meetings are open to the public. Public notice is available
here: http://www.hudsonriverpark.org/public/board.html.

So apparently back in July 2003, the Trust ACTUALLY HAD A PUBLIC NOTICE PAGE.

Did you try the link? Not exactly helpful now, eh?

I'm pretty sure that back in 2003, that link would have taken you to something a lot more informative than in does here in early 2007, as in the email I went on to describe that now-lost page as being the way to see what meetings were coming up & whether they'd be of interest to the general paddling public or not.

So when I was pestering Noreen about getting public notice on their website, and she was offering having people email her directly to be put on the list instead (still meaning that you had to be enough of an insider to know that emailing her was the key to getting notice - better than nothing but still not really public, somehow)- all I was asking for was for the Trust to reinstate a service that they used to provide as a matter of course.

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