AMSTERDAM, NY—Representatives Paul D. Tonko, Antonio Delgado and Sean Patrick Maloney sent a letter to William Flynn, President and Chief Executive Officer of Amtrak, requesting Amtrak work with state, county and local stakeholders to develop a program that protects public safety while maintaining community access to the Hudson River. The letter responds to a plan to upgrade Amtrak’s fencing that, while intended to reduce trespassing and incidents between pedestrians, motorists and trains, would cut off public access to the waterfront.
“Our Hudson River serves as an important cultural, economic and environmental boon for so many of our New York communities,” Congressman Tonko said. “Unfortunately, highways and railroads block access to much of our beautiful riverfront, leaving precious few locations for families to enjoy. I urge Amtrak to collaborate with municipalities and local organizations in order to ensure that New Yorkers do not lose out on this national treasure. We can work to ensure public safety without sacrificing access for our communities.”
“The Hudson River is essential to our way of life across the Hudson Valley, and that includes access to this critical landmark in our community,” Congressman Delgado said. “I joined my colleagues in urging Amtrak to come to the table and find a balance that improves the safety of our Amtrak Empire Service and ensures that the towns and villages across New York’s 19th District can access the Hudson. It is critically important that we keep our communities safe, and while doing so, we can strive to maintain the beauty of our landscape and access to the river.”
“The Hudson River is an important part of the Hudson Valley’s outdoor traditions and the Hudson Valley economy,” Congressman Maloney said. “Amtrak needs to work with local and state governments to ensure our families, businesses and tourists don’t lose access to the river and our river communities.”
Riverfront access has been a key component in the revitalization of numerous Upstate New York communities in recent years. In 2018, Amtrak unveiled a plan to install locked gates and impasse fencing surrounding areas with waterfront access. The letter from Representatives Tonko, Maloney and Delgado asks that Amtrak demonstrate its proposed plan is consistent with Public Access Policies in the New York State Coastal Management Program as well as Local Waterfront Revitalization Programs. It also encourages cooperation between Amtrak, public officials and interested stakeholders to meet both the safety and economic needs of shoreline municipalities.
A number of state and local leaders and organizations have voiced their support of the letter.
Ned Sullivan, Scenic Hudson President
“When it comes to the Hudson River, the people of the Hudson Valley want to have access to it. It’s also a key goal of New York State’s Coastal Management Program. Working with Amtrak, we can find common sense, 21st century ways to reduce risk without losing already scarce river access. Thank you Representatives Tonko, Delgado and Maloney for recognizing that through collaboration we can solve problems in ways that meet the needs of all.”
Steve McLaughlin, Rensselaer County Executive
“Rensselaer County is a proponent of protecting and promoting public access to the Hudson River. We have enjoyed a long history of boating, fishing, birding and hiking in and along the river. The Hudson River plays an important role in our tourism industry, with recreational activities for visitors as well as its historical significance. We recognize that residents want more safe access points to the river throughout our county, and encourage efforts to strengthen connections between our residents and this majestic waterway,”
Marcus J. Molinaro, Dutchess County Executive
“The Hudson River, with its beautiful waterfronts, irreplaceable ecosystems, and rich history is a state and national treasure and is part of what defines Dutchess County as a great place to live, work, and visit. While we all would support efforts to reduce risk along Amtrak’s Empire Corridor South, we also know that access to the Hudson River is already limited—and continues to be fragile. I support the request of Representatives Tonko, Delgado and Maloney of Amtrak to work collaboratively to work with all relevant state and local representatives to effectively reduce safety risks without compromising already limited access in places like Tivoli and Rhinebeck.”
Bob Schmidt, Mayor, Village of Castleton-on-Hudson
“I would like to thank our Congressional Representatives for bringing the Village's 25-year long dream of Hudson River access at Riverfront Park closer to reality.”
Kamal Johnson, Mayor, City of Hudson
“Our community relies on the Hudson River for fishing, recreation, and commerce. Consistent with our Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (LWRP), I want to increase access to the river and give more people the opportunity to take advantage of this important resource.”
Joel Griffith, Mayor, Village Tivoli
“The Hudson is directly responsible for the fact that the Village of Tivoli developed at all, and in the nearly three intervening centuries it has played a central economic, cultural, and recreational role in the survival and success of our community. The importance of public access to the Hudson at the Tivoli riverfront cannot be overstated.”
Robert W. Beaury, Supervisor, Town of Germantown
“It is my continued hope that our cherished waterfront will not be fenced in or gated off by Amtrak. For the last two years Amtrak has failed to demonstrate a need for such draconian measures in Germantown, offering instead the vague statement “we have identified areas of concern.” As a government official, I know that statement falls short of describing the reality. As a stakeholder, statements like that are worrisome because they dismiss any opposition at face value. We need to work together to achieve a balance between accessing the river and ensuring safety around the tracks in our local communities.”
Elizabeth Spinzia, Supervisor, Town of Rhinebeck
“Over the past two years, the Town of Rhinebeck has been working with our neighbors to help Amtrak understand that we need safe and unimpeded access to our Hudson River shoreline. The river belongs to all of us. Thank you to our Representatives Paul Tonko, Sean Maloney, and Antonio Delgado for helping to achieve our goals.”
The full letter can be read here.