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Mayor Schmidt Looks to Jam Clearwater "Parkers" in 2007

May 31, 2006


The Clearwater Festival—dubbed the Great Hudson River Revival—is set to take over Croton Point Park for Father’s Day weekend, June 17 & 18, 2006 from 10:00 AM to dusk daily. For over three decades, the non-profit environmental group Clearwater has attracted as many as 15,000 fans to its cultural festival which is designed and implemented to create an enjoyable, entertaining family experience in alignment with its environmental, social and business sustainability standards over the course of the two-day event.

Obviously, with a packed lineup of well-known musicians—like Pete Seeger, Janis Ian, Michelle Shocked Dan Bern, Lucy Kaplansky, Black 47 and many more—the Village of Croton-on-Hudson becomes a weekend home to thousands of hungry and thirsty fans (check the empty soft drink and beer coolers on Sunday night at Shop-Rite) from far and wide. Though many of those in attendance for the festival set-up camp at Croton Point Park, others ride a Metro North train or simply drive to Croton.

One of the great perks offered by Clearwater for festival goers who arrive by car has always been free parking at the Croton Harmon parking lot and a free shuttle to take them in and out of the park. Alternately, parking inside Croton Point Park is $10.00 per car per day. However, getting in and out of the park during peak times can be a lengthy ordeal. Thus, the regularly operated bus shuttles—that pick up riders at the main gate—can be of great convenience to weary fans at the end of the day.

What a partnership—a Hudson River town hosting the Clearwater Festival. Each year the Clearwater organizers write a letter to Village Manager Herbek requesting permission to use the parking lot for the bus shuttle service. No problem. Clearwater is insured, they clean up and remove any garbage from the premises. Why then does Mayor Dr. Gregory Schmidt—apparently acting on his own during the May 15, 2006, village board meeting (see following video clip) and pending his own re-election in 2007—seek to jam visitors to Croton with a parking fee at next year’s event?

Crotonblog is confused as to why the village is able to continue freely spending thousands of dollars for things like legal fees in the case of 1A Croton Point Avenue—under Mayor Dr. Gregory Schmidt’s leadership—and at the same time make it a priority to pursue a few hundred dollars in parking fees on an otherwise free day “down there”… Further, does Mayor Dr. Gregory Schmidt’s “pet” annual Rotary Club Car Show—held in September—require its visitors to pay a parking fee at the Harmon lot? Certainly not…

So, once again, we ask the Mayor, “What’s up, Doc?”

Video clip:

Option: Download and watch this video clip of “Mayor Schmidt Looks to Jam Clearwater ‘Parkers’ in 2007” from the Village Board meeting on May 15, 2006, in Quicktime format (2:10 min. | 2.7 mb).

Video transcript:

Village Manager Rick Herbek: “The next letter is from Ron Aja, the events director of the Clearwater festival writing to request the use of the parking lot at the Croton-Harmon train station for the weekend of June 17th and 18th. Clearwater will be fully responsible for the cleanup and disposal of litter that may result from use of the lot. And Mr. Aja will be sending us a copy of the certificate of insurance naming the village as an additional insured. And it will also be providing free shuttle bus service from the station to the festival at Croton Point Park.”

Mayor Greg Schmidt: “That’s just a notification to us.”

Trustee Charlie Kane: “No problem.”

Mayor Greg Schmidt: “What I would actually like to do with this is to put it on a work session for the future. Not for this year but to discuss um, how we proceed in future years with that down there. Perhaps the village should be charging, not Clearwater but charging parkers down there. Ah, the county certainly charges for parking there and ah, the village maybe missing an opportunity to charge for parking down there. So, I think it is something that we should just ah, discuss and see what we can do with that.”

On June 3, 2006 10:22 PM, KWilly said:

1) I actaully have a better idea. Since Clearwater is all about keeping the hudson clean why dont we kill two birds with one stone and charge parking only for the SUV’s, and Hummers. Think about it we need to inconveince the gas gusslers as much as they are inconviencing us with using up our gas supply and making us Saab drivers pay more at the pump.

2) What about biking no gas used and clearwater is usaully held on a beutiful day

On June 2, 2006 6:09 PM, dors said:

I wasn’t going to comment on this situation but it’s just so embarrassing that I must say something. PoliAnna is so right when she said that we need to be Partners with Clearwater. Think about that….this festival makes money for Hudson River causes. We definitely want to continue to sponsor any organization that comes to our community to help pay for river cleanup. Which brings me to my next point. I loved the ‘Welcome to Croton’ handout idea for all our festival guests. Every deli, retail store, and restaurant should be mapped out for our visitors and handed out at the door. What better way to open our community to visitors. Curious that the President of the Chamber of Commerce wants to lessen participation instead of increase participation in local events! “Stay away unless you pay” - not a good slogan for Croton.

On June 2, 2006 4:14 PM, PoliAnna said:

Above and beyond the issue of whether or not the Village needs to collect more money, or whether it would discourage attendance at the festival, or whether it is unneighborly (to say nothing of positively hostile), there is the even more important issue of the practical logistics of collecting a parking fee.

Anyone who has ever been to the festival knows that cars arrive laden with adults, kids, lawn chairs, picnic baskets, wheelchairs, strollers, and assorted other paraphernalia. Sending someone to the booth to buy a permit while everyone else in the family stands in the bus line might seem possible, but separating family members in a stress situation (which it can be — hot and a little chaotic) is a baaaaddd idea.

So it would mean someone standing at the entry to the parking lot collecting $5 bills. Or more likely, $20 bills that need change. Bad idea. Traffic would back up hopelessly as people search in their wallets and purses for the cash. Or don’t have the cash and try to turn around. And it would block not only the parking lot entrance, but the entrance to the Park as well since they are the same road.

And what about the Croton residents, who are entitled to a free weekend park (assuming this policy is still in force.) Would they have to make a special trip to the Village office to get their pass? Another bad idea.

Will people conclude that it is not worth taking the buses if there is a parking fee at the Croton lot? This would result in even more cars trying to enter the Croton Point Park parking and further irritate everybody and lessen attendance in the future.

Instead, why doesn’t the Village give every visitor a Welcome to Croton sheet that lists local businesses that people can visit when they leave the Festival. Many people come for two days, and knowing where they could go to pick up a little food, or even buy something, might be good for local businesses.

Every community that has ever hosted the Festival has provided for free parking. It would be embarrassing to live in a community that is so money-grubbing. Why be poor hosts when we can be gracious, enthusiastic partners to Clearwater. After all, Clearwater is the organization that has made OUR River clean so that we can enjoy and cherish it

Ann Harbeson

On June 1, 2006 1:49 PM, waffels said:

Absolutely…Clearwater is a non-profit organization, mostly volunteer based, that is all about looking after the quality and education of the Hudson River. They work endlessly to insure that everyone abides by laws, respects the natural wonder of it learns all they can about it. This river is an amazing treasure that makes this village that much better and I say hail, hail to any group that wants to protect that. To charge for parking on two days where the lot is used very little, to a non-profit organization that does so much good for our village as well as all the river town communities, for an event that is all about supporting the enviorment, peace, community, and throwing in an all around great time would be embarrasing to say the least. I have a feeling that when the idea get’s presented to the whole board for a vote, thank goodness the level headed, enviormentally concious majority will do the right thing.

On May 31, 2006 7:20 PM, Mrs. Smith said:

Why on earth would Schmidt want to charge for parking? What would that do except create bad feeling about the village? Former mayor Bob Elliott worked hard to bring Clearwater back to Croton Point after they left for many years and held the festival at WCC and then Marist College. Perhaps, as head of the Chamber of Commerce, Schmidt would be better served trying to help local merchants take advatage of such a huge influx of people into the village and come up with some type of plan to attract visitors into the village stores and restuarants, instead of trying to nickel and dime them on parking.

On May 31, 2006 9:17 AM, weewill said:

Mayor Schmidt and Village Trustees, please view this as a formal request to place this issue on a regularly scheduled Village Board agenda instead of a work session. Since few people attend work sessions many might miss the opportunity to tell you how they feel about this issue.

While not certain, my belief is that most residents welcome the Clearwater Festival and are happy to forego parking fees to accommodate the many visitors to our wonderful Hudson River and Croton community.

My hope is that the final decision of the board will be to proceed in future years just as we have since the inception of the Clearwater Festival… that is, continue to allow free parking for visitors attending this special event. We’re proud of our community and are grateful to the non-profit Clearwater organizers for sponsoring it. We need to show our support for their tireless efforts to share the beauty of our treasured Hudson River.

— Georgianna Grant

Note: On the chance that the Mayor and Trustees don’t read the posts on the Blog, I am sending a copy of this post to their office.


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