Recent vandalism and a blatant disregard for the natural surroundings by bathers in the area of the southern side of the Croton River—which is part of the Town of Cortlandt—have resulted in a blight of orange spray-painted graffiti, significant amounts of abandoned litter and excess wear to the sensitive access trails that are causing erosion gullies to form.
The worst of the damage is the unsightly “Colombia,” “Ecaudor” and similar markings with spray paint on the large boulders that dot the banks of the pristine tidal section of the Croton River near Mayo’s landing.
Occurrences of vandalism, littering, theft and trespass have dramatically increased to the point of being “the worst it has ever been,” according to Trustee Charlie Kane. Trustee Kane, his neighbors on Truesdale Drive, Cedar Drive and Nordica Drive deserve credit for the response to and escalated public awareness of the problems on the Croton River. They also deserve praise for planning to combat these bands of environmental terrorists by collectively saying, “Enough is enough.” Special mention should also be made of the efforts of other residents, including professional photographer and river paddler Ken Sargeant.
At a village board meeting, July 10, 2006, Trustee Kane first made residents aware of the incidents along the south shore of the Croton River (see the video clip and transcript at the end of this story).
Then on Wednesday, July 13, 2006, Trustee Kane invited Town of Cortlandt Supervisor Linda Puglisi, Mayor Dr. Gregory Schmidt, Police Chief Dennis Coxen, Fire Chief Gary Diggs, Manager Rick Herbek and Janine King to meet and plan a cooperative course of action. Some of the ideas proposed will make access to the southern shoreline area more difficult by making parking along Quaker Bridge Road—near a heavily used river access trail—a ticketed offense by adding “No Parking” signs along the road.
Additionally, Croton village officials have asked the Town of Cortlandt officials to consider extending police jurisdiction to the Cortlandt side of the river and also to provide funding to cover the additional costs of patrolling the areas around Quaker Bridge Road.
To accomplish this, the Village of Croton-on-Hudson would prepare an Inter-Municipal Agreement, often referred to as an IMA, with the Town of Cortlandt for their approval. Acceptance of the agreement would then enable Croton Police, for example, to follow, a person who jumps off the roof of a certain Nordica Drive resident’s home, and arrest them for trespassing and bring them back to Croton Police HQ.
Since meeting with Cortlandt officials, Trustee Kane has piloted his motor-powered 12-foot rowboat on three journeys upriver to assess, document and plan repairs to the affected area. Kane, a lifelong Croton resident, fisherman and Hudson River environmental expert first journeyed with fellow Trustee and former Planning Board Chair Ann Gallelli on Sunday, July 9, 2006, to see the damage first-hand. The next day, during the village board meeting on July 10th, both Trustee Gallelli and Kane amplified their concerns and those of other Croton residents with whom they had recently communicated.
Trustee Kane set off from the canoe launch yet again on Friday, July 14, 2006, to head up river, this time with Town of Cortlandt Councilwoman Ann Lindau, Croton Village Manager Rick Herbek, and his assistant, Janine King, to show them first-hand how serious is the problem we are all facing.
Sunday, July 16, 2006, Trustee Kane shoved off for his third trip upriver and shuttled Trustee Leo Wiegman, Julie Wiegman and Trustee Ann Gallelli to the afflicted area in his boat, while a smaller contingent of Croton police officers led the way in the department pontoon boat.
Upon arrival, the Trustees set off to the boulders to successfully remove much of the spray paint by burning it with a blowtorch and removing the remains with a wire brush.
Croton police assisted and encouraged visitors to the site to assist with the clean up of litter found along the shore, to refrain from starting campfires and to keep the volume of music to a minumum.
Monday night, July 17, 2006, the village board reconvened for a regularly scheduled work session, where Trustee Kane announced that he had formed a committee of residents to help keep the situation under control and to work with the town of Cortlandt through Ann Lindau as liaison. In addition to increased patrol on the Croton side of the River, Police Chief Dennis Coxen is taking the lead in working out enforcement details with Supervisor Linda Puglisi, pending acceptance of an IMA between the Town of Cortlandt and the Village of Croton-on-Hudson.
Trustee Ann Gallelli: “Um, the first thing that I want to talk about is really, I know Charlie is going to talk about it so I just want to mention that it happened. Yesterday, Charlie and I went on an ah, a cruise—“
Trustee Charlie Kane: “We went on a cruise. Yes we did.”
Trustee Ann Gallelli: “—in Charlie’s boat up the Croton River. Um, to look at and assess the situation, that we have been hearing such bad reports about on the Croton River and the reports are well justified and I am sure Charlie is going to talk about that.”
Trustee Charlie Kane: “I have been receiving a tremendous amount of feedback from our resident concerning the Croton River and I have spent the past two weeks documenting the abuses, overuses and ah, just a Wild West atmosphere that is occurring there. I’ve ah, again had a boat trip with Ann yesterday to document some of the problems there and I’ve got quite a few photos I’ll pass on to the board. And these especially occur on the east side of the Croton River which is in the Town of ah, Cortlandt. And this runs the gamut from graffiti to ah, young men risking their lives jumping off cliffs to litter, litter, a tremendous amount of litter, just an unbelievable amount of litter. And we have unlicensed fishermen, fires, remnants of fires and the list goes on and on and on. And I’ve documented these. And this coming Wednesday, I will be attending a meeting with Linda Puglisi, I think our mayor and Rick concerning some of the abuses that have occurred there and possible steps we might take to mitigate these conditions that ah, have really terrorized our residents. I will be there Wednesday at 12:00.”
Mayor Dr. Gregory Schmidt: “Good. Look forward to that because I do believe that we need to ah, put a little pressure on the town—“
Trustee Charlie Kane: “Absolutely.”
Mayor Dr. Gregory Schmidt: “—to step up to the plate and I think that the supervisor is um, showing some more willingness to do that and ah—“
Trustee Charlie Kane: “I have some new ideas to put forth and hopefully Linda will consider these.”
Mayor Dr. Gregory Schmidt: “I think she will because she has made overtures in the past to help out with things you know and ah, I think that they are pretty committed.”
Trustee Charlie Kane: “My neighbors have told me ‘enough is enough’”.
Mayor Dr. Gregory Schmidt: “Enough is enough, exactly.”
Trustee Charlie Kane: “That’s it.”