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The Croton River's Crazy Quilt and Her Stakeholder Jumble

May 24, 2007

real-deal-by-leo-wiegman.gif

The big idea is to coordinate development in the Croton Bay watershed—outlined in this aerial photo—with the resource management plans for retaining biodiversity in the Hudson Highlands to the east and in the remarkable Hudson River estuary to the west.

croton-river-watershed-map-paradise-island.jpg
Croton Bay Watershed.

Umbrella protections for both the Croton Bay and Croton Reservoir watersheds would help keep the Croton River and Indian Brook as healthy as possible as a drinking water supply for nearly 20,000 residents and as a vital wildlife corridor and habitat connecting the Hudson to the Highlands.

The Croton River is only 3.5 miles long from the dam to the Hudson. Indian Brook in Ossining, which is a tributary, is much shorter. But within these short local distances, we find both diverse ecosystems and—at times—divergent legal systems.

Our watershed is crazy quilt of local, state and county jurisdictions. Conflicting rules and land use policies cross all levels of government. One crazy quilt example can be found if we examine Paradise Island, a popular destination in the tidal section of the Croton River (shown here on this topographical map and in the red circle on the aerial photo * above).

croton-river-mayos-landing.jpg
Download this map in .pdf format.

Paradise Island itself is owned by Westchester County and managed by the County Parks Department, which has no direct access to the site. Mayo’s Landing provides the closest public access to the Island and is owned by Village of Croton and the site of erosion gulleys, stormwater outfalls, and a rare patch of level riverbank.

Just to the east, Deer Island is privately owned, as are the steep slopes on the eastern shore beyond Deer Island. Erosion due to foot traffic is quite apparent on eastern shore’s steep private properties which fall under by three different towns in just this tiny stretch of river: Cortlandt, New Castle, and Ossining.

Hence, within a 200 foot circle off the upstream tip of Paradise Island, the river rubs up against five different governments each with hitherto uncoordinated regulations.

The following governments or agencies have jurisdiction over ownership of, or an enforcement role in the parcels that comprise our 3,000 acre watershed between the Croton Dam and the Croton Bay Esturary on the Hudson River. Let’s call these stakeholders collectively as “The Croton Bay Watershed Partnership.”

The Croton Bay Watershed Partnership would include representatives from the following 13 agencies:

The good news is there has never been a better time to coordinate our efforts. We have neven had so many complementary resources available to draw on for studying how to protect our scenic and vital watershed.

Resources for the Croton River and Bay Watershed Partnership include, alphabetically, but are not limited to the following 15 organizations:

We have much to gain from saving the Croton River and Croton Bay watershed! Protecting the drinking water for Croton and Ossining residents, swimming, kayaking, hiking, fishing, and, of course, scenic beauty, not to mention a healthy habitat for bald eagle, heron, ducks, and myriad fish including migrating species such as trout, striped bass, and shad.

PS. Look for Joel Gingold’s public lecture and slide show on “Saving the River” at the Croton Free Library, June 2, 2007, a Friends of History project.

Leo Wiegman

Editor’s Note: The author is a former Village of Croton-on-Hudson Trustee who served three terms from 2001 to 2007.

On August 27, 2007 1:49 PM, Leo Wiegman said:

Among the potential partners for a Croton Bay Watershed, I am really embarrassed that we left Teatown off our list! Teatown lies within the watershed and is involved every day in raising public awareness about the environment.

After talking recently with Fred Koontz, Teatown’s Executive Director, I recommend we that we keep Teatown informed of our efforts to establish a Croton River Compact.

Hence, let’s add Teatown to the list of organizations—after Scenic Hudson and before Trout Unlimited, alphabetically speaking!

Teatown Lake Reservation (Teatown.org)

Leo Wiegman 8/27/07

On June 8, 2007 10:46 AM, Leo Wiegman said:

CORRECTION! My apologies to Joel Gingold and the Library. The CORRECT time and date for Joel’s presentation is 12 June, 2007 Tuesday 7:30 pm Ottinger Room, Croton Free Library “CAN THIS RIVER BE SAVED? Reflections on the Past, Present and Future of the Croton River.”

-Leo

On June 1, 2007 9:41 AM, bojangles said:

Leo tells it like it is. The letter published in last week’s Gazette written by Bill Rooney is so off-base as to defy response. Any one who pays attention to Croton affairs knows full well that the former Democratic administration initiated measures for protecting the Croton River in its entirety. The Schmidt administration has done little except try to appease neighbors who complain by cutting off access and restricting its use and enjoyment. Charlie Kane has long been recognized not only as an authority on both the Croton and the Hudson Riverways but has been tireless in his work to preserve both. Credit should be should be given to him and his committee - not Mayor Schmidt!

But then Bill Rooney knows nothing but political spin (or what Maria Cudequest tells him) when he speaks. It’s long been suspected that “his” letters are written by Ms. Cudequest. Those of us who pay attention are well aware of her way of spinning and stretching the truth and pay little attention to her rants. They do a grave disservice to residents trying to remain informed.

Too bad!

On May 25, 2007 9:15 PM, Devil's Advocate said:

EXCELLENT!!! This is EXACTLY what I am talking about. Taking a complex issue and breaking it down so it is understandable and engaging to the general public.

This is great!!!

On May 25, 2007 2:27 PM, Leo Wiegman said:

Dear DA: Thanks for the constructive criticism. I will try to avoid ten cent words next time, or provide definitions, if a term would be vital to the article. For example, “watershed” needs to be understood here, in everyday language, and can not be omitted entirely without erasing the reason to post the article. So, here is the whole column now without the ten cent words.

PS: Please do tell me if this second version is closer to what you would like to see in the future.

======

Real Deal 5-25-07 {version with everyday language} The Croton River’s crazy quilt of political boundaries

The big idea is to coordinate development in the Croton Bay watershed—outlined in this aerial photo—with the plans for the Hudson Highlands to the east and in the remarkable Hudson River estuary to the west. The Croton Bay watershed is all the land that drains into the Croton River between the Croton Dam and Hudson River. This watershed is about 3,000 acres that sits across many local potlical boundaries.

Umbrella protections for both the Croton Bay and Croton Reservoir watersheds would help keep the Croton River and Indian Brook as healthy as possible as a drinking water supply for nearly 20,000 residents. The Croton River also serves a vital wildlife habitat connecting the Hudson to the Highlands.

The Croton River is only 3.5 miles long from the dam to the Hudson. Indian Brook in Ossining, which feeds into the Croton River, is much shorter. But within these short local distances, we find both diverse life forms and competing political rules about how to protect this area.

Our watershed is crazy quilt of local, state and county jurisdictions. Conflicting rules and land use policies cross all levels of government. One crazy quilt example can be found if we examine Paradise Island, a popular destination in the tidal section of the Croton River (shown here on this topographical map and in the red circle on the aerial photo above).

Paradise Island itself is owned by managed by Westchester County Parks Department, which has no direct access to the site. Mayo’s Landing provides the closest public access to the Island and is owned by Village of Croton and the site of erosion and a rare patch of level riverbank.

Just to the east, Deer Island is privately owned, as are the steep slopes on the eastern shore beyond Deer Island. Eroded slopes due to foot traffic are quite apparent on eastern shore’s steep private properties that fall under by three different towns in just this tiny stretch of river: Cortlandt, New Castle, and Ossining.

Hence, within a 200 foot circle off the upstream tip of Paradise Island, the river rubs up against five different governments each with different land use regulations.

The following governments or agencies have jurisdiction over, onwership of, or an enforcement role in the parcels that comprise our 3,000 acre watershed between the Croton Dam and the Croton Bay Esturary on the Hudson River. Let’s call this groupcollectively “The Croton Bay Watershed Partnership.” Alphabetically, the Croton Bay Watershed Partnership would include representatives from the following 13 agencies:

The good news is there has never been a better time to coordinate our efforts. We have neven had so many complementary resources available to draw on for studying how to protect our scenic and vital watershed.

Resources for the Croton River and Bay Watershed Partnership include, alphabetically, but are not limited to the following 15 organizations:

We have much to gain from saving the Croton River and Croton Bay watershed! Protecting the drinking water for Croton and Ossining residents, swimming, kayaking, hiking, fishing, and, of course, scenic beauty, not to mention a healthy home for bald eagle, heron, ducks, and myriad fish including migrating species such as trout, striped bass and shad.

PS Look for Joel Gingold’s public lecture and slide show on “Saving the River” at the Croton Free Library, June 2, 2007, a Friends of History project.

Leo Wiegman trusteew@bestweb.net

======

On May 25, 2007 11:25 AM, Devil's Advocate said:

Leo:

I know this is off topic, but I cannot help myself here. As I wrote in my responses to the article about why the election was lost, this article although informative, is a perfect example of a poor communication that turns the average Joe off completely.

The first rule of communications is if you dont know your audience, you should keep your communication to a 7th grade reading level. This article is full of words that the bulk of the people do not fully understand. This TURNS PEOPLE OFF. It comes across as condescending and elitist even though your intentions are good. For a political figure, this is unacceptible

Below are a few examples:

Watershed Biodiversity Erosion Gulleys Stormwater Outfalls Estuary Hitherto Uncoordinated Regulations Stakeholders Myriad Vital Wildlife Corridor Tributary Diverse Ecosystems Divergent Legal Systems

In addition, and again as I pointed out in my posts about how the election was lost, you use references in this piece to Boards, Committees, Agencies, and Organizations that the average person knows nothing about. This just loses people!

I do not know if you have asperations of running for office again. I would love to see you back in a trustees seat, but you and your fellow Democrats need to stop communicating in this fashion. It does not appeal to the masses AT ALL.

Another example, Marshall Goldberg who is an extremely capable person, lost his write in bid for the School Board. His letter to the Crotonblog and the Gazette in my opinion lost it for him. He came across as bragging and full of himself with comments like:

“Amid the clutter of employment responsibilities, the completion of two additional Master’s degrees (in education, this time), school board responsibilities, work on behalf of the Westchester-Putnam School Boards Assn., the Regional Educational Advocacy Districts (READ), Destination Imagination”

The completion of two ADDITIONAL Masters Degrees … GIVE US ALL A BREAK.

You think you guys would learn from losing an election to candidates who struggle to communicate at a 7th grade reading level.



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