Through the course of the 20th century, our cities and communities grew exponentially without consideration for the environment, let alone the riverfront property we are now making strides to reclaim for recreation and living space.
Each city within the Capital District is reclaiming riverside property in an effort to beautify each cityscape with a mix of parks, music venues and desirable housing. There is the fight to fill the void left behind by the demolition of Troy’s City Hall, a hole that provides a view from Monument Square. There is also Rivers Casino and Resort that replaced a half century old abandoned rail yard with a multi-million dollar recreational center. And, Albany, which now regrets the construction of the spaghetti network of highways that severs its ties to its Riverfront, continuously attempts to expand upon Jennings Landing to return Albanians back to the river.
In Bethlehem alone, an effort to revitalize the 10-mile stretch of waterfront along the Hudson River has been an active plan since the town last adopted a comprehensive plan more than a decade ago.
Millions of dollars and several businesses are investing into the idea of returning back to the Hudson River. One only has to look at the joint application between Albany and Rensselear, attempting to lure Amazon to bring its headquarters here with a campus along both sides of the Hudson.
The river has long been the joke of local residents as a continuous cesspool for the industries and communities that dumped waste into it. Though it seems the awakening of a now environmentally conscious community sees the need to take care of the Hudson, there is still a lot of work ahead before we can say the job is done.
Toxic discharge through aging sewage systems in the cities upstream from our town needs to be addressed. Heavy rains, snow melt and other factors are amplifying the inadequacies of their infrastructures and leading to already harmful situations the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates cause as many as 5,000 illnesses at state beaches.
Our town needs to knock on our neighbors’ doors to the North and hold them accountable for these events, as well as informing us of when these events take place. Even better, hasten efforts to fix the problem entirely.
Michael Hallisey is managing editor of Spotlight Newspapers.