The following letter was published in this week’s issue of the Gazette.
To the editor:
One person can save Croton: Pete Harckham. He will be visiting the village on Tuesday, and he has the ability on that visit to significantly improve the quality of life for all Croton residents.
Recently the Croton Board of Trustees was shocked—shocked—to learn that on warm summer days, massive crowds inundate Nordica Drive and leave mounds of garbage everywhere. That our village politicians were shocked by this in itself is shocking, considering that the Board of Trustees got a report from a citizens committee 12 years ago discussing these very same problems.
Last week, the Croton Board of Trustees was again shocked. This time, the subject was the environmental disaster along Nordica and Piney Point. On three plots of steep sloping forest land, there has been clearcutting of trees. Not a single weed remains standing. For those of you who have not seen it, the best analogies would be to those aerial shots of the Amazon rainforest where cattle ranchers tore down everything, or a hillside in California after a mudslide.
This is Croton today.
Undisturbed since the glaciers receded up the Hudson 15,000 years ago, the steep hillside was covered in trees until 2019. I measured one stump alongside the road and it was 39 inches in diameter. That was one single tree among the many cut down. Today, nothing remains. An expensive house will soon stand there, albeit maybe not the most stable structure. And that is one of three sites along Nordica and Piney Point.
We have a steep slope law, but that only applies to regular folk: rich and powerful people regard Croton steep slope laws as a joke. Fran Allen spoke out about this a few years ago when the village approved the development of land between Turtle Creek and Lower North Highland Place. Ms. Allen said that there was a reason why the law existed, and that either Croton should enforce the steep slopes law or abolish it.
The point made by Ms. Allen back then remains valid today. The rich get exemptions, or as they say at the Municipal Building, “variances.”
This is where Pete comes in. He is the most influential person in Croton right now. Not because he is an elected official, but because he has his own podium. It is a magical podium: wherever the Harckham Podium is, there too will be Brian Pugh waiting for his turn to speak to the cameras.
I can appreciate that Croton is a small village, and not worthy of the ambitions of our politicians who yearn to rise up in the party organization. Unfortunately for those of us who reside in Croton, the Village of Croton-on-Hudson is at the bottom of the party organizational chart.
Our Mayor has more interest in what is going on in Peekskill or White Plains than in his own village. Our village trustees no doubt follow with interest the inner workings of the Cortlandt Democratic Party apparatus, but are shocked when residents tell them that steep slopes in Croton are being clearcut.
We should consider renaming Piney Point as Peekskill Point and rename the Croton River as Cortlandt River. Perhaps that would get our Board of Trustees to pay attention to what is going on in Croton, but that won’t solve our problems today.
So I appeal to Senator Harckham: when you visit Croton on Tuesday, please bring your podium.
After tequila shooters, you can lead the Croton Board of Trustees to the scene of the devastation. Set up at Piney Point facing the river so they can get a good view as they stand at the podium. Maybe you could make a habit of visiting Croton on a regular basis, so that our Board of Trustees is not again shocked to learn about conditions in the village. If you need help setting up the podium and lighting for the tv cameras, I would be happy to assist.