Hudson and Taghkanic’s local governments are dysfunctional enough on their own; put their two heads together, and the likelihood of a concussion jumps exponentially.A recent issue of the Columbia Paper mentioned in passing that Taghkanic was contemplating “the closing of Reservoir Road to protect the City of Hudson’s water supply.” Meanwhile, a January 28th article in the Register-Star reported that Hudson DPW Superintendent Robert “Perry also announced that the city now owns Reservoir Road in the town of Taghkanic off Route 27. In exchange for the road the city approved the town’s request to install a fire hydrant onto the city’s main waterline, which runs from the reservoir dam, through the countryside to the city.”
The road runs along one side of the Churchtown Reservoir, which supplies the city with its water (see the Google map above).
Regular meeting attendees in Taghkanic report that Hudson’s rationale was fear of (a) terrorists poisoning the Reservoir, and (b) a car sliding off the road and fouling it. Meanwhile, there is no evidence that such a deal has actually been completed at this point, only contemplated.
Oy. Where to begin with this morass of bad information and mistaken assumptions?
- Anyone familiar with Reservoir Road knows that closing it wouldn’t stop people from getting to the water. One could simply park on County Route 27, Taghkanic-Churchtown Road, or any number of secluded neighboring properties, and walk to the Reservoir’s edge in about 60 seconds. (Just a couple weeks ago I saw ice fishermen on the Reservoir, who had gotten there through a neighboring property, not the road. At least I think they were fishermen...)
- Poisoning a large water supply, especially one that runs a great distance through pipes and also a filtration plant, is one of the more difficult and unlikely things any serious terrorist would try—and that’s if one actually believes in the absurdity of Hudson being a terrorist target. (One suspects that Al Qaeda has bigger fish to fry than the trout in a Taghkanic pond.) This is the kind of thing you hear about in movies, not reality. As the group Friends of Reservoirs has reported:
The majority of experts have concluded that it would be virtually impossible to successfully contaminate a major public water supply. Toxins are much more effective in aerosol form. There has never been a successful water system contamination in the world. The bigger threat is backflow from the privacy of a home, and is considered more likely (per Wall Street Journal report 12/28/01).
- Reservoir Road is so curved, hilly and heavily-wooded that it would be a one-in-a-zillion chance for any car skidding off to have either the speed or the ability to slide all the way into the Reservoir without being blocked by a tree. (Maybe they also should prepare for the possibility of a meteor slamming into the Reservoir, splashing it all over neighboring houses like a kid jumping in a mud puddle.)
- While the idea of trading Reservoir Road for a fire hydrant has been discussed by Hudson and Taghkanic, to my knowledge no deal has been finalized. Such a swap would require a lot more approvals than just a single Town Board get-together or private meeting. It would appear that either Perry misspoke, or a reporter misheard that claim.
- Other attendees note that if Taghkanic really needs a new fire hydrant tapping into Hudson’s line, it’s the least the City ought to do. After all, Hudson gets all of its water from us, under a lopsided agreement whose terms are wildly favorable to the City. (Hudson’s water demands often drain the Taghkanic creek dry in summertime.) Is an entire road really worth a single hydrant? How much does a hydrant cost? Aren’t there other ways to put one in? After all, “Taghkanic” is supposedly Mahican for “land of flowing waters" ... We’re hardly lacking for water pressure around these parts.
- If Hudson is so concerned about the safety of its water, why did Mayor Scalera strike a deal several years ago to sell off its backup water supply on Becraft Mountain so that the Colarusso company could mine all around it? Why doesn’t it back out of that deal while it still can?
- Though little-traveled, Reservoir Road is a useful connector between 27 and Taghkanic-Churchtown Road, forming essentially the other half of Mambert Road. If parts of County Routes 27 or 12 were closed off due to a tornado or ice storm (as happened not so long ago), emergency personnel would have to take much more roundabout routes to reach certain homes if Reservoir Road were not available. Plus, not knowing how the Town will develop over the next few decades, throwing away this route seems incredibly short-sighted.
And the kicker? The rumor in Taghkanic is that this head-scratching deal was “negotiated” by newly- and unilaterally-appointed Deputy Supervisor Erik Tyree, the Wilzig majordomo who lost his bid for Town Board after helping to mount a lawsuit against the voting rights of his neighbors.
UPDATE #1: A local resident suggests that at minimum Reservoir Road ought to be kept open as a walking trail. I’d add that it ought to be also maintained in such as way as to allow emergency vehicles to pass through. But honestly, if it ain’t broke, why fix it?
UPDATE #2: Apparently Perry was quoted correctly, but misspoke. While Taghkanic and Hudson politicians may believe they have a done deal wrapped up, the details have yet to be finalized.
UPDATE #3: Lastly, don’t miss the Typo Phile: Road Sign Edition post on this site, which relates to this same topic.