Litter problem in High Falls - BlueStone Press
May 29, 2020

Litter problem in High Falls

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Spring is decidedly in the air. While residents of High Falls are welcoming the sight of snowdrops and coltsfoot, thoughts are also turning to the upcoming tourist season and the probable litter situation to return surrounding the river banks of the falls. 

As reported in the Aug. 16, 2019, issue of the BlueStone Press, the long-cherished stretch of the Rondout starting above the falls and stretching down to Bruceville Road has become in recent summers a hotbed of tourism, with visitors often spending entire days enjoying the splendor of the location … and leaving behind a small-scale landfill worth of litter behind them. 

High Falls resident Angela Braselmann, who initially reached out to the BlueStone regarding the situation, expressed her dismay at discovering the amount of trash, including broken beach chairs, coolers, cans and wrappers, when walking with her children along the banks last August, pressed the question: Who is doing what about the dire situation that threatens the ecology of the area?

“Cleaning up on Earth Day isn’t enough,” said Braselmann. “I sat down on a rock before leaving, with a sullen, contemplative expression on my face. This is just so sad.”

As it turns out, in 2018 the High Falls Conservancy was made aware of the situation and started working to amend the issue. Richard & Carole Eppley worked with the other Conservancy members and gathered volunteers to collect the trash. After filling more than 12 large garbage bags, they alerted Central Hudson, which is technically responsible for the property, but were met with a noncommittal answer as to when the trash would be collected. The Eppleys said that DOT rose to the occasion and cleared the trash within a day. Central Hudson spokesperson John Maserjian said Central Hudson is doing all they can within the limits of their agreement for the site use (which must include access for people to enjoy the banks of the river for recreation and boating). As of last summer, Central Hudson had contracted a company to collect the trash once a week. The High Falls Conservancy jumped into action and designed signs, in English and Spanish, urging visitors to carry out what they carried in and placed them at key access points.

Town supervisor Rich Parete said via email that the town has been working with various parties to make 2020 significantly less littered, and he credits the community for the current cleanliness of the site.

“I believe there isn’t a lot of trash right now because community groups and residents of High Falls periodically pick up trash,” said Parete. On town level, there was a meeting held in September of 2019 with the community to brainstorm ideas as to how to deter littering. After the meeting the town got busy and came up with some precautionary measures planned for the summer 2020 season.  

“The town is going to make Old 213 one way and add municipal parking on the side closest to Grady Park,” Parete said. “This will add about 20 spots. We are waiting for final DOT approval. We passed a resolution at last night’s Town Board meeting asking NYS DOT to post no parking signs in the north side of 213, across from Grady Park. We are going to limit parking to two hours. Hopefully this will prevent people from spending the entire day at the creek. We want visitors to eat, shop and enjoy the history of the D&H Canal, not park and spend the day at the Rondout Creek.”

On Central Hudson’s part, they have committed to allowing the town to post their parking area with a two-hour parking limit. Additionally, said Parete, “They [Central Hudson] have also notified the state police and Sheriff’s Office that they can write tickets for alcohol, open fires and littering. The police will warn anyone in the water and ticket a second time.”  When asked if there are any changes to last year’s rules, specifically that visitors can enjoy the water, but no swimming is permitted, Maserjian said, “The rules remain the same. Visitors may hike, fish and enjoy the property, but swimming, outdoor cooking, campfires and littering are not permitted (we are maintaining a carry-in / carry-out policy).”

A public meeting is in the process of being planned for late March or early April in which the situation will be readdressed, along with developments of the walking loop and Grady Park. In the meantime, said Parete, “If I could stress one thing it is that we are working to reduce the partying, littering and people spending all day at the creek. We know we are not going to solve the problem in one year. We are going to learn and continue making improvements.”  

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