Hugh Reynolds: The muddy, muddy Esopus

It is perhaps no small irony that County Executive Mike Hein, self-proclaimed farm boy from Esopus, now finds himself in adulthood leading the fight against those ogres from New York City whom he says are deliberately and contemptuously muddying the waters of the Esopus Creek. And to no small extent, muddying local politics.

Hein didn’t invent this situation. The Esopus runs relatively clear into the Ashokan Reservoir, but since last year’s storms emerges like Bosco for the next 32 miles into theHudson. An outraged Hein is riding the wave.

A couple of shots across the city Department of Environmental Protection’s bow last October, including a threatened lawsuit, failed to elicit much more than a shrug and boiler plate denials from city officials. Threats to sue the DEP, which operates the water system, were almost risible. These guys have more lawyers than Hein on staff, and that’s going some.


Hein solicited the aid of go-to Sen. Chuck Schumer. The publicity shot, which featured the duo at the confluence of the Esopus and the Hudson, didn’t much move the needle. Dredge the Esopus? The state Department of Environmental Conservation won’t allow them to move a boulder in a creek without two years of public hearings. Schumer and Hein wanted the Army Corps of Engineers to dredge the bay so as to allow the Coast Guard’s Saugerties-based icebreaker access to the river.

Turning up the heat, Hein challenged New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg to come to personally witness the mayhem his DEP — what Hein called an “invading army” — was visiting on his (Hein’s)UlsterCounty constituents. “What’s he talking about?” Bloomberg asked in aManhattan radio interview.