Hudson River sunbathing? Saugerties considers alternatives for new park

A Bristol Beach view. (Photo by Christina Coulter)

Bristol Beach State Park in Malden does not include a developed beach. According to a study by landscape architects over the past year, however, the 250-acre park could be made suitable for sunbathing for the price of $560,000.

“Hopefully five years from now we’ll all be celebrating [there] in our bathing suits in July,” said Thaddeus Kolankowski, a landscape architect at Barton and Loguidice D.P.C.

At the Frank Geco senior center on November 16, Kolankowski and his collaborator, private landscape architect Barbara Restaino, shared their findings. Following a full state-financed environmental cleanup of the site, the landscape architects have been evaluating the park since May 2016. They’re gauging the feasibility and costs of softening the site’s rocky beaches with dredged sand from the Hudson riverbed, armoring the shores against erosion, and making the heavily thicketed majority of the land more accessible.


Not everyone is convinced that park development is a good thing. “Every little bit of the river is occupied,” Malden resident Ann Krupp told the meeting. “This is one little bit that’s wild. My main concern is: Who’s going to keep this up? Who’s going to do the weekly diligence to make sure this place isn’t trashed? Once you get people who start using the trails … it’s going to get trashed.”

“Of all [of] the river that I know, that’s the favorite breeding ground and nesting ground for eagles. You’ve done a lot of work, obviously, but you haven’t said a lot about how it’s going to impact wildlife,” said Greg Brownstone. “Each year the eagles have another two hatchlings. Disturb this area and they don’t do it.”

Town supervisor Greg Helsmoortel had proposed an educational component to the site involving the nesting eagles. Kolankowski assured locals that “by law, [wildlife] has to be considered. It’s not something that’s not going to be considered in any way.”

The undeveloped park between Route 9W and the Hudson River, owned by the Palisades Interstate Park Commission; includes the site of the former Staples brickyard, a sandy beach, woodland trails, and the shoreline of the already well-trafficked Eve’s Point. Emerick Road, currently the only established entrance to the park, provides access to the north end of the park. According to the architects’ previous session with Saugertiesians on August 22 of this year, two other sites present opportunities for vehicle access. One is the area opposite Benzal Road on 9W near the middle of the park. The other site is opposite Stoley Lane at Main Street on the southern end.

“You really feel right on the Hudson,” said Kolankowski. “It’s a really great experience to be right on the water. It’s very wild, and I think we’re trying to maintain that wild nature of it, but make it easier to get down there. Some of our early meetings were just general. How do we get into this area?”

Currently, a majority of the parcel is practically inaccessible, knotted with thorny brambles. The treacherous terrain makes it difficult to find the ATV trails deep in the growth. The architects have identified the best places to connect the cleared Eve’s Point to this unutilized, bristly land.

The study has included consideration for the handicapped. The grade of the trail system has been assessed. More novel measures like roped trails for the blind have been discussed. The beaches on the property will need to be reinforced against erosion. Sand could be added to the site with a hydraulic dredge and specially placed rock structures.

“What we’d like to do as part of the next step,” said Kolankowski, “[is] to get some studies done, perhaps an archeological one.”

The Bristol Beach project has been hatching for the past 25 years. Change has been slow, and will continue to be incremental.

The town government has matched a Greenway planning grant of $10,000 and a trail construction grant of $15,000. A state DEC investment of $42,500 was supplemented by $7500 from the Greenway.

“The timeline is dependent on how quickly funds come in,” said supervisor-elect Fred Costello Jr. “Our entire parks budget is not even a million. $560,000 is not within our reach. We’re going to need partners to make that a reality. We already have a heavyweight partner with Palisades Park. We don’t have a clear picture on what the limits are [yet].”

Budget breakdown 

The lion’s share of the Palisades Interstate Parks Commission $560,000 spending estimate for Bristol Beach is for repairing the timber crib near the old brick factory with a vegetated slope, which will cost approximately $138,750, and for placing sand from the riverbed at waterfront sites on the property for $127,400.

The transport and operation of equipment to move the sand, called “beach nourishment,” will cost $50,000. Large boulders and plants will be placed at Eve’s Point and the boathouse area to prevent erosion at a combined cost of $101,200.

Finally, an additional $137,000 will pay for administrative and legal costs and a series of additional studies, including an archaeological survey, a study of threatened and endangered species on the property, and a construction inspection.

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