Sunset at Trakas' Beacon Point
Scenic Hudson's Long Dock Park
Beacon, New York
Size & Type of Project:
14 acres, Open space - Park
Former Land Use:
Temperate Broadleaf & Mixed Forests
Scenic Hudson's Long Dock Park project transformed a 14-acre man-made peninsula on the Hudson River in Beacon, New York, from a degraded, post-industrial relic to a major waterfront park that realizes themes of recovery, remediation, reuse, and re-engagement. The project returned public access to the river, remediated contaminated soils, rehabilitated degraded wetlands, reused found materials in innovative ways, and restored ecological diversity to upland, wetland, and intertidal zones. Features include: environmental artwork by world-renowned artist, George Trakas, whose decks and docks are popular with anglers; ADA-accessible paths; areas for picnicking, river gazing, dog-walking, and Frisbee tossing; a kayak pavilion and beach for storing and launching kayaks and canoes; an outdoor classroom area; and public education and interpretive programming. The park has become a major public amenity for the Mid-Hudson Valley.
Scenic Hudson works to protect and restore the Hudson River and its majestic landscape as an irreplaceable national treasure and a vital resource for residents and visitors. The largest group of environmental professionals focused on the Hudson River Valley, its team of experts combines land acquisition, support for agriculture, citizen-based advocacy, and sophisticated planning tools to create environmentally healthy communities, champion smart economic growth, open riverfronts to the public, and preserve the valley’s inspiring beauty and natural resources. To date, Scenic Hudson has created or enhanced more than 60 parks, preserves, and historic sites up and down the Hudson River, and has conserved over 31,000 acres.
Located between the Hudson River and the Hudson Highlands, the City of Beacon was a depressed, post-industrial city. It is experiencing a renaissance thanks to strong investment in the redevelopment of its historic Main Street and influx of artists and young families who have flocked to the city following the opening of Dia: Beacon, a contemporary art museum housed in a former factory. Scenic Hudson recognized in Beacon a unique combination of location, scenic beauty, strong local elected leadership, and a community committed to the city's revitalization. As a result, the organization began investing collaboratively in the city over a decade ago.
The Long Dock Park site has over 2,000 linear feet of river shoreline and is composed of industrial fill from the 19th and early 20th centuries. It contains large quantities of rubble and demolition debris, including many large concrete slabs. Invasive plants dominated the site due to the nature of the fill. Large portions of the site are below the 100-year flood plain and often are inundated. Groundwater is very close to the surface in certain areas. Industrial fill is very well drained in other places. Soils had been contaminated by the materials used to create the site.
Microclimates are influenced by the proximity of the river, winds coming from the west, and the presence of tidal wetlands on the site. The park's proximity to a busy commuter rail line presented both advantages and challenges. The trains provide easy access for visitors, but create intermittent noise that can disturb the park's tranquility.
SITES Features and Practices
The most notable sustainable features include:
* New public access to a portion of the river that was formerly industrial and closed to the public
* Rehabilitated and newly created wetlands
* Innovative stormwater management systems
* Extensive planting of native plant communities
Most notable strategies:
* Remediation of contaminated soils
* Reuse of soils excavated on the site
* Reuse of found materials, such as large concrete slabs
* A planting scheme that is sustainable without irrigation (once established)
* Use of native plant material to create diverse habitat
* Prohibition of pressure-treated wood
Innovative strategies include:
* Creative reuse of concrete slabs found on site to create parking and paved terraces
* Voluntary cleanup of brownfield site
* Use of rain gardens to recharge groundwater
* Artist George Trakas' reuse of 100-year-old wooden river piles to create an art installation with new boardwalk, deck, and docks
Unique strategies used because of the location of the site:
* Design of the kayak pavilion and deck to accommodate river flooding
* Site design to tolerate inundation
* Designed berms from excavated soils that fortify inland areas, create quiet spaces for contemplation, and buffer the sounds of nearby trains
* Cleaning stormwater on site to prevent direct discharge to the Hudson River
Products and materials most effective in meeting project goals:
* FSC-certified rainforest woods
* Engineered soils that support landscape design & planting plan
* Photo-voltaic solar energy system that powers the park
* Porous asphalt
* Deck framing made of glass-reinforced timber (in place of pressure-treated wood)
The City of Beacon was one of the first communities in New York State to adopt a Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan. That plan identified the Long Dock site as a "Waterfront Development" zone, which allowed the city's zoning ordinance to be revised in order to restore, revitalize, and develop deteriorated and underutilized waterfront areas for new uses.
The project team worked together to fulfill Scenic Hudon's vision of a sustainable landscape that was publicly accessible. Based on a series of community meetings involving over 200 participants, the public's vision was also incorporated into the project's objectives. Scenic Hudson set out to use sustainable principles to achieve the identified goals. The team successfully used those principles to shape the project.
Brownfields were treated under a cleanup plan approved by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation. The wetlands on the site are U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jurisdictional Wetlands. Permits were required to rehabilitate them, with conditions shaping the wetlands' size, contours, and plants.
Maintenance and Stewardship
As the manager of Long Dock Park, Scenic Hudson's goal is to protect and restore the Hudson River and its majestic landscape. SITES sustainable strategies have been incorporated into Scenic Hudson's Waterfront Park Guidelines.
Scenic Hudson is dedicated to land stewardship and has an adaptive management plan in place that is being implemented by its Parks Team, which uses sustainable guidelines to maintain all the organization's properties. It employs and oversees mowing contractors, arborists, and other contractors to carry out well-defined tasks with standards set by the group.
Park stewardship staff visit Long Dock Park weekly to monitor the site, manage trash, and report on projects that need attention. A corps of volunteers, organized by Scenic Hudson's Park Events and Volunteer Coordinator and Natural Resources Coordinator, has been engaged to pull invasive plants, manage trash and litter, and serve as park stewards. Scenic Hudson's Conservation Science staff is responsible for monitoring the wetlands to conform to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' permit requirements and to manage and replace plants in the wetlands when necessary.
Paddlers at Kayak Beach
The site posed two primary challenges: numerous forms of contamination and volatile hydrological conditions.
The site was formed entirely of urban fills in shallow riverfront, originally built to create railroad sidings and a commercial ferry landing. Later, oil-storage facilities and a junk yard utilized the site. Soils were found to contain elevated levels of metals, therefore, excavation, disposal, and capping were required. Materials used to create the site included large boulders, brick, demolition debris, and tires. Large concrete slabs filled with re-bar taken from the deck of a nearby bridge had been placed on portions of the site to stabilize subsiding fills. The design team found ways to reuse the slabs to minimize disposal and give design expression to artifacts from the site's complex history.
Perhaps more challenging was the combination of highly porous soil conditions, tidally influenced soil moisture, and the occurrence of severe weather events during several phases of construction. Today, the peninsula's complex hydrological systems are performing well and meeting or exceeding the design intentions.
Project Goals and Successes
The overarching goals of the project were to:
* Transform a private industrial site into a publicly accessible park
* Create a connection between park visitors and the Hudson River
* Remediate contaminated soils and create a healthy environment for public enjoyment
* Transform ecologically degraded wetlands into diverse, high-functioning wetlands
* Create native habitat for plants and animals
* Create a place to educate students about the river and the ecology of the Hudson Valley
* Provide a place for paddlers, anglers, and others to access the river
* Manage stormwater without discharging into the city's stormwater system or directly into the Hudson River
Today Scenic Hudson's Long Dock Park is widely used by the community and visitors from near and far, including walkers, cyclists, paddlers, anglers, picnickers, school groups, artists, and photographers. Scenic Hudson holds events in the park that are well-attended, from yoga sessions and concerts to naturalist lectures and volunteer clean-up days.
The project is a model of ecological rehabilitation that others can learn from, especially in light of the few existing examples of this kind of development along the tidal Hudson River.
The park sustained some damage during Hurricanes Irene and Sandy, but areas that had already become well-established demonstrated the site's resiliency.
SITES sustainable strategies have been incorporated into Scenic Hudson's overall Waterfront Park Guidelines. Lessons learned influenced the approach to contingency planning for industrial sites and to managing invasive plants.
Two lessons stand out: the need for adequate project cost contingencies and the importance of timing in revegetating highly exposed disturbed areas.
Due to unforeseen circumstances in site conditions and in project procurement and delivery - further complicated by extreme weather events and construction delays - the project fell short in the provision of construction contingencies. Policies were revised in this area as a direct result of the work at Long Dock Park.
Second, given the nature of underlying seedbed conditions in disturbed soils and the difficulty of controlling invasive content in imported soils and seed mixes, the design and client team learned the fine art of timing with respect to soil preparation, seeding, watering, weed control, and establishment period protection on large grassland plantings. Ultimately, success has come with patience and a healthy learning curve.
Reed Hilderbrand, LLC
Gary Hilderbrand, Principal
Chris Moyles, Project Manager
Michelle Crowley, Project Designer
Margery Groten, Client Representative
Divney Tung Schwalbe (DTS)
Gerhard M. Schwalbe, PE, Civil Engineer
Ecosystems Strategies, Inc.
Paul Ciminello, Remediation Consultant
Architecture Research Office
Adam Yarinsky, Architect for Kayak Pavilion and River Center
Kirchhoff Consigli Construction Management, Inc.
Luke Interrante, Site Supervisor