TC - I was hiking Mt. Beacon last Sunday and two rangers on quads were up there patrolling. They did ask if we had seen 4x4 riders, with which we responded "not today, but recently yes." And their response, "that is why we are here."
So it seems something is being done.
I NEVER take the time to report things like this but I've had it with illegal vehicles on Mt. Beacon. Saturday (1/24 at 7:30 a.m.) I went for a hike up Monument Road off East Main. At the base of the trail a City of Beacon clearly states that vehicles are not allowed on the road except City of Beacon personnel. As I made my way up the road, I came upon a truck that was stuck and/or broken down across the trail (NY plat GPA5449). It was strapped to nearby trees presumably to prevent it from rolling over the embankment and had clearly been there overnight. This person should be cited! I have reported this to the NY Park Police. This morning I phoned the City of Beacon Police Department. They had no interest in the matter stating that the road fell to the Town of Fishkill--if that's the case, why does City of Beacon have a "no trespassing" sign posted at the base of the trail. I hike Mt. Beacon regularly throughout the year and vehicles are on the mountain illegally throughout the year. In fact I've had ATVs and joy riders nearly run me off this road and other trails on the mountain. It's not right. Not only are these vehicles the main cause of erosion and degradation of our mountain, they are a public hazard and danger. If the main gain is not going to be closed due to the fact that there is one private resident who needs to gain access, then a second gate should be installed just uphill from their driveway. Who's watching our mountain?!
Despite what you have heard, the home on Mt Beacon is occupied. The gate issue has been argued from many different angles, including suggestions to put a second gate just beyond the driveway to the home.
There have been fires on the mountain due to illegal activities, among other things, and the problems surrounding illegal traffic on Mt Beacon Monument Rd have been discussed by many over the years but nothing of substance has been done to resolve problems on the mountain.
The disappointing reality is this: A large contingent of "Old Beacon" feels it is their right as citizens to use the mountain as an ATV park and party site. Property ownership and any other relevant laws do not apply to them, as they see it, because their families have been taking advantage of this property they do not own for generations. Any efforts to find a permanent solution have been sabotaged by this group. People with power in this town, including some of BPD, either participate in the lawlessness or turn a blind eye to family and friends who do. The mayor, city council, and others repeatedly claim to despise the abuse and want to find a solution, but this never ever results in action.
Complaints may help you feel better, but curbing this abuse has proven to be more difficult than stopping the MTA from turning the waterfront into a parking lot.
Build a coalition (shouldn't be too difficult), compose a strategy and provide workable solutions, and hammer your elected representatives constantly. Otherwise you'll see no action on this issue.
I think I've reported this before, but it is probably worth repeating. (the following story is my personal experience and statements are my personal opinion) When I first moved to Beacon in 1999, I hiked up to the casino site, and usually on to the firetower, several times a month. During one of the hikes, I noticed a recently wrecked car along the road between the casino overlook and the monument/antenna road. I peeled off the VIN tag on the door and brought it to the Beacon police dept., where they uninterestedly directed me to Town of Fishkill police dept., since the mountain is their jurisdiction. The Fishkill police took the tag, and didn't say much if anything to me. A couple of days later, when riding the train back from Manhattan, I noticed smoke coming from Mt. Beacon. When I hiked up later in the week, I saw that the car had been set on fire (presumably to prevent connecting it to the owner). My conclusion is that the Fishkill police looked up the VIN, knew who it belonged to, told them they needed to do something about it (but not remove it), so their solution was to burn it. The thing is, the VIN is still traceable because it should still be on the engine block somewhere ( I believe it's engraved there). It would be fun to get that number and find out who the "friend" of Fishkill police is. (again, this is my opinion)
I have surveyed the road extensively (both property lines and topographic data) for the tower companies and I have been involved in efforts to relocate/close the gate.
The biggest problem is that there are about 30 people/companies that have legal rights to drive up there. There are numerous tenants on the towers, private property owners, municipalities, etc that need to get up there regularly. The gate and up to just above Charlotte's driveway is private property so we can do nothing there unless we have permission from them. Above that is is mostly NYS Parks property with some owned by Scenic Hudson (about to be sold to the State). The state would have to build and maintain the gate. There is also some questions as to the legal status of it as a public road because it appears Fishkill never abandoned it they way they were supposed to (it used to be Hells Hollow Road that went over the Mountain to Route 9 in Fishkill). Disuse and lack of maintenance does not always mean a legal abandonment.
A few years ago we had an effort with Scenic Hudson to lock the gate. Extremely expensive and high quality locks were purchased and the gate was locked with keys given to those who needed it. The problem was that the locks would get glued shut so no one could get up there, they would get cut with torches, the gate would be pulled open with trucks, trucks and ATV's would just go up one of the dozen other ways up the mountain (Blue Notch Trail, Craig House Trail, Route 9 around Lake Surprise, from Glenham, from Melzingah, from the power lines, etc.). The parties that needed to get up there regularly complained loudly and threatened legal action because their legal access was blocked by a vandalized lock and they could not do emergency repairs, etc. It ended up being to much hassle and maintenance with little effect on the ORV use to continue the effort without significant law enforcement.
About that...Beacon cops don't care as it is not in Beacon. Fishkill cops are part time and don't go up there much if at all since they too are understaffed and have other things to worry about. It does not affect the town of Fishkill much so they don't worry about it. NYS Park Police are severely understaffed and cover a huge area around here and rarely get up there, same with the DEC police. Also if I remember...a decade or so ago the DEC and Parks made a huge effort to ticket people...issues tons of tickets...only to have everyone thrown out in court for various reasons.
Building a gate will not work because there are too many parties that need legal access to that mountain 24/7 and cannot deal with locked/damaged gates (the state troopers main tower is up there as are other important communication dishes and the Beacon Water supply). Also the trucks will just go up a different way. It will take another generation of time for the ORV use to stop up there...or it will take NYS making a legal place for them to ride. There are no legal public ORV trails in NYS at all.
90% of all the 4x4s I see up there are respectful to other users and take a lot of pride in the mountain. Many clean up trash as they go and a few clean the pines ever weekend in the summer. They were also the main group that helped restore the fire tower and provided transportation of the materials and the workers up there. Many of they also put in a lot of labor on that tower. There are some jerks but I have met my fair share of jerk hikers up there as well. The quads are usually kids and are harder to deal with.
Yes - some actual history added to this thread. Amazing!
That said, the whole notion that "gates won't work" and "it will take another generation of time" for the abuse to stop is a complete cop out. Nice to see a little 'everybody does it' thrown in by saying "I have met my fair share of jerk hikers up there as well."
I understand that some valiant efforts were made not too long ago, and they were sabotaged by the group I mentioned earlier. That does not mean ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ hey whatever nothing can be done so let's just all sit back and watch people trash property they have no right to, because fixing things is hard.
I'm not saying to sit back, however a gates will not work. That is why efforts were pretty much stopped on that front. A new gate on the access road will keep out the basic SUV's but not any real jeeps or quads. There are more than a dozen access points to get up there around the area...more for quads and dirt bikes. NYS will have to build those gates which will probably cost 10-15k each plus design costs (remember that Prevailing Union Rates apply to State projects). Some of the gates will have to be way up in the mountains and will cost even more due to their location. Parks does not have the budget to do that. Then there are a lot more complications. Who holds all the keys? Who handles the vandalism? Who gets the calls at 1am when a utility truck needs to get up there and the lock is glued? Who fixes the gates when they are damaged every couple of months or weeks? Who is liable if an emergency responder can't get up because of a damaged gate/lock? You're looking at a quarter million bucks over a few years and a lot of hassle to build gates that people will just go around or find other ways up there. Or has been the case in the past also...the keys just get distributed.
The only thing that will work will be a sustained multi-year police enforcement action but that is not going to happen either. It's not in Beacon so they are not going to handle it. It's so far out of the way for Fishkill and has so little impact on the actual town that they are not going to budget additional forces to it. The Park Police and DEC Police are spread way to thin and they have no budget and have a lot of other things to worry about. And this effort has to be sustained for a long period of time which will cost millions. Then you have to make sure the judge who is getting all these cases in on board so the tickets don't get thrown out.
I don't know what the answer is but a lot of people have put a lot of thought into it over the past decade and all come to pretty much the same conclusion...that it will be near impossible to keep the jeeps and quads out without substantial funds and a lot of effort over many years by law enforcement. Neither of which are available at the present time.
All of your points are correct. But it overlooks one major hole in enforcement.
Almost 100% of unlicensed vehicles travel on city streets. That is illegal and enforceable.
BPD will tell you it's way too dangerous for them to engage in high speed chases with these vehicles, and I've seen enough of these chases to agree.
I've also seen BPD intervening where ATVs were being unloaded for a day on the mountain, using public roads to get there, and the officer chats with them for a minute and lets them go on their (illegal) way.
The only time I've ever seen swift and effective justice is when an older resident with ties to BPD was almost in a collision with these ATVs and he immediately called BPD. Several cars showed up and they eventually caught most of the offenders.
What's the difference in the last instance? Someone connected to the good-old-boy network was impacted. Then there was action. Otherwise, BPD acts like it's not worth their effort, or puts in a half-hearted show of cruising around for a few moments long after the barn door has been left open.
I've no doubt there are thoughtful people who have brainstormed on many methods to counteract the problem but given a limited number of workable options, enforcement of existing laws can be effective. Residents are left to believe there is no budget, staff, enthusiasm, or genuine interest in going that route.