Casual Visitors Not Welcome at Cornwall-on-Hudson

I had a well-needed (mostly) relaxing vacation in Cornwall, New York this weekend. It was my first time staying at a bed-and-breakfast. The owner of Cromwell Manor Inn, Jack, was very hospitable and the manor itself proved to be the quiet getaway I wanted. I savored every bite of my delicious dinner at The River Grill overlooking the Hudson. I photographed to my heart’s content from the summit of Bear Mountain. Though 75 miles away, the skyscrapers of New York City were visible in silhouette. Everything was near perfect. Until the day I left.

On our way out of town, my boyfriend and I went to visit the site of his grandfather’s (“Grandfeathers”) home in Cornwall-on-Hudson. His home is long since gone, replaced only by a thick blanket of freshly fallen gold leaves. From there, we drove about a half a mile to the Hudson River, where we found a beautiful park. We parked in the lot, walked to the water’s edge, took a few pictures, then began a calm round of Frisbee with an old plastic ring we found on the ground. A peaceful end to a peaceful vacation.

It was about that time when a man parked in the lot and walked by with his dog. He informed my boyfriend that we should be careful not to be ticketed- the parking lot is for permit holders only. When we asked where we should have parked, he “politely” informed us that we weren’t supposed to. It was a private park for the residents only.

What kind of world do we live in that I can’t walk through a grassy patch along a river’s edge? Who has the right to own nature and refuse it to others? If I had been in a boat on the river, rather than on the bank, is that acceptable? We caused no harm, made no raucous noises, destroyed nothing. We simply weren’t welcome to enjoy such a magnificent view.

In a sarcastic tone I shall say I am happy to have contributed to their economy. Grandfeathers would have been proud of his fellow residents.

Should you find yourself in Cornwall, head to Bear Mountain. You can go to the top, hike its trails, and climb the summit tower for free. From there, you can even see the forbidden Hudson.

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9 Comments

  1. john said,

    Friday, November 30, 2007 at 5:00 pm

    i’ve been ticketed there twice and i am a local.

  2. Park_User said,

    Friday, November 30, 2007 at 5:11 pm

    I agree… it is discomforting to visitors to see that a pass is rquired, I pay for a annual pass and use the park often and enjoy the quite grounds and access to the river.

    Let me ask, would you have paid a fee to park there and play Frisbee? You will pay a fee to park at Bear Mountain.

    And just an FYI — Gramercy Park, in the heart of NYC is a gated park where only community members are given keys.

  3. Friday, November 30, 2007 at 5:30 pm

    Good point. I live in Cornwall-on-Hudson and buy an annual parking permit since my wife and I kayak from there. It never occurred to me that there’s no way for non-locals to pay to park, or park at all. Pretty shameful, it seems to me. If nothing else, Cromwell Manor ought to have a bunch of visitor-parking passes that it can lend out, just as Storm King Adventure tours does. But that’s a pita solution. Cornwall and Cornwall-on-Hudson make occasional and fitful efforts to promote themselves as tourism sites, and this certainly doesn’t help.

    By the way, those Manhattan skyscrapers are only 50 miles from Bear Mountain, not 75.

    Stephan Wilkinson

  4. Robert Langston said,

    Friday, November 30, 2007 at 7:32 pm

    I’ve been a village resident since 1985 and have only gotten the parking permit a couple times – mostly cause of travel and being OOT all the time when the Village Office is open.

    I don’t park at the river much, but when I do – I leave my name and cellphone number on the dash with words like – taking a walk about, be back in 30.

    No tickets ever – no harrassment – no BS. Is it that I was forward looking enuf to put that info on my dash or don’t feel the need to lock my doors there? I dunno, but have never had a problem and if I blocked someone in, doors are unlocked and keys are under the seat ;)

    Aside from the launch ramp needing a 30 year makeover, this is a very safe and friendly place. I’m glad my wife Laurie and I moved from NJ and raised our kids here – if I had to do it all again, I would do it the same way.

    Regards,
    Bob

  5. cookie said,

    Friday, November 30, 2007 at 7:45 pm

    good point there should be aday parking for lot. with parking meters so people. from out off town can enjoy.

  6. fruit said,

    Saturday, December 1, 2007 at 11:31 pm

    i’m sorry to hear that the blogger felt un-wanted and i’m sure that is the last thing the village had in mind when enacting the permit rules. But, there is well meaning reasons for the permits that tourist may not understand. 1) it defers the cost of maintanence of the park ex: mowing weekly, replacment of old guard rails, yearly replacement of the docks, upkeep on the picnic benches and so on. 2) it helps keep the riff raff out. Some of our neighborly constituants like to freaquent our park and chance not getting caught without a permit to get away from the overcrowding of their’s, but choose to leave there refuse all over the park instead of in the 10 or so garbage barrels located through out, so without feeling like they are “in it” by paying for said permit, just do so because they have nothing to loose. the permit identifies the 90% of out-of-towners we dont really want at the park. the permits are available to out-of-towners but at an inflated rate thus seperating the once-in-awhilers from the people who enjoy coming to our respectable park as opposed to say a park 5 miles north of here where you my get stabbed because you dont belong there “in their hood” so…simply purchase your permit, and enjoy.

  7. Sherri said,

    Sunday, December 2, 2007 at 7:31 pm

    Wow! Thanks to everyone who left a comment. Looks like this was a hot topic. Would I have been willing to pay to visit the park? Probably, though if there was a way to do so, I missed it. Maybe a visitor option could be made more visible. I paid the $6 to park at the base of Bear Mountain. (The summit did not require a fee when I was there.)

    I understand that there are fees involved with maintaining such a pristine area and I don’t mind making a small contribution. I was more offended about being told I didn’t belong there. Particularly when “there” refers to an outdoor environment (and yes, I realize many parks do this now- I still find it odd for people to charge for nature). Furthermore, the gentleman who informed of us our wrongdoing did not mention any way for me, as a visitor, to obtain a visitor permit. He simply said I wasn’t supposed to be there.

    The irony of it all is that this park appears as the cover image to the “Welcome to Cornwall” brochure. Why welcome visitors to a park in which visitors are not welcome?

    For the record, I enjoyed the rest of my stay. I recommend Cromwell Manor for accommodations and The River Grill for dinner (order the filet mignon).

  8. Wynn said,

    Wednesday, December 5, 2007 at 5:46 pm

    Strictly for clarification, the photo on the cover of the Welcome to Cornwall Brochure is of Rings Pond, not Cornwall Landing. Since I took the photo, and my company publishes the brochure, I feel comfortable in commenting on this.

    As far as parking permits are concerned, I’m surprised that no one has tole Sherri how to get one. They are available at Cornwall-on-Hudson Village Hall, 325 Hudson St. Unfortunately for weekend visitors, Village Hall is not open on weekends. Perhaps the Village Board can find a solution to this dilemma.

  9. Sherri said,

    Wednesday, December 12, 2007 at 11:10 am

    Thank you for the correction, Wynn. It is a lovely photo on the cover of Cornwall and when I looked more closely at it, I see you are correct. It is a different location, despite looking quite similar. Thank you also for the instructions on how to obtain a permit. That is useful information indeed.


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