The Rural We: Jen Crawford
Engineer, firefighter and river-access advocate Jen Crawford.
Jen Crawford is as Germantown as they come. After a decade away for school and work, she moved back to work as an engineer for her family's well-known business, Crawford and Associates. She’s a town firefighter and has most recently taken up the cause of maintaining local residents’ access to the Hudson River as the co-chair of the Germantown Waterfront Committee. Amtrak is looking to put up fencing to keep folks off the tracks without regard to the impact it will have on Germantown’s access to the shore and its water-faring heritage. Crawford stresses that she’s just one of a passionate group fighting the fencing-off of a beloved access road. Amtrak representatives will have to make their case at a public meeting on January 29 at the Kellner Activity Building at Palatine Park.
I grew up in Germantown, my grandparents are from Germantown, and really any relative — I don’t know how far back it goes. I moved to Boston for four years, then Denver for six years and moved back to Germantown in 2013. I work at Crawford and Associates Engineering and Land Surveying. I’m a member of the fire company (I’m a probie, which is great!), treasurer of the Roe Jan (Roeliff Jansen Kill) Creek Boat Club and co-chair of the Germantown Waterfront Committee (GWC).
We first formed the GWC in 2015-16 because we got a grant to do a local waterfront revitalization strategy (not a plan). Once we finished, we were reappointed by the town board to be used in an ongoing way to implement the strategy.
Amtrak submitted a plan to put up fencing next to the crossings right in front of people’s houses and at a spot where there is activity. The biggest part is that they’re putting up gates to stop people from accessing the road along the river that people go up and down to go fishing.
I can’t speak to what they may or may not have thought but it’s clear that not a lot of thought was put into the initial submission. It lacked a lot of detail and had difficult-to-understand mapping. This was not a well-engineered plan.
We did some research on safety concerns and there just haven’t been any incidents of pedestrians being involved in collisions. I can see how an organization like Amtrak has to look at the bigger picture but when you look at the bigger picture you can't see what’s unique and special about a tiny little town. If you look at statistics across the country, probabilistically you can have a collision anywhere but if you acknowledge what’s special about here you can see that this isn’t really a spot you need to be concerned about.
Our identity is that we are a river town, our high school mascot is the Clippers. Our school song is something about meeting friends along the Hudson shores. In April, you’ll see people up and down the “maintenance trail” fishing for striped bass.
There are a lot of ways Amtrak can achieve their goals while also expanding river access, which is what we are working on now. We just have a really great group that represents a lot of interests and perspectives and we all love the river.
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