Opposition Mounts to Coast Guard Hudson River Barge Plan
John Jordan | August 18, 2016
RYE BROOK– The Business Council of Westchester became the latest organization to decry a U.S. Coast Guard proposal to locate new anchorages for commercial vessels along the Hudson River.
The U.S. Coast Guard is considering the adoption of a new rule that would establish new anchorage grounds for commercial vessels along the Hudson River at 10 sites located between Yonkers and Kingston in Ulster County. The Business Council of Westchester joined a chorus of business, political and civic opponents of the plan.
“Communities such as Yonkers, Dobbs Ferry, Peekskill and others have made substantial gains attracting new businesses, tourism and development to the waterfront,’’ said Marsha Gordon, president and CEO of The Business Council of Westchester. “This proposal to locate what amounts to floating parking lots along the riverfront could reverse gains these communities have worked so hard to make.’’
The Cost Guard proposal calls for Westchester locations in Montrose and Yonkers. The Yonkers site, spanning about 715 acres, would be the largest. It would accommodate up to 16 vessels stretching from the Glenwood train station in Yonkers to the Dobbs Ferry train station. The Montrose anchorage would cover about 127 acres and accommodate up to three vessels just south of Montrose Point. North of there, an anchorage would cover about 98 acres for up to three vessels between Tompkins Cove and Verplanck.
Gordon said that Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano and environmental groups, such as Riverkeeper and Scenic Hudson, have all expressed reservations about the proposal, citing potential damage to the river from increased industrialization.
Yonkers waterfront revitalization efforts have resulted in more than $1 billion in new economic development and Peekskill has invested almost $11 million in improvements to parks, museums, and trails over the past year alone, she noted.
“The Hudson River is a scenic treasure that enriches our communities,’’ said Gordon. “It has taken more than 20 years and hundreds of millions of dollars in public and private investments to get this far. We cannot afford to go back now.’’
Ned Sullivan, president of Scenic Hudson, stated in an viewpoint published in the Albany Times Union, the plan “would be disastrous—allowing as many as 43 berths for tankers at the 10 locations, turning our bucolic river into an industrial storage facility.”
He added environmental groups, and a host of public officials— including U.S. Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer—as well as local mayors and county executives have also expressed their concerns about the proposal and called for public hearings.
Proponents of the proposed rule include American Waterways Operators, the Hudson River Pilots Association and the tug and the barge committee of the Maritime Association of the Port of New York and New Jersey, according to the Westchester County Business Journal.
Edward J. Kelly, executive director of the Maritime Association, told the newspaper, “When a tug and barge hit a situation, which happens rather frequently — with the fog and thunderclouds forming and ice in the water and low tide — they need places to anchor. Now they park in the same places proposed in the rule.”
He added that those places have been used for centuries and are common practice. “All we want to do is formalize them and call them anchorages.”
The Coast Guard plans to hold public hearings next spring and is soliciting public comment on the new rule through Sept. 7.
Photo: Oil barge moored near Rhinecliff, NY