Opposition to a plan by the United States Coast Guard to have commercial barges anchor off the shores of the Hudson River continued to expand throughout Westchester last week.
Last Monday at Yonkers City Hall, a new organization of municipal officials called the Hudson River Waterfront Alliance was announced. The alliance includes the towns of Cortlandt and Ossining, the villages of Ossining, Buchanan and Briarcliff Manor and the City of Peekskill. An online petition on www.change.org was also launched by the alliance.
“The Town of Cortlandt has invested millions of dollars to acquire land on the river and to construct lovely parks and docks for our rowing association and for kayaks,” Cortlandt Supervisor Linda Puglisi and the Town Board said in a recent statement. “We do not want our vistas destroyed or our investments affected by the ill-conceived plan of the Coast Guard.”
Two of the 10 sites being considered by the Coast Guard are located within the borders of the Town of Cortlandt: approximately 127 acres in the Montrose region that would accommodate as many as three vessels, and approximately 98 acres between Tomkins Cove in Rockland County and Verplanck that would also handle up to three vessels. The Coast Guard is proposing to use more than 2,000 acres of the Hudson for barges.
The Cortlandt Town Board unanimously passed a resolution last month opposing the project, stressing the town already is burdened with such environmental threats as the Indian Point nuclear power plants, the Spectra natural gas pipeline and the former burned garbage ash pit.
There is currently only one anchorage ground for vessels along a 100-mile stretch in the Hudson River from New York City to Albany. The Coast Guard, which has noted the plan is only in an exploratory phase, has publicly stated the proposal was initiated by the Maritime Association of the Port of NY/NJ Tug and Barge Committee, the Hudson River Port Pilot’s Association, and the American Waterways Operators.
Westchester County Legislator John Testa (R/Peekskill), Minority Leader on the Board of Legislators, is sponsoring a resolution opposing the proposal that the board will likely approve at its September 12 meeting.
“I am absolutely opposed to allowing our beautiful and historic Hudson River to become a parking lot for dozens of barges laden with volatile and toxic petroleum products,” Testa stated. “In my hometown of Peekskill and in communities up and down the river we have worked hard for decades to reclaim our waterfronts from post-industrial wastelands and turned them into open spaces, trailways, housing and retail centers. The idea that the Coast Guard would unilaterally turn this waterway into a staging area for refinery’s in New Jersey and points south is an outrage.”
The Coast Guard is expected to hold public meetings in the region on its proposal in the spring.