Residents Urged to Denounce Plan to Anchor Barges on Hudson

Residents of Philipstown, Garrison and the surrounding area were urged last week to voice their concerns about a proposal by the United States Coast Guard to create 10 new anchorage sites with up to 43 commercial barges along the Hudson River from Yonkers to Kingston.

During an informational meeting hosted by the Philipstown Democrats at St. Philips Church in Garrison, two representatives from Riverkeeper and a member from Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano’s office brought approximately 50 audience members up to speed on the efforts being taken to try to block the proposal which the Coast Guard has stated 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.

“I think it’s important that we don’t strike fear, but it’s important that we do strike concerns,” said Jason Baker of Spano’s office. “Do we want to turn our river into an industrialized waterfront? Are we going to turn this into a major highway for crude oil? We don’t want this to happen. This is a regional problem. It’s important that we really stand up for this.”

In August, a new organization of municipal officials called the Hudson River Waterfront Alliance was announced in Yonkers. An online petition on www.change.org was also launched by the alliance and more than 1,600 signatures have been obtained to date.

Meanwhile, more than 3,400 comments have been submitted to the Coast Guard, which has extended the public comment period on the project to December 6.

“This is just the beginning. This is a big deal,” said Erin Doran, staff attorney for Riverkeeper. “It’s coming at a time when the river is starting to recover. It’s starting to rebound and we can’t go back.”

If approved, the plan would encompass more than 2,400 acres of the river. Sixteen communities in the Hudson Valley have passed formal resolutions opposing the project. 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 largest anchorage site of the 10 proposed would accommodate up to 16 vessels, stretching about 715 acres from the Greenwood Station in Yonkers to the Dobbs Ferry Train Station. Two sites are located in the Town of Cortlandt.

During a hearing in Croton last month, Edward Kelly, executive director of the Maritime Association of the Port of New York and New Jersey, maintained the anchorages would “enhance the safety, security and environmental stewardship of the vessels and the waterways in which they operate.”

However, Riverkeeper insists the anchorage sites will present a significant environmental threat to the river, specifically if an oil spill were to occur, and is calling for a full environmental review.

“We know crude oil transport is pushing some of this, if not all of it,” Doran said. “This request is coming from industry. We’re in this for the long haul, fighting the good fight for residents.”

Share

Community Events