The Northern Westchester Examiner

Opposition Grows to Coast Guard Plan to Anchor Barges in Hudson

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Officials from throughout the region came together last week to voice their concerns about a plan by the United States Coast Guard to have commercial barges anchor off the shores of the Hudson River.

At an August 2 press conference led by State Senator Terrence Murphy (R/Yorktown) on the shores of the Hudson in Cortlandt Waterfront Park in Verplanck, Murphy, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino and a slew of other local elected representatives criticized federal officials for trying to move forward with a proposal to use more than 2,000 acres of the Hudson for 10 commercial barge anchorages without any fanfare.

“Sending this out in the summer with a Labor Day deadline is suspicious to me,” asserted John Cronin, a former Hudson Riverkeeper and business agent for the New York State Commercial Fisherman’s Association and a current professor at Pace Environmental Law School.

“There is a consistent them on the Hudson River that I teach my students, at every critical juncture in Hudson River environmental history, the federal government is our adversary,” Cronin said. “Let me tell you something about the almost four square miles of parking lot for oil tankers and barges that the Coast Guard wants to create. Three quarters of them are on traditional commercial fishing grounds. The fishery may be ‘closed’ right now, but what does that mean? It means the federal government has totally given up on the restoration of the Hudson River fishery.”

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 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.

“It’s time for the federal government to stop picking on us here in Westchester. We feel we’re under the gun,” said Westchester County Legislator John Testa (R/Peekskill). “We feel we have done our fair share to help the greater community.”

Besides being a potential environmental and navigational hazard, Murphy, who has launched an on-line petition against the Coast Guard’s proposal, mentioned the barges presenting “a Homeland Security nightmare,” noting, as proposed, the vessels in the river will be permitted to be unlit and unmanned.

“In this day and age we can never be too safe,” Murphy said. “It’s crystal clear the Coast Guard has missed the boat. The potential dangers with this are impossible to ignore. This just doesn’t hold water what’s going on here.”

Also joining the chorus of naysayers was Cortlandt Councilman and Deputy Supervisor Frank Farrell, Buchanan Mayor Theresa Knickerbocker, Croton Mayor Greg Schmidt and Deputy Mayor Bob Anderson, Peekskill Councilman Joe Torres, Putnam County Legislator Barbara Scuccimarra, and Dutchess County Executive Marcus Molinaro.

“This is really a bad idea,” Knickerbocker remarked. “To put barges on the river is atrocious. We have to tell the federal government this cannot happen.”

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.

Astorino and local officials are insisting the Coast Guard hold several public meetings in Westchester.

“The critical thing is the public needs to know what’s happening here,” Astorino said. “Everyone needs to know what’s at stake here.

Residents can contact the Coast Guard and oppose the plan by visiting




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