Hearing on anchorage proposal draws large crowd but no one from Coast Guard
The municipal building in this Westchester County community was packed Wednesday with public officials and residents with strong opinions about a shipping industry proposal for the U.S. Coast Guard to create anchorage grounds for large commercial vessels at 10 sites on the Hudson River between Yonkers and Kingston.
State Sens. Terrence Murphy, David Carlucci and Susan Serino chaired the lengthy session, and Carlucci noted a significant absence.
“It really boils my blood that the Coast Guard is not here tonight, at a Senate hearing, to answer these important questions,” Carlucci said. “That’s the big problem here. There’s no transparency on this issue.”
Westchester County Executive Robert Astorino said he was “dumfounded” that out of more than 2 million federal employees, not one could make it to Croton.
A parade of municipal officials spoke, including Yonkers Common Council President Liam McLaughlin, who said he feared “endto-end” barge traffic.
“The proposed rule is simply irreconcilable with the adopted Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area Management Plan approved by the U.S. secretary of the interior, which provides a pertinent park for the recognition, interpretation and, most importantly, the preservation of sites along the Hudson River,” McLaughlin said.
Dutchess County Commissioner of Development and Planning Eion Wrafter said seven of the anchorage sites would be on the Dutchess stretch of the river.
In lengthy testimony, Scenic Hudson’s Ned Sullivan said the proposal would be a disaster, making the Hudson River a “superhighway for fossil fuel.”
“The Hudson River is our region’s most important natural asset,” Sullivan said. “It’s vital to the environment, to the public health and a powerful engine for the economy and job creation.”
The longest time on the witness stand, about half an hour, was taken by a defender of the anchorage proposal.
“Misinformation” was how Edward Kelly, executive director of the Maritime Association of the Port of New York and New Jersey, characterized the arguments of opponents.
“We’d like to talk about how these anchorages would enhance the safety, security and environmental stewardship of the vessels and the waterways in which they operate,” Kelly said. “Anchorages are good for safety. That’s what this is all about. A safe place to anchor is essential to the safety of the crew, the vessels, other operators’ property and cargos, as well as the health of the river environment itself.”
Murphy thanked Kelly and the Maritime Association for doing what the Coast Guard did not do: show up. Even the audience, for the most part staunchly opposed to anchorages, applauded.
The Coast Guard reportedly plans to hold its own hearing sometime next spring, but the official public comment period closes in December.
Among the 10 proposed anchorage sites are:
• A Kingston Flats South Anchorage Ground, which would cover about 280
acres for up to three vessels.
• A Port Ewen anchorage ground, which would cover about 50 acres for one vessel.
• A Big Rock Point anchorage ground, which would cover about 210
acres for up to four vessels.
• A Roseton anchorage ground, which would cover about 305 acres for up to three vessels.
• A Milton anchorage ground, which would cover about 75 acres for up to two vessels.
• A Marlboro anchorage ground, which would cover about 155 acres for up to three vessels.
A long barge passes the Esopus Meadows Lighthouse on the Hudson River between Ulster and Dutchess counties.