Anchorage hearing: No Coast Guard, lots of opposition, one defense

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Astorino: “dumfounded”

VILLAGE OF CROTON – The Croton Town Hall was packed with many public officials and lots of residents with strong opinions about a commercial shipping industry’s proposal for the Coast Guard to expand anchorages for barges and other vessels on a long stretch of the Hudson, from Yonkers to Kingston. 
Three local state senators, Terrence Murphy, David Carlucci and Susan Serino, chaired the lengthy session.
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 two million federal employees, not one could make it to Croton. 
A parade of municipal officials spoke, including Yonkers Common Council President Liam McLoughlin, who referred to “end-to-end” barge traffic. 
“The propose rule is simply irreconcilable with the adopted Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area Management Plan approved by the United States Secretary of the Interior, which provides a pertinent park for the recognition, interpretation and most importantly, the preservation of sites along the Hudson River,” McLoughlin said. 
From the top end of the river, Dutchess County’s Commissioner of
Development and Planning, Eion Wrafter, said there would be seven of the
anchorages in their stretch of the Hudson.
In lengthy testimony, Scenic Hudson’s Ned Sullivan, said the proposal
would amount to a disaster, with the Hudson becoming a “superhighway”
for fossil fuel.
“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.”

Kelly: “… enhance the safety, security and environmental stewardship …”

The longest time on the witness stand, about a half-hour, was taken by a defender of the anchorage proposal. 
“Misinformation” was the short response from Edward Kelly, the executive director of the Maritime Association of the Port of New York and New Jersey. 
“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.”
Senator 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.