By Rockland County Executive Ed Day
Rockland is blessed to be surrounded by the majestic beauty of the Hudson River.
The Hudson has always played a central role in the life of people in Rockland and my administration has worked has to attract tourism and create recreational activities based on our proximity to this national gem.
Now all of that hard work could be in danger.
The Coast Guard is considering a request to create new “anchorage grounds” – big parking lots for barges from Yonkers to Kingston.
Under the proposal there would be 10 in all, including one in Tomkins Cove. According to the Coast Guard, the Tomkins Cove Anchorage Ground would cover approximately 98 acres and could accommodate up to three vessels.
The Coast Guard points out that there are no anchorage grounds in our area of the Hudson River and the development of such big parking lots for large barges would make river navigation safer and more efficient.
As stewards of the great Hudson River, we are very concerned about this plan and what it means for the future of Rockland.
In the not-too-distant past, the Hudson River was a dumping ground. The river was so polluted that no one could enjoy it. Boating, fishing, swimming or even spending a day at its banks was a laughable thought.
A coalition of government agencies and not-for-profit groups worked hard for years to clean it up. Now we are reaping the rewards of all that work, cleaner water and all the recreational opportunities that goes with it.
Many of the barges that would transform our stretch of the river into a big parking lot would carry crude oil. Image what a leak would do to the fragile Hudson River ecology. There are still traces in Alaska of the oil that was spilled by a tanker more than 25 years ago.
These big, floating parking lots would also increase the amount of cargo ships and other large vessels in our waterways.
We understand the needs of the maritime industry to improve the traffic flow along the river to more efficiently move oil and other cargo.
And we know that the Hudson River has played a key role in maritime trade since long before the founding of our nation.
Our region has been involved in the development of transportation along the Hudson River for a long time. Indeed, many Rockland residents are living through the construction of the Tappan Zee Bridge for a second time.
We’re not uniformly anti-development. But when the Hudson River is involved, the stakes are very high.
We have a lot of questions about this plan.
We’re glad to see that we are not alone. Both New York Senators, Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, are asking the Coast Guard to hold hearings on the proposal.
The Coast Guard will be accepting comments on the plan until Sept. 7. Here’s how you can share your thoughts: Submit comments identified by docket number USCG-2016-0132 using the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov.
We urge residents to let their voice be heard on this important proposal. You can bet that my administration will do the same.