The Great Piermont Channel Debate

BY JANIE ROSMAN
Underwater sonar map of shallow areas of Piermont Bay
Underwater sonar map of shallow areas of Piermont Bay

An alternate boating route to the proposed channel in Piermont has been identified two months after residents and businesses lobbied project officials to reopen the Piermont Channel near Cornetta’s Restaurant & Marina.

Instead, they said they found another access for boaters.

“After meeting with marina owners and boating groups to hear their concerns, the New NY Bridge environmental team used high-tech underwater sonar to map the shallow areas in Piermont Bay and identify an access channel for recreational boaters,” special project advisor Brian Conybeare said.

Water depth is said to remain at five feet even during low tides at the alternative location.

Lighted markers will be installed once the U.S. Coast Guard signs off on a Private Aids to Navigation permit, discussed at last October’s boater safety roundtable. The owners of two marinas, Piermont Mayor Chris Sanders, Asst. Fire Chief Dan Goswick, and others, heard the proposal during the May 27 Board of Trustees meeting.

“There’s an active sandbar (in the area), and I have to check to see how wide and deep it (channel) is,” Goswick, head of the department’s Dive Team and Chair of the Harbor Advisory Commission, said at press time. “I just received the GPS coordinates (from project officials) and will validate them this week.”

With safety the top priority, Kilerciyan is resistant. “If it’s there, how wide is it? What happens when the wind changes?” he asked. “We want people to have a safe channel, and they (project officials) don’t understand this.”

Dan Harrison, who keeps his 34-foot Sea Ray at Cornetta’s and said it’s unfortunate boaters’ preferred path. “We tried looking for this mysterious channel and couldn’t find it. What a surprise,” Harrison said. “I am also interested in looking for old charts of the river and would be interested in knowing if there ever was a channel there as they claim.”

Not every boater has depth finders, and some sailboats have keels. “The channels in general for boaters are supposed to be straight like roads, not with zigzags, and not near piers,” Hudson River Fishermen’s Association president Gil Hawkins said.

Sanders agreed with Goswick. “As long as we can confirm that the coordinates are correct — and they were done using sophisticated equipment — I think this is a viable channel,” he said.

“People have a right to be out on their boats,” Hawkins said. “If one of the reasons they’re not getting access to the river is the bridge construction, then it’s incumbent upon the NYS Thruway and project officials to provide access.”

Responsibility for maintaining the private markers will be determined pending conversations among the village attorney, the Coast Guard and Tappan Zee Constructors, LLC (TZC).