After a Troy-based barge operation proposed construction of a new barge mooring site on the Hudson River, Columbia County residents and the group Scenic Hudson are speaking out about the potential impact on an important historical site and the potential to open the door for more barging operations on the river.
The group Scenic Hudson wrote in opposition of the plans and suggested a new site, located at the dock of the now abandoned Atlas Cement company just south of Hudson, N.Y.. While the new barge mooring would provide sites for boats to dock for loading and unloading of sand and gravel, the plan is being proposed by a Troy-based operator and would not benefit the local community as much as it would harm local tourism.
Citing a concern for the Olana State Historic Site, the historical site of Hudson River School painter Frederic Church’s home and studio, the group noted that while the proposed one-acre site is past the 5-mile threshold for “visual impact” from the site it only passes the threshold by a third of a mile and precautionary measures alongside visual analysis of the proposed sites impact is necessary.
In a letter to the Army Corp of Engineers, Scenic Hudson is asking for a local public hearing and an additional 30 days to receive public comment.
“Due to the extensive and serious concerns voiced by the Town of Germantown, other stakeholders, and raised in this letter, Scenic Hudson respectfully requests that the US Army Corps of Engineers conduct a public hearing in Germantown so that stakeholders can have an opportunity to be heard and ask questions on this application,” the letter states. “We also request that the public comment period be held open at least a 30-days after conclusion of the public hearing.”
Hayley Carlock, the director of environmental advocacy and legal affairs at Scenic Hudson, addressed the concerns of the Olana State Historic Site and the town of Germantown, the location of the proposed mooring site.
“Scenic Hudson opposes the above-referenced application that would result in moored barges that would have adverse visual impacts from both the Germantown shoreline as well as potentially damaging the viewshed of the Olana State Historic Site, a National Historic Landmark,” Carlock said.
“We are also concerned that the action may set a precedent for additional moorings in the vicinity, which would cause cumulative impacts on views and may set precedent for moorings for oil barges in other reaches of the Hudson River.” Echoing the opinion of many public residents of Hudson and Germantown, the overall public opinion seems to be focused on ensuring the barge doesn’t become an eyesore for the local area.
Back in 2016, a similar proposal was introduced by the United States Coast Guard to park oil barges in the Mid-Hudson River. After receiving public backlash followed by a law prohibiting this exact practice, barges can still be created for loading and unloading of products unrelated to oil; the current proposal is for shipment of crushed rocks.
The U.S Army Corps of Engineers will be taking comments from all Hudson Valley residents in concern to this issue until Nov. 9. The best way for the public to currently comment is to email Andrew Dangler at Andrew.C.Dangler@usace.army.mil and ensure you mention that it is in reference to Public Notice Number NAN-2021-00296-USH.