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GERMANTOWN—The US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has extended the time that it is soliciting comments from the public on the proposed construction of a new commercial mooring on the Hudson River off the Germantown shoreline. Public comments must be sent by October 13; this date has been updated from the original deadline of October 8.

According to the USACE, “the permit applicant’s stated purpose for this work is to provide a new commercial mooring point/buoy to provide staging of both empty and full aggregate barges during the course of normal transportation from quarries in Catskill and Hudson.”

The Germantown Town Board held a workshop meeting September 29, which was in-person at Palatine Park and also recorded on Zoom. At that meeting board members urged residents to write letters with their comments and concerns about the project. The board also discussed sending a letter asking for a public hearing on the project with the USACE.

Residents talked about safety issues with the barges, the viewshed and the possibility of more truck traffic involving the loading and unloading of barges.

Town Supervisor Robert Beaury said during the workshop meeting that the board does not issue the permit for a project like this, saying that the town has no jurisdiction over the water and that “we don’t have the power” over the plan. As the meeting went on, he said he supported asking for the public hearing.

According to the USACE, the permit application made by New York State Marine Highway Transportation, LLC, a tug and barge operation out of Troy, “has requested Department of the Army authorization to construct a new commercial mooring point/buoy in the Hudson River, at (42°09”15.60”N, 73°53’37.59”W), Town of Germantown.”

The company said in its application for the new mooring point that currently both the docks at the quarries at Peckham in Catskill and Colarusso, in Hudson, are “narrow sections of the river immediately adjacent to the Navigation Channel. The proximity to the nav-channel does not afford a safe berth for multiple barges.” So the new mooring would provide a “lay-berth for barges while waiting for berth availability at the quarry’s loading facility.” The application says that barges normally switch out within 12 hours or less. Also the mooring will be installed and removed seasonally, depending on when the river freezes and thaws.

The standard barges would measure 35-foot-wide by 200-foot-long, or 52-foot-wide by 250-foot-long, and the barge configuration would be a maximum of three abreast. No barges would be configured astern, according to the application.

“The maximum size of the barges configuration at the buoy would be 250-feet-long by 156-feet-wide. The swing radius would be 477-feet and remain at least 103-feet from the federal navigation channel.”

The application goes on to say that the proposed work would involve “installation of a seasonal single 58-inch-diameter steel mooring buoy, a 10,000-lbs navy stockless anchor and associated hardware adjacent to and approximately 579 feet southeast of the federal navigation channel in the Hudson River”

Riverkeeper, a clean water advocate group, was quoted in the Times Union on September 21 saying that, though they did not see environmental problems with the mooring, “It is very clear that for us to protect the river, shoreline residents and communities as partners are essential. We cannot serve the river without the relationships that have taken all these years to build, and so… we cannot support the mooring in the face of apparent virtually universal local opposition.”

At the workshop meeting on September 29, there was discussion about the Riverkeeper’s statement and an update with suggested mitigation possibilities for the barges.

Posted on the Germantown website is a comment from the USACE saying, “The decision whether to issue a permit will be based on an evaluation of the probable impact including cumulative impacts of the proposed activity on the public interest. That decision will reflect the national concern for both protection and utilization of important resources. The benefit which reasonably may be expected to accrue from the proposal must be balanced against its reasonably foreseeable detriments. All factors which may be relevant to the proposal will be considered including the cumulative effects thereof; among those are conservation, economics, aesthetics, general environmental concerns, wetlands, historic properties, fish and wildlife values, flood hazards, floodplain values, land use, navigation, shoreline erosion and accretion, recreation, water supply and conservation, water quality, energy needs, safety, food and fiber production, mineral needs, considerations of property ownership and, in general, the needs and welfare of the people.”

To comment on the barge mooring plan send an email with NAN-2021-00296-USH in the subject line addressed to Brad.Sherwood@usace.army.mil

The next Germantown Board meeting is October 12 at 7 p.m. The meeting will be conducted in-person at the town hall for board members only and remotely using Zoom audio/video technology. Information and the agenda is at germantownny.org

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email eteasdale@columbiapaper.com

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