Sunday, April 25, 2021

Gravel on the River

Gossips learned last week of a plan to install a seasonal barge mooring on the river in Germantown, not far from Lasher Park. The proposal is being made by Marine Highway Transportation, a Troy barge operator.

The application to the Army Corps of Engineers describes the purpose of the project in this way:
New York State Marine Highway Transportation LLC (NYS Marine) is a Tug & Barge operator based in Troy, NY. We transport by Barge bulk aggregates (stone, sand, rock, etc.) from quarries in Catskill (Peckham) & Hudson (Colarusso) to the NY metropolitan area. 
Both of these quarries dock's are in narrow sections of the River immediately adjacent to the Navigation Channel. This proximity to the nav-channel does not afford a safe berth for multiple barges. The purpose of this permit request is to provide a lay-berth for barges while waiting for berth availability at the quarry's loading facility. Typically barges are switched out within 12 hours or less. Additionally the mooring will provide a safe location with adequate sea-room to make/break tows that are going to the two Hudson and Catskill Quarries.
We plan to install and remove the Mooring seasonally dependent on when the River freezes and thaws.
A fact sheet shared with Gossips questions the problem being solved by the proposed mooring, with specific reference to the Peckham dock in Catskill: "We are not aware of any collisions, accidents or other problems at the Peckham Dock." The same can be said regarding the Colarusso dock.  

The concern in Germantown is having tugs dropping off barges next to a public park, a public boat launch, and fire department rescue launch. For us in Hudson, it's hard not to think this plan to create a lay-berth for barges may signal an anticipated increase in barge traffic at the Colarusso dock and a corresponding increase in truck traffic from the quarry to the river.

The current status of the project is this: According to Randy Alstadt, the community representative for the Hudson River Safety, Navigation and Operations Committee (HRSNOC), who sought the input of several Germantown residents, "The Committee voted to support this proposal . . . to add a seasonal mooring site to make loading and unloading safer." Even though the committee has already decided to support the proposal, it is now asking for community input. The community whose input is sought is Germantown, but there is no reason why users of the river from other locations cannot also make their opinions and concerns known. Comments should be sent to and copied to

More information about the proposal can be found here. The next step in the process is for the proposal to go to the Army Corps of Engineers for its approved. The ACOE will also have a public comment period.


  1. Unfortunately, and inexplicably, the 2017 Order to Remedy from the City of Hudson to A. Colarusso and Son, Inc. only recognized a violation in the landowner’s “replacement of [a] concrete and wood bulkhead.” The OTR never mentioned the illicit construction of the 190-foot revetment which may someday provide the terrestrial mooring for a “lay-berth for barges” (perhaps with the use of a dead hulk, or a beam anchored into the rip rap as seen at the floating docks in the riverfront park).

    While it’s true that the company’s projected truck numbers are wholly derived from the expected numbers of barges (why this is accepted by anyone as reasonable is lost on me), Gossips is correct that the Germantown proposal is cause for concern here, too.

    With this Gossips post, hopefully we’ll start to familiarize ourselves with the same issue in Hudson some were already warning about in public comments in 2015.

    But deriving truck numbers from expected barges always struck me as ridiculous and self-serving. Equally ridiculous is the assumption that the ongoing review for a conditional use permit is for the present applicant alone, and not the next owner or the one after that.

    In that case, the only truck-number study that matters has yet to be considered: ie. the potential uses of a proposed two-lane truck road through the South Bay. Shouldn’t that be the only number that concerns us? What is the maximum truck traffic such a road would allow?

    To those who are new to the issue, as an indirect means to suppress the potential for runaway truck numbers at the mixed-use waterfront, in 2011 the City created the Core Riverfront Zoning District to accommodate the existing one-lane private road through South Bay. Although intended to be used in both directions of travel, for “ingress” and “egress” as the Code says, the current landowner and applicant to the Planning Board maintains that its private road is restricted to one-way use. The claim alone is enough to fool an astounding number of residents – and the Planning Board attorney too! – none of whom comprehend the City’s laws and adopted policies.

    Many will recall that the previous landowner frequently used the one-lane causeway in both directions, precisely as planned in the 2011 Code amendments:

    1. Absolutely right about this. It's the capacity of the new road that should worry us, combined with the city's apparent legal inability to regulate volume. Colarusso's proposed limit of 284 truck trips a day is no limit at all. As the company's attorney has plainly stated, ACS has "no current plans" to expand volume beyond that point, but it reserves the right to change those plans, which renders the reassurance meaningless. Whether for Colarusso or for the next owner, the only real limit is the new two-lane road's ability to handle the volume.

    2. It's like striking a deal with China. How long does it take to learn that its reassurances mean nothing.

      Even trickier, the Planning Board's own attorney has become an adversary in this, consistently backing the applicant's worst arguments. I guess nobody noticed when they hired her that her firm’s principal submitted a friend of the court brief in support of the 2001 St. Lawrence Cement proposal. Not much has changed except for the public’s memory.

      In my opinion, it's this attorney who's exerting the worst long-term influence in this review. Watch her like a hawk to see the legal errors piling up, but she's already outsmarting the Board members which is especially sad as they're truly attempting to do an honest job.

      Months back I requested clarification on the company's fake "conservation easement" on which it has based some significant arguments. The Planning Board put the question into the hands of its attorney, but as far as I know that was an end to the matter. (If it’s not a conservation easement then the company has filed a false document with the County Clerk.)

      The public should demand this attorney's views on the applicant's project area. Is it still the dock alone, or has she finally acquiesced to the Board members' view that it is the entire property?

      If she's finally agrees, then why hasn't every state agency been updated since her initial incorrect statements last year? Why isn’t the NYS DOS involved in the review? Why doesn’t it know that the action - a conditional use permit – will take place in a state-designated Significant Coastal Fish and Wildlife Habitat? It’s because the Planning Board attorney has not corrected her own error, and that’s because she probably still believes in it.

      It's my belief that, unless she's both incompetent AND stubborn, the Planning Board’s own attorney is deliberately engineering a flawed review.

      The Board’s engineering consultant is only adding to the problem, but that’s just because he doesn’t know anything.

  2. It's about time that residents of Hudson wake up and realize that Colarusso's notion of "environmental justice" along the Columbia St. truck route is bogus. The company wants a new haul road in order to facilitate vastly greater volume of gravel.

  3. How about finding out how many barges are proposed to anchor on the river ,and how many barges can be docked at 1 time in Hudson. Then find out how many truck loads/ Ton dose it take to fill 1 barge,how long dose it take to fill 1 barge.The above are simple math questions that a truthful awnser will give us an idea of their intended expansion. Remember it's a 1 lane road that can be used in both directions.

  4. The last year of data for Colarusso's truck volume was 2019. They were running an average of 30 trucks per day. They don't need a two-lane, paved industrial highway thru South Bay to accommodate that level of traffic. It's obvious that they are hoping for a much bigger operation.

    1. That or they're hoping to sell the potential for a larger operation.

    2. Maybe even back to the company that sold them the mine, dock and road corridor in the first place (1800 acres in all) for the head-scratchingly small sum of $8.75 million in 2014. But with permits for expanded operational capacity now in place? Hmmm? Y,know, something a local company, rather than an international conglomerate, might pull off? Or am I just a conspiracy monger?

    3. You're spot on, but I think you already know that.

      You and I seem to be alone in this prediction, everyone else having forgotten their initial shock when Holcim sold to ACS thereby putting the last nail in the coffin of the waterfront program.

      The revelation occurred in a 2013 email exchange between Don Stever, the Holcim attorney, and the city's Corporate Counsel Cheryl Roberts, which is when the crust finally fell from her eyes. It was the death knell for a state-approved LWRP, but it was still hilarious to see the rug pulled out from under Roberts' hubris. Her failure to anticipate Holcim's actual design, and also the trust she put in the company over city and county residents, must never be forgotten.

      Recalling the price of Roberts’ hubris is essential when you realize that Victoria Polidoro is turning into the city's next Cheryl Roberts.

      Snicker all you want at the concept of a "deep state," but who can deny that Hudson has its very own deep state associated with specific, ubiquitous law firms. It has a momentum of its own; its never ending machinations viewable right now at the hapless Planning Board.

    4. As one potential investor in Hudson opined before running for the hills ... "its a high school built over a mouth of evil."

    5. Ha!! True!!

      How else would we end up with yet another attorney pursuing his/her own interests (mouth of evil) at taxpayers' expense and nobody blinks (high school).

      Head for the hills indeed.

  5. Fat chance any self-respecting politically and environmentally active Germantowners (fortunately, of which there are many) are on board with this. I guarantee that there's organizing to oppose this. In fact, Germantown has an active Waterfront Committee with the mission to engage the community with it's waterfront. To environmentally protect it and increase opportunity to use it for recreation. We must be reminded of the same scenario back a couple of years ago which proposed permanent oil and commercial materials barged on several sites between Kingston and Yonkers. There was intense opposition. This idea was permanently banned in January.

    Sure, the same players keep trying. In the meantime, submit negative responses.