Westchester County Legislators Pass Resolution Against Hudson River Oil Barge Anchorage Site

barge-reso-speech

On Monday, September 12, 2016, the Westchester County Board of Legislators (BOL) unanimously passed a resolution opposing the U.S. Coast Guard’s plan to create 10 anchorage sites for up to 43 oil vessels in the Hudson River between Yonkers and Ulster County.  Nearly 1000 acres of the Hudson River would be used by the anchorage sites off the shores of Westchester county alone.

The Resolution was proposed by Minority Leader, Legislator John Testa (R) Peekskill, Cortlandt, Yorktown.  Prior to being elected to the BOL, Legislator Testa served for three terms as the Mayor of Peekskill where he championed extensive reclamation projects along Peekskill’s post-industrial waterfront.  “I am glad to see my colleagues stand in unity opposing this anchorage plan.  Westchester is the first County to pass a resolution against the plan and I hope to the other counties along the Hudson River follow our lead”,  Testa said.  “This resolution should send a strong message to the Coast Guard and the federal government that both Republicans and Democrats on the Westchester County Board of Legislators stand in opposition to the Coast Guard’s proposal to park barges laden with oil up and down the Hudson River just off the waterfronts of our communities.  Vocal opposition from the public and government officials at all levels has been effective in getting the period for public comment on the anchorage sites delayed until December.  Now we need to continue our advocacy until the Coast Guard realizes what an ill-conceived plan this is.”

The Legislation was reviewed in the BOL’s Infrastructure Committee, Chaired by Legislator MaryJane Shimsky (D) Ardsley, Dobbs Ferry, Edgemont, Hartsdale, Hastings-on-Hudson, Irvington.  Legislator Shimsky said, “This issue does not follow the stereotypical ‘economy versus environment’ script.  The vastly expanded anchorage sites, and the highly volatile cargo that would be parked in the barges using them, will endanger the billions of dollars of public and private sector investments that have transformed our Hudson River waterfronts from industrial wasteland to vibrant collections of housing, recreational facilities, restaurants, shops and other commercial enterprises.   The economic, environmental, and public safety risks these sites would impose on our Hudson River communities are simply too great to let the proposed new Coast Guard rule stand.”

The Resolution was also reviewed in the BOL’s Environment and Health Committee, Chaired by Legislator Francis Corcoran, (R) Bedford.  Following the vote, Corcoran said,  “I stand squarely behind this resolution against parking dozens of oil barges up and down the Hudson River for indeterminate lengths of time.  Based on information presented in Committee we learned that these sites will be defined in the National Register as long term.  The Coast Guard claims they will only be used for short term storage but we don’t know what that means or why they must be registered as long term.  While I understand the logistical need to move oil around our nation, I don’t understand why a commercial industry is allowed to take over 1000 acres of a beautiful, natural public resource like the Hudson River to park their barges.”

About John G. Testa

Former District 1 County Legislator, John G. Testa is served five terms at the Westchester County Board of Legislators, spending the last 3 terms as BOL Minority Leader. John G. Testa is a lifelong resident of Peekskill who first entered elected public service as a member of the Peekskill Common Council in 1998 and then served three terms as Mayor. He previously served on the Conservation and Parks Advisory Board and Zoning Board of Appeals. John became an elected official eager to improve the City in which his family has lived for more than a century and quickly earned a reputation as a strong, independent, nonpartisan voice for fiscal responsibility. John received a BS degree in Technology from SUNY Oswego, where his academic achievements gained him induction into Epsilon Pi Tau, the International Honorary Fraternity of Technology. He earned his MS degree in Technology from the City College of New York. He began his teaching career in 1980 at Peekskill High School, his alma mater, as an instructor in Technology and Social Studies, retiring in 2013 after 33 years teaching. John has been a leader in support for the Arts Community in Westchester. He presided over the construction of the Peekskill Art Lofts, the establishment of the Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art, and the complete restoration of the Paramount Center for the Arts, originally a 1930’s movie house and helped bring critical funding to many Westchester programs. Legislator Testa received the “Advancing the Arts in Westchester Award” by ArtsWestchester. John has a been a leader on environmental issues for two decades and has a long record of initiatives he has supported and spearheaded. His active involvement in developing and promoting environmentally friendly policies began as mayor and continued throughout his time as Westchester County Legislator. His efforts consistently earned John the endorsement of the NY League of Conservation Voters. John’s most recognizable accomplishment has been his promotion and preservation of local history and historic landmarks, bringing an unprecedented focus on the region’s rich history, and its legacy of historic Victorian architecture. His roots in historical preservation stem from his experience as a Revolutionary War re-enactor and member of The Brigade of the American Revolution for 50 years. John was instrumental in securing the preservation of the Lincoln Depot, now the Lincoln Depot Museum, where he now serves as President. The museum was recognized in 2015 as one of The Best Museums in Westchester. He also secured the preservation of historic Fort Hill as parkland, a 40-acre parcel that was originally a Revolutionary War encampment site. Under his leadership, the United States Dept. of the Interior declared Peekskill a “Preserve America Community.” John was able to establish a record number of National Register designations of local structures, including the first Downtown and Neighborhood Historic Districts and supported the preservation of the historic Miller House in North White Plains. In 2017 John was named a “Champion of History” by the Lincoln Society in Peekskill. John and his wife of 37 years, Nancy, live in Peekskill and have two adult children, John, Jr. (fiancé Courtney Kelly) and Katy (husband Mike Mearon). John and Nancy recently welcomed the arrival of their first grandchild, Lacey Mae, in 2019.
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