JERSEY CITY, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — There is a barge battle underway in Jersey City.
An upstate New York company wants to moor barges between Liberty State Park and Ellis Island.
Local officials, businesses, and conservationists said it will ruin views and disrupt ferry traffic in the historic part of New York harbor.
As CBS2’s Elsie Finch explained, the Ellis Island Flats is an area of New York harbor named for its proximity to Ellis Island, and known for its beauty.
Views of the area from Liberty State Park are a major attraction. One that Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop said will be ruined if barges are allowed to moor.
He has written a letter and started a petition to make sure that doesn’t happen.
“It would have a dramatic impact on the park visually, aesthetically, from a visitor standpoint. That park is a jewel and we want to keep it that way,” he said.
The New York State Marine Highway Transportation Company applied for a permit to install moors in the waters between Liberty State Park and Ellis Island.
Their newest client, a rock quarry, would use them to tether barges full of crushed stone until they’re ready to go to customers who use the material to make concrete.
The Troy based company has the support of the Maritime Association of the Port of New York and New Jersey, but not many others.
“That sounds ridiculous. That would ruin the trip. I have my kids here. That wouldn’t be as nice,” Shay Miller said.
Greg Ramaud with the non-profit conservationist group New York-New Jersey Baykeepers said people aren’t coming to see barges.
“We have the Central Railroad Terminal, Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty, also Liberty State Park, and Lower Manhattan,” Remaud said, “To blight that view that millions of people come from around the world to see. It’s just really the wrong place for these barges.”
Michael Burke, Vice President of Statue Cruises, said navigation safety is the company’s main concern.
“They’re going to tie up an awful lot of square footage immediately between where our boats depart from at Liberty State Park and the first stop Ellis Island. In the path of these ferries, sailboats, kayaks, and dozens and dozens of private craft that come out of the nearby marinas,” Burke said.
A number of people who oppose the company’s plan said there’s a simple solution. Move the barges farther south.
“If they went maybe a mile or two to the south or a mile or two to the east to the Brooklyn water front there are areas where you can moor barges that are industrial water fronts and they’re made for that purpose,” Remaud said.
“There are a number of mooring locations just south of Liberty Island all the way to the Verrazano Narrows Bridge,” Burke added.
The Army Corps of Engineers is responsible for approving or denying these kinds of permits. A spokesperson told CBS2 that they will be reviewing and analyzing letters, comments, and petitions this week.
It could lead to a public hearing or a location change for the applicant.
CBS2 reached out to one of the owners of the company. He said they are not married to the location and would happily move after hearing the outcry.