Beachfront barge-view prompts complaints

PHOTO COURTESY OF TOM HUGHES | Barges sitting off the shore at Ironpier Beach in Northville on Memorial Day.

As the unofficial start of summer kicked off this Memorial Day weekend, the view from Iron Pier beach included sea, sun and … massive barges?

As they often are, the barges were anchored offshore in Long Island Sound, waiting to connect to an offshore oil platform owned by ConocoPhillips. But Northville residents Tom Hughes and Kathy McGraw say they are tired of looking at them, and they wish something could be done about it.

“There are three barges anchored directly in front of the beach and they sat there for the entire holiday weekend,” Mr. Hughes wrote in a letter to the News-Review. “My wife and I own a summer cottage on Sound Shore Road. We have owned the cottage since 1980; prior to that, it has been in my wife’s family since the 1920s. In other words, we have been there decades longer than the Northville Terminal.

“We have lived with the Terminal odors and noise without complaint. Is it really necessary that ConocoPhillips park their ugly barges off the town beach on a holiday weekend? Beyond the holiday, this has become standard practice — the anchoring of barges for days on end off the Northville beach.”

Officials from both ConocoPhillips and Riverhead Town say there’s little they can do about it.

“ConocoPhillips does not control anchoring of barges that supply our terminal,” said Rich Johnson, a spokesman for the company. “The barges must comply with United States Coast Guard regulations for anchoring in designated areas, and they also take into account wind and ocean current conditions to ensure the safest location to anchor.”

“I don’t think there’s a lot we can do,” Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter said. “I’m sure it’s federally regulated and it’s probably beyond the jurisdictional limits of the town.”

Still, Mr. Walter said, he hopes to arrange a meeting with ConocoPhillips officials to discuss the situation.

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