Beachfront barge-view prompts complaints

06/16/2011 4:40 PM |

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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60 Comment

  • Get over it, unless you want gas prices to go higher, you still have a multi million dollar home. It cant be perfect all the time. How about you let the town deal with real issues for the population that lives here year round and not you who is only here 2 months out of the year at max.


  • Leave the barges and Conoco Phillips alone. I live in the immediate area as well. We deal with the noise, smell and sight all winter long. We need oil here and unless you want the prices to go up then leave them alone. Ships are a part of the sea scape all over the world, not just at Iron Pier. Deal with it.

  • Leave the barges and Conoco Phillips alone. I live in the immediate area all year long. I deal with the smell, sound of the pumps and the sight all the time. Unless you want our oil prices to go up then be quiet. Ships are a part of the sea scape all over the world not just in your little world of Iron Pier and where ever else you come from. Bottom line is…we need the oil. Deal with it….

  • The oil terminal has been there a long while but these rows of barges have only appeared fairly recently. Something has changed – and greed is as usual involved.

  • I work on a tug and barge that frequents the ConocoPhillips platform and if this is the worst you can compline about maybe you should move your summer residence to Linden, NJ, I’m sure the view and constant steam vapors of ConocoPhillips Refinery would be much nicer. So don’t take out your frustrations on ConocoPhillips and the “Ugly Barges”, just because your wife’s family couldn’t afford a real summer cottage out in the Hamptons!

  • I also work on a tug and barge that anchors regularly off the Riverhead platform, and my advise to you would be to go out and get a real job rather then spending your time complaining about the barges and living off your wife’s families money

  • Wah, wah, wah… suck it up and deal.. I swear.. misery adores company. People don’t feel as useful and a “part of” unless they find something to complain about, and unfortunatly, that seems to be the way of the world. “Oh, my feet… oh, my back”, “Oh, my eyes.. to see such ships waaaaaay off in the distance..” whoop-de-do! Well, “Oh my ears, to hear the complaining!”

  • I am a year ’round weekender living on Sound Shore Road and I have to say that I like looking at the barges, the tugs and the platform. The lights are gorgeous at night and there is a haunting quality to the scene when there is a mist. I have never been bothered by the noise and am not sure what smell people are talking about. So please, just stop whining, especially if you are only here a few months out of the year


    I guarantee you any cottage built in the 1920s along Sound Shore Rd. was no mansion. The Soundfront there was largely farmers’ fish club shacks, where farmers would cooperate in seining menhaden for fertilizer. Some farmers built cottages to enjoy during the hot summers, and later built small frame shacks to rent to tourists. It was one of many such “bungalow colonies” along the Sound, such as in Reeves Beach, Wading River, and all along the shore. There was actually a tent colony somewhere around Baiting Hollow, as I dimly recall. Millionaires? Fuggedaboudit! You’d have to go a lot further west to find the millionaires’ mansions on the “Gold Coast” in Nassau.

    Several old Riverhead families had cottages on Sound Shore back to the 1920s and earlier.

    I used to have a family cottage there, sold to my grandfather by the Wells family, some of whom were his medical patients. Our neighbors were Wells families dating back centuries .”Dirt farmers,” not millionaires.

    Ignorant people who vent their frustrations by imputing all those people are rich whiners are pathetically uninformed.

    In fact, we used to call the Sound Shore Rd. area “the poor man’s Paradise.” It was.

    Sure, there are some million dollar homes there now, as the Hamptons realtors have discovered the North Fork, which used to be almost all working class folks, and spread to the scarcer and scarcer waterfront lots, whose prices have escalated out of reach of the increasing number of “poor men.”

    Most of these cottages were there before Northville Dock, as it was then called, was built in the 1950s, just after a huge oil spill from elsewhere had fouled the beach all summer, with sticky tar hidden in the sand to smear unsuspecting bathers. When zoning was instituted in Riverhead, a small area around the present facility was grandfathered in with an “industrial” designation among the agricultural and residential areas, so residents were stuck with it. The unobstructed views were marred by some of the world’s largest tankers, and concerns about potential spills linger, especially after the Valdez spill in Alaska.

    To read some of these comments, especially the venal condemnation of others which are not based in fact, but the writers’ runaway biases and assumptions, is maddening and depressing. Is this what our social discourse has become?

  • As if the barges weren’t there first. . . .

    That said, I go up to Iron Pier beach often, and I love seeing the barges. As someone else said here, they look nice lit up at night, and to me they’re interesting to see coming in and going out. Stop whining!

  • The gasoline fumes from the the jet skis and boats that launch at Iron Pier boat ramp, mostly without permits are more than just a nuisance. But there is no end to it. Laws or not. Are these folks summer residents? Who knows? Become a resident,register to vote and then complain or move to Linden,n.j. as previously suggested.

  • If you read the article, you will see that we have been – and our family before us – residents of Soundshore Road since long before the oil platform was constructed. The residents of Northville/Riverhead opposed the platform circa 1970. Conoco has not been a bad neighbor at all but the barges (note the spelling) are a new issue which we will continue to monitor.

  • Joe … if you have “multi-millions” I will gladly sell you the place. It is not anything of the sort. As a taxpayer of the town of Riverhead, I have the right to comment on “the real issues” that affect my home. And you have no idea how much time I spend in Riverhead. But thanks for reading the article.

  • I am retired after 35 years of employment and my wife is still working. I’m glad you have a job as a tug hand. I am sure you would prefer to be in motion than simply anchored somewhere for days on end. That’s all. But thanks for your interest.

  • Can I say again that the barges were not there first? The longstanding residents of Northville Beach can remember the days before the platform was built. I, too, think the tankers – when lit up at night – can even look like a cruise ship. But the barges, just parked there, not so much. That is all I’m saying.

  • Oooooh! Lookit the pretty industrial barges! See at the bright lights in the night sky! Twinkle twinkle!

    Before the oil terminal’s platform was plunked down about a mile and a half out, there was a beautiful unbroken vista across what is the widest point of Long Island Sound. That’s gone forever. Guess there ain’t no aesthetes in the agitated non-millionaire crowd. Lucky them. Now they have more barges to marvel at.

    Somehow, watching barges doesn’t see quite the same as, say watching airplanes take off and land at the airport. Not much action, really, except for some tug maneuvering.

    Tankers unload with a frequency depending on demand. They pump their loads up to the tanks on shore. The barges come empty, and the process is reversed as they load up from the bluff top storage facility. I would guess the increase in barge traffic stems simply from increased demand for petroleum products.

    Nature? What was that?