Hoboken officials seeking support for $104k grant from NOAA to remove sunken boats

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Hoboken officials are seeking support from the public to secure a $104,000 grant from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration to remove sunken sail boats from Weehawken Cove.

Weehawken Cove. Photo courtesy of the City of Hoboken.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

Today, Mayor Ravi Bhalla, Fire Chief Brian Crimmins, and Director of Environmental Services Jennifer Gonzalez wrote a letter of intent to apply for a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) grant that could amount to roughly $104,000.

“As you may know, currently there are 17 boats that have been abandoned in the Hudson River. This is of concern to our community, as not only are the sunken boats an eyesore for residents and visitors, but they are contributing to pollution in the Hudson River and adversely impacting marine life,” the three officials wrote to NOAA Assistant Secretary of Commerce Dr. Neil Jacobs.

” … Removing abandoned and derelict vessels will eliminate the potential release of harmful metals and chemicals, such as oil and mercury, as well as plastics and fiberglass as they deteriorate, thereby reducing the harm caused to the Hudson River.”

The city is hoping to have these sail boats removed in conjunction with the 53-year-old non-profit group the Riverkeeper, whose goal is to protect and restore the Hudson River.

The letter also documents a plan that includes the construction of Cove Park, the installation of a living shoreline, educational and volunteer opportunities to restore and maintain critical wildlife ecology, the possibility of installing a reef, and maintaining Hoboken’s waterfront.

Weehawken Cove is in the 2nd Ward and Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher expressed enthusiasm about the idea of obtaining the grant to clean up the area.

“This is such a great opportunity and I’m so thankful for Chief Crimmins, Director Gonzalez and their work with the river keeper, to source this potential grant,” she said.

“There’s so much potential for the historic Weehawken Cove and this is a critical step towards reaching that goal.”

Crimmins added that the goal is to have some kind of barrier to prevent larger vessels from entering the cove, noting that sunken boats lead to a search and rescue effort, which then requires an effort to identify the owner that includes the State Police, Port Authority, and Coast Guard.

He also said that, if possible, the application likely wouldn’t be submitted until December and that the funding wouldn’t be available any earlier than the 2021 budget season next summer.

Residents can show their support for the grant application by signing onto a letter here, while a related Change.org petition on this topic already has 545 signatures as of early this evening.