It's a struggle that dates back decades. A local company called Huntington Marine has wanted to open up a barge cleaning business along the Ohio River in Westmoreland. Folks who live nearby say it's not welcome, but now, a judge has ruled Huntington Marine has the green light.
Nearly all forty-five hundred residents in the neighborhood are against this proposed barge business, citing noise and pollution problems. But thanks to a recent ruling, the facility is one step closer to being a done deal.
Councilman Jim Ritter has big plans for the waterfront along the Ohio River in Westmoreland, but for years, those plans have been sidetracked by a proposed barge cleaning facility.
“It would really hurt our community,” said Ritter. “It would just devastate it.”
City Council rejected the lease agreement with Huntington Marine, in effect blocking the two-hundred barge-cleaning business. But Friday, that was overturned by Circuit Judge John Cummings who ruled the lease is legal.
This proposed barge facility would start at 4 pole creek and extend more than a mile down the Ohio River, basically covering the entire community of Westmoreland. Huntington Marine says it will not cause pollution problems in the community, but folks living in the area strongly disagree.
Carol Boster has lived in Westmoreland for 40 years, and she's spent the past decade fighting the facility and the hazards she says it will bring.
“The main thing is going to be the air pollution,” said Boster. “You cannot haul coal and not have pollution."
As the barge battle continues, one thing is certain. The case is far from over.
Councilman Ritter says the city will appeal this case, and if he has to, he'll take it to the Supreme Court. Through all of the legal proceedings, the company has declined comment, but it maintains that the business will not pollute the neighborhood or cause too much noise. It says it simply wants to help the community by creating jobs.