Ousted New London salt distributor, DRVN, is not giving up quietly.
After operating at the port since 2014, DRVN had its 3.5 acre lease canceled in February to make way for a conversion at the port to wind turbine business for offshore wind projects.
According to formal objections to dredging permits filed May 3rd by Steve Farrelly, owner of DRVN, he had been given an understanding that existing tenants at the port would be allowed to stay through the redevelopment and beyond.
The Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection and the Connecticut Port Authority had jointly filed an “agreed draft decision” on April 26th recommending a final permit for work at the state pier. DEEP’s hearing officer will make a final decision and may first order a hearing.
According to Farrelly’s objection, “The RFP requires any proposed bid to serve existing customers and businesses of the Port and must make accommodations that allow for their ongoing success and growth in conjunction with any proposal such as wind energy,”
Eversource and Ørstead, operating as a joint venture with operator Gateway Terminal, were awarded exclusive 10 year use of the State Pier in February, which Farrelly claims denied his business “public access.”
Farrelly also took issue with application statements that no vessels used the area between two piers slated to be filled in. “Barges such as those employed by Blakeslee, Skanska, or even Gateway regularly used the west side of the Admiral Shear Pier and/or the east side of the CVRR Pier until a few months ago,” Farrelly wrote.
Filling in between the two piers would leave space for only one large and one small vessel and preclude barges if these vessels are in port.
The Connecticut Port Authority argues that DRVN no longer has legal standing to object because it no longer operates at the port.
Gateway Terminal also operates the Port of New Haven, including a salt distribution piles there operated by Morton Salt, Champion Salt and Gateway itself. Critics (seemingly aligned with DRVN) object to Gateway’s monopoly power and ability to control salt prices in Connecticut.
High Connecticut salt prices have prompted Saltine Warrior to examine bringing imported salt to Connecticut by rail.
Winter demand in February 2021 saw long delays at Gateway which supplies up to 650 trucks a day (500 for the state and municipalities, 150 for contractors).
“It’s a disaster of epic proportions,” said Rick Whittle, owner of Allied Snow Plowing Removal in Mystic told “The Day” newspaper.
In March landscapers, contractors and DRVN employees rallied at the Capital.
Christopher has 15 years of railroad experience, starting as a Conductor on Cape Cod and 15 years of public policy advocacy and outreach work. Christopher is Executive Director of Vermont Rail Action Network, communicating the vision of better trains to elected and government officials, community leaders and the public. Christopher is a consultant for freight and passenger planning and development projects including operating planning, federal grant applications, marketing, and public outreach.