The Northern Westchester Examiner

County Reviews Report on Pipeline Expansion in Cortlandt Park

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2015 NWE 0120 Pipeline PhotoA report on the effects the expansion of a proposed Algonquin natural gas pipeline would have on Westchester County-owned Blue Mountain Reservation in Cortlandt was reviewed by the Board of Legislators’ Labor, Parks, Planning & Housing Committee last week.

An independent environmental assessment completed by the non-profit institute Hudsonia concluded the construction activity of removing a 26-inch pipe that has been in the park since 1952 and runs between Washington Street and Maple Avenue with a new 42-inch line would alter the natural landscape and biodiversity of the park.

“The proposed expansion will be highly destructive to wetlands on and near the right-of-way, justifying comprehensive and detailed species surveys to provide information for habitat and species protection and restoration,” said Dr. Erik Kiviat of Hudsonia.

Under an agreement with the county that pertains to the current 26-inch pipe, Spectra, which is heading the controversial pipeline project, has a permanent six- foot easement around the pipe, as well as a 75-foot maintenance easement, which is used every few years. According to Spectra, 100 to 130 foot areas along the pipeline would also need to be utilized during the construction process. This could be accomplished by the county granting a revocable license to use the land as opposed to issuing an easement.

The proposed work would also temporarily affect six trails in Blue Mountain Reservation; two major ones and four small ones.

“What happens at Blue Mountain will set a precedent for other pipeline expansion projects,” said Majority Leader Catherine Borgia (D/Ossining), whose district covers a large portion of where the expanded pipeline will be built. “It makes sense to take a sufficient amount of time and effort to make sure that we have the information we need to protect the county’s natural resources before the work begins.”

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) will have the final say in granting a certificate to Spectra to go forward with the project. If all proper approvals are granted, Spectra would begin clearing the necessary land in the late winter or early spring of 2016 and anticipate work to be completed and the pipe to be in service by November 2016.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is holding two public hearings on the pipeline expansion this week. The first will take place on Wednesday, January 21 in Brewster at the Henry H. Wells Middle School. The second will be held the next day at the Stony Point Community Center. Both hearings start at 6 p.m.

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