CORTLANDT, N.Y. – Various members of the Westchester County Board of Legislators visited the Blue Mountain Reservation in Cortlandt on Wednesday, Dec. 17, to see the probable impact area from the expansion project proposed by the Houston, Texas-based Spectra Gas Corporation for its Algonquin natural gas pipeline.
The project would replace an existing 26-inch diameter pipe for pressurized gas with new 42-inch pipe from Rockland County to Massachusetts through Northern Westchester and Putnam County.
The tour of the pipeline in Blue Mountain Reservation was organized by Legislator Pete Harckham (D-North Salem) and the County’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Conservation. Joining Harckham were board Chairman Michael Kaplowitz (D-Somers), Majority Leader Catherine Borgia (D-Ossining), Minority Leader John Testa (R-Peekskill) and Legislator MaryJane Shimsky (D-Hastings-on-Hudson) — as well as Deputy Commissioner Peter Tartaglia, Director of Facilities David DeLucia, both of the Parks, Recreation and Conservation Depatment and George Oros, County Executive Rob Astorino’s chief of staff, a former legislator from Peekskill.
Cortlandt Town Supervisor Linda Puglisi and several residents also attended the informational walk through the park.
Walking on a trail in the Blue Mountain Reservation that is adjacent to the existing pipeline, the legislators were able to see how much of the park would be impacted by the construction project. Thousands of trees would need to be cut down and much of the landscape cleared in the new easement to make room for the 130-foot increase of the 75-foot wide easement already in place.
“It’s not just this new easement zone that’s a concern, it’s how much of an impact this project will have on the entire park, especially in the areas nearby to where the work will take place,” said Harckham, chairman of of the county board's Labor, Parks, Planning and Housing Committee. “The scope of clearing that could possibly occur along the pipeline needs to be addressed before a review is completed and the work begins.”
Harckham noted that the county board had sent a request to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission asking for Spectra to furnish a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement regarding the project, since the corporation’s initial Environmental Impact Statement did not adequately address the pipeline expansion’s possible short- and long-term effects at Blue Mountain.
Spectra is seeking a revocable license with the county to complete the work in the park, but county parks officials are still waiting for a tree survey from Spectra that will show the extent of deforestation in Blue Mountain.
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