Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Saratoga Spa State Park&Moreau being torn up for pipes for Politics& "chips" ?

Water quarrel at a boil
By ALYSON MARTIN,amartin@poststar.com
Published: Tuesday, October 23, 2007
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MOREAU -- As work on the Saratoga County water line continues, questions have been raised about the legality of laying pipeline in Moreau Lake State Park and the Saratoga Spa State Park.Both of the parks have experienced disruption during the construction of a 28-mile water pipeline planned to stretch throughout northern Saratoga County.About 5.3 miles of piping has already been installed, and work is now in progress on property in both parks, according to Eric Sievers, project engineer.The pipeline is part of a project to bring a water source from the Hudson River in Moreau to the Luther Forest Technology Campus in Malta, all in anticipation of a spike in population when the Advanced Micro Device's microchip plant arrives in the area, said Moreau Town Supervisor Harry Gutheil.
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Alec Mackay, president of Saratoga Water Services in Malta and the Luther Forest Corporation -- both privately owned companies -- has filed two lawsuits against the county.His lawyer, John Caffry of Glens Falls, said Mackay thinks the project is unnecessary and could cause a negative environmental impact.While Mackay says he supports the Luther Forest Technology Campus, he believes there were better options to pursue to bring water to the area."They have no customers. They have only two customers for very small amounts of money. The main customer they seem to be counting on is the potential (microchip) plant," Caffry said.One of Mackay's lawsuits is challenging the water permit issued by the Department of Environmental Conservation.According to Caffry, the DEC must first determine a clear need for a water supply when issuing a water-supply permit.

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With so few customers, there is no need, Caffry said.There was no demonstrated need for the pipeline and the county misled the DEC when various towns said they wanted some of the water, but later backed out, Mackay said.That case is pending in Albany, Caffry said.The DEC is reviewing Mackay's claims to see if the use of the pipeline is consistent with environmental conservation law, said Maureen Wren, spokeswoman for the DEC.The application did meet the DEC's standards for issuance, Wren said.

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"Each application is reviewed based on the specifics of the proposal," Wren said.Bill Simcoe, executive director of the Saratoga County Water Authority, said Wilton, Ballston and the Luther Forest Technology Campus are all customers, and the pipeline will likely pay for itself within five years."Of course, having this type of thing, it doesn't pay for itself at first. It relies on the growth," Simcoe said. "It's putting new infrastructure in place so you can attract new business to the county. Each of the areas we're running through, they're growing areas, and they need more water."Mackay also filed a lawsuit over what he considered violations of state Environmental Conservation Law.A portion of the law, Article XIV, section 1, reads, "The lands of the state, now owned or hereafter acquired, constituting the forest preserve as now fixed by law, shall be forever kept as wild forest lands. They shall not be leased, sold or exchanged, or be taken by any corporation, public or private, nor shall the timber thereon be sold, removed or destroyed."
Mackay argues that the parks constitute state forest preserves and therefore may not be changed in any way.The case involving environmental impact has been dismissed for lack of standing, Caffry said.However, according to Eileen Larrabee, director of communications for the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, state environmental conservation law applies to the land of neither park in this particular example."It was never part of the forest preserve. It was obtained by the state for recreational purposes," Larrabee said.Nonetheless, Mackay is firm on his stance, Caffry said.
Mackay expressed his concerns in letters to several state agencies, including the state office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and the Department of Environmental Conservation.In one letter to Carol Ash, commissioner of the State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, Caffry wrote on behalf of Mackay: "The project appears to be being driven by political and development interest, not by actual current demand for the water. State parks should not be unnecessarily damaged and the areas around them should not be sacrificed to suburban sprawl, when there is no public need for the project."The 36-inch piping will carry about 14 million gallons per day. The increase in water supply in Saratoga County will inevitably lead to development throughout the county, Mackay said."... it appears that the principal purpose of the Water Project is to subsidize suburban sprawl along the Northway Corridor in Saratoga County," the letter read.The pipeline will travel through both Saratoga Spa State Park and Moreau Lake State Park. About two miles of piping will be installed in Saratoga Spa State Park, about one mile in Moreau Lake State Park, Larrabee said.
The state parks office will receive $300,000 from the Saratoga Water Authority for both parks, to cover some brush loss and to compensate for a building that will be erected at the site of the water intake from the Hudson River, Larrabee said.When the original drawings were shown, the office expressed concerns over the removal of some trees, Larrabee said."We were able to work with them to save some trees, and we received some mitigation funds for any kind of impact the project might have on the parks from the water authority. That money will be used at the parks," Larrabee said. "Where there will be impact, we work to minimize impact."According to Sievers, portions of the the golf course at Saratoga Spa State Park will be disrupted within the next three to four weeks. Next year's golf season should not be affected, he said.Work on the pipeline is scheduled to end in the summer of 2008. Work on the water plant will continue until 2009, Sievers said.
Some contractors are choosing to work throughout the winter, while others will stop for colder months and resume in the spring, Sievers said.While the pipeline continues to be laid, he said, residents can expect to see the work and hear some noise, but they will not notice the pipes once the project is finished.» Subscribe to The Post-Star and save! Click here to find out how » Subscribe to email and cell phone alerts and breaking news
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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

So where is AMD ??? I mean the contract...while every is waiting for a contract signing that will , hopefully, never take place - take the survey at SPAC: