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Jolt of opposition
BY ELIZABETH HAYS
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Wednesday, August 25th, 2004
An array of Brooklyn leaders gathered in Greenpoint yesterday to demand that a state panel pull the plug on a massive waterfront power plant project.
Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and more than a dozen community leaders called on the state Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment to nix a 1,100-megawatt project on KentSt.
"Enough is enough," bellowed Markowitz outside the overgrown site near North 14th St., where the private developer TransGas Energy Systems is seeking to build a combined electric-generating and steam plant. "Brooklyn demands very clearly that they say no to this power plant."
Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-Williams- burg-Greenpoint), Assemblyman Joe Lentol (D-Greenpoint) and City Councilman David Yassky (D-Greenpoint) also came out to denounce the project. The critics say the project will bring more pollution to the already overburdened area and scuttle redevelopment plans.
The state panel's seven members were slated to meet today to discuss the issue. But yesterday the meeting was postponed until Sept. 15 due to a scheduling conflict, said Dave Flanagan, a spokesman for the Public Service Commission.
The upcoming meeting could be the final chapter in a years-long battle over the controversial project. The members could vote to approve or reject the project, or they could postpone a decision due to recent changes to the proposal by the developer, Flanagan said.
The project already has been hit with several high-profile rejections. Mayor Bloomberg came out against the project in 2003. His administration is eying the prime waterfront site for a new aquatic center if the city wins its bid to host the 2012 Olympics. In March, two hearing examiners overseeing the project under Article X of the state Public Service Law recommended a rejection. Officials confirmed at the time that since 1998 the final siting board has never reversed the hearing examiners' recommendation.
TransGas has since submitted a new proposal that calls for building the plant underground and covering it with a 7acre park to address concerns about the site.
Len Shapiro, head of development at TransGas, said yesterday the proposal would give the neighborhood a new park while also providing the city with additional much-needed electricity and cleaning up a long-polluted site.
"We're still optimistic that the siting board will realize that this is a great project for New York City," said Shapiro.
But Greenpoint activists said yesterday that placing the plant underground will not win them over.
"This community doesn't just want this power plant buried - we want it dead and buried," said Joe Vance of the Greenpoint Waterfront Association for Parks and Planning.