As other communities in Hudson County mount opposition to the proposed Spectra gas pipeline, the Bayonne City Council voted on June 20 to approve an agreement that would pave the way for construction. City officials said that discussions with Spectra had produced modifications in the plan and will result in more than $2.3 million in annual revenues to the city as well as other perks.
The city will receive $1.1 million as a direct payment; $500,000 in payments for easements for right away for the line; and $15,000 a month for additional leases.
Spectra representatives said the pipeline would also have a positive impact for local companies through whose properties the pipeline would travel. The biggest change, however, was the moving of the proposed pipeline route out of residential areas, placing the west to east route under the Kill Van Kull instead at the southernmost tip of Bayonne near Staten Island.
Calling it a win-win situation for all involved, John Sheridan, director of government relations for Spectra Energy, said city officials worked closely with Spectra to get the support of the city for the project.
Bayonne City Business Administrator Steve Gallo said the city had concerns early on about the project, but had sat down to work out some of the concerns – most of which involved the proposed route of the project that would have taken the line through residential neighbors near the southern tip of Bayonne.
Company officials, Gallo said, agreed to relocate that portion of the line to the bottom of the Kill Van Kull destined to bring the line from west to east and to make landfall again in the industrial potion of east Bayonne.
Sheridan noted that access to the gas line would be granted to IMTT, through whose property the line would run. He said construction of the gas line would bring about 5,000 jobs into the area, and would bring additional natural gas into a region that needs it.
The line would run out of Staten Island into Bayonne, then up into Jersey City, near Hoboken, before turning east to access Manhattan.
Gallo said federal approval for the project made opposition to it futile, although the city had already obtained the necessary concessions from Spectra and dropped opposition prior to the federal approval.
“Early on the administration initially took a stand that this was something we did not want to see in our community,” Gallo said. “We had serious concerns about it being located in a residential area. But Spectra came a long way since then, and once we learned that it would pass under the Kill Van Kull and not down the middle of First or Second Street we felt more comfortable.”
Gallo said that the technical improvement and the extensive monitoring of the line would assure people’s safety.
“On top of all that, with federal approval, we were faced with condemnation,” he said. “But we were able to negotiate a reasonable settlement.”
First Ward Councilwoman Agnes Gillespie in whose ward the most impact would have been felt said residents were happy that the line as been moved.
Third Ward Councilman Ray Greaves said federal support for the project made it almost impossible for local government to opposed it, but he said that hard work and meeting with company representatives had produced result.
“I was told that we had no choice that it was coming to our city,” said Second Ward Councilman Joseph Hurley said. “But we came out with a financial settlement that will help us with our budget.”
Council President Terrence Ruane said bringing the company to the table led to compromise and a viable solution.
“Spectra was extremely receptive to our requests,” Ruane said.
Other council business: Measure for removal of satellite dishes tabled
Hoping to contact the original company that installed satellite dishes on homes and businesses throughout the city, the council agreed to put off passing an ordinance that would have put the onus on the backs of residents to remove them.
“I wouldn’t want to see my grandfather on the roof trying to take down one of those satellite dishes,” said resident Dan Costa speaking out against the ordinance. “Don’t put the burden on homeowners.”
Although city officials see few other options than to require residents to remove what has become an eyesore throughout the city, the council agreed to put off the matter until July so as to give the city time to contact Direct TV, which was responsible for their installation.
Gallo said competition from internet suppliers of TV has made the satellite TV access more or less obsolete, but that many people who order the service did not have to return the dish, and the company did not wish to collect the old equipment because it was not cost effective. The dishes remain on buildings even when they are not in use, often posing a hazard as they deteriorate.
The ordinance would have required property owners to remove all satellite dishes that are “missing cluster dish receivers, are not connected or damaged” or face stiff fines.
Councilman Hurley, however, was concerned about the financial impact on residents who must pay for the removal, since some of these are senior citizens with fixed incomes and asked for the matter to be tabled until the company could be contacted as a possible alternative to removing the dishes.
“We had serious concerns about it being located in a residential area.” – Steve Gallo
The City Council voted to approve an agreement to cover the city’s 25 percent match for the purchase of a 27-foot weapon of mass destruction rescue vessel and the use of a $45,000 federal grant to cover the cost of purchasing a 17-foot Boston whaler guardian boat.
Using a $228,196 grant from the federal Department of Homeland Security, the council last year authorized purchase of the rescue vessel from Safe Boats International of Bremerton, Wash. At the June 20 meeting, the council agreed to borrow the remaining $84,000 of the total cost of about $305,000.
The fire boat will not only be able to help rescue stranded boaters and other rescue situations on the water, but also detect biological and chemical weapons that might be used by potential terrorists.
“The 27-foot rescue boat will serve to replace our aging 17-foot Boston whaler, which is now over 35 years old,” said Fire Chief Greg Rogers. “The new boat will be a much more reliable vessel, and will serve as a stable platform in rough waters for rescue purposes. It will also be equipped with advanced high-tech navigation electronics, depth finder, weather station, GPS, and thermal imaging. It will also be equipped to handle monitoring of chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear threats, and be equipped with a 300gpm pump that will be used for fire suppression.”