Representatives from the Federal Energy Regulator Commission who came to Bayonne to hear comments from the public over the proposed route of a new natural gas line got an earful on Aug. 5. At the Knights of Columbus Hall on Avenue C, more than 150 residents raised objections in having a gas line run through residential neighborhoods of the Bergen Point section of the city.
This was one of a series of public sessions required for the project to get the necessary federal permits.
Spectra Energy, of Linden, is proposing an expansion of existing gas lines with new lines to run from Staten Island through Bayonne and Jersey City to provide gas to New York City.
While most of the pipeline would make use of an existing gas network, portions in Bayonne and Jersey City would require construction through areas not currently used. In the case of southern Bayonne, they would – if built as proposed – go through property slated for residential development and down First Street, which has residential houses on one side, and a park with sports fields on the other. The pipeline is expected to be placed at least three feet under the ground.
“If it has to go through Bayonne, it should not go through a residential part of Bayonne.”-- Christos Genes
The line as proposed would enter Bayonne from the Kill Van Kull at the Texaco-Chevron near Bayonne Bridge and would run along First Street, to Lexington, up Lexington to Second Street, then over to Route 440 to Jersey City.
If approved, construction would start in 2012 and conclude a year later. Benefits, according to Spectra, would include construction and other jobs, use of local services, and about $2 million in local property taxes to the city.
Christos Genes is a resident of the Bergen Point section of Bayonne, through which the line will pass.
“I looked at it and I really don’t want it coming through First Street, especially in the residential park area,” he said, “If it has to go through Bayonne, it should not go through a residential part of Bayonne.”
He also said he did not believe the line would be deep enough into the ground.
Richard Barba of Avenue C said Spectra has been very cooperative and supplied whatever information he asked for. But he said he had a lot of questions about the safety of the gas line, quoting a number of explosions of gas lines in other areas. He said that the proposed route would go down a street with a number of ball fields, playgrounds, as well as homes.
“I would say that a minimum of a 1,000 people use this park every week,” he said, and that the biggest benefit would go to people living in Manhattan.
He suggested an underwater route along Bayonne’s western shore in Newark Bay instead, crossing over to the east side along Route 440.
Tessie Tsi, a resident of Bayonne since 1998 who formerly worked for oil and gas companies in Texas, said she was very concerned.
“As a resident of Bayonne who is concerned about the future and safety of Bayonne, I believe as concerned citizens we fully understand the ramifications of having a pipeline go through our city,” she said.”My gut tells I really don’t want the pipeline here.”
Could cause problems for proposed development
Carla Baker, project manager for Chevron Development, which owns the former Texaco site through which the line is proposed to run, officially objected to the route, not the project itself. She said the 66 acres are being cleaned up for a potential 1,300 residential unit development. Chevron would like to see the pipeline shifted to another route preferably off the property, or to an area of the property that won’t affect the cleanup or redevelopment.
Jason Kaplan, of Kaplan Companies, the designated redeveloper for the Texaco site, said running the pipeline through the site as proposed makes it impossible to redevelop the site.
“We’re proposing a $500 million redevelopment, and this compromises that redevelopment,” he said.
John Halecky raised concerns about existing pipelines under the street, as well as federal detonations to deepen the water channel under the Kill Van Kull.
“What happens if they detonate again?” he asked. “If this benefits New York, then this should be run through Staten Island.”
Henry Harsh said there is no need for the pipeline to come through Bayonne and no benefits to the city.
“If you look at the north shore of Staten Island, it is mostly industrial and you can come up into Brooklyn, then Manhattan,” he said, noting that the proposed plan takes the line through residential and mall areas in Bayonne. “The whole area is congested with homes and businesses. Two million dollars is nothing. Is that the price you put on life? I don’t think so.”
First Ward Councilwoman Agnes Gillespie represents the area most impacted by the pipeline proposal.
“I’m opposed to having the pipeline coming down the middle of First Street,” she said. “There are alternative routes I hope you would look into.”
She said construction would affect the quality of life in the neighborhood.
Although Mayor Mark Smith did not speak at the session, he gave written notice afterwards, saying that he is very concerned about the route of the gas line through residential and redevelopment areas of the city.
A serious problem with the pipeline could close down the Bayonne Bridge, the only southerly exit from Bayonne, Smith said.
“We would prefer that route be modified so the pipeline makes landfall east of the bridge,” he said in his written comments. “The proposed route along First Street in the city of Bayonne is entirely unacceptable. This area is completely residential in nature, and First Street is already host to several pipelines and various other sewer, storm water, and potable water appurtenances.”
Smith proposed several alternatives, including running the line along Kill van Kull, then bringing the line to Bayonne into the industrial eastside near Ingham Avenue or the Port John Coal Docks connecting directly to the East Fifth Street extension.
Smith noted that the proposed route would take the line through several areas proposed for redevelopment, and suggested the route use public right-of-way rather than private property. The gas line should also avoid areas planned for future expansion of the New Jersey Turnpike.
Al Sullivan may be reached at email@example.com.