Vol. 18, No. 5 March 10- 23, 2005


Plant Committee Won't Be Open to Public


At the first meeting of the Facilities Monitoring Committee (FMC) for the filtration plant last Thursday, the participants decided that future meetings, to be held monthly, should not be open to the general public.

The meetings are designed to update the community on construction progress and provide a vehicle for expressing local concerns. Official members of the community include designated representatives of the three community boards affected by the project — 7, 8 and 12 — and Joe Gordon, a staffer from Council Member Oliver Koppell’s office.

According to participants at the session, held in the back room of the Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) community office at 3660 Jerome Avenue, the vast majority of those present supported keeping the meetings closed.

Lyn Pyle, a Norwood resident who has long fought the siting of the plant in the park, and is a designee of Community Board 7, said she “argued strongly” that the meetings should be open to the community.

“I think it’s important to recognize that the people sitting around that table are really committed to doing a good job. I don’t question that, “ she said. “[But] the perspectives are really different from someone who is sitting next to the hole that they’re blasting. I’m really sorry it’s not an open meeting.” Pyle said she was the only one who argued in favor of opening up the meetings.

Asked about the open meeting issue, Charles Sturcken, assistant commissioner for governmental affairs at DEP, said, “That’s what they [the committee] decided amongst themselves.”

Rita Kessler, district manager of Community Board 7, who was present at the meeting, could not be reached for comment by press time.

Short of an open meeting, Pyle suggested that maybe more residents from the communities affected by the project (there will also be related work at the Jerome Park Reservoir) be appointed to the committee. Sturcken said that the Committee did decide to include Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz and State Senator Jeffrey Klein as ex-officio members of the FMC.

Many issues were discussed at the first meeting, including traffic, rodents and air quality, according to participants. DEP engineers and consultants were present to provide information and answer questions. The next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, April 7 at 2 p.m. at the same location.

Meanwhile, Pyle and others still opposed to the plant, hold out hope for a long shot, last-minute reprieve in court, where a judge is considering whether to order the city to stop work and conduct a more rigorous environmental review of the project.

In an e-mail report on the meeting she distributed to local activists, Pyle wrote, “I’m waiting for a miracle from the lawsuits, and the hole they have dug will make a great swimming pool on our side of the park.”

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