Vol. 19,  No.  6 March 23 - Apr. 5, 2006


Filter Plant Committee Reconfigures Itself
Faulkner Takes Reins


The committee set up by the City Council to monitor the construction of the water filtration plant in Van Cortlandt Park has a new look, leaving the immediate community’s sole representative owith concerns that it will lose a critical local perspective.

Lyn Pyle, who was assigned to be a “designee” by former Community Board 7 chair Nora Feury, participated heavily in meetings until now. She was relegated to the audience at the committee’s public meeting last week.

Led by Gregory Faulkner, the chair of Community Board 7, the Croton Facility Monitoring Committee has been reduced to include only the “principal” members outlined in a Council resolution (the chairs of Community Boards 7, 8 and 12, Council Member Oliver Koppell, the Bronx borough president and representatives of the Department of Environmental Protection and the Parks Department) or their designees, but not both. At earlier meetings of the body, about 20 people, many from the DEP, and some from other city agencies, would sit up at a dais before an audience. That group included principal members, designees and others. At last week’s meeting, at the DEP’s community office on Jerome Avenue, only Faulkner and one representative of each of the other officials and agencies sat at a U-shaped table at the head of the small room.

In an interview before the meeting, Faulkner said he didn’t think the move was as much a “restructuring as a clarification of the existing structure.”

“It [the committee] was never intended to be this unstructured group of folks, and you wouldn’t know who had the responsibility and who would be there to do what,” Faulkner said, adding that before he firmly took the reins of the committee it appeared as if the DEP were in charge. “I did not feel comfortable with the DEP supervising the process that monitored their involvement.”

And whereas prior meetings have focused primarily on controlling diesel emissions from on- and off-site trucks — a major concern of Pyle’s and some other members of the committee — Faulkner wants to see a greater emphasis placed on getting Bronxites jobs on the project.

In January, only 32 out of 129 workers (25 percent) on the project, which is now in the site preparation phase, were Bronxites. DEP representatives say that’s higher than the staffing on the recent construction of a Bronx courthouse. But Faulkner isn’t satisfied, and wants to ensure that the contractor (who has not yet been officially chosen) for the construction phase of the project buys into a process that ensures a greater representation of Bronxites and even Board 7 residents in the project’s work force.

Pyle, a founder of the COVE teen center, just a couple of hundred yards from the construction site, said she agrees with Faulkner that jobs for local residents are critical, particularly local young men in their 20s with few skills.

“Those guys can get into an apprentice program [and] be trained for the kind of jobs in the contract,” she said, adding that she would probably work with Faulkner on the issue.

Pyle also said that a previous meeting of the committee, where the new structure was hashed out, was “clearer, more energized [and] seems like it’s moving in a good direction.”

But she is still concerned about the lack of a local voice on the committee (Faulkner lives in University Heights.)

“I think there should be a community representative of the most impacted community because I think the perspective is different,” Pyle said. “If you live next to the hole they’re digging, you’ve got a really different perspective on what’s happening.”

Pyle is still Community Board 7’s designee, which means that she could participate in meetings when Faulkner is absent. And Community Board 7 voted unanimously at its last meeting to request that the City Council augment the Committee to include a community representative.

Meanwhile, Pyle said the jury is out on the new structure.

“We will see in the next few months, by their follow-through on the jobs issue and air quality issues, if restructuring the FMC is a move … in the interests of the immediate community,” she said.

Ed. note: The Croton Facility Monitoring Committee will next meet on Thursday, April 20 at 7 p.m. at the DEP community office, 3660 Jerome Ave.

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