Bronx Leaders Push Westchester Filter Site
By JORDAN MOSS
Hoping to get the city's attention, two Westchester town supervisors who want the Croton filtration plant built in their towns met with a group of Bronx politicians last week.
The delegation, which included Councilwoman June Eisland, Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz and representatives of Congressman Eliot Engel, State Senator Franz Leichter, and Assemblyman Jeffrey Klein, had no authority to negotiate with the supervisors on the city's behalf, but participants hoped their visit would raise the profile of the Westchester alternatives as the city gets ready to pick a site for the controversial facility.
The two supervisors, Paul Feiner of Greenburgh, and Robert Meehan of Mount Pleasant, are interested in the plant because of the substantial taxes that New York City would have to pay the town where it is sited.
The two sites, which straddle Rte. 100C, may be better suited for the facility because each is more than a mile from the nearest residence. And, unlike the Bronx sites which disrupt parkland or hover on the edge of dense urban neighborhoods, the Greenburgh and Mt. Pleasant sites, where Union Carbide once operated factories, are intended for industrial use.
"The bottom line is it's zoned for [a facility like the filtration plant]," Meehan said in an interview with the Norwood News. "It's a use that's permissible there."
As odious as the plant is to Bronx residents, Meehan, a Republican in office since 1990, said that in many ways such a facility would be a better neighbor to his own than other uses that are being proposed like a Home Depot. Such alternatives would "generate traffic on a long-term basis," Meehan said. The filtration plant's traffic impact would be "minimal except during the period of construction."
The activity to the north came as Bronx filtration opponents dredged through 3,500 pages of the city's preliminary draft environmental impact statement (PDEIS), in which the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) provides details on how the plant would affect the communities that surround it at each of the eight sites.
Filtration activists and elected officials continued to mock the hefty report for suggesting the plant would have little impact and even enhance its environment were it to be sited in the Bronx.
"It's a total farce, especially as it applies to Jerome Park," Assemblyman Jeffrey Klein said of the document. "To say it's not going to have any adverse impact on the surrounding community is just absurd."
"I'm outraged," Councilwoman June Eisland said in a statement. "The PDEIS seems to ignore reality. Five years or more of construction to build a huge, industrial-size plant is an assault on the residents and schools in the area."
As some Van Cortlandt Village residents and members of the Lehman College, who fear the plant's impact on their campus if it is sited in Jerome Park, have voiced their support for putting it in Shandler Recreation Area in Van Cortlandt Park, elected officials have become particularly adamant that the facility would be unwelcome anywhere on Bronx soil. The politicians -- Dinowitz, Leichter, Engel, Eisland and Klein -- recently issued a joint statement with this message, and most will be participating in a candlelight vigil (see accompanying story) in Harris Park on Oct. 27 to amplify opposition to a Bronx site.
On Wed., Oct. 28, from 3-5 p.m. and 7-9 p.m., the DEP will hold a public meeting to receive comments on the PDEIS in Manhattan College's Smith Auditorium (4513 Manhattan College Pkwy. at W. 242nd St.). The PDEIS is also on file at Community Board 7 (229A E. 204th St.; call 933-5650 for more information) and at Fordham Library Center (2556 Bainbridge Ave.; call 579-4257 for more information).
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