Otsego County government, as well as certain towns and school districts within the county, could collectively reap $3 million in new tax revenue if a lengthy stretch of the Constitution Pipeline is placed within the county, County Board of Representatives Chairwoman Kathleen Clark, R-Otego, said Thursday night.
“It would be great if this became a cheap supply of energy for us,” Clark said at a public meeting sponsored by the pipeline planners at the Oneonta Holiday Inn on state Route 23.
She said the estimate of $3 million in new revenue was a rough one provided by a company official. The primary route for the pipeline would not enter Otsego County anywhere along the 121-mile pathway. Ultimately, the route will be determined by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
On hand at the meeting were giant aerial maps showing a newly carved alternative route that would put sections of the proposed natural gas transmission system closer to Interstate 88 than what the company calls its preferred route. Dozens of landowners whose properties would be potentially impacted by the new alternative route came to the meeting armed with questions and concerns about the proximity of the pipeline to their homes.
Chris Brake, who acquired his 1905 Greek Revival home off state Route 28 on Franklin Mountain only a year ago, said he learned just this week that the new route traverses his 65-acre expanse of land.
“It would come within 200 feet of our backyard,” said Brake, who is planning to open an orga
nic bakery in Oneonta. “It’s pretty invasive. If they put this pipeline in, our house is in the ‘kill zone.’” “Kill zone” is a term used to describe the area close to a pipeline where people could potentially be killed in the event of a gas explosion.
Another landowner, Lloyd Chambers of Mount Vision, who along with his siblings owns a 429-acre parcel near Robert V. Riddell State Park in Davenport, said he would be open to negotiating with the pipeline company.
“My father had that land for 80 years,” he said. “We nurtured the forest, we hunted on it, and now they want to put a hole right through the middle of it.”
As far as the price that he would seek, Chambers said: “I’m going to be as greedy as they are. It’s just like everything else in the world. It all comes down to the dollar bill.”
Chambers said the new alternate route would also take the pipeline through the state park, which he noted was deeded to the state on the condition that it be kept forever wild.
Meredith Town Supervisor Keitha Capouya called the project “a preamble for fracking” and argued that behind-the-scenes deals have already been cut to assure the project wins approval from FERC. Capouya also claimed it was “hogwash” that rural towns such as hers would receive natural gas from the pipeline.
A contingent of about 25 members of a grassroots opposition group called Stop the Pipeline mingled with some 185 people who signed in at a registration desk. Stop the Pipeline will hold its next meeting Monday night at the East Meredith firehouse, said Joan Tubridy, one of the