Orange County Partnership - News

Hearing on CPV plant draws a large crowd

By Nathan Brown
Times Herald-Record
Published: 2:00 AM - 03/28/13

SLATE HILL — Every spot for sitting and every bit of wall that could be leaned on were taken at Wawayanda's Town Hall Wednesday evening, for a public hearing on the site plan for a proposed natural gas power plant.

Unlike a Zoning Board hearing two weeks ago, this much larger crowd was more split, between opponents — both Wawayanda residents and people from Minisink who have been fighting the compressor station there — and union members, come to support the plant and the hundreds of construction jobs it is expected to create. As people squeezed in, opponents asked people to sign affidavits if they only heard about the plant recently, through their efforts. One woman walked up to a couple of men, asking them to sign a petition opposing it. They declined. "We're absolutely for it," one of them said.

"Work three months, get paid for a year, and die," she said as she walked away.

"All misinformation," the man replied.

Competitive Power Ventures is proposing a 650-megawatt power plant near Interstate 84, which would be supplied with gas from the Minisink station.

The project first came to the Planning Board in 2008; its final environmental findings were accepted almost a year ago.

More than three dozen people spoke Wednesday. Most supporters talked about jobs; opponents feared it would hurt the town's environment and rural character, and said there should have been more public notification.

"I'm looking at this tapestry," said Thomas Salamone, one of two Minisink Valley school board members to vote against a resolution supporting the project, indicating a wall hanging depicting various rural scenes. "Would a power plant fit on this tapestry?" he asked.

CPV officials say that they have reached out to people during the past five years, and that the potential environmental impact has been analyzed.

"We don't like the idea of some (of) that, even though it made it through the steps, it's never good enough," said Sam Fratto, with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 363.

The meeting was still going as of press time; the Planning Board was not expected to vote on the plan Wednesday evening.