Kingston Council backs 80 days for Niagara comment

Cooper Lake (photo by Phyllis McCabe)

Cooper Lake (photo by Phyllis McCabe)

The Kingston Common Council Tuesday night approved a resolution drafted by opponents of the Niagara Bottling plant proposal to extend the public comment period on a document that will guide an environmental review of the project.

The California-based water bottling company is in the early stages of a state-mandated review for its proposal to build a sprawling facility on a vacant industrial site adjacent to the former IBM campus. The plan has drawn strong opposition, based on Niagara’s plan to bottle up to 1.75 million gallons a day purchased from Kingston’s municipal water supply and coming from it’s Cooper Lake reservoir in Lake Hill, as well as concerns about pollution and increased traffic from trucks going to and from the plant.

The Ulster Town Board is serving as lead agency on the environmental review. Currently town officials are waiting for an engineering firm hired by Niagara to produce a “scoping document.” That document will outline issues to be studied and addressed in an environmental impact statement (EIS). The EIS must include a discussion of all potential negative impacts of the proposal and how they will be mitigated.

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Typically, the process calls for a 30-day public comment period to allow citizens and agencies to weigh in on the scoping document and bring forth additional issues to be addressed. The non-binding resolution drafted by Rebecca Martin of the anti-Niagara group KingstonCitizens.org calls on Town of Ulster officials to extend the public comment period to 80 days after the scoping document is released. The resolution also calls for the town to schedule a public hearing on the scoping document in the Kingston Common Council chambers.

 

Off the Start-UP NY list again

In other Niagara news, the plant plan was not on the January 28 list of projects awarded Start-UP NY status by state economic development officials. SUNY Ulster had applied for the status on behalf of Niagara.

The program encourages businesses starting up or relocating to New York to establish partnerships with local educational institutions. The businesses offer tailored curriculum support, internships and other programs intended to create a pipeline between colleges and well-paying jobs. In exchange, the businesses and their employees pay no state income taxes for 10 years. The businesses also pay no sales tax on equipment and other startup costs.

Also, KingstonCitizens.org is calling for new blood on for the board of the Kingston Water Department. In a post this week on its website and social media pages, the group notes that the term of Commissioner Al Radel expires this May. After thanking Radel, who joined the board in 2000, the post notes: “The mayor appoints members to the commission, and we recommend that the city do a good search well in advance to find a new professional for the Water Board. Environmentalists, hydrologists, engineers, economics. New blood.”

The group suggests contacting Mayor Shayne Gallo at sgallo@kingston-ny.gov with applications to join the board.