Greenpointers Fire Back At Fracked Natural Gas Pipeline

National Grid installs a natural gas pipeline along Manhattan Avenue in Brooklyn, Feb. 13, 2020Photo: Ben Fractenberg/THE CITY

This story was originally published on 2/14/20 by THE CITY. (By: Claudia Irizarry Aponte)

Construction of a 6.8-mile natural gas pipeline stretching from Brownsville to North Brooklyn has hit a wall in Greenpoint, where community leaders and elected officials are vying to halt the project as it reaches its final stage.

The National Grid gas main — which has been in the works since 2017 — would supply fracked gas from Pennsylvania, where the extraction is legal. The controversial practice was banned in New York state in 2014.

On Saturday, a community coalition of environmental advocacy groups, schools, and social justice groups will host a rally at the pipeline’s latest construction site, the intersection of Moore Street and Manhattan Avenue.

“I am familiar with the history of environmental devastation in my neighborhood,” said Kevin LaCherra, a third-generation Greenpointer who is helping organize the rally. “We need our elected officials to be taking bold steps to bring renewables on now.”

The pipeline opponents are calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio to stop the project on the grounds that it goes against both the state and the city’s clean energy goals.

“This is not the kind of system we want any more,” Kim Fraczek, director of the Sane Energy Project, an environmental advocacy group, told THE CITY. “This industry doesn’t have the interests of the community at heart.”

Their claims are quickly gaining momentum: On Tuesday, Brooklyn’s Community Board 1, which includes Greenpoint, voted unanimously to stop any construction of the pipeline.

Advocates say they have the support of every single elected official who represents North Brooklyn at the state and city level, from City Councilmembers Stephen Levin and Antonio Reynoso, to State Sen. Julia Salazar and veteran Assemblymember Joe Lentol.

Levin, Reynoso and Lentol all confirmed to THE CITY they oppose the pipeline’s construction, Salazar did not return requests for comment. Continue reading

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L Station Repair Spending Projected to Double as MTA Takes Different Track

An L Train entering the Eighth Avenue station. Photo: Jose Martinez/THE CITY

L train riders were spared shutdown for more than a year at the last minute in January, but other construction work pushed back by the change of plans is looming — and costs are booming.

The projected price tag for structural repairs at the L’s five Manhattan stations along 14th Street could nearly double — from $43.8 million to $77.8 million — MTA documents project.

An MTA spokesperson said some of that work would have begun during the now-canceled full-time shutdown of the L’s Canarsie tunnel in the East River, as part of a “piggybacking” onto repairs in the tunnel.

But reports that provide updates on MTA capital projects now show that a bid opening previously scheduled for May 2019 has been postponed until January 2020 to “re-examine the scope of the work in light of the changed service plan of the Canarsie Tube.”

There is no timetable for when the bulk of repairs will begin to fix steel defects in station columns, beams and braces, as well as work to repair leaks and concrete defects in walls and ceilings.

The work could potentially have impacts on riders, the MTA acknowledges, as crews come in to shore up nearly century-old stations. Continue reading

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Brooklyn Board Manager Defends SUV Splurge: ‘I’m Not Going to Parties’

Brooklyn Community Board 1’s vehicle parked in front of the office, May 29, 2019. Photo: Ben Fractenberg/THE CITY

This story was originally published on 5/30/19 by THE CITY.

The manager of a community board under fire for buying a $26,000 SUV with public funds defended the purchase Wednesday night — insisting the vehicle was needed to get around Brooklyn for business.

“I’m not going to parties,” Gerald Esposito, Community Board 1’s district manager told THE CITY.

He broke his silence days after THE CITY reported the Williamsburg and Greenpoint board bought the 2018 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid with part of a one-time $42,500 budget-booster the City Council gave to all 59 community boards last year.

Mayor Bill de Blasio called for an investigation Friday as the City Council promised to examine community board spending citywide and other public officials questioned the purchase.

The issue came up at an at times contentious CB1 session Wednesday night, where Dealice Fuller, the board chair, tried to clamp down on questions. When one member of the public asked about the SUV, Fuller slammed her hand on the table in front of her and said, “I don’t have to talk to you.”

Tempers frayed as the meeting wore on. “To have my name ruined over $26,000 is ludicrous,” Fuller said.

Esposito complained of getting “calls from random people asking me to use the car. It’s personal!”

‘I Don’t Need This Car’

Earlier, Esposito, the head of a local Democratic club and the board’s manager for four decades, told THE CITY the vehicle was needed to shuttle Fuller, CB1’s volunteer chair.

Brooklyn Community Board 1 District Manager Gerald Esposito said during a public meeting he felt unfairly blamed for the purchase of a vehicle for the board, May 29, 2019. Photo: Ben Fractenberg/THE CITY

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