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Growing unrest: Community gardeners slam Floyd Bennett Field pipeline plan

Nervous gardeners: Green-thumbed locals Ed and Christine Bressel are worried that the proposed pipeline extension, scheduled to weave its way through Marine Park in late 2013, could put their precious garlic and tomato harvests in jeopardy.
Photo by Steve Solomonson

A group of green-thumbed Marine Park residents fear a proposed gas pipeline that will be planted close to their crops.

Members of the Community Garden Association are outraged that the Transco Pipeline extension, which will supply more gas to National Grid will pass within a stone’s throw of their beloved fields.

Gardeners left their rakes and shovels at home, but came to an April 25 community input meeting about the project armed with a list of questions on how the pipeline’s construction will affect the community garden, which is considered the largest in the borough.

“I asked if the pipeline would be a target for terrorists,” Old Mill Basin resident Ed Bressel said. “The pipeline is right next to the garden, but these engineers just kind of blew off any thoughts that security would be a concern. They don’t know how precious a garden is in Brooklyn. Everybody has cement instead of dirt, so it would be a big loss for gardeners.”

Bressel also expressed concerns about the pipeline metering station that Williams Companies and National Grid plan to install in a hanger a few hundred feet from the garden, but said he was given nothing of value in return.

“They didn’t explain any of the environmental implications,” he said. “They just gave me this update pamphlet about their safety record, but nothing about this actual project. The NYPD has their helicopter port over there too, so there’s worries that a helicopter could crash into the metering station. I mean, is this thing crash proof?”

Representatives from Williams Companies said they were mowed down by Bressel’s questions.

“I’m not sure we anticipated the level of interest from the gardeners,” said Williams Companies spokesman Chris Stockton. “But this is why we have these meetings — to try and identify what people’s concerns are and work with those folks to try and find solutions.”

Williams Companies reps said the pipeline extension is far from a done deal. The project still needs the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to sign off on National Grid’s application, which the company is planning to submit this fall.

If everything is approved, National Grid will begin laying a two-foot wide pipeline along Flatbush Avenue from Avenue U to the metering station by the end of next year. The pipeline, which will be buried 30 to 80 feet below ground, would tap into a major natural gas supply line off the Rockaway Peninsula run by Williams Companies.

Williams Companies reps also explained that it will need an act of Congress to dig up Floyd Bennett Field, which is part of Gateway National Recreation Area, to lay their pipeline. So far, the House of Representatives has given their approval, although Republican Bay Ridge Rep. Michael Grimm was slammed for taking $3,000 in campaign donations from Williams Companies and National Grid after sponsoring the bill that will allow them to dig up Floyd Bennett Field.

The Senate is expected to make its decision sometime over the summer.

But gardeners aren’t the only ones upset with the pipeline plan: bird lovers also said a natural gas pipeline would be a horrific use of Brooklyn’s only national park.

“Any major construction project in or near natural areas has a risk of damaging those places in the process,” said Glenn Phillips, the executive director of the New York City Audubon Society.

Reach reporter Colin MIxson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4514.

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