Williamsburg residents are claiming victory and relief after the State Court of Appeals refused to hear TransGas Energy’s appeal to be allowed to build an underground power plant on the Williamsburg waterfront.
The court’s refusal to hear the energy company’s appeal, posted on January 12, ends nine years of litigation over the future of the Bayside Fuel site (North 12th and Kent Avenue), which sits next to the site of the Bushwick Inlet Park.
“They’re refusing to take the appeal, which means the decision of the siting board stands,” said TGE attorney John Dax, who explained that there would not be any further appeals.
Assemblymember Joseph Lentol (D-Williamsburg) celebrated the court’s decision of refusal, saying there was no evidence that the administrative agency was “arbitrary or capricious.”
“There’s no real issue before the court,” said Lentol. “We knew it would fail. This has been an awfully expensive adventure for TransGas and they have struck out every step of the way.”
Borough President Marty Markowitz, who provided counsel to community groups including GWAPP, echoed Lentol’s relief that the appeal process is finally over.
“For the past eight years, I have adamantly opposed TransGas’s attempt to build a power plant on Bushwick Inlet. I’m thrilled that we are this much closer to having the waterfront park this neighborhood so richly deserves.”
The court’s move clears the way for the city to acquire waterfront property for the construction of the Bushwick Inlet Park. North Brooklyn Parks administrator Stephanie Thayer said that while there is no timeline on condemnation proceedings, she expects that there will be a decision within the year.
“After the first appeal was denied, it allowed us to move forward with the condemnation proceedings for the Bayside Fuel Oil site,” said Thayer. “We’re delighted that the court denied a second appeal and we’re continuing the push to replace fuel tanks with resident parkland.”
In September 2001, TransGas Energy Systems proposed to build a 1,100 MW facility at North 12th Street in Williamsburg, but local residents and public officials mobilized almost immediately to prevent the plant from being constructed. After nine years of litigation, during which time TGE revised their plans to construct their plant underground, TransGas Energy’s has exhausted their appeals.
“Oh I am very happy, I’m ecstatic,” said Christine Holowacz, Co-Chair of the Greenpoint Waterfront Association for Parks and Planning. “This is something we have waited for for a long time. It has proven that this was not a NIMBY (Not in My Backyard) argument, that’s not true. This particular site is not a fit for the power plant.”
Williamsburg resident Jane Pool, who has opposed the TGE plans for the past decade, compared the litigation decision to having a tumor removed.
“But now we’ve got the death certificate,” said Pool. “It’s great! I’m so proud of our community for sticking it out for almost nine years. It’s phenomenal!”
Pool organized a party after GWAPP and other community groups fought against the plant and won in 2008 after the state Siting Board voted to dismiss the TransGas power plant proposal.
“We kind of needed it seven years,” said Pool. “Now it’s, ‘Do we do another party?’ We probably should.”