By Rebecca Martin
Last night was in essence the conclusion of many months of discussion regarding Lead Agency and the proposed Niagara Bottling project. It has been a deeply intense time period for many hard working people who are dedicated in making this a sound process. Today starts a brand new phase with our collective group of many talented and tenacious citizens, organizations and elected officials.
It’s important that we take a moment to acknowledge and to thank all of those who we have had the good fortune to work and be guided by. In a few short weeks, collectively Riverkeeper, The Woodstock Land Conservancy, the Esopus Creek Conservancy, Save Cooper Lake, the Kingston Common Council, Town of Woodstock, Food and Water Watch and hundreds of residents of the affected communities have succeeded in placing this proposal under a great deal of public scrutiny. Thank you.
Much gratitude must also be given to the team that has assembled under the KingstonCitizens.org umbrella. In essence, it is a dream to see this platform work as it was intended to do and on a most critical issue. Thank you Kitty McCullough, Debra Bresnan, Karin Wolf, Rachel Marco-Havens and Elizabeth Littleton and Beth Bengston.
To Jennifer Schwartz Berky who is one of Kingston’s treasures. A very generous soul, a dear friend, a true professional and spectacular partner to have. To my co-chair, Heather Schwegler who is savvy, smart and keeps us all in good humor.
Your involvement has made many positive outcomes possible. Some of them include:
~ The City of Kingston Common Council has been incredibly supportive of the public’s request by voting unanimously in favor of three resolutions requesting that the DEC be Lead Agency of the Niagara Proposal and that the CoK be added as Involved Agency in the SEQR process.
~ The early commissioning of the Carpenter Report thanks to the Woodstock Land Conservancy and Riverkeeper has begun to identify and document a sampling of the numerous potential impacts that must be considered as part of the scoping process. (More on this shortly)
~ The Town of Ulster issued a Positive Declaration on the Niagara Proposal. This was not at all a foregone conclusion in September and October.
~ The Town of Ulster determining to require a full public scoping process of the proposed action ensuring that the public and all interested and affected parties, communities and agencies have the opportunity to contribute to the scope of the EIS. This is not required to do under SEQRA regs, this is a big win for the public and a direct result of the full-court press by the public, grass-roots community groups, elected officials and affiliated organizations.
~ The applicant amending the proposed action once to include a much wider geographic scope and add additional Interested and Involved Agencies including NYC DEP and the Mink Hollow brook and Beaverkill, as well as the Cooper Lake Reservoir and KWD supply and distribution system.
~ NYS DEC pledging to play a proactive role in the SEQRA process.
~ NYS DEC informing the TOU that it must require the applicant to expand the scope of action to include the Whole Action, and avoid Segmentation per SEQRA, with multiple additional items that must be analyzed.
~ NYC DEP adding specific items that the Town of Ulster must require the applicant to address.