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Hats Off in Croton Over Federal Court Decision Against Millennium Pipeline

April 6, 2006

In what is the biggest story to come out of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson in recent weeks was the announcement by Village Manager Rick Herbek on Monday, April 3, 2006 during the regularly scheduled village board meeting of a decisive ruling from the US District Court affirming the decision of the Secretary of the US Commerce Department upholding the New York State Department of State’s determination that Millennium Pipeline Company’s proposed pipeline project does not comply with the requirements of the Coastal Zone Management Act.

This decision upholds the expert determinations of Federal and State regulators that there exist available alternative routes that would avoid unnecessary, irreparable harm to natural resources within the Village, including portions of Haverstraw Bay, the protected wetlands in the Village’s Jane E. Lytle Memorial Arboretum, and the Croton-on-Hudson well-field, the Village’s only viable source of drinking water.

The complete press release, court opinion and order are available on the village website. The following video clip contains the announcement and applauding commentary from Mayor Gregory Schmidt, Waterfront Advisory Committee Chairperson Fran Allen and Trustee Ann Gallelli.

Option: Download and watch this video clip of “Hats Off in Croton Over Federal Court Decision Against Millennium Pipeline” in Quicktime format (08:58 min. | 11.3 mb).

Video transcription:

Village Manager Rick Herbek: Not transcribed, see “Federal Court upholds decision against Millennium Pipeline Company

Mayor Gregory Schmidt: “This really is great news for Croton. I know its been a lot of money. It has cost us dearly but I think this has been a very important fight because as most people are aware, this pipeline would have come through the arboretum, right along side of our well-fields and actually through the Haverstraw Bay which would have pretty much have done quite an environmental, a lot of environmental damage out there in the Haverstraw Bay. So, again, may hats are off to, my hat is off to Fran, the groups out there who have done all of this work and really worked hard and slaved. Boards for putting up with spending this kind of money, you know when there has been some resistance, so again, thank you all. So, its not over but this is a big, big, big step and its classic David and Goliath, we stood there and we stood our ground and this is quite an accomplishment. Fran, did you want to say anything real quick on that? I see you’re kind of chomping at the bit. I’ll let you come over and say a few words.”

Chairperson Fran Allen, Waterfront Advisory Committee: “Thank you Greg. It really is a David and Goliath and it is an immense win and every citizen in this village has supported this one way or another. And its all of the things you mentioned and a lot of people’s backyards. That isn’t the basis for our legal argument but it is very important, and a lot of trees, a lot of other things and many people to be thankful for. I won’t go into the list of names but they are the people who were on the committee, the people that worked even though they weren’t on the committee. And the people that call and say that we’re going to support that, just go ahead and do it. Thank you.

Mayor Gregory Schmidt: “And that was in spite of some people saying you know we couldn’t win and you know don’t ever bother, just you know lay down and take the deal. so, again, thank you, thank you.

Trustee Ann Gallelli: “I just think that you know, the win itself was so decisive and very tight language that court came down with. I think that we are in good step.”

Mayor Gregory Schmidt: “And again, I don’t know how many of you have been keeping up with this but we also, we’ve objected to phase one. So, we haven’t heard anything on that so, we’re, you know, my hope is that Millennium will at least finally come to a consensus and decide that, you know, Croton is too big of an adversary and go elsewhere. So, that’s my, I’m sure that’s the entire board’s feeling on this one, so.

On April 7, 2006 12:38 PM, weewill said:

My tenure on the board provided me the opportunity to attend all of the organizational meetings relative to the initial strategy planning for the village’s fight against the Millennium Pipeline. I therefore have first hand, personal knowledge that there never was a time when any official believed or said “we couldn’t win” and that we should “take the deal.” There was never any deal offered or considered.
It is so that a small group of partisan politicals tried to sell that lie to the public. It simply wasn’t true and was not accepted. Responsible officials recognized that it would be expensive and difficult to fight such a huge entity. But fight them we did.
One resident in particular, Joel Klein, a renowned authority on gas pipelines was the very first person to alert village officials that a proposal to locate the pipeline in Croton was on the drawing board. Without his alert we never would have known about the impending disaster until much further along in the process. He spearheaded and led the charge to explore and investigate the various options available to us. Together with Fran Allen, Ann Gallelli and Charlie Kane, they guided and directed the efforts toward final victory by utilizing and implementing conditions and requirements of our unique Coastal Zone Management Program (CZM) and Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan (LWRP). These four individuals worked diligently with our extremely competent special counsel, Neil Levy, who recognized and respected the unique talents of these residents. He credits the CZM and LWRP with lending extraordinary weight and advantage to our arguments. Their efforts and the efforts of the hundreds of volunbteers and thousands of dollars devoted to this effort hardly reflect a “defeatist attitude.” The Village owes a very special thanks to all the volunteers who worked so hard but especially to these four remarkable individuals.

On April 7, 2006 9:34 AM, Binford said:

“And that was in spite of some people saying you know we couldn’t win and you know don’t ever bother, just you know lay down and take the deal.”

Unfortunately, what we have here is another example of how Croton’s recent political history has been distorted. I don’t blame the Mayor for believing what he said was true. It was certainly repeated over and over by certain individuals intent on discrediting the former Democratic board and its supporters—but it was and is a lie.

While some residents felt that a small Village would have a difficult time winning against a huge company like Columbia Gas, the thousands of volunteer hours, and hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars, devoted to bringing about our most recent victory, hardly reflect a defeatest attitude.

As to “taking the deal”—there never was a deal—except in the minds of a few political partisans intent in discrediting former Mayor Elliott. Those individuals stood up at Board meetings and repeatedly accused the Village of negotiating with Millennium Pipeline. No matter how many times the Mayor and Village Manager denied that any negotiations were taking place and that no deals had been made, the accusation—with no proof ever presented—was repeated over and over.

Come on Mayor Schmidt—what “deal” are you referring to? Who or what was your source forinformation about a “deal”?


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