YORKTOWN, N.Y. – Con Edison’s project to remove and replace its gas pipelines in Yorktown and other municipalities started earlier this year on Gomer Street, and so far, Supervisor Michael Grace said, the construction has been “intolerable” to residents.
That has prompted the town to issue a stop-work order on all work except for the repairs Con Edison has yet to complete. The town and Con Edison will soon meet and hammer out details on an oversight agreement, which would give the town more control over the years-long construction project.
To this point, Grace said, the town has been kept in the dark on Con Edison’s plans, including the schedule of repairs and the timetable for their completion. He said the town has no idea what materials are coming and going from Yorktown and at what frequency. He said materials are also being piled up alongside Yorktown’s roads, instead of in a designated off-site storage yard. Grace said he finds that “objectionable.”
On at least one occasion, Grace said, construction on the road lasted until 11 p.m., which is a disturbance to neighbors. He also said the steel plates on the road have caused drivers to swerve into the other lane to avoid them.
“If you rely on this road to get back and forth to work or where you live, it’s been a problem, and it’s an intolerable one at this point,” Grace said.
Councilman Tom Diana said the lack of information being provided to Yorktown prevents the highway and police departments from doing their jobs effectively.
“We have to make sure that we have these roads in an acceptable manor so that our highway department can keep them plowed and safe for our school children,” Diana said.
So, how could town officials be unaware that a project of this magnitude was happening in their town?
“This was a type of project that has not occurred in the past,” Grace said. “The initial installation of the pipe was one thing, but this is a remove and replace. So, sometimes these things fall between the cracks.”
More specifically, Highway Superintendent Dave Paganelli said, Con Edison has a $10,000-a year road-opening permit with the highway department, but that permit requires the level of disturbance to be under 100 square feet or less. Obviously, he said, that is not the case here.
Grace said the permit is usually reserved for repairs and small service connections.
“That’s what we had on the books,” Grace said. “That’s all that was on the books. That’s obsolete in regard to this type of a project. We were not fully advised of the scope of this project.”
In the initial meeting with Con Edison on Wednesday, Sept. 27—attended by Grace, Deputy Supervisor Gregory Bernard, Town Engineer Michael Quinn and Town Attorney Michael J. McDermott—Grace said the town expressed its dissatisfaction to the energy company.
“To Con Edison’s credit, they responded quickly to us and they are actually in favor of and very enthusiastically embrace our oversight and working with them on the project,” Grace said. “They want clear direction as well.”
The follow-up meeting, where the two sides will discuss the town’s oversight, will take place at a later date. At that meeting, Bernard said, the town will also request more funds from Con Edison than just the $10,000 for the road-opening permit.
“Because of the added inspections and town manpower that’s going to be put forward on this project, we’re going to ask Con Ed to come up with a different fee schedule for this project as it goes forward over the next few years,” Bernard said. “The taxpayers shouldn’t be footing the bill for the town to come out here and babysit the contractor and make sure that everything is done properly.”
This year, Con Edison’s plan is to finish the pipeline replacement project on Gomer Street at Homestead Road. In subsequent years, Grace said, Con Edison will perform similar work on Granite Springs Road, Broad Street, Route 35, Commerce Street, Hanover Street, Croton Heights Road and Underhill Avenue.
Paganelli said Con Edison’s pipelines, installed more than 50 years ago, are considered “leak prone.”
“This is certainly a public safety project,” Paganelli said. “Working together, we can make sure that we minimize the impact.”
Grace said the conversation between the town and Con Edison is “long overdue.”
“Con Ed has been very cooperative when we reached out to them,” he said. “They were very responsive, which is what we were hoping. What we’re trying to do is just put in those safeguards for the town and our constituents to make the job go smoother in the future.”
Grace also clarified that Con Edison’s pipeline replacement project is unrelated to Enbridge’s expansion of its natural gas interstate transmission line.
Con Edison, in a statement to Yorktown News, pledged cooperation with the town going forward.
“Con Edison has an ambitious gas main replacement program underway to maintain and upgrade the gas system,” the company said. “We realize the detours are an inconvenience, and expect to have the area restored by the end of November, with other improvement work to follow next year. The town is a key partner for us for providing the reliable service residents deserve, and we will do our best to work effectively with public officials to meet the highest standards while keeping disruptions to a minimum.”