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Feb 26, 2019 3:29 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Ecker County Park May Be On PSEG List Of Possible Sites For Montauk Substation

Edward V. Ecker County Park on Navy Road in Montauk is apparently among the sites that PSEG is considering as possible alternative locations for constructing a new electrical substation for the hamlet.   KYRIL BROMLEY
Feb 26, 2019 3:29 PM

The new parcel of land that PSEG-Long Island has said it is now considering as a possible site for the planned new power substation in Montauk is apparently Edward V. Ecker County Park, off Navy Road.

A spokesman for the utility would not identify the parcel under consideration by name but said it comprises 19.39 acres, is owned by Suffolk County and lies to the north of the former town landfill. The county’s own land use records show that Ecker Park is exactly 19.39 acres and less than 1,000 feet directly north of the former landfill property. The county owns nearly 900 acres surrounding the landfill property, most of it comprising Lee Koppelman Nature Preserve in Hither Woods.

The 19-acre parcel that comprises Edward Ecker Park runs from approximately adjacent to the last residential driveway off Navy Road, west to just before Navy Road bends into the clearing at the East Hampton Town-owned land that includes a parking lot, a pier and a dog run. The parcel, which ends at the bay, is mostly wooded, save for two small clearings and a dirt trail leading from Navy Road to the waterfront.

The PSEG spokesman, David Gaier, said that any land the utility would seek to purchase for use as a substation would be purchased by the utility on behalf of the Long Island Power Authority and that ownership would be held by LIPA.

Mr. Gaier would not discuss any details of the utility’s consideration of the property, which is a fairly recent addition to the list of possible sites, but the company has scheduled a public open house on various aspects of its search for April 2 at the Montauk Playhouse, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

After a deluge of public criticisms of the utility’s consideration of a hillside site off Flamingo Avenue for the new substation, PSEG has sought to emphasize to Montauk residents that it has not made up its mind about the site and is looking closely at other options as well.

Those alternatives also include putting the new substation where the existing one is—a man-made tongue of land on Industrial Road, sitting barely a few feet above the waters of Fort Pond—or returning to the company’s original plans for a Shore Road parcel that LIPA and its predecessor, LILCO, have owned since the 1970s.

The utility shelved those plans after lobbying by town officials, who have nevertheless said the Shore Road proposal does conform to the town’s coastal planning laws by putting the substation high enough above sea level to keep it out of harm’s way in the event of a strong hurricane.

The company has said it is also still considering the possibility of building the substation at the town-owned landfill property. The town has been pushing the landfill as the preferred option for years, because it is away from residential areas and high above sea level, but the utility had previously said the location poses a number of substantial logistical hurdles that make it a poor choice.

Concerns about placing an electrical substation near a potential source of methane gas, Mr. Gaier said, are not believed to be enough to disqualify the landfill property from consideration, however.

“We’ve investigated, and to the extent that there may be any methane issue, we determined we can safely and fully resolve it,” Mr. Gaier, PSEG’s director of communications, said this week in an email.

Along with the aging equipment at the current substation, the utility has said that it needs to construct a new substation in Montauk to be able to handle higher power loads. PSEG and LIPA have forecast that electricity demand in Montauk, and on the South Fork as a whole, will be increasing in the coming decades, even as the rest of Long Island’s power needs gradually decline with improvements in energy-efficient construction and appliances.

The additional consideration of the county-owned land has come into the mix just this winter, the company has said, which has spurred some hope among critics that the utility would drop the Flamingo Avenue proposal.

Among those who have led the uprising in Montauk over the consideration of the four Flamingo Avenue parcels, word that a new site was being looked at was met with guarded optimism.

“I feel like the utility has at least taken a pivot and is trying to consider the public’s opinion—whether or not that will have a positive result or not,” said Shaun de Jesus, who owns a house off Flamingo Avenue, facing the would-be substation site there. “My question, however, would be: how much work have they done on these other sites? It’s nice to see they are trying, but I don’t know that it’s earnest. County land would have its own set of issues. Are they just going to come back and say ‘Well, we looked at these other sites and they don’t work’ because they knew they wouldn’t work in the first place?”

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Use the old town dump parcel, not that beautiful and unspoiled public waterfront park.
By Non-Political (125), Hampton Bays on Mar 1, 19 7:28 AM
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