2001-02-28 / Front Page

Shulman Mum On Power Plan

by richard gentilviso

"The matter is in court," Borough President Claire Shulman said of the continuing effort to stop construction of two power generators in Long Island City during a joint session of the Queens Borough Cabinet and the Queens Chamber of Commerce on Feb. 20th even as the New York Power Authority (NYPA) received a permit from the state Department of Environmental Conservation to build the last of 10 47-megawatt generators throughout the city on Staten Island.

The building of two generators on Vernon Boulevard is going forward even though a preliminary injunction blocking the project was obtained by the owners of Silvercup Studios when they sued the NYPA but did not post a $5 million bond. Silvercup has argued that environmental and other requirements for the generators have not been met and that alternative sites were not explored. Shulman called the NYPA arrogant and said they had made up their mind about the Vernon Boulevard site, "no matter what."

Queens already provides more than 50 percent of power in the city according to Shulman, who said NYPA first made its proposal for the generators in November.

NYPA plans to build on six sites scattered throughout the city by June 1st to avert power shortages this coming summer. However, Shulman said the real problem was a need to update the electrical grids that carry the power. But instead, 10 natural gas turbines, two at Vernon Boulevard four at two Brooklyn locations, two in the Bronx and two in Staten Island, will boost capacity by 407 megawatts in the city. Mayor Rudolph Giuliani has defended the plan to add more power as a necessary precaution against blackouts and brownouts during peak electrical demands in the summer.

Shulman said the NYPA was not thinking about the future of the borough. When he granted the temporary injunction, Queens State Supreme Court Justice Joseph Golia said the NYPA didn’t consider the impact the generators would have on the community as well as present and future residential and commercial mixed-uses on the East River waterfront in Queens.

Shulman noted that 372 units of housing will be built at Avalon Riverview this year and Avalon Bay will start construction immediately after in the Queens West project. Queens West envisions housing and new commercial and retail centers on the East River, giving restored access to the community to an underutilized waterfront of 1.25 miles in length.

Silvercup, in joining with community and elected representatives, said the approval process was illegally circumvented because of political pressure. The Vernon Boulevard site is next to proposed new studios, offices and residential space Silvercup envisions but would cancel if the NYPA builds its electric plants.

Shulman admitted that she didn’t know what the outcome would be, but said the court fight was "very disconcerting to us."

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