Hearing halts blasting at Jerome Park

Concerned community members breathed a sigh of relief as the verdict was read – no blasting at Jerome Park Reservoir.

As a plaintiff in the case, Councilman Oliver Koppell celebrated the September 3 decision, which invalidated the City’s desire to use dynamite at the construction site.

“I am delighted and gratified that as a consequence of the lawsuit, the city abandoned its plans to do blasting, in tacit acknowledgement of the fact that this technique was not covered in the Final Supplemental EIS,” he stated.

The Bronx Council for Environmental Quality, a group comprised of local activists, community leaders and elected officials, initiated the lawsuit against the NYC Department of Environmental Protection in August after the after the City alerted the community of new plans to use dynamite to construct underground chambers and shafts that would connect the Jerome Park Reservoir to the Croton Filtration Plant.

Angered by the idea, the BCEQ brought forth the suit arguing that prior to blasting, the City was required to issue a new Environmental Impact Statement.

Agreeing with the necessity of the additional study, Koppell reminded in his brief, “the Final Supplemental EIS contains no analysis on the impact to the surrounding community from the dangers of the blasting.”

Questioning the unexpected and unexplained alteration, Father Richard Gorman, chairman of Community Board 12, asked, “Why are they changing the means by which they’re operating the project?”

Though the City hasn’t provided an answer, it did propose an alternative construction technique known as “hoe ramming.”

While such a procedure doesn’t require the highly controversial use of dynamite, Gorman explained its use of jackhammers on the back of excavators to remove the rock and soil may be too close a comparison for community comfort.

“Our contention is that ‘hoe ramming’ is surface drilling,” he said about a technique the City initially said would never occur at the site.

Though he’s less than thrilled with the newest proposal, Gorman stated, “The face that blasting is off the table for the time being is a big victory.”

Koppell agreed saying, “The City’s decision to abandon blasting is a victory for local residents and reinforces my faith in the power of people to achieve their goals through the legal process.”

The judge is expected to make a decision on the City’s newest proposal by the end of the month.

Koppell concluded, “I am hopeful that the judge will recognize that ‘hoe ramming’ is also surface drilling and is equally unacceptable because of its impact on the surrounding community.”

blasting, Jerome Park Reservoir.

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