A Schoharie County parcel of land being eyed as a staging area for heavy equipment for the Constitution Pipeline is owned by a construction company in which Cobleskill Mayor Mark Galasso is a principal.
Galasso and his brother, Martin Galasso Jr., oversee Lancaster Development, which owns a property known as the former Zabatta Farm, off State Route 7 in the town of Richmondville.
Mayor Galasso acknowledged in a telephone interview with The Daily Star on Thursday that his company would allow the Constitution Pipeline to store its equipment there in the event the controversial project is approved by federal regulators and secures all necessary permits.
The arrangement was criticized by Robert Nied, director of the Center for Sustainable Rural Communities. Nied noted the property is on the primary school bus route for the Cobleskill-Richmondville School District and is close to the high school, whose track team members run along the shoulder of the road that could be used for large trucks in the construction of the pipeline.
Nied also noted that Galasso’s company has been involved in supporting the natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania and that Galasso has been an enthusiastic advocate of both the pipeline project and hydraulic fracturing for shale gas.
“It’s always a concern when public officials have a`financial connection to an industry that wants to engage in some activity in the vicinity of their community,” said Nied.
Nied is affiliated with a group called Stop the Pipeline that has urged owners of parcels along the proposed pipeline pathway to refuse to allow land surveys by the pipeline company.
Galasso didn’t mince words in responding to the concerns raised by Nied, saying, “He can kiss my (butt). It’s my property, and I’ll do what I want with it.”
The mayor said Nied “has no credibility whatsoever” and has a history of making what he characterized as reckless and unfounded claims against other individuals.