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Mark Simonson

March 10, 2014

Local pipeline construction stirred controversy in 1964


“You told us at the last (special) meeting about the line between Watkins Glen and Selkirk,” Morris added, “and you told us you wanted to bring it to our attention because you didn’t want publicity.”

“I think it needs publicity,” Morris concluded. 

An offer to the city of $1,000 for land easements was rejected at the time. Texas Eastern hired local attorney John K. Dunn to represent them for continued easement negotiations with the city.

The Public Service Board’s decision on the right-of-way would have eventually needed approval by Oneonta’s Common Council. The thoughts of one Alderman, Cecil Mathews, summed up most city officials sentiments after he stated, “I don’t want it across our watershed, period.”

The land in question was between the city’s lower and upper reservoirs, as the proposed pipeline would pass over a gravity flow creek between the two bodies of water.

The Star reported that compromises were taking shape during April 1964, and an overall question arose as to whether the city or Texas Eastern had the legal upper hand in this struggle. While the Public Service Board felt that they had it, city attorney Harold C. Vrooman suggested that the city reach the most favorable compromise possible with Texas Eastern, since in his opinion the firm could simply condemn the property to put their pipeline through. Among the compromises were more compensation for land easements and addressing safety concerns. By April 25, it was reported that the offer had been raised to $4,000.

Oneonta took the standoff to the New York State Board of Water Resources for review in hopes that the state would stand behind the city’s position. That agency then referred it to the state Conservation Department in May.

The battle was nearing an end in late May, as the Star reported on May 26 that both sides were making concessions.

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Mark Simonson

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