A Richmondville business owner is facing criticism from a local environmental group that is angered over an offer to rent land for a construction staging area for the Constitution Pipeline.
The business owner, Mark Galasso, who also serves as mayor of Cobleskill, is brushing off complaints from Center for Sustainable Rural Communities director Bob Nied, who sees the offer as a slap in the face to the town of Richmondville.
Galasso’s construction company, Lancaster Development, headquartered off Route 7 in Richmondville, owns roughly 20 vacant acres across the street from its Podpadic Road offices.
Constitution Pipeline LLC, which recently submitted an application to federal regulators to build a 122-mile pipeline from Pennsylvania to Schoharie County, began talking to landowners last year looking for places to situate gear and supplies during construction.
Galasso said he offered the Route 7 parcel and Constitution began environmental reviews on it.
Rent, location cited
For Galasso, the idea makes sense for two reasons. First, he can earn some revenue and pay the taxes on the vacant land.
Second, Galasso said, Lancaster Development is a road-building company that uses heavy machinery based at the Richmondville offices not far from Interstate 88.
“If they’ve got to have construction yards anyway, the advantage of this parcel is it’s on a state road, not a local road,” Galasso said.
He said the parcel’s close proximity to Cobleskill-Richmondville High School — roughly a half mile to the east — isn’t an issue either.
The idea that the deal could present a conflict of interest because he is mayor of a neighboring village is a “baseless accusation,” Galasso said.
“There is no proposed route for the pipeline that goes through the village limits of the village of Cobleskill, and the property is in the town of Richmondville, one town over.”
Nied said he believes establishing a construction yard in Richmondville, which has come out in opposition to pipeline construction, is an insult to the town.
“His host community doesn’t want the pipeline,” Nied said.
He said he rejects Galasso’s reasoning that a deal for using the parcel would help pay taxes on the land because Galasso is a successful businessman who can afford to pay his taxes.
Nied, who has expressed strong opposition to the major pipeline's development in his home county, said he plans to make Galasso an offer.
“If he’s willing to withdraw any agreement with Constitution, I would actually organize and host fundraisers to help pay his taxes in return,” Nied said.