Freeville, N.Y. — Several small businesses and a bevy of housing units would be at risk if NYSEG doesn’t get approval for a proposed natural gas pipeline on West Dryden Road.
That’s according to Heather Filiberto, vice president and director of economic development services for the Tompkins County Area Development non-profit.
“It’s absolutely crucial,” Filiberto said of the pipeline’s importance for several businesses near the Ithaca Airport.
A meeting about the pipeline will be held in Freeville tonight. It would run several miles along West Dryden and Farrell roads to carry natural gas into the Ithaca area.
“NYSEG’s natural gas distribution system in the Ithaca area is at its capacity and needs to be upgraded so we can continue to provide safe, reliable service to existing customers,” NYSEG’s Clayton Ellis said in a statement.
Any of the approximately 180 residents along the proposed route could torpedo the project if they reject NYSEG’s plan, according to Filiberto.
Doing so, she said, could seriously impact at least two businesses and likely more.
Local businesses Dairy One and Incodema3D are both working on major renovations that Filiberto called important for maintaining good jobs in the Ithaca area and increasing the tax base.
About 533 single family homes and 255 town homes could also be put on hold if the pipeline is not approved, Filiberto said.
“Everyone talks about the high cost of housing,” Filiberto said. “This lack of natural gas capacity is really hampering existing and future development that would make our community a stronger place to live and work.”
Filiberto said she recognizes the importance of finding alternative energy sources to natural gas.
This isn’t about that, she said.
“Everybody’s looking at ways we can reduce our carbon footprint, and that is an important and worthy goal,” she said, “but at the same time the natural gas services to these businesses is the only way for them to work right now … They need a stable, reliable energy source.”