Positive Connection

The Finance Committee voted Monday during a City Council work session to recommend the transfer of land to the BPU for construction of a new substation.

The substation, which would be located on Isabella Street between Clinton and Monroe streets, would serve as a replacement for two aging substations elsewhere in the city. The measure was approved unanimously at April’s BPU board of directors meeting, and although the parcels of land that would be used to construct the substation are currently designated for use by the Department of Public Works, they could be granted to the BPU as early as the next voting session.

“The property was landbanked 20-plus years ago for a DPW building that never came to fruition,” said Jeff Lehman, director of public works. “That property has been used as a snow dump in the past, so this is obviously a better use for it. This will also allow us to remove two stations – one near McCrea Point and one at Second and Washington streets – which will free up some property for other uses.”

The McCrea Point substation is located on Jones and Gifford Avenue near McCrea Point Park, a popular fishing destination during the summer months. Once the new substation is erected, the land can be reclaimed for the park.

“The BPU already approved this at their last meeting, with two council members on the board,” said City Council President Greg Rabb, D-At Large. “By building a new substation, it will increase the reliability of the service. Putting it (on Isabella Street) makes better use of the land, too. It will open up the land on Jones and Gifford Avenue so that it can all be park land, and that property on Washington Street by the train station could become a valuable development site. There’s nothing but positives to go all the way around – better electric service, a nicer park and a potential development site in the west end where we’ve been doing all of this work.”

According to Rabb, the BPU will be financing the construction of the substation, but for the time being construction is pending approval from all of the necessary sources.

“I can’t see why anyone would object,” said Rabb. “Everybody recognized that this is a good thing, and there wasn’t really anything negative that they could say about it. These substations are getting to the end of their useful lives and we were going to have to replace them anyway, so it makes sense consolidate them and open up those two sites for development.”