The preferred route for Columbia Gas Transmission to reconstruct its aging pipeline near the Meadowbrook neighborhood in North Strabane is through one of The Meadows Casino’s parking lots, easing some residents’ minds as the process moves forward.
The company announced last week that its desired route would not go directly through the neighborhood, as many residents feared, but instead would be below part of a surface lot north of the casino.
Two other options that went through the Meadowbrook community were sharply criticized by many of the 50 residents who attended a meeting June 3 to listen to the plan from Columbia representatives. Still, Columbia spokeswoman Angela Braun said this decision is only the first part of the process as the company continues to evaluate the project and begins working to get approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
“We are in active discussions with the (Meadows Casino) to pursue the appropriate surveys on this route and appreciate the motivation and candor within which these negotiations are progressing,” Braun said. “While we feel that this route will pose the least amount of Meadowbrook resident disruption, the (casino) discussions and analysis will be one of the keys to final route selection.”
Lou Pietosi, who lives in Meadowbrook and was one of the most vocal critics during the June 3 meeting, said he’s pleased with the announcement but will continue to monitor the situation during the approval process.
“So far, I think we’re on the right track, but I’m not going to drop my guard,” Pietosi said. “The turnout (at the meeting) and the objection caused them to take a second look at it.”
Sean Sullivan, vice president and general manager of The Meadows Casino, said Columbia Gas Transmission representatives had meetings with corporate officials from the casino. He was unaware Columbia announced that it prefers the route through The Meadows Casino parking lot and had questions about how it would affect the property. However, Sullivan said he expected that information would be delivered in a timely manner and understood concerns from people living in the Meadowbrook neighborhood.
“We want to do what’s right for the Meadows and our neighbors and the community, so we’re definitely interested in participating in the discussion,” Sullivan said. “We want to be aware of the details, we want to be a part of the discussion, we want to do what’s best for us and our neighbors.”
A “bare steel” transmission line beneath the property that is now Meadowbrook was installed more than 60 years ago and is just one section of the company’s sprawling Tri-County Replacement Project. The company plans to spend about $130 million on the project to modernize lines through Washington, Greene and Allegheny counties.