New York Daily News -
Park plan grounded
Tuesday, August 6th, 2002

Activists in Greenpoint and Williamsburg are worried that a hard-fought deal to turn a vacant waterfront lot into a park - and possibly scuttle an unpopular neighboring power plant project - has fallen through.

This spring, the national land preservation group the Trust For Public Land hammered out a tentative agreement with Shell Oil affiliate Motiva Enterprises to buy a 2.6-acre parcel of land on the Bushwick Inlet.

The $850,000 project - funded by Assemblyman Joseph Lentol (D-Greenpoint) and City Councilman David Yassky (D-Greenpoint) - sought to buy the lot to turn it into a waterfront park complete with a boat launch and a museum in honor of the famous locally made Civil War ship, the Monitor.

But late last month, the petroleum giant abruptly backed away from the deal, activists and preservation officials said.

"We don't understand, and we're very disappointed," said Erik Kulleseid of the Trust For Public Land, which has been working to buy the property for almost a decade.

Community activists also hoped the park project would block plans for a controversial 1,100-megawatt power plant proposed for an adjoining site. But instead, activists fear the power plant project could be linked to the deal falling through.

Say plant needs acreage

That project, put forth by private developer TransGas Energy Systems, needs the added space from the Motiva site to move forward, activists said.

"The community is incredibly distressed by this," said Joe Vance, head of the Greenpoint Waterfront Association for Parks and Planning, which has worked with the Trust For Public Land on the proposal.

"I think it all comes back to [TransGas] and their proposed power plant," he said, adding that it is well known that Adam Victor, the power plant's developer, has sought to buy the land in the past.

Colleen Roche, a TransGas spokeswoman, said she could not comment on the allegations.

Motiva spokesman Shawn Frederick yesterday dismissed the claims.

"We are not negotiating with any other parties," he said.

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