The high costs of a propane storage and transfer facility

The Hurley Brothers Inc. application to create a propane storage and transfer station will grow its business at the expense of Lake Placid-North Elba community. Their proposed Old Military Road site means real costs for our community. These cost impacts deserves careful consideration by our community leaders and the Joint Review Board deciding on approval of the application.

Infrastructure costs

The proposed site itself would require 53-foot-long semi trucks to exit and enter the roadway on a heavily trafficked blind hill. Without roadway modifications, trucks would be unable to make the required 90-degree turn. Additionally, modifications would need to be made to slow the 6,000 vehicles that use the road daily, or the accident risk will increase exponentially. These costs are shared by the local taxpayers.

Public safety costs

A significantly increased risk to the community will result from the bulk tanker truckloads being transported through town. The municipality will need to develop an evacuation plan to protect lives from a catastrophic incident at the facility site and along the surrounding transportation corridors. The Lake Placid Volunteer Fire Department and its regional counterparts must be trained to handle the worst-case scenario, which may require additional equipment and training.

Emergency notification and response

The impacted area is easy to define; however, creating a plan to ensure public safety is complex and expensive. Municipalities typically push emergency notifications out via cellphones and local media. Notification can be problematic in the Adirondacks, where signal reception is spotty. An evacuation perimeter would necessitate moving people quickly without full access to Old Military Road. Additional access to water for the fire department would likely need to be added. All of this comes with costs.

¯ Small spill: According to the 2016 Emergency Response Guidebook issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation, as an immediate precautionary measure, the standard is to isolate spill or leak area for at least 330 feet in all directions. This are includes The Balsams townhouse community (only 80 feet away) and the immediately adjacent synagogue cemetery.

¯ Large spill: The evacuation area is expanded to half a mile. This zone includes the Elderwood at Uihlein (senior living facility), Adirondack Health center emergency room, Lake Placid Olympic Training Center, North Elba Cemetery and many residences and businesses.

¯ Fire incident: If there were a fire incident, a 1-mile area must be evacuated. This includes the Lake Placid Elementary School, ski jump complex, airport, horse show grounds, athletic fields and hundreds more homes and businesses.

Business costs

In addition to a municipal evacuation, all of these residences, nonprofits, business and organizations would need to have their own evacuation plan. Local businesses and the many events hosted in Lake Placid would need to have emergency plans in place and run emergency preparedness safety drills. While this may be a simple task for a small business owner, it becomes increasingly complex for the emergency room at the Adirondack Health center (which would be involved in emergency care), Elderwood at Uihlein, the Lake Placid Elementary School, Olympic Training Center and local sports facilities and events.

Property owner costs

Experts suggest that property owners in close proximity will see the value of their properties decline. In addition, they are likely to see increased insurance costs. Property owners will be seeking relief on property taxes through reassessments (which will decrease tax revenue while costs are increasing). And many may be stuck with undesirable properties (again more lost real estate revenue to businesses and on taxes).

The Hurley Brothers application (case No. 1007) should withdraw the current application and look for a more suitable location for a propane storage and transfer facility, with input from the community. Putting profits over people is no way to grow a business. Denying this application should be an easy call for the Joint Review Board.

Judy Murphy lives in Lake Placid.

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