Sidney gives Leatherstocking Pipeline the go-ahead

Last Thursday, October 13, the Sidney Town Board voted to grant the Leatherstocking Gas Company a public franchise agreement, which will allow it to build a natural gas pipeline through Sidney, Coventry, and Bainbridge.

According to a video of the meeting taken by YouTube user NaqshbandiOttoman, the meeting was an unruly one, with scores of Sidney residents protesting the vote with frequent angry interruptions. You can watch the video in full above.

As soon as the meeting began (about 15 minutes into the video), Sidney Town Supervisor Bob McCarthy moved to take a vote on the resolution to approve the Leatherstocking Gas Company's status as a public utility. Town Councilman John P. Schaeffer then made a short statement.

"I want to say I've been solicited much by the people who are opposed to the pipeline," Schaeffer said. "I am, however, a fan of infrastructure for the town of the Sidney."

The dozens of people in the room then erupted into a chant: "Postpone the vote!" "Call the police!"

Despite the protest, the Town Board voted. The result of the vote is inaudible on the video, but McCarthy told the Watershed Post today that the vote was unanimously in favor of the resolution.

The crowd responded to the vote with outrage.

"You make me sick!" yelled one woman.

"Self-centered!" yelled a man. ""Nobody wants the pipeline!"

"Hey Hamilton," yelled another man, directing his comments at Councilman Paul Hamilton, who is up for election this year. "You are a loser. You are not going to get re-elected."

After about five minutes of disorder, a police officer entered the room. Multiple audience members requested that he cancel the meeting because, they argued, the room had occupied by more people than are allowed by code when the vote occurred, rendering the meeting "illegal." 

The police officer declined to cancel the meeting.

After another five minutes of disorder, McCarthy read a statement explaining his reasons for voting in favor of the pipeline.

"The Leatherstocking project for the distribution of natural gas will not only save money for for a majority of town of since residents, it will not cost any residents anything," McCarthy said. "Private companies invest in infrastructure in our town at no cost to the taxpayer. The most important part of this, however, is that we have been blessed with an extraordinary amount of industry for the population of this town, and we owe them the best infrastructure we can maintain."

McCarthy said that he voted in favor of the pipeline in order to make a favorable environmental for manufacturing company Amphenol, which is considering a move out of Sidney in the wake of flood damage to its plant.

"The decision whether Amphenol stays in Sidney is to a large part financial," McCarthy said. "I want to make every effort to cover their costs and be as cooperative with them as I can, in the hope that they remain in our town."

Reached on the phone today, McCarthy reiterated the importance of the Leatherstocking Pipeline to Amphenol.

"If we don't take this, Amphenol's gone," he said. "We're trying to keep them in the village of Sidney."

Previous coverage: Town of Sidney Votes Tonight on Leatherstocking Pipeline