JOHNSTOWN - Some residents of Steele Avenue Extension have started an anti-mining group - the Neighborhood Preservation Alliance - to prevent a gravel pit proposed for the end of the street, up the hill from a Department of Environmental Conservation station.
After successfully preventing another gravel pit proposal 10 years ago with a 70-plus signature petition, the residents are again fighting to prevent Frank Fernandez, who filed for the site under Oakridge Farm LLC, from starting the project.
Some residents say the gravel pit would cause pollution and increase traffic and noise in the neighborhood.
A “No Mining” sign is shown on the lawn of a home on Steele Avenue Extension. Some residents have placed the signs in their front yards because a gravel pit has been proposed in the area.
The Leader-Herald/John Borgolini
Fernandez is proposing to use 15 acres of the 40-acre property he owns near the Steele Avenue Extension and Route 29 intersection, according to an application he filed Feb. 15 with the town.
The application said five acres initially would be affected by the mining process in the gravel-pit area, which would be 1,250 feet from the highway and 800 feet from any dwelling. The maximum depth of the mining would be 80 feet to remove 750,000 cubic yards of material.
Fernandez's application said the hauling road would run for 150 feet from Steele Avenue Extension with an average of two vehicle trips per hour and a maximum of four vehicle trips per hour.
Daryl-Jean Pierce, who led the anti-mining group during its last effort, said she doesn't understand the town officials' lack of assistance this time.
"It's confusing to me that our Town Board says 'It's not our job. It's the DEC's job,'" Pierce said. "I'm very disappointed with the Town Board, because it's very first responsibility is the people of Johnstown. And I don't understand [the members'] reluctance to see how important this is."
With a lot of the concern of the proposed site focusing on the neighborhood, property value and the residents' way of life, others have expressed concern about the trails that run behind the DEC's Hale Creek Field Station.
Pierce pointed out Gloversville students often take trips to the trails, and she doesn't understand how that would be possible with a gravel pit polluting the area.
Pierce said her son, who lives in Colorado, has often told her the trail running behind the DEC station is "one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen."
"I can't understand why anyone [would let] there be a credible threat to that area ... I'm still hoping that it's not going to go through," she said. "It would be a terrible travesty to the neighborhood, the Town of Johnstown and the Gloversville School District. [The gravel pit] wouldn't be a positive influence."
Retired aquatic biologist and Hale Creek Field Station Coordinator Tim Preddice, one of the group's leaders, said the opposition to the mining proposal has been almost identical to what it was last time, but there still are some residents who won't join the group.
"There have only been a few that have been ambivalent, because they have business with the owner who wants to put the gravel pit in" Preddice said.
The group's efforts have halted the process so far, Preddice believes, because nothing has been filed with the DEC.
Fernandez declined to comment on the issue aside from confirming the project has been filed with the town.