The property under construction at 51 Main St. has run into yet another obstacle halting its completion, this time regarding the installation of a propane tank.
Property owner Dimitri Viglis approached village trustees to secure the right to install an underground propane tank within close proximity to a village-owned parking lot. However, New Paltz officials were concerned that the tank would pose serious safety concerns.
“Our job as elected officials is to keep the village safe,” said Deputy Mayor KT Tobin. “We don’t think that the proposed plan is the safest option for the village.”
Construction on the property that once held Yanni Greek restaurant is a project more than four years in the making. Viglis has toyed with the idea of establishing both residential and commercial spaces in the building.
The project has met numerous speedbumps leading up to its completion, including a dispute last December regarding the height of the building. Without a way to fuel the building, businesses cannot settle in, nor can construction be fully complete.
Viglis explained to village officials that he had originally made a verbal agreement with one of his neighbors to place the tanks on his property. However he did not secure a written agreement on the matter and was left with no other options. Despite Viglis’ proposed safety precautions and sprinkler system, New Paltz Mayor Tim Rogers still felt the risk was too high.
“There are serious risks to installing this tank,” Rogers said. “Lots of things can be done safely, but you should avoid risks wherever possible.”
Rogers argued that burying the tank underground posed a combustibility risk if there was a leak in the tank. He noted that his risk is only heightened by the fact that cars will be parked on top. Rogers recalled how last year the fuel tank buried near village hall was found leaking even after it passed its inspection. It was a costly defect that the village is still paying off.
Alex Ing is a representative of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). The NFPA is a global nonprofit organization devoted to eliminating death, injury, property and economic loss due to fire, electrical and related hazards. He approves the installation of underground tanks if they are properly installed.
“Underground tanks are normally much safer than above ground tanks,” Ing said. “My concern would be the potential damage to valves on the tank.”
One of the main issues village officials are concerned with is the proximity of the proposed tank to village property and nearby structures. Diglis would like to bury the tank merely three feet away from village property.
Viglis’ alternative options are to run the building entirely on electric, install an indoor oil unit or pay for Central Hudson to run an extremely expensive natural gas line from Gourmet Pizza. So far, neither of the parties have been able to agree on an alternative.
According to Tobin, Viglis approached the village with an undisclosed bid to buy the village-owned lot. If Viglis purchases the property, he would be able to install above-ground propane tanks instead. In order to remain transparent and fair the village has opened up the offer to other developers who are interested instead. While no official decision has been made to sell the property, the matter is still under consideration.
Viglis did not wish to comment on the matter.
“It’s in everyone’s interest to complete the project, but that doesn’t mean we go on with something unsafe to do so,” Tobin said.