GRIFFITH | Enbridge will remove about a dozen trees in South Park to clear the way for its pipeline project, an action garnering mixed reaction from residents.
The company entered into an agreement with the town for a 20-foot permanent easement and temporary work space for the Line 6B project, Enbridge spokeswoman Jennifer Smith said. Enbridge is building a replacement pipeline, spanning from the company's terminal in Griffith to Canada.
Smith said the company has built the replacement pipeline next to the old line for most of the project, but development in the area near the park went right up against the existing easement.
“The trees will need to be cleared, so we have room to work,” Smith said. “A number of trees are coming down exactly right where the new pipeline is going to be laid.”
Smith said the easement will need to stay clear for safety purposes to avoid tree roots from compromising the pipeline's integrity. The easement is to the west of the park near the intersection of Broad Street and Avenue D and bordering a subdivision.
The Griffith Town Council approved a resolution granting the easements in April, and at the time, knew the trees would be removed, town attorney Robert Schwerd said. Enbridge paid the town approximately $85,000 with a portion of the money compensating for the damage to the trees, Schwerd said.
Griffith resident Jim Hennes, who lives on Oxford Circle next to South Park, argued Monday the pipeline should go through a more open area of the park and not along the property lines because the trees act as a screening for the houses.
“This whole thing is a mistake, a travesty and a result of incompetence and not looking at the details of the route,” Hennes said.
Susan Hoese, who has lived on Canterbury Road for 14 years, said Enbridge has communicated well with residents and that an initial route for the pipeline would have gone closer to the houses.
“My understanding is they are going to try to keep as many trees as they can...I just feel whatever they have to do to get it accomplished then they have to do it,” Hoese said.
Enbridge has a neutral footprint program, so for every tree the company removes, it will plant a new one, Smith said. However, trees will not be replanted into the easement due to the safety issues, Smith said.
Griffith Town Councilman Rick Ryfa said the town will work with Enbridge on mitigating the loss of trees.
“Anything we can do above and beyond, we certainly will look at it,” Ryfa said.