To The Editor:

Over one hundred residents gathered at the Heritage Center during a recent Mt. Sinai Civic Association meeting to hear from New Leaf Energy, a battery storage company, about a proposed lithium-ion battery storage facility. According to the civic president, the plan to place the 20-megawatt battery storage facility on a 1-acre parcel, located at the corner of Mt. Sinai Coram Road and Rt. 25A in Mt. Sinai, has been in the works for 7 years. Surprisingly, despite representing the area as a former Suffolk County Legislator for the past 13 years, I only recently learned about this project.

Having facilitated the Green Homes Go Solar Programs as the former Director of Brookhaven Town’s Office of Energy and Sustainability, I strongly support clean energy initiatives. However, I have concerns about the proposed location of this facility. Placing it on a 1-acre parcel with no buffers, near one of the county’s most accident-prone intersections, raises red flags. Additionally, the site is close to residential neighborhoods, a public walking path, a SCWA drinking water well, and Mt. Sinai’s schools.

I have no problem if the siting was in an area that, if the units were to catch on fire, there would be less exposure to the highly toxic fumes emitted. After the East Hampton battery storage facility caught on fire, several towns including Southampton, Southold, and Huntington moved forward with moratoriums. It is only commonsense that more scrutiny be done to address the safety of these facilities and where they are placed. 

Governor Hochul has created a Fire Safety Working Group to review the issue of battery storage safety. As the working group investigates the fires that have occurred at 3 New York locations, a moratorium is needed in Brookhaven to ensure the safety of its residents. 

Over twenty years ago, a Home Depot was proposed to be built on the site that is now Mt. Sinai’s center piece, the North Shore Heritage Park. We fought hard to create the park by collecting petitions, writing letters to our elected officials, wrapping green ribbons around our mailboxes, and rallying our community together. Can you image if no one cared back then, and a Home Depot was built? Eighteen-wheeler trucks would snarl traffic, the green rolling hills would be black pavement, and the memories of community concerts, holiday events, sports games, and the springtime daffodil smiling face on the hill would be lost.  

Just as location, location, location is what the realtors say when emphasizing the value of real estate, let’s also consider the location of this project and the value we place on public safety and quality of life. Do we really want an industrial parcel located in the heart of our hometown? The project cannot move forward until the town board votes to change the zoning from residential to industrial. I encourage residents to attend upcoming town board meetings and provide input before a decision is made. Government is here for you when they hear from you. 

Sarah Anker
Mount Sinai

Ms. Anker, a former Suffolk County Legislator, is a Democratic candidate running in this year’s New York State First Senate District election.


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East End Beacon
The East End Beacon is your guide to social and environmental issues, arts & culture on the East End of Long Island.

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