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Former Poletti Power Plant to be Torn Down in 2013

ASTORIA — The former Poletti Power plant, once deemed the dirtiest in the city, will be demolished next year, city and state officials announced this week.

The plant, near 20th Avenue and Shore Boulevard, ceased operations in 2010 after years of local opposition. The defunct site will be dismantled starting next month, a relief to elected officials and environmental groups who say the building's destruction will ensure that the once-polluting plant is gone for good.

"It's great news for us, because it means nothing will be put in its place," said Tony Gigantiello, president of the Coalition Helping to Organize for a Kleaner Environment (C.H.O.K.E.), one of the local green groups that fought to have the plant shut down. "We're very glad they're going to be out of our hair forever."

The Charles Poletti Power plant, which opened in 1977, has plagued the Astoria community for years, local elected officials say, accounting for more emissions than all sources in Brooklyn, Manhattan, Staten Island and The Bronx combined, according to a press release by State Sen. Michael Gianaris.

"Many of us remember all too well the toxic, dirty air emitted by the plant that plagued our neighborhood for decades," he said in announcing the closure of the plant.

City Councilman Peter Vallone, Jr. filed a lawsuit with environmental groups in 2002 against the  New York Power Authority, which operated the facility, to have the plant shuttered. NYPA agreed to slowly scale back operations at Poletti, and the plant was closed entirely two years ago.

NYPA replaced Poletti with a combined-cycle, natural gas-fired power plant —a much cleaner and more efficient facility — which opened in 2005.

“The people of Western Queens can finally breathe a fresh sigh of relief knowing the old Poletti plant will be torn down and never create a dark cloud over their heads again," Vallone said in a statement.

Facilities in western Queens provide for more than 80 percent of the city's power, Vallone said, something local stakeholders have long attributed to the neighborhood's high asthma rates.