Thursday, June 12, 2014

June 16 Council Meeting: cough, cough - Cedar Street; cough, cough - The McLellan


As Chance led us to do, we just took a look at the Agenda for the Brunswick Town Council Meeting this coming Monday, June 16th.  Two items on that Agenda merit being passed along for your edification.


The first is this under “Manager’s Report:”

(c)  Update on idling trains in Brunswick

It’s on the Agenda because of an emailed letter from Mary Heath to town officials:


From: Mary Heath
Date: June 6, 2014, 1:51:01 PM EDT

To: "John Eldridge
Cc: Jane Millett

Subject: Amtrak Train Idling at Cedar Street

Dear Mr. Eldridge,

I am writing to request that as the Brunswick Interim Town Manager you write to NNEPRA
requesting the installation of a Commercial Power Supply to Amtrak engines during their
layover periods in Brunswick at the Cedar Street location.

Currently Amtrak Diesel engines idle seven days a week for up to six hours on the tracks near
Cedar St., from approximately 12:55 to 5:50 pm.

It has been well documented that the exhaust from these old dirty engines, manufactured prior
to 2002, is highly toxic and pose a cancer risk greater than any other air pollutant. Diesel
exhaust has been categorized by The World Health Organization as a known carcinogen.These
engines would violate EPA standards and be in violation Federal law if build today. As a RN I
currently working in a practice that specifically focuses on preventive health. I consider this
violation unfair, unjust, unhealthy, and unacceptable.

In August, 2012 the FRA was granted a Categorical Exclusion for construction of a siding track
near the Bouchard St. neighborhood to allow Amtrak trains to sit and idle during layovers. The
FRA stated an auxiliary power source was to be provided. That was never done. Patricia Quinn
stated in a e mail to a member of the Brunswick West Neighborhood Coalition in October,
2012, that “NNEPRA doesn’t intend to put power out there this Fall.” Trains have been idling
ever since; for the past 3‐4 months on the tracks just west of Brooks. I am aware that a power
source can only be used when temperatures are above 40 degrees F. At that point the engine
will automatically shut on. However the summer months are when windows are open and folks
are outside enjoying their gardens and yards. Cedar St also experiences a lot of foot traffic to
and from downtown.

My neighborhood consists of families with young children from toddlers to elementary school
age children to people in their late eighties. One of my neighbors is expecting a baby in July.
Theses are the people most vulnerable to the effects of these toxic fumes.

There is a precedent for a commercial power source near Cedar Street. In 2004 a so called
“temporary train station” installed in the DOT lot between what in now Downeast Energy and
the bridge over Spring St. It was cleared for parking and passenger access to the train going up
to Rockland in the summer. All the vegetation, including mature trees, were removed to
accommodate up to 200 cars. ( it remains an eye sore today.) Neighbors were never notified.
My councilwoman at the time, Barbara Demaris had no knowledge of this, nor evidently did the
the Town Manager! Trains idled for hours on end. Several neighbors vigorously complained
about the fumes and the noise. Mat Eddy, a Town Planner at the time, worked with the train
people and a commercial power outlet was installed. It was a tremendous relief!

The NNEPRA’s answer to idling trains has been to build a Maintenance Train Facility on the
tracks near Bouchard Street. As you know the opposition to that proposal has been well
organized, clear and well documented. The FRA decision is still pending. Even if a MLF is built it
will be a long time before it becomes operational. There is mitigation work to be done, also
significant track work down the line in order to make it possible. Meanwhile we are exposed on
a daily basis to these dangerous fumes.

My neighbors and I would appreciate your support in this matter and ask that you make a
request for a Commercial Power Source to NNEPRA for Amtrak trains currently idling near
Cedar St. There are CMP power lines close to where the Amtrak train idles.The current situation
has gone on too long. It can be resolved.

Thank you for your consideration in this matter.

Mary Heath
10 Cedar Street
Brunswick, ME 04011



The second has to do with finishing the work on our “new” Town Hall:

73. The Town Council will consider adopting a “Resolution Amending the 2013-14 Budget to Appropriate an Additional $150,000 for the Purpose of the Designing, Renovating, Equipping and Occupancy of the McLellan Building for Municipal Use,” and will take any appropriate action. (Manager)

We’re passing these along because Shirley you’d want to know about them. 

Or so Chance says.

PS: we have a feeling that this item under the Manager’s Report belongs under “stand by for incoming,” but there is no amplifying data in the packet:

(d)  Update on the Graham Road landfill issues

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