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NNEPRA Board Renames and Broadens Advisory Board Mission
- Published on Tuesday, 29 July 2014 03:23
- Written by TRN Webmaster
Following last week's refusal of the Brunswick West Neighborhood Coalition leaders to engage in constructive discussion on agenda items and their disrespectful antics as detailed in our previous article, Executive Director Patricia Quinn concluded that the relationship with Brunswick West Neighborhood Coalition had become unproductive and was a waste of NNEPRA staff time. She then asked the board to provide guidance as to how best to continue its work with the Brunswick community.
Board members noted that it was important to continue a dialogue with Brunswick citizens, but as NNEPRA moves on to the construction phase, the base of the advisory group needs to be to be broadened and to that end, the following motion was proposed by chairman Martin Eisenstein and unanimously approved.
NNEPRA board of directors redefines the mission of the Brunswick Layover Building Advisory Group and renames the group as follows:
The Brunswick Layover Building Advisory Group is renamed the Brunswick Layover Advisory Group and its mission is as follows:
The purpose is to facilitate information exchanges between NNEPRA and the Brunswick community.
The constitution of the group with be decided by the chair of the board after input from other board members and the Brunswick community at large.
Board members went on to explain that they are moving from a planning stage to a construction phase, therefore, the issues are different than before and that different levels of public participation are needed.
Robert Morrison of the Brunswick West Neighborhood Coalition said his group would have to decide whether or not they would continue in the new group. Chairman Eisenstein responded that the committee was not set up to determine the location of the facility. "Members of your group will be invited to participate in the broadened advisory group, with the understanding that we are not debating the location of the site," he concluded.
Excecutive Director Patricia Quinn announced that NNEPRA would shortly reapply for the storm run off permit that was invalidated by a Superior Court judge.
Idling at Brunswick Station
Last month, the Town Manager of Brunswick spoke on behalf of a unanimous Brunswick Town Council decision that NNEPRA address the diesel soot and fumes emanating from idling Amtrak engines at the Brunswick Station. As a result, the NNEPRA staff examined several options and presented them to the board. The need to keep 480 volt power to the trainset was emphasize and after exploring the pros and cons of the various potential solutions, there was a consensus that a 480v power station plus an air compressor for brake pressure would help answer the Town Council's concerns. Between now and the next board meeting, staff will refine the proposal and the board will likely approve the solution.
FT 2014 Results Reported
Ms.Quinn reported continued growth in ridership and revenue for FY 2014 which ended on June 30th - that included the difficult months of April, May and June when the poor conditions of the PanAm track, due to wear and tear and the severe winter, were discovered which precipitated significant annulments and slow orders. July, the first month of FY 2015, has turned out to be the worst month as some 43 trains were cancelled. However, the morning/evening commuting trains have been doing well and the weekend trains are regularly sold out. Rehabilitation of the road bed, ties and track is, according to Brian Beeler (NNEPRA's Passenger Service Manager) nearly complete. On Time Performance was a miserable 18.80% in June.
Positive comments were heard from members of the public regarding the Brunswick/Freeport service which is averaging 150 passengers per day which is 50% higher than originally projected. There was also a comment from Mr. Morrison of BWNC that the trains were not full when departing Brunswick. It was explained by Ms. Quinn others at the meeting that a train could be 'sold out' as it leaves Brunswick even though there are 'empty seats' - those seats having been reserved by riders further along the line as the train heads to Boston.
What Really Happend When the Brunswick West Neighborhood Coalition Met with NNEPRA Last Week
- Published on Monday, 28 July 2014 11:38
- Written by TRN Webmaster
The Layover Advisory Board, created by NNEPRA to work with the opponents of the Brunswick Layover Facility, met last week to discuss the color and lighting of the proposed Downeaster facility. The local paper somehow failed to provide the disturbing specifics of the NIMBY's opposition to the agenda. Here is a letter, sent to the Town Council, by one of the pro-layover West Brunswick residents detailing the rude and disturbing antics employed by the opposition.
July 26, 2014
To: Brunswick Town Councilor Benet Pols
From: Jeff Reynolds
RE: Dysfunction of the Layover Advisory Committee
Dear Councilor Pols,
On July 24, 2014, the Layover Advisory Committee met at Council chambers in Brunswick. I attended—and will never forget what I, along with others, witnessed.
Among the members of the Committee are three citizens who live near the site of the soon-to-be built Downeaster layover and maintenance facility. These citizens also happen to belong to and occupy leadership roles in the Brunswick West Neighborhood Coalition (BWNC). Their names: Dan Sullivan, Chris Casey, Robert Morrison.
In decades of attending and participating in meetings of various sorts I have never seen behavior such as that exhibited by the aforementioned citizens. They were uniformly rude, insinuating and insulting, insistent on having it their way or no way or at all. It was nothing short of outrageous.
One brief example will suffice. An engineer for the firm that will build the layover facility gave a PowerPoint presentation on the lighting plan for the site and structure. Images were displayed on the west wall of the Council chamber. This was information of vital import to me as a resident of the neighborhood near the site, and it had been deemed important enough to the BWNC to merit frequent mention in public forums, letters, their website, and more.
Throughout the presentation all three BWNC members faced the east wall, their backs to the speaking podium. Dan Sullivan kept his eyes shut tightly the entire time. Chris Casey and Robert Morrison carried on a conversation so loudly that those of us in the audience had difficulty hearing what the consultant was saying. When the Committee chair asked if the citizen members had any questions or comments pertaining to the lighting plan, Robert Morrison ignored the invitation and instead read a prepared two-page BWNC “position paper” that had nothing, nothing whatsoever to do with lighting or any other agenda item.
Amplify this kind of juvenile meanness for the duration of the meeting and you get an inkling of what occurred. The worst part, however, and the part I want you to keep in mind as you consider future action, occurred when the ostensive purpose of the meeting—to select a color for the building—came up.
A Small Group of Augusta Politicians Question Plans to Build the Layover Facility in Brunwick
- Published on Monday, 14 July 2014 20:42
- Written by TRN Webmaster
On the heels of a finding by the Federal Railroad Administration that the proposed Brunswick Layover Facility would have no significant environmental impact on the West Brunswick neighborhood and after a Maine judge invalidated a rain runoff permit, forces aligned against the construction have taken a new approach by lining up several Augusta legislators, inclulding an Amtrak conductor, to propose that the layover facility now be constructed at PanAm's Rigby Yard in South Portland. Everybody has an opinion about where best to site the much-needed structure as there have been more than a half dozen suggestions, from the Governor to politicians pushing their favorite service plans to NIMBYs (Not In My Backyard [more properly called NIMFY - Not In My Freightyard]).
NNEPRA, under Executive Director Patricia Quinn, has examined all with the help of outside consultants. The freight yard in West Brunswick was best for the efficient operation of the service. Ms. Quinn stands behind the decision to move forward with the selected site and has asked to meet with the aforementioned legislators to explain how the decision was reached and what the consequences are likely to be if opposition further delays the facility.
Here are two recent articles:
"In the mid-1930s, workers spent a mere 400 days building the Empire State Building. It took more than 3,600 days to wade through the red tape and politics and complete the replacement for the Twin Towers.
The country built the 47,000-mile Interstate Highway System in 35 years. But 34 years after Maryland decided to build a 19-mile Intercounty Connector, that stretch of highway is still under construction.
The problem is that a massive army of NIMBY and "public interest" groups, environmentalists and regulators has grown up in recent decades — a force with the singular mission of saying "no" to anything and everything anyone tries to do.
From an engineering perspective, anyone could build a Hoover Dam today — or an oil pipeline for that matter — but who'd be dumb enough to propose such a thing, knowing the ferocious public attacks, exhaustive "environmental reviews" and endless lawsuits they'd face?
Environmentalists these days even block "clean energy" windmill farms and solar power plants because of the damage they'll allegedly cause to local ecosystems."
The full editorial is below, but the above is enough to understand the bind America is in, from Brunswick to Maryland.The full editorial: http://news.investors.com/ibd-editorials/071814-709541-apollo-45-moon-landing-anniversary-and-cant-do-spirit-in-america.htm#ixzz387gfN0NS
Maine Judge Says 'No' to NNEPRA's Storm Drainage Plan for the Brunswick Layover Facility
- Published on Thursday, 10 July 2014 12:53
- Written by TRN Webmaster
Just last month, the FRA gave the go-ahead for the construction of the Downeaster's Brunswick Layover Facility. However, this week a Maine Superior Court judge invalidated NNEPRA's storm drainage plan. The judge found that all the 'abutters' were not properly notified. The dispute revolves around the definition of 'abutters.' NNEPRA sources report that it was following the Maine DEP maps and guidelines regarding just who was an abutter.
While some say a wider group of newly defined 'abutters' will be notified and a public hearing scheduled. others wonder if the federal government pre-empts such local legal maneuvers.
More details in The Forecaster.
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly - Today's NNEPRA Board Meeting
- Parent Category: NNEPRA
- Published on Monday, 23 June 2014 19:37
- Written by TRN Webmaster
The Downeaster has had more than a decade of uninterrupted, successful growth. However, these past few months have reminded NNEPRA that setbacks come with heavy-handed results. Let's get the 'ugly' out of the way first.
The recent spate of slow orders, the PanAm right-of-way rehabilitation of a road-bed that was pummeled by the harsh winter AND the ongoing construction of the Haverhill bridge finally showed up in the numbers this month. April's On Time Performance registered 35.6% with no train making it into the 80% category. May's OTP was 8%!
- The FRA Gives NNEPRA a Green Light to Proceed with the Brunswick Layover Facility
- TrainRiders/Northeast May Newsletter
- Busy NNEPRA Board Meeting Hears 3rd Qtr Results While Addressing Track Safety Conditions
- Press Herald discovers West Brunswick Engineer has financial conflict of interest
- Brunswick Layover Facility: Gov. Says, "Thorough review needed" - TRN says "Current Environmental Assessment more than sufficient"