Chris Casey

Chris Casey

On behalf of the Brunswick West Neighborhood Coalition, I would like to thank The Times Record for its recent editorial (”Save the Rails,” Sept. 27, Page A8), which at last recognizes the “understandable concerns” of residents who believe strongly that the proposed train maintenance and layover facility will permanently harm our neighborhood and our way of life.

The editorial’s inclusion of suggested “remedies” for impacted residents — quiet zones, soundproofing, impact payments — provides clear acknowledgement for the first time that residents who live near the proposed 60,000-squarefoot facility site have raised legitimate concerns.

This is in sharp contrast to the Environmental Assessment prepared by the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority, which concludes the train facility would have no impact at all on the area or its residents.

It logically follows that The Times Record should join us in demanding these serious impacts be addressed by someone other than NNEPRA.

The Federal Rail Authority can choose to deem NNEPRA’s assessment insufficient, and instead perform its own Environmental Impact Statement. An EIS is the only way to a thorough, independent review of all the potential environmental and socioeconomic impacts.

The Brunswick West Neighborhood Coalition has amassed considerable research that contradicts much of the information contained in the Environmental Assessment. The BWNC also has pointed out the EA fails to adequately address many critical and required items, such as socioeconomic impacts.

At the Sept. 26 public hearing, opponents of the proposed site far outnumbered supporters. While opponents’ testimony offered facts, data and analysis, supporters offered the same empty, anecdotal musings they have offered all along but not one worthwhile fact.

In addition to the testimony at the hearing, the Brunswick West Neighborhood Coalition has submitted a significant amount of information for review by the FRA. We hope this information will get the attention it deserves.

There is one more important clarification that needs to be made: The editorial suggests that, if the facility is not built at the Brunswick West site, expansion of passenger rail service in Brunswick will be halted.

This oft-repeated threat is nothing but a NNEPRA scare tactic. Again: The Brunswick West Neighborhood Coalition supports passenger rail service in Brunswick and is not opposed to its expansion if ridership supports it. We also have no problem with construction of a layover facility if ridership supports it.

But we strongly believe a huge industrial building like this will bring noise, serious air pollution and vibration, and does not belong in a neighborhood full of hard-working families.

Nobody’s neighborhood deserves this. It’s that simple.

The fact remains there are several suitable sites in Brunswick that have not been considered. NNEPRA has chosen Brunswick West because it will be more convenient and less expensive for them.

But it will be inconvenient and costly for residents, who bought their homes believing the town’s zoning rules would prohibit construction of a mammoth facility in their backyards.

We’re far from convinced that the Brunswick West site would be the most cost-effective option. Less-than-optimal soil and ground water combined with proximity to hundreds of homes may make it the most expensive site on which to build while mitigating impacts.

For all these reasons, we ask The Times Record and citizens of Brunswick to join in demanding a fair, impartial EIS review.

A better idea: First, take all of the “impact payments” your editorial suggests, add back all the property tax revenues lost as a result of decreasing home values if the facility is built, then, use that sum to build the facility somewhere where it can’t permanently harm hundreds.

That way, everybody wins.

CHRIS CASEY lives in Brunswick.

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