Remember the five Brunswick town councilors who refused to ask the Federal Railway Administration to fully assess the impact of a 60,000 square foot train garage in a residential neighborhood in their own town?

Apparently, Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority has more credibility among them than it does with the state’s judicial system, which recently vacated its stormwater management permit. See, NNEPRA failed to inform abutters of its application, as required by law.

This is nothing new. You may recall a similar debacle when NNEPRA originally requested a 100 percent zoning variance in 2011.

Now we learn that six Democratic state legislators are asking NNEPRA to reconsider the Brunswick location and build the facility in South Portland. Calling Rigby Yard “a more logical hub,” these lawmakers note that a Brunswick location would impede the growth of rail to the rest of Maine, and even Canada.

When members of the state legislature’s own Transportation Committee start jumping ship, it is time for everyone to note the location of the life rafts. Even the governor’s opposition to the project has become a matter of public record.

And that record is clear. NNEPRA has not been a good neighbor. It has aggressively sought to preempt local governance, circumvent required regulation, co-opt the public conversation, control the flow of information, and interpret the laws as narrowly as possible — all to make it easier to impose its will on Brunswick residents vastly overmatched in funding and political clout.

While disheartening, that is no surprise. The surprise is that even after all this, some of our own town leaders still seem happy to have their neighbors railroaded.

Patricia Quinn can spin her heart out, but the facts are clear. A train depot in Brunswick is not needed for us to thrive. Locating it at Brunswick West will have destructive consequences for many Brunswick families. And nearby alternatives are far more appropriate to this industrial use.

NNEPRA wants to save money rather than do this right. But NNEPRA’s cost savings will be borne — by some hundred or more of your Brunswick neighbors, who will wind up subsidizing a massive federal agency with their home values, the quality of their lives, and possibly the very health of their loved ones.

Patrick Rael
Brunswick