2011-12-05 / Front Page

Rail depot advisory group focuses on mitigation

Members gathered Friday
BY DARREN FISHELL Times Record Staff

PORTLAND

Leaders of a neighborhood group concerned about plans to construct a train maintenance facility between Stanwood Street and Church Road said they were satisfied with the makeup of the advisory group overseeing the project, which met for the first time Friday morning.

“I’m much happier now that I see the group,” Anna Nelson, leader of the Brunswick West Neighbors Coalition, said after leaving Friday’s meeting in the Portland offices of the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority.

Nelson heads the group that raised concerns months ago about the town and neighborhood representatives to the NNEPRA advisory group. Nelson and other neighbors weeks ago called for their district’s representative — District 4 Councilor John Perreault — to be added to the group.

Last week, the coalition announced that membership of the advisory board was expanded from one town councilor to two, adding Perreault alongside Town Council chairwoman Joanne King, and expanding from two residents to three: Nelson, Bob McEvoy and Dan Sullivan.

Nelson and Sullivan said after Friday’s meeting that they still have concerns about the level and measurement of noise pollution from the train facility, but that they were satisfied with the amount of time to review the data presented Friday.

The group is scheduled to meet again in early January.

King said she felt comfortable that the makeup of the advisory group will allow for all of the neighborhood’s concerns to be addressed through the construction process.

“Mitigation is what we’re focusing on,” King said after Friday’s meeting. “ We’re going to do all that we can to protect these neighborhoods.”

King said the group will be involved in identifying a design and construction firm for the project, which she said will allow the group to have a hand in determining the details of the project.

“Everything that we want to ask for is within our reach,” King said.

The agenda for Friday’s meeting outlines the committee’s future work over five monthly meetings between January and April 23, when NNEPRA staff and consultants are scheduled to present recommendations for the project to the authority’s board of directors.

At a meeting in early January, the committee is scheduled to discuss building performance standards and design specifications, determine options for the building and discuss selection criteria for the facility.

By mid-January, the group is scheduled to have a final review of the project scope and prepare to solicit proposals.

Meetings through March and April will review contractor submissions and discuss pricing details for the project.

Nelson said the group will now take the noise impact data back to its sound engineer, Charles Wallace, who completed a sound study for advisory group member Bob McEvoy in August. That study found a train idling on tracks outside of the proposed train facility would exceed the World Health Organization criteria for sleep disturbance.

In a Nov. 3 letter to Town Manager Gary Brown, NNEPRA’s Executive Director Patricia Quinn wrote that costs for a facility that maximizes sound mitigation would likely exceed the project’s budget.

Quinn said Friday that it is still possible that plans for a 60,000- square- foot facility housing three trains would be downsized to a previously planned 40,000- square- foot facility housing two trains, but that specifics on the design of the facility remain to be determined.

District 7 Councilor Benet Pols and state Sen. Stan Gerzofsky, D- Brunswick, also attended Friday’s meeting, though not members of the advisory group.

The meeting was not open to the public or the press. Quinn referred questions about why those representatives were admitted, but not the public, to NNEPRA chairman Martin Eisenstein, who did not respond to a phone call seeking comment Friday afternoon.

Quinn said that a public hearing and presentation will be scheduled for sometime in late January to seek public comment on the project plans. Quinn said she was uncertain of a date or location for that planned meeting.

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