2011-12-09 / Commentary

‘Get it right’ on train layover facility


I am a resident of “Brunswick West,” and I’m also a member of the Brunswick West Neighborhood Coalition. Therefore, I’m following the progress of the train maintenance and layover facility with great interest.

Last week, the train facility “advisory group” held its first meeting. My understanding is that the advisory group’s sole purpose is to review mitigation issues at the facility … the assumption being that the facility will be built soon at the Brunswick West site.

Admittedly, the Brunswick West Coalition has been spending a significant amount of time researching mitigation issues. However, mitigation is not the only concern we have.

Frankly, the selection of the Brunswick West site should not be a foregone conclusion.

The mission of the Coalition essentially consists of two items:

— We support the development of Amtrak passenger rail service to Brunswick.

— We are committed to “getting it right,” using solid principles of economic, social, and environmental responsibility.

Therefore, it is important to state for the record that the coalition does not believe that Brunswick West is the best facility site. Why does the coalition continue to question the selection of the Brunswick West site?

Our reasons are pretty straightforward, and can be laid out quite simply without any theatrics or finger-pointing.

We don’t support the Brunswick West site due to the following facts:

— The cost of the facility, with or without mitigation, is unclear.

— The funding sources for the facility, with or without mitigation, is unclear.

— The site selection process performed by NNEPRA’s hand-selected engineering firm was disturbingly short on technical details. Tt seemed more like a hurried attempt to appease Brunswick residents.

— There has been no environmental assessment performed on the Brunswick West site. In fact, NNEPRA’s latest application for federal funds for the project refers to a 2009 environmental assessment done in Portland, not Brunswick.

— Estimates on ridership and the number of daily train trips Brunswick residents will get change on a regular basis.

Brunswick residents, please think a moment about these five facts. Do any of them leave you with the feeling that we are “getting it right?”

So, the Brunswick West Neighborhood Coalition will continue to diligently research mitigation possibilities. But we are not ready to concede yet on the Brunswick West site.

There are other options right here in Brunswick — options that won’t adversely affect the quality of life for hundreds of Brunswick residents.

Think about it. We are nowhere near “getting it right” yet.

CHRIS CASEY lives in Brunswick.

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