NNEPRA Board Renames and Broadens Advisory Board Mission

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.

Execcutive Director Patricia Quinn announced that NNEPRA would shortly reapply for the storm run off permit that was invalidated by a Superior Court judge.

What Really Happend When the Brunswick West Neighborhood Coalition Met with NNEPRA Last Week

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.[1]

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.

The BWNC members refused to participate, and this after they, like me, had been sent ahead of time by mail, professional, color illustrations of various color schemes and instructions on how to make preferences known through an on-line service.  I participated on-line.  As a neighborhood resident I looked forward to engaging further in the selection process.

Here’s my point.  By refusing to participate in this activity, and through their relentlessly “obstructionary” behavior throughout the meeting, the three members of the BWNC have abrogated their right to represent the residents who live near the Church-Stanwood site.  All three must be released from their places on the Committee and replacements found who will participate constructively.

Furthermore, since this facility is of great interest across Brunswick, new appointees ought to be welcomed from all parts of the area, up to and including Freeport.

Lastly, members of all Town committees represent Brunswick.  They are our public face.  In light of their reprehensible behavior at the July 24 meeting, all three citizen members of the Layover Advisory Committee ought to apologize formally, in public, to the other members of that Committee and to Brunswick as a whole. 

Sincerely,

Jeff Reynolds

36 Redwood Lane

Brunswick, ME  04011  

Cc:  Town Councilor John Perreault

     Town Councilor John Richardson

     Ms. Patricia Quinn

[1]. . . and in contrast, the other Committee members were helpful, courteous, and patient beyond the capacities of most of us. 

------

Here is the orgininal Forecaster article which failed to mentioned the coalition's disruptive tactics. 

 



 

A Small Group of Augusta Politicians Question Plans to Build the Layover Facility in Brunwick

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:

https://bangordailynews.com/2014/07/10/business/lawmakers-question-plan-to-build-downeaster-layover-facility-in-brunswick-suggest-south-portland/

http://www.mainebiz.biz/article/20140714/NEWS0101/140719982

UPDATE

A recent Investor's Business Daily editorial has sections which definitely apply to the current Brunswick Layover Facility controversy. Read it and weep:

"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

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.