Jim McGovern is exactly the person I voted for. He listens to his constituency and represents their interests sincerely. Kudos to Rep. McGovern for pointing out that this extremely hazardous project has no place in a residential neighborhood.
Regardless of the outcome of the Federal Court case, Congress should address how broadly the railroad "Federal preemption" provision should apply in such cases. This provision was enacted in the early days of the railroads, and its intentions are now somewhat antiquated. In this particular case, the "preemption" argument is being used to re-purpose land that was recently acquired by G&URR that has historically been zoned "residential" by the local town authority.
I don't think that a requirement to comply with town zoning laws presents any impediment to Mr. Priscoli's ability to operate his "short-line railroad".
TOOT-TOOT View Comment
grommit--The reports I have seen have indicated Worcester US District, which would seem to make sense. If you're planning to attend, it would probably be wise to call the Court to check the schedule. These things often tend to get moved around (sometimes at the last minute) to accomodate schedule conflicts from the parties, their attorneys and, most importantly, the judge. View Comment
Is the Federal Dept. of Homeland Security talking to this guy? It seems to me, based on reports, that he has made some very threatening comments to our town. If similar comments ("nuclear war", "bury the town") were made, even in jest, by an airline passenger, that person would be immediately detained for further evaluation. I'm not sure that this guy should be running a federally licensed railroad, let alone an enormous propane facility in the middle of a residential area. View Comment
Perhaps I wasn't clear enough in my response to your 12/13 post on the dailyvoice article of that date. The area surrounding where this propane activity is proposed is not a wealthy area. Nor do I think that many in this particular part of North Grafton are particularly vocal, except perhaps when their own property rights and safety are potentially compromised, as is the case in this situation. I (and my neighbors, I suspect) would not visit the proposed large-scale propane facility on any densely developed area, regardless of their wealth or lack thereof. There are plenty of rural areas in Central Massachusetts that are adjacent to the CSX main line where such a facility would pose a hugely reduced risk of loss of life and significant property damage, and thus would be eminently more suitable for such a facility if there is a true need for this among the larger community. The proposed facility for storage of massive quantities of highly volatile propane is less than 1/2 mile from an elementary school that my 5- and 6-year old grandchildren attend. As our President remarked on Sunday, we, as a society, have no greater responsibility than to ensure the safety and well-being of our babies. The proposed facility is an irresponsible abuse of the claimed railroad pre-emption privelege. View Comment
I'm with you, Harpoon. At the town meeting presentation a couple of weeks ago, the only Federal representative present was the guy from the Surface Transportation Board (STB), although other Feds had promised to attend. On someone's earlier post it was suggested that the EPA was there. I think they confused the reps from Mass DEP as being EPA people. The Mass DEP spokesperson, while expressing concern about the project, indicated that the state agency may have no authority over the project due to the presumed claim of pre-emption. The only indication of any form of Federal oversight of this project was the acknowledgement that the STB had issued a license to G&U RR to operate a railroad. I did not get any sense that the propane transfer facility had any Federal licensing or approval requirements, other than the fact that a local or state attempt to regulate the facility COULD bring a claim of pre-emption that COULD or COULD-NOT be upheld by the STB or by a Federal Court.
So I believe there has been a complete lack of governmental oversight of this proposed project. If the STB or Federal Court upholds Priscolli's presumption that the Feds have ultimate authority, then the appropriate Federal Agencies should be engaged to ensure that the public safety and other concerns have been appropriately addressed. All of my nearby neighbors who are potentially impacted by this project, as well as other concerned Grafton citizens should please contact (right now) their Federal legislative representatives--Rep. Jim McGovern, Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Scott Brown and Sen-Elect Elizabeth Warren, to make them aware of the threats to our safety, damage to our property values and damage to the Grafton Community that will result if the Federal agencies charged with evaluating such projects do not promptly engage to stop this "runaway train". And we pray that they may also propose, support and pass legislation that clarifies the extent to which state and local laws and regulations may be ignored by a licensed railroad under the pre-emption concept, so that we and other communities don't have to fight this fight over and over again. View Comment
Wow, are you off-base. Apparently you've never visited this section of North Grafton. Not too much that's fancy around here, and anything that's "handsome" about our homes has come from a lot of sweat-equity from our homeowners. My own home was built in 1840 (p.s.: before the G&U RR was around). Most homes in this area were built well before WWII. Sure, there are a few in this neighborhood who are well-paid professional workers, but the vast majority of my neighbors are either elderly retirees or trades workers. So I've yet to spot a "spoiled brat" anywhere around here.
I certainly don't disagree with your concerns regarding fossil fuels, global warming, etc. And I am a supporter of rail transport generally. However, the proposed propane transfer facility is the wrong project in the wrong place. Sure, the G&U RR has an existing access point to the CSX line in North Grafton and G&U has some rights to commercially develop that point of access. If the transfer facility were for a commodity such as molasses, I'm sure that there would be minimal opposition.
So let's talk about propane, instead. G&U has argued that there is a benefit to society generally from the facilitation of delivery of propane to a nearby geographic area that may need the propane. That area is not limited to the immediate Grafton area, but may include much of Massachusetts and perhaps other New England states as well.
There is no demonstrated lack of other transfer facilities for the delivery of propane to the planned market. Were there to be such a lack of transfer facilities, I woulld suggest that there are numerous alternatives with access to the CSX line in much less populated areas. Of course, none of those other locations are currently under the control of G&U RR, so they could not derive the financial benefit therefrom.
So many of us love to hear the story about how we can pitch in to save the environment, but let's not be fooled by the G&U propaganda. This is a pure grab of economic benefit for G&U at the expense of the nearby town residents and ultimately at the town's expense. View Comment
I am "positive" that Mr. Priscolli wants all of us who oppose his plan to believe that HE "knows the laws and has been advised by the best attorneys...". As an experienced business executive, I can assure you that "laws" can be interpreted by the courts in many different ways. In my mind, one of the most salient arguments against the pre-emption case would be that the construction and operation of a propane transfer facility is not an essential activity for the G&U Railroad. There are certainly alternative uses for what seems to be a "rail siding facility" for this particular use, rather than an operating railroad activity. So let's not get distracted by Priscolli's PRESUMPTION.
I am particularly disturbed by Mr. Priscolli's assertion that “The town is playing to a handful of people and they are putting the entire town in jeopardy,” -- I am one of the very nearby abutters. There are several hundred homes within a zone that would be impacted should a disaster occur in the vicinity of the proposed transfer facility. Aside from the danger of the (presumably) temporary storage and physical transfer of propane at the immediate site, there are also substantial risks related to the movements of very large volumes of propane through our neighborhood on tankers over which Mr. Priscolli has no control (unless he's kept that as another of his surprises). I would suggest that the town officials and interested citizens review the emergency evacuation plan for the town of Montpelier, VT based on the establishment of a similar propane transfer facility for that community. You can find that document by doing a search on "propane transfer facility", which is probably something everyone concerned with the risks inherent in this project should do.
It probably wouldn't hurt, when you are doing searches, to also search on "Jon Delli Priscolli". I guess if this guy is to be my "Big Brother" neighbor, I'd like to know more about him. View Comment
Copy the following link from the Boston Globe to your browser to see what a great neighbor Mr. Priscolli has been to a former Upton town official.
http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2012/06/17/railroad_critic_hit_with_20_million_defamation_lawsuit_claims_suit_is_a_slapp_at_free_speech/ View Comment