I am writing in reference to a recent letter signed by my colleagues in the Maine Legislature about the proposed location of a facility for train maintenance in Brunswick. The letter, addressed to the Northern New England Passenger Authority, suggests the current site selected for a train maintenance facility is not the best location and should be reconsidered.
With due respect to my colleagues, I believe Brunswick is a great location for the facility; however, I disagree with the specific location proposed at this time.
I have always worked hard to bring Amtrak to our area and continue to strongly support expanding Amtrak Downeaster service to Brunswick. I also support extending the rail lines through Lewiston-Auburn and Bethel, up into Montreal, and through Portland, Boston and New York.
In addition, I believe that in the future a maintenance facility would be necessary for the Lewiston-Auburn intermodal, provided there is a proper process and location that respects environmental safeguards and living standards of the local residents.
The Amtrak expansion brings many economic benefits to our region, and most Brunswick taxpayers agree. However, this presumes those managing the rail service will look out for the broader interests of the community and consider all viewpoints.
I feel that in this case Northern New England Passenger Authority has not given due diligence and attention to the people of Brunswick West. Incidentally, Maine Superior Court Justice Joyce A. Wheeler recently ruled that Northern New England Passenger Authority “failed to give petitioners notice of [the] permit application” for the train depot, and ruled their permit void.
The residents of the Brunswick West neighborhood are very concerned about the effects of a train layover facility in the middle of their neighborhood, especially the effect on their quality of life and the quality of their environment. It is common sense that an industrial facility should be built in an industrial area, not a residential neighborhood.
I am glad to hear Patricia Quinn, executive director of Northern New England Passenger Authority, has said she will meet with legislators and discuss the details of the current proposal, and I hope it will be a starting point for discussions of a different location for the facility within Brunswick.
As a public official and representative of the people of Brunswick, it is my priority to ensure all our voices are heard and that the environmental and living standards of the people of Brunswick West are respected. I will continue to fight for a fair process for the people of West Brunswick and hope this process assures that the layover facility is built in Brunswick.
Sen. Stan Gerzofsky is a Democrat representing Brunswick in the Maine Senate.