Friday, May 2, 2008
News from surrounding towns
The following news items were extracted from material available on the Internet.
• Billerica. A question-and-answer session concerning a power plant proposed by DG Clean Power was attended by about 250 people from Billerica and surrounding towns on April 17. The planned 348-megawatt facility will be gas-fired with diesel back-up and is to be located near the Concord River in North Billerica. It is to run up to 2,300 hours per year during times of peak energy demand.
Scientists consulting for the town from the firm Environmental Health and Engineering criticized data from the opposition group Billerica Watchers, but did say, “the Billerica Energy Center will be a major source of greenhouse-gas emissions.” The consultants recommended asking the developer to reduce emissions and possibly help provide air filters for homes.
CEO Joseph Fitzpatrick said DG Clean Power will give $2.5 million to upgrade the Billerica public water supply infrastructure because the plant will use roughly 40 million gallons per year. They will also help fund a town-wide water conservation program. The plant is to be remotely operated much of the time, but Fitzpatrick said the facility will have security guard coverage round-the-clock. (“Hundreds pack Billerica power-plant forum,” www.lowellsun.com, April 18)
• Billerica. Town Meeting will be asked to contribute $50,000 toward legal fees for a group that is opposing DG Clean Power’s proposed gas and diesel-fired power plant for North Billerica. The town’s counsel would also be authorized to represent the group, if the Massachusetts Energy Facilities Sitting Board grants approval to the plant project. Billerica’s Town Meeting begins on May 6. The town’s attorney has questioned the legality of the article. (“Watchers lawyer up,” www.wikedlocal.com, April 16)
• Westford. Bti (Bacillus thuringiensis), a bacterium effective against mosquito larvae, was scheduled to be spread over wetlands by helicopter during mid-April. The area to be covered includes Davis Road, Carlisle Road, South Road and Spring Brook. Bti is found naturally in soil and water and is known to target only a few insect species. Westford is enrolled in the East Middlesex Mosquito Control Project, and questions can be directed to the program at 1-781-899-5730. (“Mosquito spraying April 16-24,” www.wikedlocal.com, April 10)
Town and school finances
• Chelmsford. Voters defeated a $2.8 million override and the school and town departments must reduce their FY09 budgets. The School Committee will close one elementary school; trim roughly 37 staff positions; and create a new $200 bus fee, to be charged to students who live within two miles of their school. The fire department will eliminate four firefighter positions and plans to close Engine 5 in South Chelmsford starting July 1. The police department will also eliminate the positions of two police officers, a clerk and one part-time janitor. The Chelmsford Library will reduce its hours of operation, and the senior center will eliminate the position of a respite care worker. (“Officials prepare to make cuts,” April 9, and “School Committee OKs bus fees,” www.wikedlocal.com, April 16)
• Littleton. The School Committee has hired Energy Education, Inc., a Texas-based consulting firm. After inspecting the schools, the firm offered a plan to reduce an estimated $2 million in energy costs over the next ten years. The plan will include hiring a part-time energy manager, who will work with staff and students to reduce energy usage. (“Energy consciousness and million dollar savings,” www.wikedlocal.com, April 16)
• Bedford. The town’s Youth Task Force is calling for the creation of a Youth Center. (“Youth Center stirs debate,” www.wikedlocal.com, April 16)
• Bedford. America’s Promise Alliance has named Bedford a winner of this year’s “100 Best Communities for Youth in the United States” competition. According to the Alliance web site, every town that filled out an application to enter the competition became eligible to then apply for $300,000 in grants. America’s Promise Alliance includes charitable foundations, government and community leaders, corporations and non-profit organizations. First chaired by retired General Colin Powell, the current Alliance chair is his wife, Alma Powell. The Alliance promotes five “promises,” resources needed to support children: “caring adults, safe places, a healthy start, an effective education and opportunities to help others.” Bedford was recognized in part for the work of the Recreation Department to train foster parents, and offer programs for children with disabilities. (www.americaspromise.org)
• Chelmsford. Republican Sandi Martinez of Chelmsford has announced that she will run against incumbent Susan Fargo next fall to represent the 3rd Middlesex District in the state senate. Martinez gathered 33.7% of the vote when she unsuccessfully challenged Fargo in 2006. Fargo has been in office since 1997. (“Chelmsford Republican challenges Sen. Susan Fargo,” www.wikedlocal.com, April 2)
• Acton. Voters rejected a proposal to use Community Preservation Act funding for engineering and other initial design work sponsored by the Acton Housing Authority on an affordable housing project to be located on Sachem Way. The project would create up to 16 affordable units on the site. Acton has proportionally more affordable housing than Carlisle, but is still vulnerable to 40B development. About 6.9% of the Acton housing stock is affordable, and roughly 225 more units will be needed to reach the state’s target of 10%. (“Housing article denied,” www.wikedlocal.com, April 16)
• Bedford. Habitat for Humanity of Greater Lowell is about to begin the local group’s largest project to date. They will renovate an old farmhouse and build seven energy-efficient new houses which are to meet LEED specifications for green buildings. (“Habitat begins eight-unit project in Bedford,” www.wikedlocal.com, April 15) ∆
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