Editorial: Don’t let fears take flight
The idea that a gas pipeline may be routed through parts of Franklin County has, to put it mildly, alarmed some of the area’s citizenry.
The reaction to requests by Kinder Morgan/Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. for permission to survey property belonging to landowners from the Berkshire County line through a number of local communities has pretty much covered the spectrum. Some people want to find out more information before making up their minds, while others responded with a flat-out “no” and a vow to use every means to keep this proposal from ever landing on soil, rock or waterway in the county.
And then there’s been a reaction that descends from legitimate concern to something darker. In parts of the county it results in talk of government agents, United Nations troops and black helicopters.
In at least one case, however, the helicopter wasn’t black — nor was it unmarked.
Yet what happened in Ashfield earlier this week should have everyone realizing how foolish one can look if they allow dislike and distrust override common sense.
It began during a Selectboard meeting in which members were being presented with a petition asking the town to officially protest any possible gas pipeline. Suddenly a helicopter was heard flying over Town Hall, circling low overhead. Some of those present began to speculate that the helicopter belonged to the pipeline company and that it was being used to take aerial photographs of Ashfield as part of the survey process, thereby circumventing property owners. So low was this helicopter that the sound of its rotors made enough noise to anger some residents inside the building.
In the end, The Recorder determined that this particular helicopter wasn’t being used by Kinder Morgan. It was owned by Aerial Productions LLC out of Norwood, and had been hired to capture, what Mike Peavey, the company’s owner, said was “beauty shots” for part of a television program. “They wanted the gorgeous Berkshires and, boy, we got it,” Peavey said of his filming.
He did apologize for disturbing people and explained that he thought that the production company had alerted the various towns about their visit. Unfortunately, turned out not to be the case.
The incident is an important lesson that people refrain from connecting the dots where none exist.
That could lead to eying visitors with suspicion.
That’s not exactly the kind of welcome that helps the tourist trade or a community’s reputation.
Again, there are reasonable responses to the idea of this pipeline, such as the forum held earlier this week in Greenfield, and there are legitimate avenues for those who oppose it.
We cannot allow our fears take flight.