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Conway to host pipeline meeting

Set for Aug. 28 at 7 p.m.

CONWAY — Plans for a proposed gas pipeline have left many local residents fuming and on Aug. 28, representatives of Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. parent Kinder Morgan will appear before the town’s Selectboard in an attempt to assuage fears.

The company will deliver a presentation and give concerned residents an opportunity to ask questions about the project, which is expected to pass through Conway and eight other Franklin County towns on its way from Pennsylvania to Dracut.

The meeting will be held in the Conway Grammar School at 7 p.m. Town Administrator Tom Hutcheson said the set-up for the event will be the same as at town meetings, with a table for the Selectboard at the front of the room and a floor microphone available for public comment.

“I expect it will be similar to the presentation at GCC, but we’ll bring it down to the town level to give people a chance to ask questions,” Hutcheson said.

John P. O’Rourke, the chairman of the Conway Selectboard, said the town has been trying to set up a presentation from Kinder Morgan “for a while,” but scheduling problems prevented it from happening sooner.

O’Rourke said he expects the hearing to have a good turnout, based on the large group of residents who crammed into the Selectboard’s small meeting room and made their opposition to the proposed pipeline known at the last meeting.

He said many of the town’s residents are worried about public health and safety risks posed by the project, as well as plans to build a compressor station on the edge of town.

“Their presentation will be to the Selectboard, but we’re going to hold it in the school and set it up like a town meeting,” said O’Rourke. “There was a lot of cat-calling and interruptions during the presentation they did at GCC, so we’re going to try to run this tightly but make it a very open meeting.”

Meanwhile, a group of town officials have come together to form a Pipeline Task Force to review the project. The Selectboard is expected to appoint members to the committee at its next meeting, said O’Rourke.

Local governments have no say over the envisioned $3 billion to $4 billion pipeline, and while the state Legislature may have some say over its route, it is the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that is the agency that licenses such interstate energy projects.

The currently proposed 300-mile route for the 30-inch diameter pipe cuts through Conway, Ashfield, Shelburne, Deerfield, Montague, Erving, Warwick, Orange, and Northfield.

Kinder Morgan will also be sending representatives to a Northfield select board meeting-- tonight (Aug 19th) at 7:00 PM at PVRS.

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