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Gas Pipeline

Warwick pulls support for pipeline

WARWICK — The Tennessee Gas Pipeline may face extra obstacles in Warwick, after the Selectboard rescinded the permission given to the company to survey town-owned land.

The board’s decision was unanimous, and met with approval by residents who came to share their concerns about the natural gas pipeline that would cut across private, state, and town-owned land, including protected forests.

Town Coordinator David Young cautioned the attendees that too much resistance to the proposed pipeline could work against the town. If Warwick presents itself as vehemently opposed to the pipeline, he said, the Kinder Morgan Co. could try to push the project through by way of eminent domain, allowing it to skirt local permitting and regulations.

The Wednesday meeting to discuss a natural gas pipeline proposed to cut across town was well attended — by both Warwick residents opposed to the project and construction workers hoping to get a piece of the action.

About two dozen town residents came out, and just as many members of the Laborers’ International Union of North America showed up as well.

Many at the meeting felt put off by the presence of the union members, including at least one Selectboard member.

“When people in a small town meeting see 20 construction workers, standing across the back door with their arms crossed, it’s intimidating,” said Selectboard member Nick Arguimbau.

His sentiment was echoed by many in the crowd. Union members countered.

“We are just construction workers, trying to feed our families,” said Tom Andrews, business manager for the union’s local 596, based in Holyoke. “We’re here to answer questions, and because it’s the only way for us to gather information about how the town feels about the pipeline.”

Few questions were posed to the workers during the meeting, other than how they found out about the meeting, and whether they were encouraged to show up by outside interests. Their answers were vague.

Some residents were put at ease when they found out that the workers at the meeting came from nearby places like Orange, Northfield, Athol and Greenfield. Young said several of the union members stuck around after the meeting, informally answering residents’ questions on the pipeline project. Several of the construction workers said they’d worked on similar projects in the past.

Representatives of Kinder Morgan were not able to attend Wednesday’s meeting, though they did send a contracted communications worker to take notes. The company is tentatively scheduled to address the town April 10.

You can reach David Rainville at: drainville@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 279

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