First Light protest, Question 1campaign invigorate downtown Greenfield

  • Kate Mason and John Cevasco hold a sign protesting the Northfield Mountain Pumped storage facility on the Greenfield Common Saturday morning. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

  • More than two dozen protesters showed up on the Greenfield Common Saturday morning to protest the Northfield Mountain Pumped storage facility and its effects on the Connecticut River. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

  • More than two dozen protesters showed up on the Greenfield Common Saturday morning to protest the Northfield Mountain Pumped storage facility and its effects on the Connecticut River. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

  • Both the “yes” and “no” campaigns for Nov. 2’s ballot question held signs in downtown Greenfield Saturday morning as a FirstLight protest was occurring on the Common. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

  • Al Norman and David Singer agreed that no matter what the outcome is at the polls Nov. 2, the conversation about the citizen referendum process will make Greenfield a “smarter” community. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

Staff Writer
Published: 10/24/2021 3:32:28 PM

GREENFIELD — Downtown Greenfield was active Saturday morning with the presence of a protest against FirstLight Power and groups campaigning about Question One, which will be on the ballot in November.

More than two dozen protesters stood in front of the Town Common to protest FirstLight’s Northfield Mountain Pumped storage facility as Question One campaigners occupied the four corners of the intersection of Main and Federal streets.

FirstLight Power’s Northfield Mountain facility

Protesters gathered at 11 a.m. to rally against the reissuing of a permit — which expired in December 2020 — for the Northfield Mountain pumped storage facility, which is a “giant water battery,” according to FirstLight’s website.

Environmental activists want the facility, which pumps the Connecticut River to generate energy, to be shut down because of what they say is its devastating effect on the river’s ecosystem.

“They should not be issued a license to kill,” said protest organizer Karl Meyer. “It is the deadliest electric machine ever installed on the Connecticut River.”

Meyer and other protesters said the dam slaughters fish during its power generation as the turbines slice them up. He said this project is about greed, not generating green electricity and it is damaging New England’s ecosystem for the financial gain of FirstLight and its Canadian corporate parent, PSP Investments.

“The profits go to Canada,” Meyer said. “It’s robbing the people of New Hampshire and Vermont of a living ecosystem.”

Northfield resident John Cevasco said the area doesn’t need the Northfield facility and it’s “sucking” the life out of the Connecticut River by killing “millions of fish.”

“We don’t want the license renewed, we want it shut down,” Cevasco said. “They’re killing our river and it affects all of us.”

Turners Falls resident Ruth Virginia Barton said FirstLight is only operating in the area for financial reasons and this isn’t the first time a corporation has put profits over the environment.

“They just do it to make money,” Barton said. “It’s another terrible story of greed over the ecosystem.”

Before the end of the protest, Meyer called the group together and told them to contact every elected and government official involved with the Connecticut River because that’s the only way they can stop FirstLight.

“You are the river’s constituency,” Meyer said to the group. “You are the river’s protectors.”

Question One campaigns

Both campaigns for “yes” and “no” on the ballot question in the Nov. 2 election that calls for changing the number of voter signatures required by the City Charter for a citizens referendum petition occupied the corners of downtown Greenfield Saturday morning.

If passed, the current requirement to garner signatures from 10% of voters voting in the most recent biennial city election would be changed to required signatures from 7% of all registered voters in the most recent biennial city election.

Campaigners on both sides stood next to each other holding their campaign signs as cars drove by and honked their horns or gave friendly waves.

Both campaigns informed passerby of the contents of the question and their sides and said it was important to get out to talk to prospective voters because people are dedicated to Greenfield.

“I really love this town,” said Jennifer Stromsten, a member of the Yes for Greenfield Committee. “I think there are people who give a lot of themselves for this town.”

Mary Siano, who co-chairs the Fair Referendum Committee that opposes Question One, said she and others were out Saturday morning to spread the word about the vote.

“(We’re out here) to just kind of hold the flag for this position,” Siano said.

Despite the opposing positions, members of both groups said the city as a whole will benefit from more awareness around the vote.

“This raises the educational level by having this debate,” said Al Norman, who opposes Question One. “Regardless of what happens Nov. 2 … I’m optimistic one way or another this is a helpful process for Greenfield.”

Chris Larabee can be reached at clarabee@recorder.com or 413-930-4081.


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