FirstLight, Gill receive complaints about debris at boat barrier

  • Plastic, polystyrene foam and natural debris on the boat barrier on the Connecticut River as seen from Gill. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Debris on the boat barrier on the Connecticut River as seen from Gill. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Debris on the boat barrier on the Connecticut River as seen from Unity Park in Turners Falls. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

Staff Writer
Published: 8/26/2021 2:34:35 PM

GILL — The town of Gill and FirstLight Hydro Generating Co. have each received complaints from residents about the state of debris amassed at the Connecticut River boat barrier.

FirstLight Manager of Government Affairs and Community Relations Carter Wall said the concerns have been tied to an “unusual amount of debris lodged up against the boat barrier,” which Wall said was caused by “heavy rains in the Vermont watershed last month” washing “an enormous amount of material downstream.”

She added that FirstLight is “troubled” by the amount of debris, but that the company has “no immediate concerns regarding (the boat barrier’s) ability to withstand the heavy debris load.”

Likewise, Town Administrator Ray Purington said he received a similar complaint about “dealing with the accumulation of Styrofoam and wooden debris up by the boat barriers.” He also said, however, that the town likely won’t pursue action at this time.

“At this point, I think it’s largely in FirstLight’s court,” Purington said. “I don’t think that the state or the town would get involved unless it rose to the level of a public health and safety matter.”

Wall said FirstLight has been working closely with the Greenfield-based Connecticut River Conservancy to raise public awareness about the issue of littering.

“Obviously, if people continue to litter, it’s very unfortunate,” Wall said.

She said FirstLight invites everyone to participate in the 25th annual Source to Sea Cleanup from Sept. 24 to 26, an event organized by the Connecticut River Conservancy that “attracts over a hundred people from the Montague-Gill area each year.”

“It’s really inspiring to see the amount of people who come out for the cleanup,” Wall said.

Aside from the annual cleanup, Wall said FirstLight does what any property owner should do: clean up whenever necessary.

“We spend a great deal of time maintaining our property,” she said. “We pick up trash on our property year-round.”

Reach Julian Mendoza at 413-772-0261, ext. 261 or jmendoza@recorder.com.


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