The task force concept emerged from talks involving Sullivan; Keenan, who is chairman of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy; and Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll. Sullivan said he made a personal commitment to the Salem officials not only to chair the task force but to be an active participant.
The task force, made up of state and local officials, has been charged with preparing a “plan of action” that includes demolition of existing facilities, cleaning up of the site, maintaining tax revenues and as many jobs as possible, ensuring responsible parties are held liable, and taking additional steps, if required, to assist redevelopment.
“Thanks to this legislation ... we really have a chance to do something transformational, not only for the site but for the city,” Driscoll, a task force member, said at the group’s first meeting, held in the Winter Island function hall following the tour.
During the walking tour, the Footprint owners pointed out the spot in the middle of the site where they plan to build a 630-megawatt gas plant. It is away from homes along Fort Avenue, they said, and is being designed to minimize noise. It is also set off from the waterfront and a large track adjacent to the city’s ferry landing, which they are leaving open for redevelopment.
The Footprint owners also walked along the waterfront, showing off the deep-water port where coal ships have arrived for years and where they hope to attract new development.
“This is an incredible resource,” Furniss said as he stood with his back to the water.
The Footprint owners made some interesting revelations during the tour. They are already selling off some of their oil, which they don’t need, and hope they won’t need any more coal deliveries between now and the 2014 shutdown. In other words, they hope the current pile, depending on what happens to natural gas prices, will see them through to the end of the coal era.
Tom Dalton can be reached at email@example.com.