SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

May 3, 2013

Power plant plans shared

Salem residents talk about their fears and concerns

(Continued)

Peter Furniss, CEO of Footprint, said the tallest stack will be taken down “brick by brick.” It’s possible shorter stacks could be imploded, he said, but those plans aren’t final and nothing will be done, he said, if there are safety issues.

Furniss also explained a number of safety features on the ammonia tanks to prevent serious accidents.

Although Footprint officials kept stressing that its one stack will be half the height of the tallest current stack, both residents and a Planning Board member raised concerns about its size, particularly its width, and appearance.

Worries over noise from tests and plant operation were raised over and over by residents.

Footprint’s architect and landscape architect described steps that have been taken to reduce noise, including a planned 25-foot landscape berm of trees and plants and a tall acoustic wall around a large section of the facility.

Although the new owners described their plans for the gas plant, which will take 20 acres, many people wondered about the rest of the large site.

“It’s really time ... we started talking about that,” said Derby Street resident Louise Brown. “It’s very, very important to people living on Derby Street. We want to know ... what are we going to be looking at?”

Joe Correnti, an attorney for the developers, conceded that they have been focusing on the first phase of the development, the power plant. During that phase, he explained that much of the remainder of the property will be used for construction equipment and materials. Development of the rest of the site will come later. A number of marine, industrial and commercial possibilities have been suggested.

The importance of this development was mentioned repeatedly to the 100 people who attended last night’s hearing at Bentley School. The cost of the power plant alone has been estimated at $800 million.

“Certainly, this is the most significant project of our generation,” Correnti said.

Mayor Kim Driscoll said the “gas plant may be the easy part” of the overall development, which is expected to take years.

“How many times are we going to be able to transition and repurpose 65 acres on our waterfront?” she said.

The hearing was continued to May 16.

Tom Dalton can be reached at tdalton@salemnews.com.

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