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Thread: Rail Trail future in jeopardy

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Posts
    726

    Default Rail Trail future in jeopardy

    If you care about rail trails in general, and the Wayside Rail Trail in particular (which runs from Waltham to Berlin, and cuts through Wayland along the old abandoned rail line), please contact Sue Pope and Scott Brown and Speaker DiMasi and Senate Pres. Travaglini TODAY. Ask them to override Governor Romney's veto of Section 14 of the Economic Stimulus Package. Tell your friends, too! See below for details, from an email I received today from Dick Williamson, a rail trail supporter from Sudbury.

    REPRESENTATIVE SUE POPE
    Telephone: 617-722-2305 508-358-2462
    Facsimile: 617-722-2686
    E-Mail: Rep.SusanPope@hou.state.ma.us

    Senator Scott Brown
    Boston, MA 02133
    Phone (617) 722-1555
    Fax (617) 722-1054 Scott.P.Brown@state.ma.us

    SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE
    SALVATORE F. DIMASI
    Telephone: 617-722-2500
    Facsimile: 617-722-2313
    E-Mail: Rep.SalvatoreDiMasi@hou.state.ma.us

    SENATE PRESIDENT
    ROBERT E. TRAVAGLINI
    Telephone: (617) 722-1500
    E-Mail: Robert.Travaglini@state.ma.us


    ------------------------------------
    Dear Rail Trail Supporters,

    This is really important for future Massachusetts Rail Trails, and the issue could come be brought up on the House floor today (Thursday - June 29, 2006).

    As you may know a Beacon Hill conference committee recently passed an Economic Stimulus bill (a/k/a Economic Stimulus Conference Report http://www.mass.gov/legis/ht05057.pdf). Section 14 (page 43-44) of the bill included language that would provide environmental liability insurance to cities and towns so that they could develop Rails-Trails on MBTA and EOT currently owned right-of-ways.

    Unfortunately Governor Romney invoked on a line item veto on Section 14 (more details on the veto and why the stated reasons for the veto were at best a misunderstanding, and at worst were misleading and irrational). Action must be taken as soon as possible, as the House is likely take up this item today or tomorrow (and you know all will want to get off Beacon Hill for a long July 4th holiday).

    Action #1. Call your State Representative right now and encourage her or him to write to House Speaker DiMasi to ask him to bring up and support an override for a veto of Section 14 of the Economic Stimulus Conference Report. (A call is preferable to an e-mail, doing both are fine)

    Assuming that the House overrides the Section 14 veto, the Senate will have to consider whether to override the veto as well. So...
    Action #2. Call your State Senator right now and encourage her or him to write to Senate President Travaglini to ask him to bring up and support an override for a veto of Section 14 of the Economic Stimulus Conference Report. (A call is preferable to an e-mail, doing both are fine)

    Action #3. Forward this e-mail to Massachusetts residents to whom you think will urge an override, now.

    Contact information for your State House Representative and State House Senator can be found here:
    http://www.mass.gov/legis/citytown.htm. If you need to know your precinct it can be found here: http://www.wheredoivotema.com/

    You may also consider ccing an e-mail (or calling) Speaker DiMasi and Senator Travaglini

    SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE
    SALVATORE F. DIMASI
    Telephone: 617-722-2500
    Facsimile: 617-722-2313
    E-Mail: Rep.SalvatoreDiMasi@hou.state.ma.us


    SENATE PRESIDENT
    ROBERT E. TRAVAGLINI
    Telephone: (617) 722-1500
    E-Mail: Robert.Travaglini@state.ma.us


    Office of the Governor
    Room 360
    Boston, MA 02133
    Phone: (617) 725-4005
    (888) 870-7770 (instate use only)
    FAX: (617) 727-9725
    TTY: (617) 727-3666


    ***********
    Details on the misguided Romney Veto and the importance of an override.

    Point #1. See attached press release from Rep. Anne Paulsen on why the Section 14 is so important.

    Point #2. Environmental Insurance Matching Grants to Municipalities, Section 14: "I am vetoing this section because it sets up an unfunded grant program, and this can presently be done through the Commonwealth's current insurance program administered by Massachusetts Business Development Corporation." Full description of all Gov. Romney's action on the Economic Stimulus Bill can be found here http://www.mass.gov/Agov2/docs/Econo...ll_Actions.pdf

    Point #3. Rebuttal to misguided statement in Point #2. It is true that the Mass. Business Development Corporation does operate the "Brownfields Redevelopment Access to Capital" (BRAC) environmental insurance program, which does subsidize environmental insurance for various brownfield redevelopment projects. But, there are various reasons why this BRAC program does not work for cities/towns wanting to develop rails-trails.

    As mentioned in the attached press release, before it will lease or convey land to a municipality for a rail-trail, the MBTA requires that the city or town hold the MBTA completely harmless (for any pre-existing environmental contamination). Insurance through the BRAC program does not do this, i.e., as Steve Anderson, an environmental attorney who has worked a lot on this issue, puts it: "One could buy an environmental insurance product through the BRAC program naming a town and the MBTA... BUT doing so under present law would not eliminate the obligation of the town to provide a 'blank check indemnity' to MBTA." In contrast to this, the wording in the economic stimulus bill, Section 14, does make it so that the MBTA is completely indemnified. Again, per Steve Anderson: "If a city or town buys such a policy [a policy as described in Section 14 of the Economic Stimulus bill], ... it cannot be required to provide any other form of indemnification to MBTA, EOT, or any other person for pre-existing environmental contamination. The insistence by MBTA and EOT on a full indemnity for pre-existing contamination has been the impediment to various towns going forward with these projects. ...Section 3(1)(b) [of Section 14] was designed to remove this impediment. Nothing in the current "Brownfields Redevelopment Access to Capital" environmental insurance program provides this 'anti-indemnity' protection to cities and towns."

    Please, please call your State Representative and Senator NOW, and urge them to write Speak DiMasi and Senator Travaglini to ask him to bring up and support an override for a veto of Section 14 of the Economic Stimulus Conference Report.

    Thank you for your support. Also many thanks to Rosie Hunter of Rep. Paulsen's office who provided the description of Point #3 above and other helpful insights on Beacon Hill process. (Note, the characterization of Governor Romney's veto is mine alone).

    Tom Michelman
    Secretary - Friends of the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail, Inc.
    6 Magnolia Dr.
    Acton, MA 01720

    Phone: 978-580-6190
    Fax: 978-246-7943

    e-mail: tmichelman@comcast.net

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Posts
    726

    Default Rail Trails back on Track

    Just got this email from Dick Williamson regarding the Economic Stimulus bill...

    On Wednesday July 26, 2006, the State Senate followed the House in unanimously overriding Governor Romney's veto of Section 14 of the Economic Stimulus bill. This removes a big road block for towns to sign leases with the MBTA and EOT for Rail Trails.

    A Beacon Hill conference committee passed an Economic Stimulus bill (a/k/a Economic Stimulus Conference Report (http://www.mass.gov/legis/ht05057.pdf ), I think in June. Section 14 (page 43-44) of the bill included language that provided environmental liability insurance to cities and towns so that they could develop Rails-Trails on MBTA and EOT currently owned right-of-ways. Governor Romney invoked a line item veto on Section 14. And now that veto has been overridden by both House and Senate, and so becomes the law.

    In the past, the MBTA and EOT shifted environmental liability connected with rail trails to the towns. Before it would lease or convey land to a municipality for a rail-trail, the MBTA required that the city or town hold the MBTA completely harmless for any pre-existing environmental contamination. EOT has used similar language in their leases of rail corridors for use as rail trails.
    Insurance through the Brownfields Redevelopment Access to Capital BRAC program (part of the Economic Stimulus bill) does not do this. As Steve Anderson, an environmental attorney who has worked a lot on this issue, puts it: the wording in the economic stimulus bill, Section 14, does make it so that the MBTA and EOT are completely indemnified. Again, per Steve Anderson: "If a city or town buys such a policy [a policy as described in Section 14 of the Economic Stimulus bill], ... it cannot be required to provide any other form of indemnification to MBTA, EOT, or any other person for pre-existing environmental contamination. The insistence by MBTA and EOT on a full indemnity for pre-existing contamination has been the impediment to various towns going forward with these projects. ...Section 3(1)(b) [of Section 14] was designed to remove this impediment.

    Anderson, a prominent environmental attorney from Anderson & Kreiger who represents a number of towns on rail-trail projects, praised the legislature for its handling of the issue: "By providing a subsidy for environmental insurance and by eliminating the possibility that a city or town will be saddled with a 'blank check' liability for pre-existing environmental contamination, the legislature has designed a 'win-win' solution to address the concerns of communities, the MBTA and EOT. This foresightful action on the part of the legislature should clear one last major impediment to the development of rail-trails throughout the Commonwealth. It is consistent with the Administration's 'Smart Growth' agenda and should result in the opportunity for tens of thousands of Massachusetts citizens to enjoy new rail-trails in the near future."

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