By Leanne M. Robicheau
VillageSoup/Knox County Times News Editor
Maine Eastern Railroad passengers could be embarking and disembarking trains at the roundhouse by Christmas.
city council voted Monday to amend the locomotive idling ordinance
aimed at regulating diesel emissions to an earlier version of an
ordinance that restricts train operations to the roundhouse. The
roundhouse, which is where trains are repaired and maintained, is
located at the corner of New County Road and Park Street. The vote was
3-2 with Mayor Brian Harden and Councilor Eric Hebert opposed.
city finds that allowing such locomotives to idle in the midst of a
heavily settled residential area is a danger to the health of the
surrounding residents, based upon the experience of the citizens
affected by the exhaust since the reinstitution of regular train
service to the train station," the ordinance reads. "When more
stringent air pollution standards are adopted and complied with by an
entity operating locomotives within the city of Rockland, that entity
may apply to the city for the repeal of this section when it has proven
that the dangerous emissions are reduced to a level of safety for
surrounding residential areas."
have said the roundhouse is not a safe place for passengers to be
getting on and off trains. MERR attorney John Fiorilla of Mount Laurel,
N.J., has stated that the railroad would file an injunction should the
city require it to operate from the roundhouse.
the amendment was a substantive change, it reverted to first reading.
The council then voted 3-2 (Harden and Hebert opposed) in first reading
to adopt the newly amended version. A public hearing and final reading
will take place Wednesday, Nov. 14 at 7 p.m. in council chambers.
Should the measure finally pass, it would go into effect in 30 days.
Hebert said he supports continued conversations with neighbors and
Maine Eastern Railroad, he does not favor the roundhouse amendment,
particularly because of terminology in the ordinance referring to
health effects on neighbors, which he said are unknown.
people have questioned the validity of formaldehyde testing recently
conducted in the neighborhood by Clean Air for Rockland, a citizen
group advocating for the train to be moved to the roundhouse.
Adele Grossman Faber pointed out Monday that Columbia Analytical
Services of Simi Valley, Calif., which processed the formaldehyde
tests, has done work for Rockland's landfill.
"To call these tests into question is unfair," Clean Air spokeswoman Sandra Schramm said.
conducted by Columbia Analytical Services indicated the formaldehyde
level in the neighborhood near the train station was 43 times higher
than EPA standards.
Harden favors further conversations with all parties.
"I really think this can be solved with technology," Councilor Carol Maines said, noting she, too, wants talks to continue.
thanked Maine Eastern Railroad Vice President Gordon Page for a tour
given to councilors Friday of the train station and roundhouse. She
did, however, criticize him for not allowing her to bring along a
couple of neighbors.
"One part of this triangle is always left out," she said.
Faber also suggested that MERR keep the train in Brunswick overnight and bring passengers to Rockland.
During the public comment portion of the meeting, some residents spoke in favor and some against the train.
not a problem to me," said resident Francis Mormile, who told
councilors he grew up close to a large railroad operation. The trains
brought passengers to the community, which helped the local economy, he
"This is what it's all about — making the city grow," he said.
Robert Carpentier said he was one of the first citizens to complain
about the trains in Rockland, but not because of fumes. His issue was
and still is noise, he said. "I want you to move the train," he said.Resident
Edward Boon said he lives 200 feet from the railroad track and
intentionally bought his house to be close to the trains. He cooks
outdoors and opens his windows, he said, and is not bothered by trains