Baker administration breaks silence on Brayton Point
The Baker administration, after months of silence, issued a cryptic statement suggesting it is reviewing the legal status of a controversial scrap metal operation using a state-owned pier at Brayton Point in Somerset.
Brayton Point is the 308-acre site of a former coal-fired power plant that was purchased and torn down by Commercial Development Inc. to make way for the redevelopment of the property as a base for offshore wind development. Offshore wind has been slow to arrive, so the company leased space to a business hauling scrap metal to the site and using the pier to ship the metal to Turkey.
Kathy Souza, the leader of a local group opposed to the noise, dust, and truck traffic caused by the scrap metal operation, is running for a seat on the Somerset Select Board. At a debate last week, she said her group’s research indicated the state owns the pier and adjacent 12 acres and urged the Baker administration to shut the scrap metal operation down.
Officials at the Department of Conservation and Recreation have declined to comment for months on whether they own the pier and whether the scrap metal operation is an acceptable use. But late last week the agency broke its silence by issuing a short statement.
The pier and acreage were originally leased in the 1950s to the company that built the power plant on the property. Rights to the pier and acreage were subsequently transferred when ownership of the land changed hands – but, according to the lease, the pier can be transferred only “for use in connection with a power plant.” With the power plant now gone, critics of Commercial Development say the lease is invalid.
Brayton Point is seen as one of the more attractive locations on the East Coast for serving the emerging offshore wind industry because of the property’s deep-water pier, its vast expanse of ocean-front land, and the existing connection to the power grid left over from when the power plant was located there.
Mayflower Wind, which has already secured a contract to build a wind farm off the coast of Massachusetts, has saidthat if it wins another contract it will bring the electricity ashore at Brayton Point. Given the long lead times on offshore wind farms, that could take years to materialize.
In the meantime, the town is reeling, with its largest taxpayer – the power plant—gone, replaced by a business that is alienating many local residents. Brayton Point is also facing other hurdles, including a potential lawsuit by Attorney General Maura Healey, who has warned that she is preparing to sue Commercial Development and the scrap metal business for violating the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act.
Odds not good: The Baker administration’s vaccination lottery, with prizes of up to $1 million for those who are fully vaccinated, is off to a slow start. The number of shots being administered has gone down since the lottery was announced June 15. Read more.
Getting back on track: Commuter rail service resumed on all lines over the holiday weekend and Sunday service was launched for the first time on the Needham line, although not in the way the community wanted. Read more.
On the menu: Arpit Patel, the owner of the Baramor restaurant in Newton, offers his recipe for fixing the restaurant industry. Read more.
Bus rules: Laurel Paget-Seekins, a former high-ranking official at the MBTA, says bus service is finally getting the respect it deserves. Read more.
No to standardized testing: Dennis Shirley, a professor of education at Boston College, recommends doing away with standardized testing. “We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get our schools focused on teaching and learning rather than testing and accountability,” he says. Read more.
Exam school idea: Jeffrey Liebman, a professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School, proposes a better way to deal with Boston’s exam school admissions. Read more.
FROM AROUND THE WEB
The North of Boston editorial board expresses hope that proposed House rules changes will bring more transparency to House operations.
Taunton Mayor Shauna O’Connell disavows an email sent out under her name seeking cash for her reelection effort and linking to hard-right political rhetoric. She fired the vendor she was using. (Taunton Daily Gazette)
Fairhaven selectmen worry that flying the pride flag at town hall would open the door to lawsuits; or maybe they just don’t want to display the LGBTQ+ symbol, writes columnist Jack Spillane in response to the town’s refusal to raise the rainbow flag for the month of June. (New Bedford Light)
Mass. residents should be presumed organ donors, unless they opt out, according to new recommendations from the Massachusetts Task Force on Pulmonary Hypertension. (WBUR)
Swimmers are “irate” about a ban on open-water swimming at Walden Pond, following a series of drownings in the state. Over 400 people have signed an open letter opposing the ban, arguing the policy “infringes on our reasonable right to access the natural assets of our state”. (WBUR)
Johnson & Johnson says its COVID-19 vaccine is effective against the Delta variant of the virus. (New York Times)
The death toll in the Surfside condo collapse in Florida rises to 28 as a tropical storm complicates search efforts. (New York Times)
Geoff Diehl is the first Republican to throw his hat in the ring for Governor after announcing his bid July 4. The former state rep spoke about rebuilding the economy, funding schools, and “backing the blue.” (Patriot Ledger) Boston Herald columnist Joe Battenfeld thinks Diehl’s Trump-leaning candidacy could make things difficult for Gov. Charlie Baker should he seek re-election and hand the corner office to Democrats. (Boston Herald)
Boston Mayor Kim Janey marked her first 100 days in office on Friday with a state of the city address that looked remarkably like a campaign rally. (Boston Globe)
Even low-level officials who helped certify the 2020 presidential election results are now losing their appointments or facing political consequences, in what some experts see as a worrying sign for American democracy. (Boston Globe)
Attorney General Maura Healey appoints Arwen Thoman as the first student loan ombudsman to help people struggling with student loan debt and respond to complaints about lenders, a position created as the result of new legislation establishing a student loan borrower bill of rights. (MassLive)
Former residents of the Belchertown State School for the Feeble-Minded plan to use murals to commemorate the school’s troubled and controversial past as the property is being redeveloped. (Daily Hampshire Gazette)
Marshfield Police Chief Phillip Tavares has spent his life trying to seek justice for his father, who died after being beaten by police officers called to his house for a domestic disturbance. The officers were never prosecuted. (Boston Globe)
The trial court expects to eliminate its backlog of cases by the end of the summer and some initiatives put in place during COVID – like virtual scheduling conferences – could remain. (Salem News)
A new state grant program will help municipal police departments buy body cameras. (State House News Service)
New guidance from the POST commission for how the police should interact with minors provides a set of standards that will unify police practice across the state, in an area where now police departments are all over the map on whether they have written policies and what they look like. (MassLive)PASSINGS
Robert Correia, a former state rep and Fall River mayor, dies at age 82. (Herald News)