Videos of the March 30 Update Meeting on the FRA Plan

About sixty Charlestown residents gathered at Kettle Pond on the evening of March 30th for an update on the status of the Federal Railroad Association’s (FRA) proposed Old Saybrook to Kenyon ByPass. Charlestown Citizens Alliance (CCA) organized the event, and board president Kate Waterman introduced the moderator, former Charlestown Town Council president, Tom Gentz.

For over two hours, technical experts Ruth Platner, chair of the Charlestown Planning Commission, Dr. Greg Stroud, founder of SECoast in Connecticut, and Dr. Ken Payne, a former advisor to Senator Claiborne Pell and current resident of Richmond, spoke without PowerPoints to a rapt audience. The Q and A discussion that followed the presentations kept the audience in their seats until almost 9:30pm. After a half hour spent returning chairs and tables to their rightful places, audience members lingered with the guest speakers, Rep. Blake Fillippi, Town Council vice president Julie Carroccia, and Councilors Bonnie Van Slyke and Steve Williams. All thanked Charlestown Land Trust president Karen Jarret for opening the venue to the gathering. She closed shop and ushered out the last guests at close to 10pm.

Dr. Stroud opened his comments with the following statement.

Thank you for inviting me to speak tonight. I think this is my fourth visit to Charlestown and I appreciate the hospitality and caring. I’ve worked with communities from New York City to Charlestown, and there is no community with which I’d rather work than Charlestown, and there is no organization with which I’d rather work than CCA…I’ve worked with dozens of organizations across Connecticut, and very few have the ability to communicate…Representatives won’t care unless you care, and I believe your representatives know you care.

Dr. Ken Payne, a veteran of federal policy making, began his remarks with the following:

So, very simply, the people of Charlestown and CCA have done a great job. You should be very proud of how fast you’ve moved things in the past few months…The lack of clarity in the documents that describe the relationship between Tier I and Tier II was the squirreliest I have ever seen from a federal agency.

Their consensus was that the people along the Old Saybrook to Kenyon ByPass have to remain vigilant in their opposition and continue to document their positions in both town and state plans. Those currently in positions of power will not be those who make decisions in the future, and regardless of the current decisions, the communities must create documentation that protects historic buildings, open space, farms, and tribal lands. The struggle continues.

Did you miss the meeting? You can watch the entire meeting in Videos below

Video 1: Includes short introductions by Kate Waterman, CCA President and Tom Gentz Moderator for this meeting. This is followed by a brief explanation by Ruth Platner of how we discovered the Old Saybrook to Kenyon Bypass, and then the beginning of Greg Stroud explaining where we are in the EIS process and what we should do next.

Video 2: Greg Stroud continues to explain where we are in the EIS process and what we should do next. Tom Gentz explains Senate Finance teleconference with the FRA. Ken Payne explains NEPA and the EIS process and how to use the energy and, most importantly, the knowledge that has been built up in Tier 1 to get a good outcome going forward. Blake Filippi begins to speak briefly. Our apologies to Greg Stroud. In the next video the camera was pointed at the podium and when he walked away from the podium his head was out of the camera’s view for a while. Sorry Greg!

Video 3: Blake Filippi continues, then questions and answers with Greg Stroud and Ken Payne.

Video 4: Questions and Answers with Greg Stroud and Ken Payne continue

Visit Our Railroad Page For More On This Issue