8/16/19: Quinobequin Natural Gas Alert, Needham St Road Work, 5000 Doors, 3.5 Weeks to Go

by Irina Costache, Campaign Organizer | Subscribe by Email

Quinobequin Rd Area Natural Gas Situation

City officials received notice this week that one of the gas companies plans to vent a significant amount of natural gas into the air in Ward 5 starting this weekend. The company’s statement initially was fairly vague:

“To support its ongoing efforts to address various anomalies on its pipeline in Needham and Wellesley, Algonquin Gas will be releasing odorized natural gas and performing maintenance work at its valve site near Walnut Street in Wellesley and Quinobequin Road in Newton.  The releases are scheduled to occur between Sunday, August 18th and Saturday, August 31st. The same protocol followed earlier this year, including notifications to local landowners, will be followed. If you have any questions during these activities, please do not hesitate to call the Westwood operations office at 781-329-3750 or the Spectra Energy Gas Control 24 hour call line at 1-800-726-8383.”

City Officials including Mayor Fuller and the Fire Chief had a conference call with the company this week to discuss safety and details. A map of a radius of potential effect area and notification on Quinobequin and East Quinobequin was provided.

Today the planned release was clarified to city officials as follows:

“The first gas release from the Quinobequin valve is currently slated to begin at 11AM on Sunday, Aug. 18th and last for 6-7 hours. The final release will be during line refilling when maintenance work is completed sometime before Saturday, August 31. Algonquin will notify the City when that second date is chosen.”

Bill spoke to Newton resident and Boston University environmental scientist Dr. Nathan Phillips about the situation to find out what residents should be aware of:

“Algonquin Pipeline LLC (aka Spectra, aka Enbridge) had two unexpected pipeline failures in the last week (Thursday and Saturday) on the high pressure transmission Algonquin line that goes along I-95 through Needham, Newton, and Weston. The company sent out ‘critical’ notices on these events and declared a Force Majeure, which is an ‘unforeseeable circumstance’. No further information about what happened last week or in other of the “various anomalies”. Enbridge had a similar transmission pipeline explode three weeks ago in Kentucky, killing one person with a 30-acre blast zone. Enbridge/Spectra has a troubling safety record on its oil and gas pipelines.”

Although it is now clearer that they are planning two lengthy releases, but not a week of continuous releases, it still poses a risk to neighbors. While the risk of explosion should be low and will be monitored by the Fire Department, there remains a serious air pollution and public health risk (since natural gas as a fuel contains many other toxins besides the primary gas). Nearby Ward 5 residents, particularly with pulmonary health issues, should take that into consideration when deciding whether to remain in place.

Needham St Road Work

The Newton-Needham Chamber of Commerce sent out a note today about the next phase of construction around Oak St/Needham St/Christina St:

“The intersection improvements at Needham, Oak and Christina Streets is moving into the home stretch, with the project scheduled to be completed by Sept. 13.

  • Next week, crews will be performing reconstruction and paving on Needham Street. This work is scheduled for night shift (8 p.m. to 5 a.m.)

  • Expect police details and daily sidewalk closures along Needham St. between Oak Street and the Needham town line.

  • Between Aug. 18-24 work will be performed at both day and night shifts to perform full depth reconstruction of Needham St. This work will include reclaiming the roadway to a gravel base. This work has been scheduled as a continuous operation to limit the duration of roadway impacts.”

Less Than Four Weeks To Go: How You Can Help Out

This week, we entered the final four weeks of campaigning until the September 10 preliminary! Please keep this date in mind and remember to turnout to vote! In a race as small as ours, every vote is important!

You can check your voter registration status here. For those not registered to vote, the deadline is next Wednesday, August 21. You may register to vote online here, by mail here, or in person at the City Clerk’s office in City Hall. 

For those who wish to vote by absentee ballot, the form can be found here. The application for an absentee ballot may be sent by email (elections at newtonma.gov), mail, fax, or delivered in person to the City Clerk’s office in City Hall. There’s no deadline but they should be requested as soon as possible to make sure the ballot can be returned in time.

If you are interested in showing you support for Bill on election day by holding up a sign at one of the three polling locations in Ward 5, please fill out this form and we’ll get in touch.

If you would like to get involved before the September vote by sending out postcards to Ward 5 voters you know or doing some reminder phone calls to supporters, please sign up here.

Finally, you can watch the League of Women Voters / NewTV Ward 5 Councilor debateon Village 14 starting today.

Door Knocking Update

This week, Bill, myself, and other volunteers knocked over 400 doors in Ward 5! We’re now halfway done with our third pass. Bill also hit the milestone of personally knocking 5000 doors since he began door knocking around the Ward this past February!

Lawn signs

Once again, here’s a reminder about lawn signs! The September preliminary election is quickly approaching, so we would like to put up as many signs as soon as possible!

If you decide that you would like a sign to put up in your front yard, please email me so that we can coordinate on getting one dropped off to you! We are trying to get signs onto as many Ward 5 lawns as we can, whether or not they are in a high-visibility spot, because every vote counts in such a small race!

Upper Falls Area Council

On Thursday night, Bill was at the Upper Falls Area Council meeting. On the agenda were some discussions about Village Day, a memorial plaque, and other upcoming forums.

There is an upcoming Ward 5 Councilor candidate forum ahead of the preliminary, to be hosted by the area councils, which will take place on Thursday, September 5 at 7:30 p.m. at the Emerson Community Center (in place of the Newton Highlands Area Council meeting).

Friends of Cold Spring Park / NewCAL discussion

On Wednesday night, Bill attended the Friends of Cold Spring Park monthly meeting. There is an upcoming Cold Spring Park service day, drawing in primarily volunteers from Newton-Wellesley Hospital doctors and their families, scheduled for September 21 (rain date tbd). 

There was also a discussion of the city’s proposal to build the NewCAL (new senior/community center) at Albemarle Field. The proposal would be to put the new site on the pool, tennis courts, basketball courts, and Field House as a way of avoiding taking up green space. The group is still evaluating the new plan and waiting to hear about design details, but Bill still remains concerned about the lack of public transportation to the site and about the overall process used to reach this site selection.