By John Lynds
Mayor Martin Walsh joined City Councilor Sal LaMattina, Rep. Adrian Madaro and Sen. Joe Boncore Saturday afternoon to tour the East Boston City Yards — the future site of an Eversource substation that the owner of Chanel Fish in Eagle Sqaure has been fighting for the better part of a year.
Representatives from both Chanel Fish and Eversource have been sparring at community meetings throughout the year on the pros and cons of Eversource’s plans to build a substation at the City Yards directly across from American Legion Playground in Eagle Square.
Chanel Fish’s attorney Don Berardi and Eversource’s John Hoey have both presented the community with different point of views regarding the substation. While Hoey argued the substation is necessary to handle forecasted electric load growth in the area, Berardi said the existing Chelsea substation that feeds Eastie is enough to handle forecasts. Also, Berardi client, Chanel Fish’s owner Louis Silvestro has been pleading his case to the state’s Energy Facilities Siting Board who will rule on the substation’s location. Aside from his environmental concerns, Silvestro argues the magnetic field the substation would produce would hinder very sensitive metal detection equipment inside his fish processing plant.
“I understand that many East Boston residents are concerned about Eversource’s proposal, and I want them to know that I hear those concerns,” said Walsh. “Our top priority is ensuring the safety and security of our residents so we will continue to work with our state partners, East Boston residents and Eversource to ensure that any proposal is in the best interest of the community.”
City Councilor Sal LaMattina said the biggest concern he has heard from residents is the future development of the City Yard’s site, which includes a police station and EMS station as well as a park. The Chanel Fish team has argued that the plans for a substation would hinder this future development.
However, LaMattina pointed to Walsh’s Fiscal Year 2016 –2020 Five Year Capital Plan that was recently approved in conjunction with the City’s FY16 operating budget. Inside the Capital Plan the city will spend $2 million to design and construct a new police station in the neighborhood near the City Yards. Already, $75,000 that was spent this Fiscal Year for the new police station project. This money was used to develop a building program and assess siting options in conjunction with the possible development of the new station at the City Yards.
Rep. Adrian Madaro said the tour Saturday was a good step to begin working towards a common goal.
“We have heard the concerns from a lot of constituents in the community and this tour Saturday was the first step in how to best move forward,” said Madaro. “Now we will bring all the stakeholders together and come up with a plan that benefits everyone involved and has the least amount of impacts on the residents and businesses in Eagle Square.”
Sen. Joe Boncore added, “I will continue to work with the residents, our elected officials and Eversource to ensure all the community’s concerns are addressed and the neighborhood’s utility service is uninterrupted.”
Mayor Martin Walsh (right) joins Sen. Joe Boncore, City Councilor Sal LaMattina, Joseph Ruggiero and Adrian Madaro on a tour of the East Boston City Yards—the proposed future site of an Eversource substation.
Sen. Joe Boncore, City Councilor Sal LaMattina, Rep. Adrian Madaro and Mayor Martin Walsh in Eagle Square outside Chanel Fish. Chanel Fish has lead a campaign to stop Eversource from placing a substation at the City Yards.