By Bonnie Adams
Westborough – On June 28, the Board of Selectmen held what Chair Lydia Goldblatt called one of many public hearings in Westborough regarding the development of a bulk transfer facility proposed by CSX Transportation (CSX) and its transfer affiliate, TRANSFLO Terminal Services. The project, which would be situated on 22 acres located at 19 Walkup Dr., has been the subject of a number of public hearings already held by the Westborough Planning Board.
The June 28 public hearing, held as part of the selectmen's regularly scheduled meeting, was a way for various members of CSX, TRANSFLO and their associates to bring the selectmen and residents up to speed on the project thus far.
Maurice O”Connell, a vice president at CSXT, first reminded those in attendance that the proposed facility is the result of an agreement between the commonwealth and CSX. The commonwealth, he said, is seeking to increase the number of commuter trains between Framingham and Worcester. Currently, there are 25 trains running between the two municipalities – the proposed plan would add 25 by 2012.
Additionally, CSX and TRANSFLO will be moving their central operations from its current Allston location. Some of those functions will be relocated to Springfield and Worcester, with the central operations to be relocated to the Westborough site, which is a former auto terminal.
CSX is investing $20 million into the terminal project. There will be an anticipated 106 construction jobs with a projected seven to eight full-time employees on site once the facility is built.
Jan Barnes, the director of Health, Safety and Environmental Quality for TRANSFLO, told the board that her company would be responsible for transferring bulk commodities from one location to another. Some examples might be things such as non-hazardous food items, including flour and corn syrup, she said, while approximately 30 percent would be hazardous materials. However, she stressed, there would be no explosives or highly toxic chemical materials.
She was not at liberty, she said, to publicize specific items that would be transported, due to Department of Homeland Security regulations.
The facility would be open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, although train crews would be going through the terminal around the clock, she said. Strict security measures would be in place to ensure train cars not in use were protected from tampering. A fence and camera system was also to be installed on the property.
Westborough Fire Chief Nick Perron initially had concerns about the project when it was first proposed.
“But we'se been working closely with them,” he said. “We are now pretty comfortable with this project.”
Derek Saari, the town's Assistant Conservation Officer agreed, saying that CSX should be “commended” for the work it has done so far with implementing drainage plans on the property.
Bonnie Phaneuf, the former chair of the Southborough Board of Selectmen, addressed the board regarding concerns that Southborough officials had regarding the project, particularly the “mixed commodities” that would be held at the site and an emergency plan that needed to be established in case of a spill or other major accident.
“I behoove you to get a list from CSX and share that with Southborough,” she said. “We need to know the plans that will happen if there is a problem.”
Fumes from the site were also a concern, she said. Several schools in both towns, the Westborough Senior Center and the Whittier Rehabilitation Hospital are all within two miles of the proposed terminal.
Residents interested in learning more about the project can check the website at www.railwestborough.com, where they can send questions to CSX officials. There will also be many more public hearings held by both the Planning Board and the selectmen regarding this project, Goldblatt said.