Salem City Council members didnt weigh in on the petition by Iberdrola Energy Projects, Inc., the contractor building the Footprint Power Plant, Thursday, July 20 to extend second-shift hours on the Footprint Power Plant construction site.
Approving Iberdrolas 140 plants, now under the Salem Building Commissioner Thomas St. Pierres purview, would allow workers to conduct welding and other low-noise operations inside the power plant facility from 5 p.m. to midnight, Monday through Friday, over a six-week period.
Iberdrolas petition initially included a request to allow employees to also work on Sundays, but the contractor removed it. Had they kept the request, it would have triggered City Council approval.
"Following two meetings with neighbors of the power plant there was a general consensus with residents to allow this work to proceed, in accordance with the terms of the proposal, wrote Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll in a letter to the City Council. As the proposed work does not take place Sundays, City Council approval is not required; however, as there was a degree of interest in this request, we are writing to update you on the status of this proposal."
With Sunday hours removed, approval of the petition and oversight of the second-shift hours lie with St. Pierre.
He has the authority, said McCarthy after Thursdays meeting concluded. If there is an issue going forward, the building inspector can shut [the second-shift] extension down.
The City Council, in a unanimous vote last week, put the petition on file, essentially acknowledging receipt of the request.
The vote came a week after 50 residents of the Historic Derby Street Neighborhood gave the proposal their blessing in a community meeting at Derby Streets St. Joseph Hall.
The attitude out of the room was let them do this for the six-week period, McCarthy told his fellow councilors, with the understanding the additional hours weregoing to shave off a month on the project.
The city had declined Iberdrola approval unless the neighbors reached a consensus on allowing the second-shift hours, according to Driscoll.
The added hours will speed up the process because work the second-shift hours covers conflicts with work that happens during the day, according to McCarthy.
This has been a lengthy construction project, said McCarthy, and its been challenging at times.
At the pair of neighborhood meetings, Driscoll, McCarthy, Footprint Power Chief Operating Officer Scott Silverstein and Iberdrolas Bill Byrnes filled residents in on the proposal. They also listened to neighbors concerns around plant workers behavior in the neighborhood. About 1,400 construction workers arrive daily on site, and residents have expressed issues with some workers blaring loud music, speeding, traffic congestion and parking.
A second-shift extension, resident Steven Caron told councilors in public comment, means youre going to have over 200 cars and motorcycles leaving at night.
If this does get approved, Caron added, there has to be a way to control the workers, so they can leave quietly.
Footprint initially set a June 1 substantial completion. Its now July, and the plant representatives say nearly four months worth of work remains - without the second-shift extension.
"By bringing on a smaller night-time crew, the contractor will be able to ready work for the next day and advance the project schedule," wrote Driscoll to councilors. "The goal of this temporary, night-time work would be to help bring the project to completion in a faster manner."
In exchange for neighbors blessing, Iberdrola has agreed to pay a $250,000 compensation package for the city and for impacted homeowners specifically owner-occupied properties. According to its proposal, $222,000 of the $250,000 aims to compensate them for noise, traffic and other issues inherent in a construction project of this magnitude, with payments between $1,500 and $500 depending on the street residents live. The proposal outlines 237 homeowners who could potentially qualify for the money.
The city, Driscoll has said, will distribute the money in the fall after qualifying residents must fill out an application. A $28,000 piece of the $250,000 pie is carved out for the city to conduct green space improvements; in return, linking seven acres of landscape berm surrounding the power plant through Bettie Park and Collins Cove.
This is their way of saying, Weve been a nuisance, said McCarthy of the compensation package.
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