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Eversource asked to step up on Cross St.

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By Tara Hughes

December 12, 2023

On Monday the Select Board went after Eversource for safety violations and other problems with their Cross St. underground transmission line project.   The meeting agenda was amended on an emergency basis due to ongoing safety issues. Prior to announcing the agenda item, issues were raised by resident Laura Conti during public comment. She urged the Board “to shut down the Eversource 345 construction project on Cross Street for the season due to numerous safety violations.”  Conti’s main concerns are the continued blocking of sidewalks and intersections by construction related vehicles and illegal parking within 20 feet of intersections. She indicated that she has sent ten emails since July regarding safety violations but “nothing has changed.”  She told the board that “the project’s lack of regard for public safety is unacceptable and opens the town up to liability.”

The Board generally agreed with Conti, though the Eversource project was allowed to continue, due to the fact it is nearing completion. However, its continuation is conditioned on the requirements that certain specific plans be put in place, safety violations dealt with immediately, and that regular communications must be made to the town manager and DPW. 

Board member John Fallon warned, “We are out of patience.”  DPW Director Robert LaBossiere said that in his 30 years in construction he’d never seen a more poorly managed job, with no high level Eversource employee watching over it.  Board member Michelle Prior pointed out they had discussed this two weeks ago and then about 48 hours later they got photos of a violation.  But they were assured by the contractor that this time the concerns are being taken seriously. A stand down meeting (stopping all work) on safety had already occurred on Monday letting workers know that these violations were unacceptable. The Board was told that violators' vehicles would be towed if necessary to enforce safety. Board chair Rich Mucci again warned, “We are at our breaking point.”

In addition, Mucci noted that they had gotten town counsel involved. During a meeting with town counsel, it was indicated that some conduct may rise to the level of breach of contract. At a minimum Eversource may be out of compliance with the timeline in the contract and it appears no amendment or extension was sought. Counsel will look into any potential violations and actions that could be taken on behalf of the town.

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