Cheshire voters OKs spending to join pipeline workgroup; truck purchase nixed

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CHESHIRE — Voters at a special town meeting this week approved the funding necessary for Cheshire to participate in a workgroup of towns that could be affected by a natural gas pipeline.

A second and unrelated proposal, to use $34,755 from the town's Water Operations Surplus fund to purchase a new pick-up truck and plow, was shot down.

The special town meeting on Tuesday was held to vote on the two articles and was attended by 75 of the town's 2,286 registered voters, according to Town Clerk Christine Emerson.

The $15,000 appropriation from the town's free cash account allows Cheshire to continue its involvement in the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission's "Kinder Morgan Northeast Energy Direct Project Working Group." It was passed via a voice vote.

The working group consists of representatives from more than 10 communities and water districts that could be impacted by the development of Kinder Morgan's proposed natural gas pipeline through the region. It aims to leverage the combined resources of the communities.

"The purpose of the group is to disseminate information, exchange information and ideas and principally to put towns in the best position if and when the pipeline project is approved," said Cheshire Town Administrator Mark Webber.

The group will provide towns assistance in navigating any kind of future agreements or conditions that could come into play with Kinder Morgan, Webber said.

"It's not a pro or anti group, it's just representatives from those towns coming together and trying to get ahead of he game if and when the pipeline does come, rater than ignore it," Webber said. "It's maximizing resources and also minimizing expenses."

The second article, proposed the purchase of a Ford F-250 pick-up truck with plow for new full-time Water Department superintendent. The proposal was defeated by a margin of 35 to 23 in a vote taken by card.

Though the department had a surplus of about $220,000, residents questioned the need to for a new pickup truck.

Without the truck, Webber said "I'm not sure what Plan B will be." There is currently not a town-owned truck for the superintendent to use while on duty.

Emerson said the turnout was actually quite high for a special town meeting.

"There was a lot of interest," she said.

Contact Adam Shanks at 413-496-6376


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