West Roxbury residents object to gas pipeline project
Led by a band and carrying a 100-foot inflatable pipe, West Roxbury residents young and old joined together Sunday to protest the expansion of a high-pressure natural gas pipeline in the neighborhood.
About 200 people, including several local government officials, attended the protest, held in the middle of Billings Field. Chuck Collins, one of the event’s organizers, bellowed into a microphone before the crowd, promising he wouldn’t go “quietly into the night.”
“Just yesterday, hundreds of kids were running around here,” he said, gesturing toward the baseball diamond. “We need to protect them. What are the adults here going to do?”
Spectra Energy Corp., a Texas-based company, has proposed a $1 billion, 37-mile expansion of the Algonquin Gas Transmission pipeline that runs from New Jersey to Boston. The new line would run beneath Centre, Grove, and Washington streets in West Roxbury, as well as through Dedham and Westwood. A metering and regulation station would be built outside the entrance to a quarry on Grove Street.
Anne Modena, 70, of West Roxbury joined in on Sunday, clapping and shouting loudly along with group leaders. She said she lives along the pipeline’s proposed route and is afraid that a leak could endanger her community.
“I’m not willing to play pipeline roulette,” said Modena. “Not with three schools, and a nursing home nearby.”
On Sept. 10 a ruling in Boston federal court allowed Spectra to proceed with eminent domain property takings, Collins said. He said he fears his cause is running out of legal recourse. But, as of Sunday afternoon, more than 150 people had signed a petition vowing to stand in front of construction equipment and block Spectra from breaking ground.
“You never lose until you give up,” said Collins.
City Councilors Michelle Wu and Matt O’Malley and state Representative Edward F. Coppinger, a Democrat of Boston, joined the march and expressed their frustration with the plan.
“We’re fed up,” Coppinger said. “And the problem is nobody knows what the risk is here. It could be bad.”
Kendra PeloJoaquin of Jamaica Plain and her 3-year-old son, Simon, carried signs and banged on a small drum. Simon, who had a wind turbine painted on his cheek and a frog drawn on his right hand, said he came to “save the animals.”
PeloJoaquin, 37, said she wants to protect the earth for her son.
“Our children need the earth, too,” she said. “We all have a stake in this.”
Representatives from Spectra did not respond to requests for comment Sunday.