Elk Lake approves piping contract

BY PAT FARNELLI

After months of deliberation, the Elk Lake School Board approved a resolution Thursday night to allow Williams Field Services to put in a 10-inch gas pipeline underneath school district property.

The agreement will also allow for restricted easements with Williams Field Services Co., which has been trying to move gas on neighboring well sites surrounding the district.

In addition, an amendment for the right-of-way option and an amendment of surface site and roadway access easement were approved by the board, as presented by Attorney Edwin Abrahamsen.

Superintendent William Bush began the special Elk Lake meeting saying, “I have with me the resolution with respect to the new pipeline about to be put in. There will be one 10-inch pipeline, class three, now, and if Williams later wants to replace it, it can be no more than 16 inches (in diameter), and must be class three or better.”

Abrahamsen noted that the agreement with Williams also included giving the school district “hard crossing,” which involves building up the surface above the pipes to enable heavy equipment or vehicles to drive across the underground lines without causing damage. He also said that another amendment reduces the permanent easement from 100 feet to 50 feet, with a 25-foot temporary easement. An additional, adjoining surface site easement of 35×60 feet was added for pipe connections above the surface as well as a device that Williams wants to add, known as a “pig launcher,” which sends a trouble-shooting device through the pipeline to check for problems.

Bush said that after the pipeline is installed, Williams is required to restore the property and to reseed with certified seed mixtures. A map will be provided to the district showing the exact location of the pipe as well as the existing line, which was installed by Cabot Oil & Gas but sold to Williams when they took over the compression and transport of the natural gas produced by Cabot’s wells.

The resolution was adopted after a roll call vote, with six yes votes by Donica McGee, Harold Bender, Eric Emmerich, Carr, Diane Ives, and Arden Tewksbury.

Chuck Place voted no, and board president Anne Teel abstained, while Matt Curley was absent.

Several contracts for the pipeline project had been signed by the superintendent in the summer of 2012, but the school board found that the contracts were not legally binding, because they concerned real estate property and needed to be approved by the school board with at least five affirmative votes.

The board decided to seek legal advice before proceeding with the contracts, and has held numerous executive sessions and public meetings in the process.

Board President Anne Teel concluded after the meeting, “I feel that although it was a long process, the board took its time to make good, informed decisions, and they believe they did what is right for the students, the taxpayers, and the surrounding neighbors. That was our goal from the beginning.”

Before adjourning the Elk Lake part of the meeting Thursday, the board approved changing the elementary school concert from Thursday, May 16, to Wednesday, May 15 because of a scheduling conflict.

The regular Elk Lake meeting will be held Thursday, May 16 at 7 p.m.

Graduation for Elk Lake High School will be held on Saturday, June 8 at 10 a.m.