Former Atlantic Gelatin site off Montvale Avenue

THIS AERIAL photo taken recently by Joe Turner shows work progressing on the site of “The Vale,” the former Atlantic Gelatin site off Montvale Avenue and reaching over to Route 93 at the Winchester and Stoneham lines. Only one of the old smoke stacks (far right) remained when this photo was taken looking south.

(Joe Turner Aerial Photography/Stoneham)

WOBURN - The City Council recently continued for the second time public hearings regarding a pair of unrelated right-of-way permitting requests to install a new gas main by Main and Lowell Streets and new electrical conduits along Montvale Avenue by the old Kraft Foods site.

During the council’s recent gathering in City Hall, City Council President Michael Concannon explained the representatives from both Eversource and National Grid needed extra time to answer several project-related concerns expressed last month by DPW Superintendent Jay Duran.

“We got another letter from Jackie Duffy of Eversource requesting a continuance until Jan. 18,” Concannon said of the Montvale Avenue electrical conduit proposal.

Also, on the Central Square project, “I am expecting that I won’t be able to get a meeting together with Jay and our engineer in time to allow the [DPW superintendent] a chance to review the details of this project prior to the hearing on Jan. 4,” wrote National Grid representative Diana Cuddy in regards to the gas main replacement project along Wilcox Circle.

Late last month, during the council’s final meeting of 2021, the council was set to host introductory public hearings regarding both of the proposals. However, with no representatives from either applicant present at the gathering, the council voted unanimously to continue both public hearings until last week’s regularly-scheduled meeting.

In particular, Eversource is seeking permission to excavate a 962-foot long trench along Montvale Avenue by Hill Street in East Woburn in order to install new conduit to service the massive Vale redevelopment at the old Atlantic Gelatin property.

According to a Dec. 16 letter from Duran, though the request itself is pretty straight-forward, he is looking for additional details about the project design and a schedule showing when and where other new utility connections will be placed.

“I looked at this in depth and have reached out to both Eversource and the engineer for the project at the Vale. At this time, I do not have sufficient plan information to make a proper evaluation and recommendation for approval,” said the DPW superintendent.

Central Square

Duran has more wide-ranging concerns about the unrelated National Grid request to install a new gas line on Wilcox Circle by Main and Lowell Streets and Woburn’s Central Square.

Notably, the Central Square section of the city was the source of a major incident in 2018 when gas service was shut-off to nearly 300 homes due to an over pressurized gas line.

Though not connecting the presently sought infrastructure upgrade to that previous problem, the DPW superintendent in a Dec. 17 letter to the council claimed the utility company has dug up roads in the area several times in recent years to make repairs and install new equipment.

Looking to minimize disruptions to already difficult traffic patterns by Lowell and Main Streets, Duran wants gas company officials to explain how the Wilcox Street work fits into National Grid’s overall capital plan for the larger neighborhood.

“This is part of a much larger project that I feel needs to either be incorporated into this request and discussed before consideration for approval,” wrote the DPW superintendent.

“In my opinion, the plans are incomplete and should be revised to be much more detailed,” the department head added. “In addition, this area has been constructed and reconstructed three or four times already and I believe we need to delay this hearing until I can properly coordinate this construction with our infrastructure as well as disturb the traffic in this area once again.”

The council is expected to next discuss the petition at its Jan. 18 meeting.

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