Published on the August 9, 2019 edition.
By MARK SARDELLA
WAKEFIELD — The Wakefield Municipal Gas & Light Department has offered to provide three public electric vehicle charging stations to the town and the Town Council is now in the process of sorting out issues related to location and logistics.
WMGLD General Manager Peter Dion appeared before the Town Council this week with Kathleen Connors of Voltrek, a firm that specializes in helping municipalities, government agencies, private companies and commercial property owners plan for and deploy electric vehicle charging stations.
Dion said that with state and nationwide efforts to make electric vehicles a greater part of transportation, the MGLD has decided to take the next step and invest in the infrastructure. Voltrek was retained to help evaluate locations for the charging stations.
Voltrek provided a written report and Connors talked about the locations that were considered for the charging stations.
Two locations were recommended for Level 2 (slower charging) stations: the Veterans Field parking lot on North Avenue and the parking area on the Armory Street side of the Americal Civic Center. A Level 3 (fast charging) station was recommended for the municipal parking lot at the corner of Main and Water streets.
Dion said that in order to expand the use of electric vehicles, people need to know that the required infrastructure is in place.
Town Councilor Julie Smith-Galvin said the plan would enhance Wakefield’s reputation for environmental leadership. She said that having the charging stations would attract drivers from out-of-town and nearby highways to come to Wakefield and spend some time and money while charging their vehicles. She also cited environmental and health benefits of electric vehicles.
There was some discussion of where the L3 fast-charging station should be located based on the availability of high voltage infrastructure, convenience to potential users and other considerations.
Councilor Jonathan Chines said that he was glad to see the move toward electric vehicle charging stations but felt that there were still a number of questions that the town needed to spend some time sorting out, such as time limits, signage and a rate structure for use of the stations. He also felt that more public education was needed.
Town Councilor Mehreen Butt said that she thought that the Voltrek report used too much inside technical lingo that would be unfamiliar to people who are not experts in the energy field. She also was concerned about the ongoing cost of maintaining the charging stations.
Dion said that the MGLD would help the town keep the charging stations up and running, at least for the first year or so, because the Light Department is interested in collecting usage data.
Butt said that she thought that the Environmental Sustainablity Committee would be the perfect group to do some further research and community education on the topic.
Town Councilor Julie Smith-Galvin, who chairs the Environmental Sustainability Committee, said that she would be happy to work with the WMGLD on the project and offered that the Environmental Sustainabilty Committee could take public input and serve as a clearing house for information.
Anyone from the public who wishes to weigh in on the topic of electric vehicle charging stations is invited to email Town Councilor Julie Smith-Galvin at email@example.com.
In other business this week, the Town Council:
• Approved a Class II used car dealers license for Modern Collision Center, Inc., located at 57-61 New Salem Street.
• Approved the addition of three public parking spaces on Valley Street and an easement to the Town of Wakefield for the sidewalk, primarily on land owned by SSG Valley Walefield, LLC, the developer of a self-storage warehouse at 205-209 Water St.
• Approved a request from Beebe Library to accept and expend gifts to the Library totaling $29,426.
• Accepted the donation of a sidewalk flower planter from Jack Palano of alano, located at 364 Main St.