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(YFB-38: t. 101; 1. 122'; b. 22'; dr. 6')
Pinellas (ax-Wilmington), a ferry built as a steamer at Philadelphia in 1882, was acquired by the Navy on 28 July 1942 on requisition purchase from the Bee Line Ferry, Inc., St. Petersburg, Fla.; renamed Seabrook and designated YFB-38 on 9 September 1942; and placed in service at Jacksonville, Fla., after conversion for Navy use at the Merrill Stevens Dry Dock and Repair Co.
Seabrook provided ferry services for the Naval Air Operational Training Command at Jacksonville throughout World War II. She was placed out of service on 14 September 1945. Her name was struck from the Navy list on 11 October 1945, and, on 14 March 1946, she was delivered to the War Shipping Administration for resale to her previous owner.
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The Bee Line Ferry From Bradenton To St Pete
Do any of you oldtimers remember when the Bee Line Ferry crossed Tampa Bay from Bradenton to St Petersburg?
In the old days before the first Sunshine Skyway bridge was built, it was a 69 mile trip from Manatee to Pinellas County. You went up 41 through Tampa and across the bay on either the Gandy Bridge on the south or the Courtney Campbell Bridge on the north through Oldsmar.
The ferry shortened the trip from Manatee to Pinellas County to just 22 miles, and it crossed Tampa Bay in one hour.
The ferry stopped running in the early fifties after the first Sunshine Skyway Bridge opened to automobile traffic.
Too bad, because I've been told it was a fun ride.
Since our original post back in 2009, many of our website visitors have commented on this ferry. It was surely very popular. These visitors have given us a link with great information on the ferry:
Comments for The Bee Line Ferry From Bradenton To St Pete
I am the grandson of Dan Thompson, the Thompson family from Snead Island mentioned in the anonymous post on Sep 17, 2014.
My dad's family grew up on Snead Island and I remember him talking so fondly of taking the ferry from Manatee to St.Pete to see my mom who he was courting. He talked of knowing all the captains on the ferry.
He loved the water and everything about it. The Ferry was a big part of his life that he loved to share about.
Below is a clip of my mother and me (towheaded kid) on the Bee Line Ferry - probably 1949 based on my apparent age in the film. This was clipped from a much larger reel of my father's old 8mm films.
Our band rode the ferry both ways (in our school busses) twice about 1951-53 on the way to the Festival of States parade in St Pete.
Always had a great time in St Pete and enjoyed the "ocean" cruise with the dolphins.
My dad, Raymond Keller, went home to be with Jesus and my daughter on June 29, 2017. He was 101 and had been in a total care facility since January of this year with rapidly advancing dementia. His heart finally gave out. People kept telling me I needed to record his stories and now, when it's too late, I wish I had done so.
Thanks for providing the ending for the Miss Pinellas (original). The last I had was that she foundered off of Cuba and was brought back to Key West for repairs. Nothing after that.
The original Miss Pinellas seems to disappear from history about the time the Miss Pinellas II comes into the picture. Did the original Miss Pinellas have her name changed? Did she go to South America and run on the Amazon River?
Family, or someone, needs to digitally record audio or video of these important stories from Mr. Keller! You've just listed two wonderful vignettes, that probably no one else remembers. Have a grandchild take their smartphone out and with an audio recording app get this history saved. *The whole story would make a good mini-series-)
I am the daughter of Ray Keller, who is now 100 hears old. He worked on the ferries in the late 1940s and early 50s. He worked as deck hand, first mate, second mate and captain in one of those positions on all four ferries. He still has his captain's license.
He remembers the Winters boys: Al, Jerry, David Roy, Pete and Joe Ray McNeely, James Levar, Earl Armstrong,
He tells the story of going overboard from the Sarasota when trying to get water from Tampa Bay to clean up a bathroom problem. He had a bucket weighing him down because a rope attached to the bucket was around his wrist. The wash from the boat's prop and the bucket acting as a sea anchor kept him underwater for several minutes. He finally freed his wrist and was able to get his head up and tread water. The boat kept going until a passenger reported a man overboard. The boat finally turned around and rescued my dad. He had been treading water for probably 20 minutes.
And there was the time when an 11-foot gator got caught in the turning basin and the ship's prop caught it in the neck and killed it. The crew pulled it aboard and butchered it. Jimmy Levar deep-fried the tail meat on a hot plate in the engine room. The New York Yankees were on that trip returning to spring practice, and they and other passengers were able to sample gator tail, a rare treat.
I remember the Bee-Line Ferry from Bradenton to Tampa. My best recollection is 1949 when I would have been 12 years old. My dad would take me occasionally with him when he would go to Tampa to buy produce for the "Fruit Stand" that dad operated in Bradenton for a few years that my mom and aunt Dorothy worked in as well. We rode the ferry several times for this purpose but only when the freight cars did not bring fruit into Bradenton by rail.
I remember the first time that my dad had me unload half a freight car filled with boxes of various fruits, it truly overwhelmed me, but dad said don't let it just remember that you can only get it done by unloading one box at a time. That was a great practical object lesson that I never forgot because it helped me tremendously during my lifelong career in engineering. Nevertheless, on one of those trips dad met Ted Williams and Warren Spahn (I believe that he was the greatest left-hand pitcher ever) and of course, they all talked a lot about baseball. Before I was born dad was with the St. Louis Browns professional baseball team and he could sure hit a ball a long way, and he could circle the base paths about as fast as Ty Cobb did it (I remember dad saying to me that Ty could run the bases in under 15 seconds which is about 14-15 MPH).
I am the youngest son born to Capt. E Ray McNeely.
My dad was a ferry boat captain and superintendent of the Bee Line Ferry. I was only five when my dad passed away in 1949. I still have a lot of good memories of my father and the ferries. I have pictures of all four ferries: the Sarasota,the Pinellas, the Manatee and the Hillsborough.
I was able to ride on all of them and pilot them at times. My older brother Bob Faneuf worked in the engine room of the ferries.
I also remember in slow time the deck hands casting nets over the side of a ferry and catch sheepshead. A fish fry would be planned and all of the employees and their families would come and have a big seafood dinner, usually on the Pinellas point side.
Riding ferries is still fun for me at 70 years old.
I long for the good old days, they were really fun, going every Sunday to Calvary Baptist Church in Bradenton from St. Pete and riding the ferry to get there.
All dressed up in starch Sunday best styles of girl's clothing in shiny patent leather shoes, we could hear the noise of the machinery going up and down and making a very loud sound. It was so loud, but we loved the ferry boat and pulling off to Bradenton.
After church, we would go went to Snead Island to spend the day after church with friends, the Thompson family. We loved the great atmosphere of Snead Island and I have memories of actually being able to really connect with the nicest people on the planet. I remember them to this day.
God bless the Thompson family, I love them wherever they may be.
Capt E Ray Mcneely picture from newspaper:
Seems that there isn't much information on the web about the Bee Line Ferry, nice to see someone has brought it to us here on Florida Back Roads Travel website! Thanks!
I did go to St.Petersburg's Museum of History and found a good bit in the archives, they were very cooperative there! Although I never had the chance to meet my fathers--father! And, old photos were not plentiful since families got split up, but certainly would have loved to spend sometime on the waters of Tampa Bay with my Grand Dad!
I rode that ferry every Friday and Saturday night from 1946 to 1953. My dad was a gambler and went to the dog races at the race track in Sarasota, I was just a kid but loved the ride. It was during the polio scare and I remember seeing a man with blotchy arms (it was dirt from the boat railing) and I thought he had polio.
During the pre-Pearl Harbor days of 1941, eight mostly middle-aged Seabrook citizens began battle with another, closer enemy: FIRE. Thus, the Seabrook Fire Department was born, and Oscar Key became the first fire chief. Before long, the middle-aged citizens realized that a firefighter must be physically capable as well so some young fellows were recruited and trained, and James Graves eventually assumed the role of fire chief. This transition allowed most of the founders to step aside and let a generation of younger firefighters assume the responsibilities of providing fire service to the community. Four of the original founding members are still Seabrook residents.
The first fire apparatus for the fire department was an old Fair Maid bread truck fitted with a centrifugal pump that claimed to have out-squirted two Mutual Aid factory-built pumpers at a waterfront club fire. In 1945, the fire department briefly ceased to operate because the equipment stopped working- for lack of repair funds. The townspeople were irate at first, but a town meeting was held and the hat was passed, and the department has been active ever since.
Following World War II, a war surplus pumper was acquired. Eventually, the driving engine gave out, so the first person responding to the station would hook up his personal car, and tow the pumper to the fire. Chief Graves kid brother, Charles, often steered the pumper. Eventually, Charles Graves would rise to the rank of Chief of the Department.
In 1953, the department turned a new Dodge truck into a fine combination pumper. It was this truck that was also called the &ldquoLunch Box Special,&rdquo because many of the members worked for area plants and the companies donated parts. That &ldquoLunch Box Special&rdquo stayed in service until several years ago, when it was finally retired. Also in 1953, the department filed and received its charter and officially became the chartered fire department for Seabrook.
In 1955 the department obtained a 1921 American LaFrance rig that, sadly, no longer exists. Also in 1955, the fire department signed a 10-year lease agreement with Clear Creek Inde­pendent School District for the property where the original Seabrook VFD Station 1 was located at 2nd St. and Highway 146 in Seabrook. In 1964 another lease was signed for 50 years.
Funeral homes used to provide the only transport service for injured persons needing transport to area hospitals. In 1958 the Seabrook Volunteer Emergency Corps, Inc. was formed to provide the area with medical First Aid care until Jack Rowe Funeral Home could arrive. Later when the Clear Lake Emergency Corps, was formed, this service was stopped, except specifically for members of the department, and during fire calls. SVFD has maintained a close working relationship with CLEMC to this day, with many members being members of both agencies.
In 1961 and 1962 two FMC Ford John Bean pumpers were purchased and remained in service until 1983 when they were replaced with a new pumper.
During the 1970s and 80s, the department continued to serve the communities of Seabrook and El Lago. Because of the community, SVFD has always had a close relationship with NASA, with many members being employed at NASA. The department continued to grow in membership and as the surrounding communities developed, the mission continued to expand.
In 1994 the department entered into a lease with the City of El Lago for property located adjacent to their city hall on Lakeshore Drive. Station 2 was built to provide better protection to El Lago and the upper NASA Road 1 area and to appeal to the residents of El Lago and gain further membership. Station 2 has since provided members living in that area a chance to support the community with faster response times.
In 2006, SVFD moved into its new Station 1, located at East Meyer. SVFD also acquired a 95&rsquo Pierce Tower, greatly enhancing the capabilities of the department.
Presently the department provides fire, rescue, medical first responder limited HAZMAT services to the cities of Seabrook and El Lago and the adjacent unincorporated area of Harris County, with a combined population of approximately 14,000. The department consists of all volunteers, employing various pieces of apparatus, including three engines, one combination rescue-pumper, one 95&rsquo tower, one fire boat with a 3000gpm water pump, an RHIB rescue boat, and numerous smaller support vehicles and apparatus.
Judge tosses lawsuit of man who alleged Michael Jackson molestation
LOS ANGELES — A judge on Monday dismissed the lawsuit of a man who alleged that Michael Jackson sexually abused him as a boy.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Mark A. Young granted the Jackson estate’s request to dismiss the suit brought in 2013 by Wade Robson. The judge said two Jackson entertainment corporations targeted by the lawsuit had no legal duty to protect Robson from Jackson.
“There is no evidence supporting plaintiff’s contention that defendants exercised control over Jackson,” the judge wrote. “The evidence further demonstrates that defendants had no legal ability to control Jackson, because Jackson had complete and total ownership of the corporate defendants.”
The dismissal came after the judge dismissed a similar lawsuit in October by James Safechuck. Both men made their allegations in the HBO documentary “Leaving Neverland.”
Vince Finaldi, attorney for Robson and Safechuck, said the ruling has “fatal flaws” and will be appealed.
“If allowed to stand, the decision would set a dangerous precedent that would leave thousands of children working in the entertainment industry vulnerable to sexual abuse by persons in places of power,” Finaldi said in a statement.
Robson, now a 38-year-old choreographer, met Jackson when he was 5 years old. He went on to appear in Jackson music videos and record music on his label.
His lawsuit alleged that Jackson molested him over a seven-year period, and that as Jackson’s employee, the two corporations Jackson had started had a duty to protect him the same way the Boy Scouts or a school would need to protect children from their leaders. But the judge found the corporations were merely legal entities that were controlled by Jackson, not organizations that could control him.
Another judge previously dismissed the lawsuits by Robson and Safechuck in 2017, finding the statute of limitations had expired. But an appeals court revived the legal actions in 2019 after California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a new law giving those who allege childhood sexual abuse longer to file lawsuits.
The allegations gained new life when the two men repeated them in detail in “Leaving Neverland,” a documentary that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and later aired on HBO.
The Jackson estate has adamantly and repeatedly denied that he abused either of the boys, and brought a lawsuit against HBO that is now in private arbitration.
“Wade Robson has spent the last 8 years pursuing frivolous claims in different lawsuits against Michael Jackson’s estate and companies associated with it,” Jackson estate attorney Jonathan Steinsapir said in a statement after Monday’s ruling. “Yet a judge has once again ruled that Robson’s claims have no merit whatsoever, that no trial is necessary.”
The Associated Press does not typically name people who say they were victims of sexual abuse. But Robson and Safechuck have repeatedly come forward and approved of the use of their identities.
Brent Seabrook’s Contract Doesn’t Look that Bad Anymore for Blackhawks
The Chicago Blackhawks were crushed by the salary cap for a while, and most fans pointed to Brent Seabrook‘s contract as the main “thorn in their side”. Why? He wasn’t exactly the best defenseman on the team, but he was paid like he was still a top-two defenseman. At the end of his career, he was still a top-six defenseman, he just wasn’t appreciated because of his drop off.
Yes, 6.875 million in a salary cap era commands a superstar-like play or, at the very least, above-average production. Brent Seabrook ended his last year with four points, a +1, and 18:09 TOI in 32 games played. It doesn’t warrant a 6.875 million dollar contract, but he was still effective for the team.
Now, let’s compare this contract to that of Sergei Bobrovsky, who is earning 10 million dollars per year with the Florida Panthers. For six more years. Bobrovsky was able to steal a series for the Columbus Blue Jackets, where the team swept the Tampa Bay Lightning in a huge upset. He then proceeded to earn a ludicrous contract of 10 million dollars, placing him just 500K behind superstars Patrick Kane and Carey Price.
More from Blackhawk Up
He takes up 12.3% of the Panther’s salary cap, something that will haunt the team for a while. Why? Spencer Knight’s contract expires in 2023-24, and Bobrovsky will be signed until 2026. On top of this, the Panthers will have to pay their young stars in Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau that same year. Bobrovsky is not a serviceable goaltender anymore, as Knight took over his spot in the playoffs, and will be the starter for next season.
This contract is going nowhere, the only way to get rid of this is buying Bobrovsky out. Seabrook’s contract, though not easy to move, is much easier to get rid of without losing a first-round pick. The 10 million dollar player could not do anything for the team as they used Chris Driedger more often in the regular season. Seabrook was still on the ice and was still useful, Bobrovsky, being a goaltender, wasn’t and he earns much more than Seabrook did.
The Blackhawks have a ton of cap space right now, and they are positioned to be able to retain all of their promising young players such as Brandon Hagel, Philipp Kurashev, and Pius Suter while still having the funds to re-sign their potential superstar in Kirby Dach. Though the contract isn’t the best thing ever, it isn’t as debilitating as the Panthers’ situation.
Want your voice heard? Join the Blackhawk Up team!
In conclusion, Brent Seabrook’s contract wasn’t a good signing, but it wasn’t the worst. There is also enough room for the Blackhawks to get rid of the contract without giving up a first-round pick. Seabrook was also still serviceable to the team while Bobrovsky was benched.
Lakeview PD sergeant charged with DWI after arrest in Seabrook
HOUSTON – A sergeant with the Lakeview Police Department is accused of drunken driving, Seabrook police said Monday.
Tangie Beaton, 50, of League City, was arrested Saturday, according to the Seabrook Police Department. She is charged with DWI.
Lakeview PD serves the cities of El Lago and Taylor Lake Village. Beaton is listed as a sergeant on the department’s website.
According to the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Personal Status Report document on Beaton, she has worked with the Lakeview Police Department since November of 2006. Between 2003 and 2006, she also worked with University of Houston Clear Lake, Webster, and Clear Lake Shores police departments for a total of 18 years of service in Texas law enforcement.
Court records show on June 5, Beaton was swerving her F-150 in and out of lanes and then swerved into a center turning lane where she hit a Nissan head-on that was waiting to turn in the 3400 block of NASA Parkway.
When Seabrook police responded to the crash, authorities cited in court records said they tried to question Beaton about how much she had to drink and where she was coming from, but she replied, “I don’t remember,” to each question. The Seabrook Police Department officer cited in records said Beaton smelled of alcohol, had dilated pupils and slow, slurred speech. Documents said Beaton was swaying while standing and complained of leg injury to her right leg, but the documents added, “It should be noted, the Defendant was chewing mint gum on scene and later admitted to being the sole occupant of the 2013 Ford F 150. at the time of the incident.”
Welcome to the Seacoast’s southern gateway to New Hampshire, the Granite State. Seabrook is the heart of New England, connecting the rich resources and recreation areas of Northern New England with the centuries old marketing and population centers of Southern New England.
The community was settled in 1638 and named for the many brooks meandering to the Atlantic Ocean through its extensive salt marshes. Its early inhabitants were primarily engaged in the farming and fishing industries. Many of our current residents can trace their ancestry to the first Quaker settlers who moved here and established what is still a community with a special small-town atmosphere.
Seabrook has a host of opportunities to offer the traveler, the short and long-term visitor and those who select this peaceful seacoast community as their home.
We are but 36 miles from the Greater Boston area, 20 minutes from a deep-water port of call, and an hour’s drive from the White Mountains and New Hampshire’s pristine lakes.
Business and industry thrive in our low tax environment and business friendly community. Seabrook is the home to 250 industrial, commercial and retail companies that service the entire cross section of our national economy. It houses New Hampshire’s only nuclear power plant, the Seabrook Station. We are the home of other large companies including Yankee Greyhound Racing, Market Basket, Wal-Mart, Dinsmore (communications), and Teledyne (electrical connectors) and more than a hundred small, medium and large retail businesses that will meet your everyday and shopping needs.
The community has an active seacoast with miles of clean beaches, an active harbor with a thriving business sector. Our harbor is the home of the Yankee Fisherman’s Cooperative with an active fishing fleet that on any day can be seen bringing in their catch of fish and lobster. Most of our beach is residential with a large cross section of year-round and summer homes and with an assortment of seasonal rental cottages.
Seabrook offers many community activities for its citizens. Seabrook Station offers its Science and Nature Center the Owascoag Nature Center features a one-mile tour through a preserved forest and salt marsh. The Seabrook Community Center offers programs from pre-schoolers to senior citizens, including tennis lessons, dances, sporting and exercise activities and recreation camps. The Center is equipped with a full-size gym and weight room. Youth sports include baseball, basketball, football and soccer on town-owned athletic fields and courts.
Civic groups include the Boy and Girl Scouts, Lions Club, Rotary, the American Legion and the Seabrook Historical Society. The Seabrook Library offers computers, after-school programs for children and a substantial selection of library materials that appeal to every taste.
The Conservation Commission carries on important programs that ensure the protection of the community’s environment. The Commission has completed a salt marsh restoration program, is preparing plans for a nature trail and to construct an observation platform for the study of the habitat that was so important to our early settlers. A town forest has been established for the enjoyment of present and future generations.
Seabrook has industrial, commercial, retail and home sites available with access to regional transportation needs, an available labor force to meet your needs, low taxes, superior public and private facilities and a coastal environment and recreation that provides for a high standard of living. Seabrook can’t be beat – join us for the time of your life and enjoy all you have missed.
Seabrook YFB-38 - History
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Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant
Situated in Seabrook at the edge of the marsh and about 2 miles from the center of Hampton and Hampton Beach, Unit I of the power station operated briefly at low power for testing purposes in June 1989. But the story begins 20 years earlier, when nuclear energy was considered to be the power source of the future. PSNH originally announced its intention to build an 860,000-kilowatt plant at Seabrook in December 1968. The plant was predicted to be completed in 1974, and, the Union said, "Management of Public Service does not anticipate difficulties in obtaining the necessary licenses and permits for the Seabrook site because it is not near an air base [as was Newington, its first choice for a site], and condenser cooling water can be discharged directly to deep water in the Atlantic Ocean."
PSNH had previously submitted testimony on new power-plant construction routinely to the state Public Utilities Commission with little opposition from the public or from the usually sympathetic commission, permission for construction was granted with few delays. This time, however, citizens entered the matter with a determination not anticipated by the power company or state officials. In March 1969, the Seacoast Anti-Pollution League (SAPL), composed originally of mostly Hampton and Hampton Falls residents, was formed to oppose construction. Within months, PSNH announced that the nuclear project was being deferred beyond 1975, and in the interim, a fossil-fuel plant would be constructed in Newington.
While SAPL applauded the company's decision "not to go nuclear," the group's hopes were dashed in February 1971 when the company announced it would continue with plans to build not one but two nuclear reactors to generate 2.2 million kilowatts of electricity -- to be constructed at an estimated cost of $1 billion at the Seabrook site. The company's rationale (then and now) for building the massive plant was based on its predicted need for electric power in New Hampshire and New England, and its belief that nuclear energy was the best way to supply its customers. To pursue the project, a consortium of (eventually) some 16 to 17 other power companies joined with PSNH to provide funding. Since that time, the issue has been debated in the press and heard by state panels, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Atomic Energy Commission, and, later, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, as well as before several federal courts. Led by attorney Robert Backus, who has become a nationally recognized expert on nuclear-power legal issues, SAPL has continued its opposition, primarily pursuing legal avenues.
Few original members of SAPL knew much about nuclear energy they were mainly interested in the impact of the power plant on the adjacent salt marsh. Indeed, the company first proposed dumping its heated reactor cooling water directly into Hampton River, a situation that biologists predicted would be devastating to clams, fish, and other marine life. The discharged water would be about 40 degrees hotter when returned to the harbor. Apparently realizing the problems in securing permits for this type of discharge, PSNH announced that intake and outflow tunnels to carry the cooling water and heated discharge would be built under the marsh and the harbor to a point offshore, at a cost of some $600 million.
PSNH broke ground for construction in August 1976, but that fall, the New England regional administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency rejected the cooling tunnel discharge system, placing in doubt the future of the then-$2 billion project. This decision was later overruled by the EPA director in Washington.
Although opposition to the plant through legal channels remained a focus for SAPL and several other opponents, a new approach was tried on May Day 1977, when the newly formed Clamshell Alliance organized a massive civil-disobedience protest and hundreds of demonstrators were arrested after they occupied the plant site for 24 hours, then refused to move. The 1,414 men, women, and children who were arrested asked to be released on personal recognizance, but when the Hampton District Court declined to accept such requests, the protesters refused to post bail. Most of them were taken to state armories, where they were held for up to 12 days while awaiting trials before the jammed court system. Most of the cases were eventually heard at mass trials, or by individuals pleading not guilty by mailing a form to the court. Most of the demonstrators pleaded not guilty, were found guilty, then appealed their convictions to the Superior Court. The State spent an estimated $1 million handling the protest and keeping the arrested demonstrators in the makeshift armory jails. In June 1978, some 10,000 people were allowed onto the construction site for a daylong protest with nationally known musicians and speakers, creating a carnival like atmosphere. Despite protests from the state attorney general in 1979, the cases were dropped against some 800 people who had appealed their convictions from the 1977 demonstration. The protests turned violent in 1979, when police used attack dogs, tear gas, and riot sticks to turn away some 2,000 demonstrators. In individual protests and in organized demonstrations, members of the Clamshell Alliance have continued to oppose the plant and to be arrested at the site. The most recent mass protest was in June 1989, when some 800 people were arrested. Although many people question the methods and the impact of the Clamshell demonstrations, their protests have attracted media attention, making the Seabrook plant a national issue, especially now that construction has been completed for several years yet the plant is not operating. No other nuclear-power plants are under construction or even planned, so Seabrook remains the national focus for those who oppose or support this form of energy.
Since the construction and licensing of the plant are controlled by federal agencies, there is little that individual communities can do to become involved with the nuclear-power issue. Seabrook, for example, early on voted to sell PSNH the 35-acre town dump on Rocks Road as the site of the plant. This vote has been taken by plant supporters to indicate that the people of Seabrook were in favor of the project. Under state law, however, the company could take the land by eminent domain, a technique it used to acquire most of the 700 other acres necessary for the project. Since state law allows real estate to be taxed by individual towns, Seabrook has received a huge windfall of tax income -- enough to build and pay cash for the construction of a municipal office building, recreation center, police headquarters, and fire station. At one point, the power plant was paying some 90 percent of Seabrook's taxes, and this has had an impact on Hampton taxpayers as well. As a member of the Winnacunnet Cooperative School District, Seabrook pays a share of the district costs based on a formula involving the number of students from the town and its property valuation. As the value of the plant under construction increased, so did the taxes on it, and Seabrook in turn paid a larger and larger share of the costs of Winnacunnet. The construction consortium, however, appealed its tax bills to the state and has been awarded lower valuations, resulting in Seabrook having to refund millions of dollars in taxes. The lower valuation of the power facility means Seabrook will pay a smaller share of Winnacunnet costs, and Hampton, along with Hampton Falls, and North Hampton, will have to pay more.
Since 1979, the tunnels and power lines that run through Hampton have been taxed for a total of more than $4.8 million. The 1985 assessment of $1.5 million, now being litigated, was enough to cut Hampton's tax rate by nearly $4. In that year, the State reduced the valuation of the tunnels, resulting in a $3 increase in the 1986 tax rate. In 1988, the consortium of plant owners, known as New Hampshire Yankee, paid Hampton $293,600 in taxes, down from $830,000 in 1987.
Another impact of the plant that is difficult to assess has come from the thousands of construction workers, many of whom found housing at Hampton Beach. The seacoast has limited rental housing except at the Beach, which for many years has provided essentially low-income winter housing. With construction workers needing living quarters, many Beach property owners upgraded seasonal and marginal year-round buildings to meet the demand, resulting in a dramatic increase in the winter Beach population. Traditionally, winter renters moved out in the summer when the rents increased substantially, but the highly paid plant workers could afford a couple of months of high rents and remained in their units year round, or least while they had jobs. Layoffs, strikes, and other construction delays meant that hundreds of workers were coming and going, creating a lack of stability, which a permanent work force would have given the area. In 1978, for example, opponents successfully appealed the EPA ruling to permit the cooling tunnels, resulting in a shutdown of construction and the layoff of 1,800 workers from the then-$2.5 billion project. Just two weeks later, however, work began again. A shutdown in April 1984, with 5,200 workers laid off, highlighted another impact of the construction of the plant on Hampton. Within days, workers and their families left the area in search of other jobs, and the school enrollment dropped by 70 pupils. Real estate agents said winter rentals were off by 50 percent compared to the previous winter, when plant construction had been underway with 8,000 workers. While Hampton residents often decried traffic problems created by the commuting plant workers, the Town probably has had a net tax gain because of the improvements in many Beach properties.
As early as 1972, SAPL had expressed concerns about the problems of evacuation, which would result if the then-proposed plant had an accident. At a unique meeting with the Atomic Energy Commission in 1974, SAPL was told the commission did not approve plants in high-population-density areas. Federal agencies and PSNH apparently did not wish to address the issue of summer beach populations. Company lawyer Thomas G. Dignan, Jr., said that the summer populations were protected by the plant's second containment structure and by engineered safeguards. Donald E. Stever, representing the state attorney general, told the AEC that the summer population located between 1 and 7 miles from the plant site "is greater than any previously licensed reactor," a factor "sufficient to raise the question of the appropriateness of the site." Opponents pointed out that as many as 100,000 people could be on Hampton Beach during a busy summer weekend, and many people were familiar with the traffic problems created when thunderstorms struck. Since these storms usually come in the afternoon, sunbathers quickly run for their vehicles and head for home, soon clogging the roads in a hopeless traffic jam. What would happen, critics asked, if there were an accident and panic-stricken vacationers and local residents alike all attempted at once to leave the Beach and the rest of the seacoast area.
Some people argue that the evacuation problem should have been addressed before the plant was built. Following the Three Mile Island Nuclear Plant accident, SAPL filed suit against the NRC, arguing that construction should be halted until after the evacuation issue was resolved. The court ruled that the regulatory agency could address the evacuation issue when it wanted to do so and that it would not have to be concerned with financial pressures if the plant was completed. The construction was allowed to proceed, although in 1983 PSNH decided to cancel Unit II (a recommendation of the PUC and many of the minority owners), which was about 25 percent completed. The cost of completing Unit I was then estimated at $3 billion. By June 1989, when the low-power operating license was granted, and with most other issues resolved, only the evacuation question remained to be settled. As early as 1980, Hampton Civil Defense Director Jay Tanzer was frustrated" by state and federal agencies in his efforts to develop an evacuation plan finally he resigned. Hampton selectmen assailed a draft evacuation plan submitted in 1982, since it hardly mentioned Hampton Beach. When the final $600,000 report was issued a year later, the consultants suggested Hampton Beach could be evacuated in six or seven hours, a time frame one town official rejected as a "joke." The plan relied on public employees assisting with the evacuation, but Hampton's public workers, except for the rubbish employees, said they would not remain at work, apparently preferring to assist their own families or believing that when they signed on to work for the Town, the evacuation issue was not a factor of employment.
Eventually the evacuation planning issue was focused on the area 10 miles in radius from the plant site. Citizens Within the 10-Mile Radius was organized to oppose the issue many of the members were from the six Massachusetts towns within the radius. Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis and Attorney General James Shannon have asserted that the towns cannot be evacuated adequately. The Massachusetts attorney general and intervenor groups like SAPL have filed various suits to prevent operation of the plant, which was finally completed in 1986 at a cost of $4.5 billion.
Six of the New Hampshire towns within the 10-mile radius, including Hampton, refused to participate in the evacuation planning, so the company submitted a plan for them that was accepted by federal agencies. Hampton voters have acted on Seabrook issues at several town meetings. In 1980, for example, voters in Hampton and four other seacoast towns asked the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to halt construction until the evacuation issue was resolved. Selectmen involved the town in the evacuation issue as early as 1982, when they were told that it would not cost any money to become intervenors, but that unless the Town participated in various hearings on evacuation, the Town would have no say in the results. The selectmen, who have been supported by residents, wrote in the 1987 town report that the Town of Hampton "continued its stance that no evacuation plan is workable for the Town in event of an accident at Seabrook Station." At the 1987 town meeting, voters authorized the selectmen to "undertake all legal action and lawful means necessary . to present the Town's objections and contentions with respect to the Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant." No specific sum was appropriated, but the Town spent $80,000. A special article, raising some $45,000, was approved by voters at the 1989 town meeting.
Complicating the issue was the 1988 bankruptcy of PSNH, the plant's lead owner. The company had expected to assess ratepayers for construction work in progress (CWIP), a financing method that PSNH said would save money, since they would not have to borrow funding and pay interest over the construction period. In 1979, however, the Legislature passed an anti-CWIP law. Incumbent governor and ardent plant supporter Meldrim Thomson, Jr., lost his bid for a fourth term to Hugh Gallen, who had made opposition to CWIP a major issue in his campaign. Although the measure received the support of plant opponents, the law passed primarily because ratepayers did not believe they should have to pay for the construction costs of a power plant that might never be completed. PSNH originally had argued that since the plant was to be operated by that company, it had to be located in New Hampshire, where it was incorporated and the company could control the construction. Ironically, the company's financing woes have resulted in its having to sell off part of its ownership in the plant so that it no longer owns a majority of the plant, although it retains the largest (35.6) percentage of ownership and has some two-thirds of its assets, or $2 billion, tied up in the plant. This 20-year-old issue seems certain to remain in the headlines for years to come, and since the predicted operating life of the plant is about 30 years, if it ever operates, its final story probably will be told in Hampton's next town history, the 2038 edition.