Deerfield’s mission statement reads, “Set in a historic village bounded by river, hills and rams, Deerfield inspires reflection, study and play, abiding friendships, and a defining school spirit.”
In the 1950s and 60s, the United States Government planned to construct Interstate 91 through Deerfield. Frank Boyden recognized this as threat to the integrity of Deerfield’s mission statement and took his complaint to Washington. Mr. Boyden famously sat in President Kennedy’s waiting room for hours, until Kennedy would see our beloved headmaster. I-91 was not built through Deerfield.
The Deerfield of today faces a new challenge to its bucolic surroundings and its mission statement. Tennessee Gas, a subsidiary of Kinder Morgan, plans to build a massive pipeline that will run right by the Academy.
If the project is approved, students already disturbed by recent construction on the Library and Memorial Building will find no reprieve for years into the future: construction vehicles assisting in the building of the pipeline will be audible from campus. Furthermore, there is a chance that the locomotive-sized pressurization stations built along the pipeline to prevent it from exploding will also be audible from campus as long as the pipeline remains active. Additionally, these stations are not foolproof, meaning perilous pipeline bursts could compromise the community.
In the event of a pipeline malfunction, Deerfield students could be among the first to find out. Indeed, the Small Loop entrance is inside the pipeline’s “incineration zone.” Future students and parents will need to cross their fingers and hope not to end up as burnt marshmallows, for Tennessee Gas has an egregiously bad safety record.
The stated principle for this pipeline appears noble. Kinder Morgan says that it seeks to improve Western Massachusetts’ energy infrastructure. However, upon further investigation, local town residents discovered that the pipeline is designed to transport gas for overseas sale. One wonders what else is being hidden.
Thus far, the town is united in trying to prevent the construction of the pipeline. Almost all local businesses strongly disagree with the placement of the pipeline. One local institution has not yet issued a judgment: Deerfield Academy.
In an interview with The Scroll, Deerfield’s Associate Head of School for Operations and Chief Financial Officer Mr. Keith Finan continuously stated that the Academy does not yet know enough about the proposed pipeline in order to take a public stance. In an interview with The Greenfield Recorder, Director of Communications Mr. David Thiel explained that Deerfield has “not seen a map of the route that has sufficient detail for us to determine whether it crosses our property.” Though the pipeline may not run directly through our property, we recommend that the school consult the general plans that The Scroll has obtained, which demonstrate just how close the pipeline will be to our campus.
Deerfield’s mission statement also declares that “Character, integrity, and responsible citizenship guide student life in the Deerfield community.” Dr. Curtis highlights the need for students to be informed and act as responsible global citizens, yet many have little knowledge about the KM Pipeline. Frank Boyden would not have stood for this. His personality and the example he set for Deerfield students made Deerfield into an institution that commands respect. Boyden acted in ways to preserve the character of the school and town we call home.
There is no doubt that the pipeline reflects a blight on the local environment and would detract significantly from the character of Historic Deerfield as well as the economic value and sustainability of our institution. How would the school respond to an explosion or a gas leak? Deerfield’s current silence is surprising. What’s more, why isn’t the campus talking about this? Why isn’t the school pushing students and teachers to discuss this? It is students’ right to know about such a major, environmental changing project so close to us.
As Deerfield’s leaders make lofty statements about the role Deerfield students will play in the world, they are seemingly unwilling to reflect on the mission statement and the role we play in the heritage and traditions of the Pocumtuck Valley. We ask Deerfield’s leadership to recognize that no matter how global our ambitions, our heritage comes from our commitment to our local community’s well-being.
Our community and its heritage are threatened. The KM pipeline could compromise Deerfield’s future. Learn more about the project, and demand that Deerfield’s leaders speak up. Inform our alumni and stand with our school. PROTEST THE PIPELINE.