Neighbors of Fairbanks Park are objecting to the town’s plan to build a wind turbine adjacent to baseball fields there, fearing it will produce unpleasant noise and hurt property values.
Around 10 residents from McKinley and Central avenues questioned members of the Parks and Recreation Commission Wednesday night about exactly what the 90-foot high turbine will sound like from their houses.
Chet Larson of McKinley Avenue said he had recently checked out a similar turbine near Costco on Providence Highway and was dismayed at the noise it created.
“The sound when those things are going is unbearable,” Larson said. “We were never asked about this.”
At Town Meeting in April, $57,500 was committed to the purchase and installation of a wind turbine. The Parks and Recreation Department proposed the idea as a way to defray the costs of running lights at the park during night athletic events.
Parks and Recreation Commission Chairman Don Reisner yesterday said the energy produced by the turbine would be sold back to the electric company. He said it would save the town an estimated 20 percent of the $12,000 cost of lighting Fairbanks Park each year.
Reisner said the town will receive $42,000 in clean energy grants from the state for the turbine and expects to recoup the costs of the equipment in a few years.
Larson said residents were never consulted when lights were installed at Fairbanks and should not be asked to deal with equipment needed to pay for them.
Reisner presented sound readings from the type of turbine the town was hoping to install at Fairbanks Park, made by Bergey Windpower. It said homeowners more than 200 feet from the unit would not be able to hear it above the ambient noise of the neighborhood. The closest house to the proposed site of the turbine is just under 700 feet away.
The report said from 20 feet, the turbine, when running, would only produce five decibels of sound. It compared 10 decibels to a rustle of leaves in a breeze or the sound of human breathing.
Town Administrator William Keegan said any sound produced by the turbine would be “insignificant.”
But Central Avenue resident Anne Frasca said insignificant was not the same thing as inaudible and pressed the town to do further study to prove residents in the closest houses would not hear anything.
“It is unfair for Fairbanks to be the experiment for the town going green,” Frasca said.
The town’s plan is to put the turbine near the batting cages at Fairbanks Park. The turbine’s blades will be 22 feet in diameter.
Reisner said he would try to provide residents with more detailed information about the turbine’s sound and appearance.
The turbine plan will go before the Zoning Board of Appeals for a permit on Monday. The plan also needs approval from the Conservation Commission and building inspector.
By Patrick Anderson, Daily News staff
3 May 2007
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