WESTPORT – The Town Hall wind mill is still alive, despite the misgivings of some members of the Board of Selectmen.
The board on Monday accepted a builder’s bid for the project and also approved having him apply for a $63,400 grant to build the structure. The project was proposed by the Alternative Energy Committee and approved by Town Meeting this year.
But two-thirds of the troika opposed to the wind turbine, Selectman Chairman Veronica F. Beaulieu, and Robert P. Rebello, only said yes on Monday because they have to vote to accept the grant.
The third opponent, Selectman Gary Earle Mauk, tried to kill the idea at Town Meeting but was stopped by the Town Moderator for maneuvering to stack the hall.
Monday, he belittled the 120-foot, 110 megawatt wind turbine, which would generate electricity for Town Hall.
“This is a toy,” said Mr. Mauk said, who is interested in building a 1.5 million megawatt wind turbine.
Mr. Mauk, who during his years as chairman of the Finance Committee shepherded the growth of an anemic stabilization fund to a $1 million plus reserve, continued his opposition an up front allocation of $63,400 from the account.
“We can’t take (approximately) $64,000 of hard-earned taxpayers’ dollars out of the stabilization fund, it has been built up,” he contended. “This is not a prudent use of the taxpayer’s stabilization fund.
“I’ve been, since 1993, putting money into the Stabilization Fund and every time it gets up, Mr. Dionne wants to get some of it.”
David P. Dionne, who did not seek re-election as a selectman this year and is chairman of the Alternative Energy Committee, is the always unpopular member of the four-person voting bloc that now controls the board.
Mr. Dionne made the presentation about the wind turbine to the board and sparred with Mr. Mauk, accusing him of “playing gotcha again.”
Alternative Energy of Plymouth submitted the lowest bid.
Town Administrator Michael Coughlin assured the board, “If you award this contract no money will be spent by the town. If we are lucky enough to get the grant award you would have to approve it.”
Selectman Robert P. Rebello, who has consistently voted against the wind turbine project with Mrs. Beaulieu and Mr. Mauk, reluctantly voted in favor of awarding the contract.
“I’m skeptical about the numbers,” Mr, Rebello said. “I am concerned we are putting in money where we shouldn’t right now. We will be going out to bid on a new fire station.”
There is an anticipated payback that estimated energy savings will pay off any expense in six years, but Mr. Mauk argued that those assumptions “are extremely aggressive.”
By Joseph R. LaPlante
Standard-Times staff writer
2 August 2007
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