TYRONE, Pa. – It wasn’t supposed to be a debate Wednesday night. Gamesa invited Tyrone residents to come to an open house and ask questions about what 15 windmills atop Ice Mountain might mean for them.
“Mainly, how will it affect the animals and the environment and the bats?” said Tyler Vasbinder.
Dave Panasiti said, “I’m all for green energy, but I’m not sure if it’s enough to make a difference.”
But those curious residents were among the few. Dozens turned out, bringing their opposition.
“Not only is it a unique area and a natural heritage area, but it’s also an area that provides all the drinking water for the city of Tyrone,” said Dr. Stan Kotala, president of the Juniata Valley Audubon Society.
Ice Mountain is home to the watershed that supplies the borough’s reservoir. And that was the biggest concern for residents – what will happen to their water? But Gamesa officials said protecting that source is a top priority.
“We’ve been doing a lot of due diligence. We’ve been working with the borough for almost a year and a half with the studies we’ve been performing,” said Gamesa Project Developer Josh Framel.
Borough officials said they actually want to use the money from the windmills, about $90,000 a year, to help restore the watershed. However, they said they’ll base their decision to lease the land to Gamesa on community feedback. But according to borough officials, the problem is many of the people who have spoken out are not even the borough residents they represent. However, the opposition may have already swayed one vote.
“I now look at it as, is it worth tearing up that mountain?” said council member Bill Latchford.
There are eight votes on the Tyrone Borough Council. And borough officials said Gamesa has asked to be on the agenda at their next meeting on Dec. 10. However, all of the council members must agree to vote at that meeting.
5 December 2007
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