JORDANVILLE – The Holy Trinity Monastery of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad is opposed to the 136-megawatt Jordanville wind project.
Its opposition to the proposed Iberdrola Renewable Energies USA wind farm received a boost Friday when the nonprofit Preservation League of New York State added the campus to its annual list of the state’s most endangered historic resources, “Seven to Save.”
“The monastery is of extraordinary historic, religious and cultural significance, but it is currently threatened,” said Jay DiLorenzo, president of the Preservation League. DiLorenzo added that the panoramic views, particularly those to the east, are significant in Orthodox scripture and faith.
The 49 wind turbines, some as close as one mile from the monastery’s 750 acres of agricultural and scenic lands, would impact the views from landmarks and places of prayer. It is for that reason that Holy Trinity Monastery was named to Seven to Save. With the designation, the Preservation League will provide the monks that call the campus home with technical services, legal assistance and funding.
“The Holy Trinity Monastery is the spiritual center of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad,” said DiLorenzo. “It is not only a place of state and national importance, but of international importance as well. People from around the globe come to Jordanville as this is the center of their faith. It is fitting that as the monastery celebrates its 80th anniversary we try to protect this valuable historic and cultural resource.”
Holy Trinity Monastery is a male monastic community under the auspices of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia. The monastery was established in 1928 for the St. Job of Pochaev Brotherhood, which was forced to flee from its location in the southern Ukraine with the outbreak of the Bolshevik revolution in 1917. The monastery houses the Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary, the only higher learning institution of its kind outside of Russia. The school is set up to teach men in preparation for service as clergy, monastics, choir directors, cantors, iconographers and lay leaders. The seminary offers a five-year program of study leading to the degree of bachelor of theology. It is accredited by the state.
Father Luke Murianka, deputy abbott for the monastery, called the site “a place of immeasurable importance” for the church.
“Holy Trinity Monastery is a place where people come to deepen their faith,” said Murianka. “Holy Trinity Monastery is as important to our believers as The Church of England is to Anglicans or as important as The Vatican is to Catholics. This place is the spiritual center for the Russian Orthodox Church in Exile, and as its current holders we must work to ensure that this place is protected for the next and future generations.”
Father Murianka added that the monastery is not looking to destroy the project, but thinks there are better solutions.
He also said that he is willing to meet with town and company officials to settle the dispute.
Others contend that the turning rotor blades will not disturb the serenity that the monks and pilgrims have long sought.
“It’s disappointing that some opponents of clean energy have abandoned honest argument and are now using underhanded tricks in order to block the development of clean energy in New York State. There is simply no reason that the Holy Trinity Monastery cannot coexist with a wind farm for decades to come. Clean energy projects can and should be developed in concert with the protection of New York’s landscape and historic structures. This project is good for Jordanville, good for Central New York and good for New York State. The community of Jordanville should reject this dishonest attempt to curb the development of this important project in the effort to make New York green again,” said Carol Murphy, executive director of the Albany-based Alliance for Clean Energy New York, in a written statement.
F.O.R.E. (Friends of Renewable Energy), a southern Herkimer County-based citizen’s group dedicated to leading the way for green energy, issued a statement that said the issue is not the monastery, but those who are using it as a pawn to “squash any and all wind farms that try to come into the area so that visitors and residents won’t have to see them, in the distance, if the conditions are right and there is nothing in the way.”
State Supreme Court Justice Donald Greenwood ruled last month that the towns of Warren and Stark failed to follow the state’s Open Meetings Law, which voided their approvals of the wind farm and put the project and the hundreds of thousands of dollars it is anticipated to generate in jeopardy. Greenwood also ordered the towns to pay the legal fees of the wind turbine opponents who brought the lawsuit.
According to court documents, Greenwood ruled that the town councils “circumvented the purpose of the Open Meetings Law, which is to prevent municipal governments from debating and deciding in private what they are required to debate and decide in public.”
Officials of Iberdrola Renewable Energies USA expressed disappointment and surprise at the decision.
“The project offers the potential for land preservation, economic stability for a hard working farm community and job creation that keeps upstate New Yorkers upstate. It also helps to tackle global warming and produce green energy to help the state meet its renewable portfolio standard goals,” said Skip Brennan, Jordanville wind project manager. “We plan to continue to evaluate the options for constructing and operating the Jordanville wind project. The state of New York and the local community want wind power and Iberdrola Renewable Energies USA is working to provide it in a responsible manner as noted in our publicly available studies assembled in the environmental impact statement.”
The Public Service Committee, in August of last year, ruled to cut 19 windmills from the proposed project.
The Jordanville wind project is expected to create 19 long-term, full-time jobs equating to annual salaries totaling over $830,000. The project is also expected to generate approximately $10 million in wage and salary compensation to local workers during construction and to spend roughly another $10 million in area facilities and on materials, equipment and other goods such as meals and lodging. It is estimated that the project will provide over $1 million in annual tax benefits between the county, towns and school and nearly $450,000 in annual landowner payments.
By ROB JUTEAU Evening Times Staff Writer
Monday, January 7, 2008
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