St. Lucie County’s John Brooks Park and Frederick Douglass Park are beaches people usually go to relax and enjoy nature.
Each public facility is set aside for conservation and recreation, but an ill wind has blown in a new swell of controversy for local surfers – and it’s not red tide.
It’s Florida Power & Light’s “Winds of Change” initiative to build nine commercial wind generators along St. Lucie County’s remaining desolate beaches that has them all riled up.
Standing roughly 412 feet tall, each white cylindrical turbine is almost 100 feet taller than the Statue of Liberty and requires an impact zone of one acre.
Four of the proposed wind turbines would be built on public land at John Brooks Park and Frederick Douglass Park; the other five would be constructed on land owned by FPL, which includes Walton Rocks Park.
“I am all about alternative energy, but not too close a beautiful place like this,” said Stuart surfer Brian Sylvester.
“It’s one of the few beaches you can go and not look back and see condos – to lose this doesn’t seem like the right answer.”
For these and many other reasons, local surfers, like Sylvester, strongly oppose FPL’s plan to build wind turbines on public land.
“It’s great and all that everyone’s for alternative fuel, but as long as it’s not a detriment to the recreation is what the main thing is here,” said Jensen Beach surfer Dennis Jungers.
“We know Florida Power & Light owns the property, but maybe they can work it out so the surfers can still come in even though they’re building them.”
As ‘green’ as FPL’s proposed plan might be, it comes at a price that these surfers are not willing to pay.
“As far as Surfrider goes, these wind turbines should not be built on land that is set aside for conservation and recreation,” said Andy Brady, Fort Pierce surfer and chairman of the Surfrider Foundation’s Treasure Coast Chapter.
“We’re all for alternative energy, but not on public land.”
FPL has yet to gain approval of its “Winds of Change” initiative from St. Lucie County, but that could change at any time.
“Personally, I don’t see it happening on public land because there’s a lot of opposition to it,” Brady said
“Anyone else who opposes this plan should contact the St. Lucie County commissioners.”
The next St. Lucie County Commission meeting is set for 1:30 p.m. Tuesday at the St. Lucie County Commission Chambers in Fort Pierce. For more information, call (772) 462-1100.
By Justin Beard
17 January 2008
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