Sullivan County lawmakers are expected to decide this morning on a contract that would bring an enviro-friendly windmill that could save Sullivan County Community College up to 50 percent on its electricity bill.
Who would argue against that?
Kenneth Walter would. He’s been railing against the project for months now.
Walter, whose family helped establish the college by selling a plot of land to the state in 1965, has said noise from the 111-foot-tall windmill will ruin his 89-year-old mother’s quality of life, since she lives about 500 feet away, and that the college has been stingy with public information about the project.
Walter has sent 10 information requests since last October, college records show. And the college has resisted sending documents via e-mail, even though electronic response is required, whenever it’s possible, by state law.
The latter argument jolted county legislators, who last week tabled the windmill contract while they checked on whether the college was following Freedom of Information Laws. The county Legislature is expected to vote on the contract today at 10:45 a.m.
In an interview yesterday, college President Mamie Golladay defended the school. She said it was the college board’s policy to keep paper copies of minutes, and that electronic copies took extra time to produce. She said some e-mail requests may have been intercepted by junk-mail filters.
Walter said he plans to fight the windmill project even if lawmakers approve it today. He has threatened to sue on the basis that a windmill would violate the college’s property deed, which says the land will be developed “for the uses of the Sullivan County Community College.” Walter believes the windmill is not a “college use.”
Golladay said the windmill will be used in the college’s new wind-power curriculum.
Walter says the windmill will sully the quality of life at the former chicken farm. He’s also worried that the windmill won’t work, because one this large has never been built.
Golladay and lawmakers, however, think it’s a chance worth taking.
1 May 2008
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