Harwich – It might be a long shot, but if Cape Wind Associates chooses Harwich Port as a base of operations for its Nantucket Sound wind farm, it would bring economic opportunities to town. It could also create conflict by adding a new user of already-busy Saquatucket Harbor, some mariners say.
An ad hoc harbors task force took up the topic at its meeting Wednesday night, less than two weeks after the town’s board of selectmen sent a letter encouraging Cape Wind to lease office space across from the harbor. Selectman Larry Ballantine said Harwich is in the unusual position of wooing Cape Wind, based on the 40 to 50 skilled jobs it would bring to town. “And they like to hire locally,” he said.
Task force member Mark Smith said town officials are “in a dream world” if they think there is room to accommodate Cape Wind’s two 30-foot boats and one 40-foot boat, along with commercial fishing boats, ferries and recreational boaters. The harbor’s eastern bulkhead is the area Cape Wind would most likely seek to use, and it’s already used heavily by commercial fishermen. “There’s no room,” Smith said. “You really should leave that corner alone. It’s ours.”
One commercial fisherman, who said he’s been using Saquatucket since 1980, said Cape Wind should be required to put its name on the same waiting list that other mariners use to get access to coveted docking slips. If the utility can’t wait a few years, it might consider leasing a space from a fisherman, he said. “Maybe the fishing isn’t going so well for these guys, and they’d rather be a supplier,” he said.
Fisherman Carl Schoote said he has doubts that a 30-foot boat could make the 19-mile trip to the wind farm on Horseshoe Shoal, “especially in the winter.” The winds could be a challenge for a boat that size, he said. There are clear economic opportunities from Cape Wind, he said, but there are also pitfalls.
Ballantine said he believes Cape Wind still favors Falmouth as a base of operations, but has had trouble identifying affordable real estate there. In Harwich, the Cape Wind proposal will likely get its next airing before the town’s waterways committee.
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