Hy-Line Cruises has veered off to join the growing armada of Cape Wind supporters, but the Steamship Authority is staying the course.
“We continue to have concerns about the navigational impact of the project on our operations,” general manager Wayne Lamson said. “We haven’t heard anything from the Coast Guard about any type of mitigation measures that Cape Wind is proposing to address all of the concerns.”
Those concerns include jet plowing of the seabed to place cables to the array. Lamson said it’s unclear whether this will be done inside or out of the marked channel. “The whole jet plow embedment process is going to displace substantial amounts of the bottom sediment,” he said.
The Authority remains concerned about radar interference from the turbines and compressed boat traffic. The latter refers to the likelihood that mariners who want to avoid the array will travel closer to the ferry routes. Lamson said the Authority also needs to know more about how Cape Wind would keep the area open when ice forms.
Relations between the Authority and Hy-Line remain “good,” Lamson said. “Under the circumstances, very good. They’ve always been good and professional. We like the Scudders and we deal with them on a regular basis.”
The Authority regulates only Hy-Line operations that exceed its level of service and capacity as of 1973, Lamson said, adding that the collaboration with Cape Wind does not trigger that review.
Wendy Northcross, president and CEO of the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce, said she’d been told by Cape Wind Communications Director Mark Rodgers that the company was working with Hy-Line on a potential alliance, “but I had no idea it was imminent.”
The chamber, she said, “has continued to express our concerns about the scale and site” of the project over the last decade.
Northcross said it’s “prudent on the Scudders’ part to be part of the planning, [but] I think it’s an odd bit of timing for an aggressive project.”
Even so, “we’re realists,” she said, “and understand that if this thing happens, we’ll figure out a way to promote it and maximize the fact that it’s here.”
The Hyannis Area Chamber of Commerce remains opposed to the wind farm. “We did not see any economic benefit for our members,” said board chairman Sharon Hawkins.
The chamber does support renewable energy and eco-tourism, Hawkins noted, but took a stand against Cape Wind because of its scale and site.
“But I say, good for the Scudders,” she said. “They see this as a business opportunity for this particular business and they’re going for it.”
Hawkins said the board would discuss the Cape Wind project at its regular monthly meeting this week.
Praise for the decision came later in the week from the Dennis Chamber of Commerce.
“The number one question we receive at the visitors centers operated by local chambers of commerce is, ‘How do you get to the Islands?’” Chamber Executive Director Spyro Mitrokostas noted in a press statement. “Our answer invariably includes directions to the Hy-Line docks in Hyannis Harbor.
“In a couple of years, the number one question visitors will be asking, is, ‘Where’s the wind farm?’ Our answer will again be the same. We look forward to working with the Hy-Line Cruises and Cape Wind to make this one of the quintessential experiences on Cape Cod for our visitors.”
“I would prefer they were taking eco-tours of Horseshoe Shoal, but what will be will be,” Town Council President Fred Chirigotis said.
The council remains nearly unanimous in its opposition to the project (James Tinsely is the exception).
“We still have serious concerns about navigation,” Chirigotis said. “We still have serious concerns about communications and radar, not to mention all the concerns we have about the environmental impact, about the pile driving and the destruction of that entire fragile and pristine ecosystem.”
Chirigotis said there is “still no true safety response plan. There is still no designated first responder, no training or adequate equipment provided to those who would be first responders.”
If the wind farm goes forward, the president said, “and I’m not saying it is, and it’s an economic opportunity, I can see that Hy-Line is doing everything they can to take advantage of that, and I don’t see anything wrong with that.”
Noting that the Scudders own property “right next to Aselton Park,” Chirigotis said that “anything that enhances the use of and focus on the harbor would be a good thing.”
Paul Niedzwiecki, executive director of the Cape Cod Commission, did not return a call for comment before press time.
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