A meeting on the proposed master plan for Winter Island with the Park and Recreation Commission contained little talk about a proposed wind turbine and focused primarily on the overall vision for the future of the park.
The consultants, presenting a near-final version of its $10 million master plan for Winter Island, hardly mentioned the wind turbine. And only one of the 50 people who showed up for the presentation at the Senior Center brought up the wind turbine.
“The windmill has no place on Winter Island,” Doug Sabin said. “We are not going to solve the nation’s energy problems with one windmill on Winter Island.”
Vice Chairman Robert Callahan, who led the commission meeting, limited the public participation to comments. He allowed no questions.
“This is a plan of ideas. There is nothing cut in stone,” he said.
Without mentioning the wind turbine, he urged the crowd to focus on the whole master plan, “not just one aspect.”
Most speakers praised the plan. A few offered additional suggestions. Most notable were:
Provide more ideas to promote winter sports on the island. Kevin Harvey, a neighbor of the island, said, “This park does not go to sleep in the winter.” Scott Hayward noted that it is called “winter island.”
Conduct more research on the history of the island before World War II. Several speakers said Winter Island has a rich history that predates the Coast Guard’s use of the island. The lead consultant, Steve Cecil with the Cecil Group, agreed that the master plan should devote more attention to the early history of the island, including native American use of the area.
Keep the recreational vehicles. The master plan proposes phasing out of the spaces rented to recreational vehicles. Ed Moriarty called it “snob zoning” to ban the recreational vehicles in the future and try to hide them with landscaping in the near future.
Lockers at the beach. It was suggested that the commission add large lockers for rent at the beach to allow regular beachgoers to store water toys and other beach gear. Callahan asked Superintendnet Doug Bollen to investigate installing lockers for next summer.
Green the island. The consultants proposed moving some of the parking spaces around the island and removing as much of the concrete as possible to make the island more green. Some speakers worried that the plan would make it hard for visitors to find a parking space. The consultants also proposed running a trolley from downtown to the island to reduce the number of cars on the island.
Cecil called Winter Island “a fantastic place,” but he warned that time is running out for restoring some of the historical buildings, including the former Coast Guard hangar and the barracks/administration building.
“The stewardship of this island is incredibly important,” he said.
Barbara Warren with Salem Sound Coastwatch, who assisted in the development of the master plan, said she worries that if something is not done soon to restore the buildings, they might have to be torn down. She noted that there was a previous master plan done in 1984, but repairs to the hanger were not done in the last quarter century.
Cecil said the city is applying to state and federal agencies and private foundations for funds to preserve the buildings.
Bollen told the commission that the parks department is spending $36,000 of a federal grant secured by U.S. Rep. John Tierney to shore up the facade of the barracks building.
The master plan was also funded at $28,000 from the grant, he said.
In other business, Bollen said he will meet with the Conservation Commission next month to seek permission to paint the Winter Island lighthouse – a project he said Mayor Kimberley Driscoll has been asking about since she was elected. The painting will cost about $20,000.
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