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Residents have question about wind turbine

Board members of the town’s Renewable Energy Committee met with Swamspcott residents Thursday night at Town Hall to discuss the wind turbine.

How much will it cost? Is there enough wind to make it feasible? Will my taxes go up? What about the noise? How will the turbine site be accessed?

Those were a few of the questions lobbed at the Swampscott Renewable Energy Committee Thursday evening at the Town Hall.

Jonathan Markey of Meridian Associates was supposed to be on hand, along with an acoustical engineer, to answer questions, but Markey injured his neck and was unable to be at the meeting.

Meridian Associates were hired by the town to do a feasibility study on the turbine project.

“We’ll speak to Jonathan and reschedule another meeting as soon as we can,” committee member Neal Duffy said. “These plans are all in the preliminary stages, we are very, very early in this process.”

Committee members Wayne Spritz, Milton Fistel and Victoria Masone joined Duffy at the table usually occupied by Swampscott selectmen.

A couple from Mountwood Road expressed their concerns about the noise the blades would generate when the turbine was operational. Fistel told them that the noise generated by comparable turbines is under the 10 decibels allowed.

A study by the University of Massachusetts at Amherst looked at several sites in town, and settled on an area next to the Little League fields off Forest Avenue.

“Access to the site would be off of Forest Avenue, and would use an existing road next to the ballfields,” Duffy told a resident of 1 Salem Street, who was concerned that the site would be accessed off of Humphrey Street, and a new road would have to be built on the old railroad tracks.

Marblehead currently has a turbine in place in the parking lot at the Marblehead High School, generating power to illuminate the parking lot.

“We want to communicate thoroughly with the community, every step we take,” Spritz said. “This is so early in the process, if this was a baseball game, we wouldn’t even be playing, we’d be at spring training waiting for the pitchers and catchers to report.”

“There have been some mixed messages in the media,” Duffy said. “No building plans have begun, we are exploring the feasibility of a wind turbine in town, and we want to keep people informed as we move forward.”

If the turbine were constructed, it would be the highest structure in town at 335 feet; it would generate over $200,000 in revenue for the town and supply over 20 percent of the power to the Little League fields as well as the middle school.

The committee, appointed by selectmen, is actually picking up the ball from previous members of the Renewable Energy Committee, who originally proposed the wind turbine over five years ago.

“We’re all curious about the possibilities,” Spritz said. “It’s one thing that Swampscott has, being on the ocean, is wind.”

“It’s important to look at the data we have, really vet it out, make an earnest effort to decipher all the information we have, and then make a recommendation,” Masone said. “We have a lot of work to do before any recommendations are made.”

Masone also serves as the town’s assistant engineer.

“We will reschedule another meeting with Jonathan (Markey) and representatives from Meridian Associates as soon as possible,” Duffy said.

Swampscott Patch will have the details on the next meeting as soon as they become available.