Municipal governments have an obligation to explore cost efficiencies whenever possible. These same bodies also have an obligation to consider all sides of an issue before moving forward. Such is the case with the recent disclosure that the Mayor and Council of Atlantic Highlands are considering a proposal to put wind turbines in the municipal harbor.
There is no formal proposal before the Mayor and Council, nor has the full council been briefed on any project at the Harbor. In a public discussion session, Mayor Fred Rast commented that he and Borough Administrator Adam Hubeny had visited a booth at the New Jersey League of Municipalities convention in November, and that they had a follow up meeting with the turbine vendor. The Mayor and Council agreed that becoming more efficient with our energy consumption while adding some cost savings was a worthy goal.
At this stage, the project is nothing more than a fishing expedition. It may eventually lead to something, but our harbor skyline will not be overrun with wind turbines anytime soon. Nor will all the neighbors hear continuous noise this summer from the windmills. There have been no cost estimates presented, no bonding has been contemplated to pay for the windmills, nor has any site been selected at the harbor to construct the turbines. There may have been some informal discussion regarding heights and projected costs, but not a single piece of paper has been presented to the Mayor and Council to chew on.
While it makes for good water cooler talk, windmills at the harbor are a long way from reality. Like any open government, the Mayor and Council as well as the Harbor Commission would hold open meetings dedicated to the subject, and some sort of vote would have to be taken before any action could be taken. The elected officials and professionals have an obligation to explore the idea for the community, but this idea needs a lot of traction and vetting before becoming a reality. It may come to pass someday, but it surely is not going to be happening this year in Atlantic Highlands.
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