As a young boy, Benjamin Franklin walked by a store and saw a beautiful whistle on display. He saved his pennies until finally he had enough money to buy it.
“For a boy your age, it’s a high price to pay for a whistle,” the clerk told him.
But Franklin, the story goes, didn’t heed the advice of the clerk and bought it anyway.
But after a few weeks spent showing off his new toy, the future inventor and statesman thought to himself, “I paid too much for that whistle.”
How many times have you been disappointed after you got something you’d long wished for?
Always study the pros and cons before you make a serious decision.
Most citizens of Salem are in favor of renewable energy. But wind turbines are only good if they are located in the right location. And a popular park like Winter Island is the wrong location for the following reasons:
1. At 400 feet in height, the turbine and required buffer zone will take up a large chunk of the island.
2. A turbine may not pollute as fossil fuels do, but it does create health hazards. It causes noise pollution, sleep deprivation and mental stress. Even if you can’t hear it, the vibrations from a blade that turns 24 hours a day may cause havoc with your health.
3. Being 40 stories high, it also poses a threat for migrating birds that might fly into its rotating blades.
4. Winter Island is an important asset to the city and the region. It is a park, a historic landmark and a recreational wonderland, providing a beautiful beach, swimming, picnicking, a place to launch a boat, fishing and camping spaces.
5. The island is a money-maker as it attracts thousands of tourists and out-of-towners who pay to visit. Someday there will be grant money available to fix up the hangar and restore Fort Pickering. A wind turbine will not enhance the property.
6. Salem already had an unfortunate experience with windmills in the past. The former Shaughnessy Rehabilitation Hospital on Jefferson Avenue had two of them on its property, but they proved too expensive to maintain.
7. The only way the city could make money is if a private developer were to build and maintain the turbine, paying rent for the use of the land and taxes on the value of the equipment. He would assume all liability, provide proper insurance and adhere to all concerns of the city. If none is interested, that tells you something. The city itself should not be in the turbine business.
There are better ways to produce renewable energy such as solar panels and tidal turbines, which are cleaner, healthier and less expensive to maintain.
Let us take a lesson from Ben Franklin: “Don’t pay too much for a whistle.”
Salem would be better off putting taxpayers’ money to better uses.
Anthony V. Salvo
(Editor’s note: Anthony Salvo served as mayor of Salem from 1984 to 1989.)
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