FAIRHAVEN – Proponents celebrated next month’s anticipated start of two wind turbines and opponents carried protest signs at Saturday’s blade signing event at the Arsene Street construction site.
The comments on the blade clearly illustrated the polar opposite views townspeople have about the turbines, which the developer is shooting to have operational by Earth Day on April 22.
“More Power to You,” wrote Susan B. and Geoff Sullivan, who live on Sconticut Neck and support the project.
“Wind Power Forever!” penned Boris Katan.
“Go Green!” said another.
“It’s a reminder of how much we need to conserve and look for alternatives,” Don Fredette said in an interview.
And from the opposing side:
“Your presence no longer makes me feel my town is a Fair Haven,” Donna Peirce, who believes the turbines are too close to homes, wrote on the blade.
“I am frightened that people could become sick,” she said in an interview.
“Welcome to UnFairhaven,” wrote another opponent.
But not all the comments were political. Many were personal.
Brendan DaSilva remembered his family’s black Labrador, who died Tuesday, in his posting on the blade. “Fenway we miss u,” he wrote.
“It’s sad. It’s definitely sad. We thought this would be a good remembrance,” said his father Carlos DaSilva of Fairhaven.
Several hundred people attended the event, which started at noon and ran for three hours and was meant as a community event to usher in wind power.
Children wrote their names in large letters on the blade, dogs walked around on leashes, people took photos of family members with the blade and there was the aroma of freshly made popcorn in the air.
“I think it’s great to see so much positive energy. It’s nice to see so many well wishes, too,” said Sumul Shah of Fairhaven Wind LLC, the developer.
He said the townspeople’s comments, which were written in marker, will wash off the blade eventually, but when it is raised and attached to the hub it will be visible with binoculars.
Shah said the noise and flicker associated with the turbines are well within industry standards.
But not everyone attended the event to celebrate.
About 25 opponents, wearing red T-shirts, arrived as a group about 1 p.m., carrying signs complaining that Fairhaven officials didn’t inform neighbors about the start of construction and worrying about possible health concerns.
Louise Barteau, a spokeswoman for the group, said they want the developer to post bonds to indemnify neighbors against possible health problems and property devaluations.
“We want protection against harm and loss,” she said. “We believe this is the responsibility of their company. We hope they will hear us. We are asking very reasonable things.”
Shah was non-committal when asked about the group’s requests. He said they have been raised in the past, but he didn’t believe Saturday was the appropriate forum for it.
Selectman Brian Bowcock said he believes in a few years the turbines will prove themselves.
“We expect that in a couple of years people will look back and say this was a very positive experience for the Town of Fairhaven,” he said.
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