The discussions in the Salem wind turbine debate are avoiding the most important fact. Winter Island is a public park with a deed restriction that precludes commercial development, other than that which would normally support a park. The wind turbine is a commercial development: End of story.
The city of Salem is trying to take advantage of the fact that the United States of America, the creator of that condition, will probably not hold the city to this restriction. The citizens of Salem have every right and duty to compel the city to comply, however.
The city of Salem maintains that they have scoped out all publicly owned potential wind turbine sites in the city and that this is the best one. So what? It is not available. Have they scoped out potential sites for a nuclear waste repository? One site could be better than another for that purpose, but we are not going to build one of those, because it is obvious that it would not be safe.
If you don’t have a suitable site for a wind turbine, it is folly to investigate which unsuitable site might be the best.
Ironically, Salem does have perfect, publicly owned sites for a wind farm in the offshore waters, which I would wholeheartedly support the development of. Build as many as would fit and could be afforded. Cramming one wind turbine into an inappropriate space on shore is not going to do anything meaningful toward the creation of a renewable energy future.
The city along with its developer could call it the “Witches Breath Wind Farm,” with the slogan “Salem, still breaking wind!” Or perhaps the magic number of wind turbines could be predetermined to be seven. Then they could call it “The Gables Wind Farm.” Think of those tourist dollars.
Robert T. Leavens
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