The East Hampton Town Trustees have laid out a proposed community benefits package to Deepwater Wind in exchange for permission to allow the company’s power line from the proposed wind farm off Montauk to come ashore on Trustee property in Wainscott.
Deepwater Wind had offered a package of $600,000 in community benefits through two funds established to offset impacts on local baymen. But in a letter on Monday, the clerk of the Board of Trustees, Francis J. Bock, told company officials that the offer wasn’t enough to “offset the risks we are asked to assume.”
Instead, the Trustees list four pages of community benefits they are seeking in exchange for permission to use the property, saying they are “designed to maintain and restore the health of East Hampton’s various inshore marine nurseries and habitats, and address fishermen’s interests.”
Among the proposals: a “conflict resolution fund” that would reimburse fishermen for financial losses related to the construction or operation of the wind farm, a fund to support shellfish hatcheries and shellfish research efforts, a fund for improvement of water quality and aquatic environments, and a fund for the Trustees’ infrastructure needs.
The letter does not specify the amount of money that would go into the overall community benefits fund, or into the individual funds.
Also included is a proposed historical research project to “document and memorialize” the history, holdings and legal battles of Boards of Trustees in East Hampton, Southampton and Southold towns. Finally, the Trustees want Deepwater Wind to create an operations and maintenance facility in Montauk to serve the South Fork Wind Farm, proposed for Cox’s Ledge off Montauk, and to pledge to keep it in place for at least 25 years.
In the letter, the Trustees note that local baymen had approached them last year with concerns that the wind farm, and the power line coming ashore from it, could have repercussions for those who make a living on the waters. Though public forums have been held, the letter notes, “many questions have been answered, yet many answers remain unclear.”
The Trustees take issue, in the letter, with the slow progress by Deepwater Wind in providing past studies about the effects of electromagnetic frequency emission from the power cable on migratory fish in particular. They also note that, in the three years since talks began with East Hampton Town officials on the wind farm proposal, baseline data could have been collected but wasn’t.
They ask for one such study, in particular of inshore ocean species, in a separate letter to the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, which will lease Deepwater the offshore site for its 15 wind turbines.
In laying out the community benefits they seek, the Trustees acknowledge that state regulations likely would overrule any effort to block the cable from coming ashore on Trustee-controlled land. But the letter to Deepwater said that the list of benefits is more complete and will “ensure local lives can continue to thrive, yet coexist with your proposed wind turbine project.”
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