Last Tuesday, just over 100 people boarded the Nathaniel Bowditch, for a sunny but cool cruise to Hull.
As your intrepid Patch guy, I was among those on this journey to tour the two Hull turbine sites.
It should be noted by all, that despite criticism that this trip was strictly a rigged game for the Mayor and supporters of the turbine, that was not the case. Included in the crowd were members of Salem Wind and some Marblehead residents who oppose the project. There were also representatives from Salem Wind Power. Contrary to the perception of some, the mayor did not load the boat strictly with supporters.
After seeing and hearing the turbines in Hull, I support a turbine for Salem but am not completely sold on as the site for it. I do not want see any large part of the park with limited access.
In a time when we as a city are looking for revenue sources and long-term ways to cut expenses, this proposal is the type of forward thinking we need.
As with anything else, there are issues. These issues have already been a part of what will be a continuing public debate.
Hull 2, located on a capped landfill, is much larger than I expected. It is huge and impressive. I was able to hear the sounds and see for myself the shadows created as the blades turned.
The sound issues and shadow or flickering issues seem real enough but not as bad as some have presented. The sounds recorded in this video on the SalemWind site are misleading. Having some experience with video cameras and their audio issues, I have always found that wind and motor-generated background noise is always amplified when recording. Listen yourself and make your own judgment.
Listening to the sound as I approached and then stood under the machine, I would not describe it as noise. I was reminded of a washing machine in a slow "wash" cycle. A representative from the Renewable Energy Task Force using a decibel meter measured the sound around 55 DBAs.
Hull 1 is located by the high school and adjacent to an athletic field. As we toured this site, the field hockey team played on the field. It is smaller unit and due to the activities and other sounds around it, I did not hear the turbine as much sound as I had heard at Hull 2.
I do not mean not to minimize the concerns of those who live on Winter Island Road and the surrounding area. Some do not want this in their front yard and I respect that fact. NIMBY is not a dirty word. and Salem Neck have already endured the power plant, sewage treatment plant, and more than a few other less long-term impositions. They have a right to be heard.
The commercial aspect also needs to be discussed.
Any argument saying you can't have commercial enterprises on Winter Island are weakened by the fact that there have been many such examples of commercial businesses there in the past and there still are today. Restaurants have been there, functions and weddings are held there by private catering companies every summer. The City rents camping and RV spaces there for a fee. The fact is, Winter Island Park is already a commercial entity and has been for many years. Some of the operating capital for the park come from the fees collected by these businesses. The turbine, according to the the Mayor's office, would not be an exception.
A Winter Island turbine will dominate the landscape. There will be sound, shadows, and flickering. It will be municipally owned commercial enterprise. If it will not significantly limit access to Winter Island, I support it.
As expected, the most noise in this debate is being made by those against the subject. I expect that trend to continue. Many weigh in under screen names and thunder loudly from behind their keyboards. A few, like Ed Moriarty, of Salem Wind, who was on the trip and asked hard questions, stand up in public and speak without fear because they have courage and conviction. That is the way it should be.
Do your own homework and find the sources that you trust. Like statistics, you can always find someone or something to support your position.
Let the debate continue.