Not All Willows Residents oppose turbine

Salem Willows resident Julie Whitlow explains her support for the proposed Winter Island Turbine in the Salem News (January 16). She notes the importance of getting information from peer-reviewed sources–not any scare-mongering website.

As a Willows resident and homeowner, I respect my neighbors who disagree with my support for the proposed wind turbine on Winter Island.

Our different opinions should not divide us as a community. However, the fallacies and untruths expressed by Kathy Driscoll-Gauthier in her Jan. 9 letter to the editor (“Willows homeowner no fan of proposed turbine”) should not go unchallenged.

What is best for the Willows neighborhood, the city of Salem, the region and the planet can be debated; however, hyperbole and fear should not obscure fact. Much of the information that Ms. Gauthier questions has been presented to the community and the city at numerous public forums. The reality is that the Winter Island site was chosen as one of two possible sites for the turbine based on consistent wind. The only other possible site was Forest River Park, even closer to more residences.

I, too, have also done research. I have visited the Ipswich turbine twice, on a very windy day and a day with moderate winds. I accompanied my daughter doing research for a science project and a scientist friend with a decibel reader. On both occasions the ambient noise was louder than the turbine. On both occasions, an electric toothbrush also produced more noise than the turbine.

I have also read several peer-reviewed articles from neutral authors about noise and light flicker. We can all find information via a Google search that fuels our political or personal agendas. What we must do is seek literature vetted and researched by scientific experts. All of the materials that I have read have similar findings: Noise is negligible and light flicker will be limited. I have found no vetted evidence for any other health risks.

My family and I enjoy Winter Island as much as the other residents of Salem, and we have spent many summer days at the playground and on the beach. We have attended school picnics there and played pirate at the fort. We have fed seagulls, walked the dog, and gone to sailing camp. We have attended birthday parties at the function hall, and have seen a fox den in the dunes.

The turbine will not prohibit any of these activities. It is located at the far end, near the harbormaster’s house. I have stood in the 15-foot radius that will be the base of the turbine. The rest of the island will be open for all of the activities that we have enjoyed thus far.

Based on the extensive feasibility study commissioned by the city, there does not seem to be reason to doubt there is enough wind at Winter Island for the turbine to pay for itself and reduce the city’s electricity costs by 50 percent. My property taxes may not go down as a result of the turbine, but revenues from the turbine will protect us from future price increases and afford the city additional revenue.

But perhaps the greatest reason that I and many of my friends in the Willows support the turbine, is that I would rather live in a community that is a leader in the production of clean energy.

There is no question that climate change is going to affect us all unless we take drastic and meaningful action as a society. To pretend it isn’t so is fantasy. If the warmest winter in recent decades, this past fall’s missing color burst, last summer’s record number of oppressive days, destructive freezes in Florida, killer tornadoes in Alabama, tsunamis in Japan, mudslides across the Americas, melting ice caps, scorched crops, and disappearing bees, don’t make you nervous, one lone wind turbine should not alarm you.

I’d rather see our community lead the way to a more sustainable future than regret not having done more when it’s too late and the Willows is underwater.

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