Editor’s Note: The following is an editorial written by Michael Smith, Reporter at The Ithaca Voice.

As always, we are eager to reprint alternative or dissenting viewpoints. To do so, contact me anytime at msmith@ithacavoice.com

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ENFIELD, NY – On Monday, more than 70 Tompkins residents came to Enfield Elementary for another public discussion on the Black Oak Wind Farm.

This particular session was a chance for the public to offer feedback on a few proposed changes to the wind farm’s layout. These possible changes included moving two of the turbines, moving a substation, relocating some underground transmission lines, and erecting a wind measurement tower.

While there were some differences proposed for the wind farm itself, the discussion around the topic evoked a feeling of déjà vu.

For the most part, the arguments made on Monday were the same arguments that were made back in December at a heated question and answer session. And then again in February before the Tompkins Legislature.

Those concerned about the project continue to express worries about safety, although the throughline seems to have shifted somewhat away from scenarios of destruction related to collapsing wind towers and ice thrown from turbine blades.

While those topics did still come up, concern has largely shifted more toward the alleged insidious effects of wind turbines, like the sound disrupting sleep patterns or triggering a variety of negative health effects.

Meanwhile, Black Oak supporters continue to question the scientific sources of the other side and remind everyone of the imminent dangers of climate change.

About 27 people spoke at the meeting, many of them familiar faces to anyone who has been to one of these meetings. The speakers were split almost evenly in each camp, as was the crowd.

If there’s one thing that was markedly different from previous meetings, it was the way that the crowd itself was divided, both physically and ideologically.

Perhaps unconsciously, almost all of those who were concerned about the wind farm settled in the left side. Black Oak proponents were almost all on the right side.

When a speaker voiced their concerns about the wind farm, applause would ring out from the left side, while on the right it was mostly silent with the occasional disapproving murmur. Like clockwork, that scenario would reverse itself when someone spoke out in favor of the project.

Another difference was in the attitudes of the assembled. Where December’s Q&A had been heated and February’s comments to the Tompkins Legislature had been delivered and received with decorum, Monday’s meeting seemed tinged with a simmering frustration.

Throughout the night, people could be heard murmuring disagreements, mock-laughing or sighing in exasperation in response to speakers from the other camp. It was as if both sides are talking past each other and wondering why the other side “just doesn’t get it.”

As one speaker noted, this project has been in progress in various forms for over a decade. It seems that most of the words that can be said have been, and saying them again is unlikely to sway anyone.

That’s not to say that the talking should stop, but clearly another avenue needs to be explored before this issue divides the Enfield community further than it already has.

The next public comment on the wind farm issue is scheduled for April 12.


(Featured photo: Michael Swan on Flickr.)

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Michael Smith

Michael Smith reports on politics and local news for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached via email at msmith@ithacavoice.com, by cell at (607) 229-0885, or via Google Voice at (518) 650-3639.