Wind Power Meetings On-going On The Hill – Focused On East End Community School Controversy

By Carol McCracken

During the past month or so Doug Sherwood, facilities director for the Portland Public Schools, has been meeting with groups on the Hill. He’s been listening to their concerns and answering their questions about the proposed construction of a 100 ft. tower on the property of the East End Community School that would measure the wind velocity there. If the wind velocity measured thirteen miles or more, it could lead the way to the additional construction of a wind turbine on the site. If it doesn’t meet that criteria, there would be no reason to construct a wind turbine there.

Last night Sherwood met with the board of the Promenade Towers on the Eastern Promenade for close to an hour. Earlier today, Sherwood said the board recognizes the educational opportunity of such a tower, but is concerned about the health and safety for those living so close to the equipment. So far, this board has been the only group to register its opposition to the proposed project.

John Rastl, an owner of a penthouse at the Towers and treasurer of the board said he is not in favor of erecting the wind testing tower because they will give the group a “leg up – that’s all they want. The approval of a wind tower will lead to a wind turbine.” he said. Following Sherwood’s presentation, the board continued its monthly meeting – the thrust of which Rastl could not talk about – except to say the board will consult with its attorney. “As a board member, it’s my responsibility to protect the investments of these residents,” he said.

Last month Sherwood met with members of the Munjoy Hill Neighborhood Organization at the East End Community School to listen to their concerns and answer questions as well. Present at the meeting were several members of the Promenade Towers board which led to last night’s meeting with the Board.

Sherwood expects to conduct another public meeting sometime next month on the Hill. It will be well advertised in advance so that as many members of the community can participate as possible. Then Sherwood plans to take the matter to the planning board. The wind testing equipment could be up as early as June or as late as November, he said. Meanwhile Sherwood will continue to research the health and safety concerns of the board of the Promenade Towers.

“I certainly know a lot more than I used to about wind power. And no doubt I’ll continue to learn, “ said Sherwood laughing late this afternoon.