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Dan Hust | Democrat

KEN WALTER, ABOVE left, and Sullivan County Community college President Dr. Mamie Howard Golladay both testified at last Thursday's county legislature meeting, which approved the proposed windmill at SCCC.

Windmill at SCCC given the go-ahead

By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO — May 6, 2008 — Legislators unanimously agreed Thursday to lease an acre of Sullivan County Community College land to Environmental Technologies (ETC).
For $2,000 a year for at least the next five years, ETC will be able to use that acre to construct and operate an experimental windmill called a vertical wind turbine.
The 111-foot structure will be a prototype that ETC hopes to market worldwide based on an anticipated significant gain in efficiencies versus the standard propeller-like windmill.
The college hopes to benefit in two ways: through the energy generated from the turbine (some of which will be sold to the college at a reduced rate, estimated to halve SCCC’s electrical costs) and by demonstrating its commitment to green technologies as it builds the Center for Advanced Science and Technology, the anchor for a proposed green tech park.
Since the college board and the Town of Fallsburg Planning Board have already given their required permissions, construction of the windmill is expected to start and end this year, and it will eventually be open for tours.
But its location – near the college’s Loch Sheldrake entrance and next door to a private residence – has motivated Grahamsville resident Ken Walter to continue to fight it.
His mother lives in the family homestead 500 feet away from the proposed construction site, and while he’s been assured the noise will be less than a whisper, Walter doesn’t want to take any chances.
Indeed, he says the college is taking chances, from situating the turbine just 90 feet from the road to ignoring his warnings of pursuing litigation. While he’s not against the concept, he’s concerned the county and college are proceeding recklessly.
His most recent battle with Sullivan officials has been over FOIL requests, which he claimed have not all been answered in a timely fashion.
SCCC President Mamie Howard Golladay is of the opposite mind, pointing out in a letter to Legislature Vice Chair Ron Hiatt that the college has complied with all of Walter’s FOIL requests – save for those which the college felt were beyond the FOIL requirements (i.e., after personally inspecting documents, Walter demanded they be e-mailed to him as well, which college staff deemed unnecessary).
“As with anything, there is some risk,” Golladay acknowledged yesterday. “[But] I think we’re pretty well-protected with the contract.”
If anything goes wrong, the contract stipulates that the turbine is to be removed within a certain amount of days.
Then again, Golladay isn’t expecting anything to go wrong.
“This is an opportunity for our students and the county,” she said.
Reminding those in attendance at Thursday’s meeting that this is not just the college’s project, she urged county officials not to do a “disservice” to the area by forcing ETC to move its plans to another county.
She needn’t have worried, as legislators unanimously expressed support for the project.
“I think it’s wonderful,” remarked Legislator Kathy LaBuda, her thoughts echoed by Ron Hiatt and Leni Binder.

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