She moved to the area about the same time as I.
Soon becoming acquainted, our friendship grew as we realized how many common values we shared. Basically small-town girls at heart, we had both jumped at the advantages of big-city living offered when younger and were now ecstatic to believe we could live out our lives surrounded by the beauty of a placid countryside.
Circumstances caused her to move away. I miss the companionship she offered but must admit I’m happy she’s found a new life elsewhere so her days here will not be extended in dismay.
A few years ago, an Arkwright official asked why I gave my address for these columns as Cassadaga rather than claim Arkwright. It’s true: I am officially a resident there but share a Cassadaga post office (and Fredonia telephone with Pomfret plowing the road). Besides, Cassadaga is a real community: nice buildings, lovely people. What is Arkwright but a sprawling of houses scattered about on, actually, very few roads?
And now home sadly to a whole bunch of wind turbines.
They’re visible from the Interstate and Route 60 and, if not yet, probably most of the northern county before the destruction ends.
There are proponents — primarily that minority who expect to pocket the promised monies.
Then there are the rest of us, the powerless — as it’s turned out — opposed since the beginning and opposed still. It destroys the world we consciously selected but were we asked? Hardly. It was a “done deal” in spite of the objections, the pickets, the meetings. Our voices — and there were always many — went unheeded.
I suppose I could still be alive in twenty years when, theoretically, the rusting useless hulks will be removed. I hope and pray whoever is here then will force the developers (if found) to keep their promises. Look at their attempt already, as I understand it, to refuse to repair the roads they destroyed.
Talking about this I was reminded of Walter Cronkite’s early opposition to the offshore windmills in Nantucket Sound: “Since I won’t like the looks of that vast field of towers; and I won’t like their interference with glorious sailing in the sound; and I will worry about the wildlife, including porpoises and whales on their visits and several birds of endangered species on their annual migrations; and I sympathize with the already severely ailing fishing industry, whose important resource those waters are — for these reasons I am opposed to the project.” Cronkite did later back off, saying he’d wait for a final government report before making up his mind. But other opponents including the Kennedy clan and its late patriarch, Senator Edward Kennedy who died in 2009, and the historian David McCullough, did not. “I’m not against wind turbines,” McCullough was quoted as saying, “I’m against 130 of them over 400 feet tall right smack in the middle of one of the most beautiful places in America.”
State Sen. Rob O’Leary represents the Cape Cod region and is diametrically opposed: “The problem is that they’re going to be visible. And they’re going to be visible at night and they’re going to be visible during the day and they’re going to be lit up. I think this project is just too big and it’s in the wrong place.” I think many of us locally could echo that sentiment as well.
Certainly one can accuse them of “Nimbyism” but haven’t many of us also journeyed to “New England’s most famous resort” to enjoy all it offers? It’s a top tourist attraction for people from all over the world.
There are concerns closer to home as well. “New York State’s largest windmill farm to date (2008), the $400 million Maple Ridge project, features 195 medium-size (400-foot high) windmills, part of a windmill surge in upstate New York sparked by state and federal incentives. That project has generated great controversy even in its rural setting. According to area researcher Dr. Nina Pierpont, it has also created ‘wind turbine syndrome,’ a variety of ills such as inner ear problems, panic attacks and child misbehavior, all attributed to the low-frequency rumbling of the windmills. There are practical problems, too. If the structures are put totally in the boondocks, massive new transmission lines must be built to carry the power to where the people are.”
Admittedly most of these quotes are from the first years of the new century. What has happened since?
Dec. 19, 2017. “After 16 years — and $100 million of his own money — that dream is, well, gone with the wind. Mr. Gordon pulled the plug, stymied by endless litigation and a series of financial and political setbacks that undermined Cape Wind’s viability. The opposition was so relentless, well funded and determined that in all this time, no turbines were ever anchored to the ocean floor, no blades ever spun, no power ever generated.”
We weren’t so fortunate. “Stay away,” I would tell my friend.
“Coming back will only break your heart.”
Susan Crossett has lived outside Cassadaga for more than 20 years. A lifetime of writing led to these columns as well as two novels. Her Reason for Being was published in 2008 with Love in Three Acts following in 2014. Both novels are now available at Lakewood’s Off the Beaten Path bookstore. Information on all the Musings, her books and the author may be found at Susancrossett.com.