Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Town Meeting: Turbines, Wastewater, Restoration, and Much Emotion

What has lots of eyes and ears, many hands and feet, but only can speak with one voice? Town Meeting! It’s an unusual animal that takes getting to know. After a dozen years as a listener/voter, I decided to speak in favor of one of the articles last night …

Sven drives me up to the school gym due to the rain. Whoa! What’s this?? Red, white and blue placards wave under the portico. Instinctively I gravitate towards two ladies representing Sarah Peake and request a bumper sticker. Groups of well-wishers have gathered around two of the other candidates: Mr. Wolf and Mr. Perry. Usually there’s a circus inside. Never before have I seen such commotion outside.

Article 14 draws speakers because it involves $100,000 of Community Preservation Act Funds, and two earlier articles have already used CPA money: a Habitat for Humanity house and restoration of the Pond School. The $100,000 has been requested by the Cape Cod Modern House Trust for restoration of the Hatch Cottage. The Economic Development Committee asked me to relay our committee’s vote, in favor 5-0. I do so, then try to explain why preservation of the modern houses is worthwhile from an economic point of view, citing quotes from the international press. Fortunately the article passes and my first experience speaking to Town Meeting is a success.

“You did good,” EDC chair Paul Pilcher will tell me afterwards.

The wastewater study article gets a number of questions, but it passes, too.

Finally we reach the reason so many people are in attendance: the wind turbine! I reported in an earlier post how the Selectmen voted 5-0 to postpone this article and thereby squelch the idea. Moderator Terkanian explains that the request is to indefinitely postpone. But a number of Wellfleetians want to express themselves. He allows them to speak, but draws a line at catcalls. Over and over the moderator must remind speakers to stick to the issue at hand, postponement.

Lili Green states with quavering voice, “I was for wind energy. I’m a concerned citizen vehemently opposed to raising the height of the wind turbine.”

Nate Johnson declares, “We were led to believe it would be 100 feet at White Crest. I was really pissed. We got duped as a town. We need to kill the idea of building a huge tower in Wellfleet.”

Brent Harold says, “I feel the Selectmen made a mistake. I think we should have been able to vote on the article.”

At last Terkanian calls for a voice vote. It’s so close that he must recruit volunteers to count the purple voting cards. Members of the audience come and go for glasses of water, a breath of fresh air. Excitement is high. From the look on Terkanian’s face, I can tell the results are awfully close: 128 to 126. The article is indefinitely postponed ….

Readers, was anyone there? Did I do an okay job? How do you feel about the wind turbine? Are you glad the article was postponed?