shoreline erosion / seasonal changes / effects on recreation / wave dynamics
With its giant oil tanks and towering cement silos, accessing Oswego's Maritime District can be a little intimidating to a first time visitor. That's how professional artist and transplanted Oswegonian Debra Daniels felt the first time she ventured onto the port authority pier, which begins at the foot of First Street on the west side of Oswego River.
"The warning signs...so severe...I turned around," she said this morning, while working on the second of three schooners that along with an imaginative paint scheme are about to turn what used to be a forbidding fence bordering the district into an appealing attraction.
The wooden fence surrounds the oil tanks and terminal operated by Sprague Energy. Ms. Daniels laughed. "I never imagined it would involve so much work. The wood had to be pressure washed, and then primed - which soaked up a lot more paint than we thought."
The project has been underway several weeks, and is an all-volunteer effort. Sprague Energy provided the labor for the pressure wash and took care of materials, and Raby's Lumber donated the paint at cost.
by guest editor and author Art Tirrell
THE NEED TO REMAIN SPECIAL
“When development occurs on or in the vicinity of a well-recognized landmark or outstanding view, it can have a dramatic affect upon whether people still consider that place special."
New Hampshire Office of Energy and Planning
In an era when communities across the nation have taken to burying utility wires because they recognize that they are detrimental to the view; when states have begun to regulate the location of structures such as signs and cell towers because they affect the viewshed; and in a time when governments are more receptive than ever to the concept that scenic points and vistas are a community’s most precious assets; and when states and localities have designed and implememented plans to protect waterways and estuaries from encroachment by industry, it seems incomprehensible that the governor of New York could be so out of touch with the national mood as to spearhead something like the Great Lakes Offshore Wind initiative.
Granted, an increase in the supply of electricity could benefit everyone, but at what cost to our national identity do we undertake this particular campaign? It's a money-maker to developers who will be subsided to the point their tonsils float, but to those communities on the lakeshore, the GLOW can only be seen as an all-out assault on the most important asset they possess: their view.
“…an extremely high percent of human sensory experience is visual…”
New Hampshire Office of Energy and Planning
In New Hampshire, they've been thinking about this issue longer than we have. Here’s a paragraph introducing their instructions to communities:
“The natural landscape and visual quality of a community provide it with a sense of pride and individuality, setting it apart from other places. Special vistas, views and scenic areas contribute significantly to the quality of life, add to the value of property, and enhance the desirability and livability of a community. People respond positively to places that are visually appealing... When development occurs on or in the vicinity of a well-recognized landmark or outstanding view, it can have a dramatic affect upon whether people still consider that place special.”
These are not the words of some obscure N.I.M.B.Y. zealot. They are the reasoned conclusions of a state agency, and they are echoed by others such as Napa County, California which enacted a scenic viewshed ordinance that pertains to development on hillsides. Virginia regulates the height and location of cell towers and billboards. Florida made Indian River Lagoon a National Estuary and protected it from visual degradation in a corridor management plan. In Idaho, the Transportation Department’s Scenic Byways program aids communities by providing sample corridor management plans.
Communities and those who live in them love their landscapes, but often tend to take them for granted. Without proactive measures in place, industrial growth, which at first can appear to be beneficial by promising jobs and other economic benefits, can threaten the pristine nature of the area and diminish or destroy its positive elements.
“Natural scenic beauty supports a number of important community elements, including the natural environment, community quality of life and character, and local economies. These viewsheds often contain relatively large natural areas and provide the benefits associated with the included ecosystems, such as watersheds and unfragmented habitat. The beauty of these areas contributes to the short-term and long-term quality of life for the people and communities who experience them.” Indiana Department of Transportation
"In this context, protecting views may be considered an extension of the concept of promoting the general health and welfare of a community and region.” NHOEP
It is clear that unworldly windtowers anywhere in Lake Ontario would be detrimental to the health and welfare of everyone living within sight of them – and since the proposed units will be 400’ tall, out in the water with no terrain to conceal them, they will be visible to a radius of twenty miles or more. In our opinion, permitting them to be constructed will sound the death knell to yet another of our land's fast-disappearing natural wonders, because afterward, on the north coast and along New York's Seaway Trail, people will no longer be able to look out over the water, and see a "special" place.
© 2010 Art Tirrell
Taking a page from the classic Grimm Brothers fairy tale, the International Joint Commission (IJC), which oversees the St. Lawrence Seaway and controls Lake Ontario water levels, has proposed the adoption of new discharge management plan D+ (as revised) to become effective next year. In doing so, the commission promised that in two years environmental groups and recreational boaters could have the plan they favored (plan B+), but only if they first successfully complete three rather daunting tasks.
The tasks are mitigation measures IJC says will be needed if B+ is implemented:
1 - Create and implement shoreline protection (high water) for all at-risk areas, and demonstrate that the measures are in place and working as designed. Among these measures are breakwaters, beach nourishment and other habitat restoration measures.
2 - Deepen channels that would be at risk during low water conditions by dredging and other measures.
3 - Convince federal, state, provincial and local governments to act as follows: public acquisition of properties that can not be otherwise protected from high water; low interest loans where at-risk properties can be protected; institute stricter floodplain and land use programs; zoning changes.
For the full text of the Tirrell article, click here.