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Townspeople Give Reunion Some Information At WR Informational Meeting May 14

May 15, 2012

The West Rutland town hall was full last night as a polite crowd of residents waited for Reunion power to give its informational presentation to the Select Board and to the Town.   And then the crowd waited, and waited.  Mr. Eisenberg was a full half hour late and claimed that he thought the meeting started at 7.    This did not go over well with the crowd who were first hopeful that Reunion might be a “no show” and who then were angry that they were treated so disrespectfully to be kept waiting.   Reunion’s late strategy did cause a few folks to leave before Eisenberg finished his presentation, but most stayed to the very end of the meeting.

The presentation did not reveal a site plan for the project which had been promised by Reunion on this date according to the town manager for WR.  The presentation appeared to be very ill prepared, with no concrete information provided about the specific project proposed for our area, but more vague and contradictory statements based on “best practices” and “our experiences elsewhere”.   Mr. Eisenberg actually repeated a slide and appeared disorganized.   He was prepared to dismiss some early concerns shared by towns people at earlier meetings with the Select Board because the Select Board has given him a list of questions prior to this meeting; however, these statements were also qualified so that the first statement was nullified by the second.  For example, he stated that hunting would be allowed on land leased by Reunion and that they would of course work cooperatively with the landowners.  But in the second statement, there was the condition that safety would have to be a consideration in any hunting allowed near the turbines.

I started the questions with the comment that an old horse trader once told me “Don’t worry about what I tell you, worry about what I DON’T tell you.”   I believe this comment echoed what most people in the room were feeling.   I then tied this to a question about Reunion’s repeated statements that the ANR opposition to the proposed project was based on a “desktop assessment” and was not based on any specific species who would be threatened.  I commented that what was not said here was any discussion of the importance of wildlife corridors and habitat connectivity.  My question was why we should put more validity on wildlife studies commissioned by Reunion (who has a vested interest in the outcome of said studies) than we would put on our own Agency of Natural Resources, who have been studying this for decades.

There were many well though-out as well as spontaneous, but all heartfelt, questions from the townspeople and a few from towns adjacent to our region.  The whole meeting was recorded by a PEG TV cameraman and will be published on PEG TV.

Finally, I would like to state in this article that I am grateful to the WR Select Board, who were very gracious in allowing townspeople to ask questions.   This is exactly the kind of open debate we need to have before even considering this project in our town or anywhere in our region.

Lisa Wright Garcia

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