Boothbay, Boothbay Harbor may receive community benefit from wind project

Fri, 11/18/2022 - 1:00pm

A proposed experimental wind project may result in a community benefit for Boothbay and Boothbay Harbor residents, as a local residents group is in discussions with project administrator New England Aqua Ventus to provide a gift beneficial to the impacted community. 

For several months, local residents have discussed a community benefits agreement with NEAV. East Boothbay resident Nell Tharpe updated Boothbay selectmen Nov. 9 on the group’s progress. She repeated her presentation Nov. 14 to Boothbay Harbor selectmen. Tharpe reported the citizens group first organized as a response to unannounced NEAV survey work in the village. Later, the group began meeting in Boothbay Region YMCA and the conversation morphed into a possible community benefits agreement with NEAV. Tharpe reported the agreement could call for one or two projects valued up to $1 million. “NEAV is asking that the project have a health or safety component. The group has been working on creating a list of possibilities,” she said. Among the proposals are a sidewalk or bike path from the CMP substation to Bigelow Laboratories along with improved traffic and public safety solutions for the East Boothbay village, water and sewer expansion, and school improvements. 

The presentation’s purpose is to involve both select boards in crafting a community benefits agreement. Tharpe told selectmen any agreement with NEAV must be with municipal officials, not residents. “We want as many people as possible to participate in the discussions, but only the towns can enter into an agreement,” she said. 

Tharpe reported the group has a community outreach effort which includes sending postcards with project and community benefit agreement information. The group also includes a QR (quick response) code linking to more information. The group also lists previously suggested community benefit proposals in communications.

The group is asking both select boards to work on a proposal, whether it’s a single one benefiting both towns, or projects which are a specific need for each town. “Send us the information so the board can discuss it, and decide how to proceed,” Board Chairman Mike Tomko said.

The community group continues to meet the first and third Thursdays from 5 to 6 p.m. at BRYMCA. Tharpe encouraged selectmen and all interested citizens to attend either in-person or by Zoom. She also reported NEAV is looking for a proposal in November 2023.