1. Given that Enerdu is applying for a building permit, the window of opportunity to have any influence on how the project looks is closing.
2. The moratorium proposed on development in the Heritage Conservation District is primarily aimed at slowing or stopping the Enerdu project, but it will also stop projects that are about to happen that would add to the economic health of the downtown.
In “The Friendly Town” it’s uncomfortable to voice any tolerance for the Enerdu project. The opposition is passionate and vocal, but there is a large contingent who are simply quiet because they don’t think it is necessarily so terrible or don’t want to be a pariah in a social situation. The odds are high that the project will go ahead in some form. If so, the question to me is one of design. I agree that the only drawing I have seen makes the project appear more imposing than is perhaps necessary or desirable. I believe that an expanded turbine structure can be made attractive. Clever architecture could turn it into a green island with planting on tiered sides and top. Perhaps the high bulk indicated in early renderings could be modified with a low profile openable roof for the occasions when turbines and other equipment need to be pulled out. An exposed gantry could be an exciting industrial design element and a visible reference to our industrial past.
The Heritage Impact Study made good suggestions regarding cladding and scale. I have no problem with the look of an Obermeyer weir though I’m happy that the proponent acquiesced to the community and located it on the current flash board location. I wonder how many have been inside the apartments in the flour mill. The commitment to good design is evident. I think that there is a desire to make an addition to the building equally good, but how to do that will be a challenge. The sensitivity of the architectural envelope around the engineering requirements is extremely important. There are clever people on both sides of this issue. There is good intent on both sides and not all engineers are willing to sacrifice their integrity for a client and ignore the potential for catastrophic events.
I will leave the criticism of the science and engineering to scientists and engineers though our local hydro officials indicate that the Enerdu project will make the Town owned power plant more efficient and therefore more profitable. I support a Heritage Conservation District and a second level of design oversight, especially in the downtown. However, I believe that a moratorium on developments in the conservation district for up to a year will hurt and may do more harm than good. There will be a year’s moratorium on development and then a year of tearing up the streets for the planned replacement of sewers etc. The downtown is only just starting to thrive, but it is still fragile . There is a bigger picture and the proposed moratorium will not help.