Letter: Are we exchanging one commercial venture for another?
The Mathews Land Conservancy has applied for a permit to construct a huge, two-story multi-use facility over more than 7,000 square feet of tidal wetlands at Williams Wharf on the East River. This facility would be a major expansion of 389 percent over the footprint of the old Armistead oil building demolished in August 2011, which covered approximately 1,800 square feet of tidal wetlands.
In addition to the facility, some of the Conservancy’s proposed projects on the wharf, such as wind turbines to generate electrical power, are disconcerting. Robert Bryce of the Manhattan Institute wrote in a Jan. 19, 2012 Wall Street Journal article, "Small is Beautiful—So Go Nuclear," that "Wind turbines have a proven density of about one watt per square meter." Therefore, the benefits of the low power the wind turbines would generate (approximately 13 percent) will not exceed the detriments of noise pollution and endangerment to birds and waterfowl. For those living within hearing distance of these turbines, their home values and peaceful life on the water will never be the same.
Events at Williams Wharf should not deny residents access to and egress from their homes. A fundraising activity held at Williams Wharf on Oct. 27, 2012 resulted in a three-hour closure of Route 614 that denied residents access to their homes during preparations for the arrival of Superstorm Sandy—an unacceptable situation that may be repeated for future events.
I object to the re-commercialization of Williams Wharf. My objection does not mean I oppose the water-related activities at the wharf, which require a reasonable facility to sustain them. I object to the construction of a huge, non-water-dependent, multi-purpose facility with expanded encroachment over tidal wetlands that will be a commercial enterprise rented for private, non-aquatic events that close the wharf to public access.
The Conservancy obtained Williams Wharf on the premise it would be saved from commercialization after residents successfully opposed the expansion of an existing marina. After 20 years, have we come full circle by exchanging one commercial venture for another?
Stephen E. Wilson
Williams Wharf Road