Island Park doesn’t generate daily headlines — and residents like it that way. This historic community is best known for its great public schools and library, and a sense of community that make it an appealing place to live. Generations of residents value their village and don’t see many reasons to change. Why mess with hometown perfection?
Yet for over 60 years, the village has dealt with air pollution and other problems stemming from its hulking neighbor, the E.F. Barrett Power Station — a familiar landmark that has cast a literal shadow for generations. It also reflects a fossil-fueled technology that has been mandated to disappear. And after a bitter fight between Island Park and the Long Island Power Authority over Barrett’s property taxes, they have been dramatically reduced, which will now impact village homeowners.
New York state’s march to embrace an energy future free of fossil-fuel emissions comes at an interesting time. An opportunity has arrived in the form of offshore wind. Whether or not the promised jobs and economic activity from this multi-billion-dollar industry ever emerge, there is a “green” wind farm project being proposed for some 15 miles off Nassau County’s South Shore. The cable bringing its power to our region’s electric grid would route underground to a proposed substation near the Barrett plant.
Because that’s what we Long Islanders do, local critics have launched a variety of campaigns opposed to the plan. From suggesting the electromagnetic fields generated by the underground cable will cause deformities to attacking the corporate credentials of the international company proposing to build the wind farm, Equinor, they have sought to block its construction.
Science will have to address some of those concerns, but if recent history reveals anything, the Neptune cable, finished in 2007, runs power 65 miles from New Jersey to beneath Jones Beach before heading north to a substation. None of the millions of beach-goers who walk and swim above it have reported electromagnetic distress, much less been aware of the cable’s presence.
Ronald J. Rosenberg has been an attorney for 42 years, concentrating in commercial litigation and transactions, and real estate, municipal, zoning and land use law. He founded the Garden City law firm Rosenberg Calica & Birney in 1999.