Culver park board votes to oppose wind turbine placement
Culver's Parks and Recreations board voted to formally express its opposition to placement of more than 60 45-story wind turbines in an area including land affecting the Culver-Lake Maxinkuckee community, at the board's monthly meeting August 3.
The decision grew from discussion of a then-upcoming "town hall" style meeting at the Culver Elementary School August 13. Board member Patty Stallings said the company proposing to place the turbines, Next Era Energy of Florida, has visited Culver's Lions and Kiwanis Clubs and Lake Maxinkuckee Environmental Council.
"They're being up front about what they're going to do," she said, "so we can be up front about whether we want it or not."
Stallings added 18 of the turbines would likely be visible from the town park, if placed as planned.
"People come to the park to participate in the beauty of nature," she noted. "They want to enjoy the lake, the sailboats, the grass -- to see man-made structures like that, to me, flies in face of natural beauty. I couldn't see a reason why we would benefit from it at all. Maybe we as a nation will benefit, but I think there are so many subsidies going into it, when the subsidies run out, this will run out."
Fellow board member Ed Behnke suggested the board vote to take a position against the turbines' local placement.
"I think it's a stupid use of concrete and steel," he said. "In Indiana I don't think we have enough space that makes any sense, that doesn't have a house within a mile. You can't put 18 (turbines) within a mile and a half of Culver without being close to a house. This will be a disaster, and how will we get them out of the ground? It's stupid."
Board member Tammy Shaffer said, "I haven't heard a positive yet (about the project), between this board and the Lake Maxinkuckee Environmental Council. I was there when the gentleman (from Next Era) presented simulations."
Stallings suggested local boards taking a position against the project could have an impact on county officials, who will make the final determination regarding allowing the project to take place.
The board voted against placement of the turbines on the basis of their aesthetic impact on the park.
In other discussion, park superintendent Kelly Young, noting many people ignore signs posted in the park and swim non-swimming piers placed there, described additional fencing planned to be added on both sides of the swimming beach. She said the fishing pier located just west of the beach will have sides added to make it less inviting for boaters to drive up and drop off or pick up passengers, or to leave boats tied up. The pier's new configuration will be in an "L" shape, she added.
Young said she presented the upcoming park budget to both Culver's town council and Union Township's advisory board, who she said "really liked" project ideas such as adding a restroom to the west pavilion area of the park. Union Township, in order to trim its own budget, will allocate to the park $12,000 instead of the projected $16,000, said Young.
Young noted the park's 2011 round of swimming lessons totaled 47 students in three sessions, and said the Lake Fest games provided by the park were well attended as well.
An Eagle Scout project is expected to be completed in September, Young said, which will honor a Potawatomi chief whose village sat on the shores of Lake Maxinkuckee. It was noted funding is needed to complete payment for the plaque to be placed on the recently-landscaped boulder at the west end of the Indian Trails (see article this issue).
Beginning the week of August 15, the beach lodge will begin closing at 5 p.m., Young explained; staff is dwindling at the winding down of summer, she said.
Board member Leon Bennett reported he's researching a floating pier to replace the current, aforementioned fishing pier, though removal of a floating pier could be a challenge, from an equipment standpoint, each winter.
Stallings complimented Young on the five-year master plan drafted for the park, which she said "was a big help to a board member."
She also urged Young to continue to look into purchase of Quickbooks accounting software and an interfaced point-of-sale cash register for efficient and thorough management of park monies. Young said she's been discussing the matter with town clerk Casey Howard and plans to wait until the new budget year to move forward with the possible purchase.