PROSPECT — Save Prospect Corp. has retracted its request for the town to reimburse it for expenses incurred in the fight against industrial wind turbines in Prospect.
Save Prospect President Tim Reilly submitted a letter to Prospect Town Council Chair Tom Galvin Tuesday explaining the group did not wish to create any further division within the town.
“We respect the opinions of the taxpayers and fully recognize first-hand that the petition process itself created enough stress for our neighbors,” Reilly wrote in the letter.
The group had previously asked the town to help foot the bill for its legal advice and expert witnesses, totaling over $125,000.
The group claimed that the town left it on its own to oppose the wind turbines they believed would affect their health, safety and quality of life.
The Connecticut Siting Council denied BNE Energy’s petition to build two turbines in Prospect May 12.
In his letter, Reilly said the money the group spent fighting the turbines was necessary to protect Prospect residents and convince the Siting Council that the residential site was not appropriate for commercial wind energy.
“Save Prospect Corp. did the right thing in stepping forward to protect the rights of town’s residents last November and we proudly scored a victory this past May 12 for our neighbors, yet at considerable expense to many town’s residents, as we have already shared with the council,” Reilly wrote.
In a separate interview, Reilly said he spoke with the group’s executive committee and they decided to continue seeking private donations rather than demanding reimbursement from all the town’s taxpayers.
“The last thing we want to do is offend taxpayers,” Reilly said.
He said the group still believes the town should have stepped up to fight for their cause, but recognizes that it is too late after the fact. He said he understands there is another side to the issue and that those who had favored the turbines have been respectful of his group’s efforts.
Since the group requested funds from town coffers, Reilly said Save Prospect has received more donations to alleviate the $60,000 debt the group now holds.
“The response we have gotten from residents has been overwhelmingly supportive,” Reilly said.
He said he was hoping to spread the burden of the costs to defeat the wind turbines beyond the group’s core membership to everyone in the town who benefited from its efforts.
Even with donations coming in, Reilly said he expects it to take a year or two to pay off the debt.
“We have a long, long way to go,” Reilly said.
He said the group’s fundraising committee is looking into taking out a loan.
“We don’t know how we’re going to tackle this,” he said. “It’s not going to be easy.”
Save Prospect is currently selling raffle tickets as a fundraiser. The group will draw raffle winners Saturday at Café 68 in Prospect at 1 p.m.
“We’re hoping that the townspeople, knowing what we’ve done or them, will find it in their hearts to give a little to help us reduce these expenses,” Reilly said.
Town Council Chair Tom Galvin said he was pleased with Save Prospect’s decision not to continue to request to have taxpayer dollars used to help offset their expenses. “This project had certainly emerged as one of the most divisive that Prospect had seen in several decades,” Galvin wrote in an e-mail.
Galvin pointed to other projects Prospect residents rallied against in the past, including radio and cell towers other groups successful kept out of their neighborhoods.
“Admittedly, Save Prospect’s effort was perhaps more controversial and certainly more expensive, but the message is the same; people can make a difference,” Galvin wrote in an e-mail.
Based on comments that he’d received, Galvin said the vast majority of Prospect residents felt that this would not be a proper use of taxpayer dollars, and that doing so would set a dangerous precedent. However, Galvin said, many families in the project’s proposed area now find themselves burdened with some significant debt.
“While no taxpayer funds will be used, I’ve made a small personal donation to help those folks out and encourage anyone who is of a mind to do so to do the same. Again, in Prospect it’s people that make the difference,” Galvin wrote.
Anyone interested in donating to the group can visit www.saveprospect.com to donate via Paypal or send check to Save Prospect Corp., 42 Woodcrest Drive, Prospect, CT 06712.