Letter: Library Solar

A rendering of the path and "solar ribbon" the Desmond-Fish Library would like to install in Garrison.

A rendering of the path and "solar ribbon" the Desmond-Fish Library had planned to install in Garrison.

As you have reported, the Desmond-Fish Public Library is seeking approval to build a solar-panel array on its property. When Alice Curtis Desmond donated the money to build the library on open fields recently used for hay, she probably did not expect the landscape to be defaced with any structure, and certainly not one as visually unappealing as a solar-panel array.

Solar energy is vital to the U.S., and we are fortunate that there are potential sites for panels all over the country. The limited open space surrounding the library is part of the open land that forms the center of Garrison and makes its character. We have established a conservation easement on the fields we own across the road from the library and the state has taken action to further this conservation.

Gas stations and garbage dumps have to be put somewhere. The tiny amount of land owned by the library is not the place for them and solar panels are in the same category. Power from renewable energy can be bought through Central Hudson. And the library cannot engage in the commercial enterprise of selling excess power to Central Hudson that would violate zoning and the terms or spirit of the Desmond gift. You will not find solar panels in Central Park or on the Mall in Washington, nor on the White House lawn. They do not belong at our library.

David Ward, Garrison

10 thoughts on “Letter: Library Solar

  1. I support the site plan for the Desmond-Fish Public Library. As a neighbor — I walk to the Library from my home on Fox Hollow Lane several times a week — and as an avid organic gardener, I am looking forward to watching the Library’s vision unfold.

    This is especially true of the solar array, which has inspired me to think about adding solar power to my own property. Solar power has always been appealing in concept, but the typical industrial solar field offends my sense of aesthetics. The library’s plan solves this dilemma with a solar “ribbon” that will wind its way sinuously around the grounds. It should look like an outdoor art installation, which just happens to deliver electricity.

    The library’s vision seems to be inspiring other people, also. Major portions of the project are being paid for with private donations; most of the rest will be covered by state grants. That pleases me as a taxpayer, and as a library trustee, charged with the stewardship of the library’s resources.

    I hope this plan for beautiful, responsible use of the library’s grounds is approved.

  2. The solar display is nothing but virtue signaling on the part of the library trustees or whomever else came up with this appalling idea. If it’s not virtue signaling and instead is supposed to be a money-saving operation, please let us know exactly how much money will be saved by this venture. It should be note that the only reason solar panels (made in China, by the way) are at all cost effective is because they are subsidized by the taxpayers.

    As the original poster said, the library can purchase politically correct solar energy via Central Hudson rather than destroying the beautiful natural landscape that surrounds the DFL and which adds so much to its charm.

    It is beyond my comprehension that the library trustees would so tone deaf when it comes to an environmental debacle like this one. Let us hope that less woke voices prevail.

  3. I understand people’s frustration with solar panels, but what I don’t understand is the “not in my backyard” mentality of neighbors. I hope to see solar panels on The Mall and on the White House lawn to show we’re serious about correcting our planet’s course.

    We can’t imagine what is or isn’t in the spirit of the Desmond gift. I imagine it was designed for the betterment of the local area, which solar panels could certainly do to help. I would hope selling excess power, if any, could help the library to serve our community better. The addition of the technology lab in the basement has my mind at ease that the library directors have a great plan to stay relevant and serve the community in a time when libraries are losing funding around the country. [via Facebook]

  4. If anything helps the public good, the rich will oppose it. Look at the outrage over the Shakespeare Festival’s move. [via Facebook]

  5. The Desmond-Fish Public Library solar ribbon array project is intended only to meet a portion of the library’s energy requirements. There has never been any plan or intention to sell energy. Full details of the project are available at desmondfishlibrary.org.

    Prentice is the president of the library board.

  6. One aspect being proposed for the Desmond-Fish library master plan is the erection of more than 100 solar panels cutting across the meadow north of the library. The designer has referred to this solar panels installation as a “ribbon” and has compared this proposed permanent installation to the temporary artwork of the world renowned artist, Christo Yavacheff. I have seen Christo’s work. It is delightful. But there is a reason why the submitted artist’s rendering of the proposed solar ribbon only shows the perspective from the library and at a distance.

    In reality, solar panels are rigid and rectilinear and do not look anything like a ribbon. In addition, these solar panels will face due south, exposing their gantry wiring, extruded metal framing and structural posts to all southbound travelers on Garrison’s Route 9D Scenic Byway. The backside of a solar panel is a crude industrial look and does not belong in a Scenic Overlay District or on a Scenic Byway.

    The Philipstown Town Board first recognized in 2006 the importance of preserving the bucolic nature of the Garrison meadows and other vistas needing protection along Route 9D. This concern led to the creation of the Route 9D Scenic Byway Corridor Management Plan to maintain “the scenic, residential, and historic nature of the road,” which these industrial utility components clearly violate. Fortunately, the Philipstown Planning Board has held open its public hearing on the placement of solar panels in the meadow north of the library. The public needs to understand what is being considered and the threat it poses to our primary Scenic Byway.

    Also of concern, the method of installing the solar panels calls for the use of ground screw anchors, which are notorious for tilting out of alignment, especially in single point, asymmetrical wind-loading configurations in soft soils, such as are adjacent to the wetlands and in most of the meadow north of the library. Who is going to maintain the ribbon of panels? There are many practical as well as aesthetic reasons why Christo’s public art is temporary; well photographed, but always temporary.

  7. Garrison residents have much for which to be grateful. The character and beauty of our community is the most important asset we have. I agree that solar energy is a critical part of our national, state and local energy plan. However, I am not in favor of reflective metal columns elevated 8 feet out of the ground extending over 416 feet in the meadow and partial wetland. Have all green energy options been considered?

    I ask the library and our Planning Board to reconsider this proposal. Let’s work together to find an eco-responsible, as well as historically sensitive, solution that will work for both the library and the community.

  8. Libraries in New York State are chartered by the New York State Board of Regents and are a vital component of the state’s education system. Each of us can recall a learning experience we had in a library, whether through a book, a computer, a public program or a friendly librarian. And, libraries are ever-evolving; besides educational institutions, they are information portals, job-finding resources, modern-day community centers, and keystones of democracy.

    As a Garrison resident, I’ve served as a trustee of Mid-Hudson Library System and the Desmond-Fish Public Library. At Desmond-Fish, I’ve been part of board’s efforts over the years to achieve sustainability in all of our operations, in providing the best possible services to our patrons. The solar project and walking path that are before the Philipstown Planning Board are an important part of that effort.

    Looking to reduce our energy consumption and carbon footprint, the Desmond-Fish library has sought solutions that also provide an educational opportunity for our community. Our outdoor and solar plan seeks to alleviate the concern about solar arrays by being aesthetically pleasing. We secured state grants that prioritize energy sustainability to hire a respected landscape architecture firm with experience in photovoltaic installations, and held open community forums to learn from our neighbors and present a range of options. After much learning and deliberation, we recommend the plan presented to the Planning Board. You can see our Master Site Plan on the library website and learn more about it, and I urge you to do so.

  9. The solar panel installation proposed by the Desmond-Fish Library contradicts the intent, spirit and language of the following state and local ordinances: Highway Law 88, Route 9D Scenic Byway Corridor Management Plan, Scenic Protection Overlay District Regulations, Philipstown Greenway Committee and the New York Department of State designation of the Garrison Four Corners as a Scenic Area of Statewide Significance (SASS). SASS regulates that which will “diminish the scenic quality of an identified resource.”

    Pointing out these regulations (several of which were made by committees comprised in part by library board members) isn’t a case of “not in my backyard” any more than calling the police would be if you were witnessing a crime. The library is treating the field in question as if it was their backyard, enabling them to ignore the regulations cited above. Describing the solar hardware as a ribbon and/or art is misdirection.

    The library has indicted they have “less visible” locations in which to place the panels. It is incumbent upon them to do so.