Thursday, 03 April 2014 00:00
For the past year, I’ve appealed to National Grid and our political representatives to hold off demolition of the Glenwood Landing power plant—the almost 100-year-old, historically and architecturally unique Long Island landmark—until full consideration can be given to ways this landmark building might be most advantageously repurposed as a commercial, tax-paying enterprise as quickly as possible, and its prime waterfront revitalized and made accessible for our Glenwood Landing-North Shore-Hempstead Harbor communities.
National Grid is demolishing the GWL plant, as planned, to reduce its tax assessment. It will “warehouse” the minimally remediated, paved-over, fenced-off property for “future energy use”—leaving Glenwood Landing’s waterfront inaccessible, unused and, for the present, not generating badly needed revenues to make up for the loss of taxes from the utility. Once the building is gone, any hope for Glenwood Landing’s renewal and waterfront revitalization will be lost. Given the utility’s history and recent installations, we can expect a proliferation of transmission infrastructure, turbines and substations on that site.
I had no illusions about the futility of my project in the face of National Grid’s enormous power and influence. But, if history has anything at all to teach us, it is that powerlessness does not justify silence. If enough powerless people speak up, power can sometimes shift . . . or not. About 900 area residents signed a petition to “Save the Glenwood Landing power plant,” which I will forward to National Grid and all our political representatives (join us; sign the petition: change.org).
We tried. We did not fail. National Grid and our political representatives failed us.
While National Grid’s power and self-interest represent the inescapably harsh and pragmatic reality of the corporate bottom line, we must look elsewhere for the truth about the company’s and our politicians’ behavior. We need look no further than our simplest fables and popular fantasy literature to understand the timeless and enduring truths about human nature. We would do well to take Dr. Seuss’ Lorax and Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings to heart, for example, for their unflinching truths about unfettered capitalism and power, namely that they invariably devastate the communities and environments they exploit . . . UNLESS . . .