Jonathan Gaska's telephone buzzed about 10 a.m. yesterday.
Assemb. Audrey Pheffer (D-Rockaway) was on the line and wanted to know what Gaska knew about a proposal to build a wind farm 10 miles off the shoreline of the Rockaways.
Gaska, district manager for Community Board 14 in the Rockaways, told Pheffer he had no answers for her. Officials with the governor's office, the city and the Long Island Power Authority didn't let Rockaways community leaders know of the plans before they became public, Rockaways officials said yesterday.
"I've been in government for 25 years," said Gaska. "The thing they tell you in planning is keep the stakeholders involved at every step. They haven't done that."
A year after the Jones Beach wind farm proposal was torpedoed, LIPA yesterday formally announced its plans to explore a new, larger proposal with Con Edison for as many as 100 turbines off the coast of Queens.
"We don't know enough about it to make an educated decision," Gaska said. Members of the public had called his office, Gaska said, and wanted to know if the wind turbines would spoil ocean views or cause pollution.
"I don't know," Gaska said. "It could be a good thing if they do a good job of explaining it."
Gov. David A. Paterson's renewable energy task force recommended wind power be introduced to the downstate region.
At a minimum, local Rockaways officials should have been notified, Pheffer said.
"I guess what I need is someone to take a boat out 10 miles and have them wave to me," Pheffer said. "I have no idea what 10 miles is."
Lack of notice aside, the proposal could still get a positive reception. With gasoline at $4 a gallon, and the economy sputtering, Queens residents might embrace a renewable energy plan close to home.
"I think people are willing to see," Pheffer said. "It's not drilling."
Dan Mundy, of Jamaica Bay Eco-Watchers, an environmental group, agreed economic conditions could play a role in how people perceive wind farms.
"It's got to start to change people's minds about these things," he said.
Peter Sammon, of the Neponset Property Owners Association, a development of 580 homes on the Rockaway peninsula, said not enough is known about the plan to form an opinion. "We need to have a lot of answers before we can determine if it makes sense," he said.