Proposed Wind Farm Upsets Blueberry Hill Residents  
Thursday, September 30, 2010

It was probably 30 years ago: The late Herman F. Becker, founder of Sterling Realty Co., and its allied Huguenot Development Corp., was showing his newest development, Blueberry Hill.

Set high to the Webster Gore, on a long upward climb to the Douglas line, where the hill turns to absolute height, Mr. Becker put his Jeep in low gear, pulling through undeveloped acreage above already occupied parts of the project, jostling the Jeep about and shaking his passenger (me) to a stop that tilted the all-terrain vehicle slightly skyward.

Herman exited with enthusiasm. He knew where he was. I got out of the Jeep slowly, carefully, wondering about footings. Mr. Becker mentioned proximity to Mount Daniels in Douglas.

He had a name in mind for the development: Dream Street. It surely seemed appropriate, the capstone to his undertaking, and actually a developer’s dream: A high-end project with outstanding views and all the home amenities of the time. Mr. Becker envisioned a place where people would want to live, if they could afford to. He was right.

The sections to Blueberry Hill became sought-after addresses. Young families with promising futures, like Robert Anders’ and Chad Pepin’s, to mention two that I know, set their stakes high on the hill and spent their dollars on dwellings that would bring pride and comfort to their loved ones. The neighborhood was made up of mostly like-minded people. They held desirable, valuable, safe investments.

So much for security. Now, the people that live on Blueberry Hill and in adjacent developments through the Upper Gore find their way of life threatened by development of a wind farm in Douglas at the Webster line, in some of their backyards, and there’s little they can do about it — except object, as they did Sept. 13 at a meeting with Webster selectmen, and make their case on the Internet.

This brings recall to the long, difficult, expensive, volunteer-driven battle that brought Webster and Douglas to the rallying cry that killed plans for a mega-landfill in Douglas at the Webster line. We can’t forget what this entailed. Now, we have a Webster line situation across the road.

People generally favor renewable energy, but production ought to be a decent distance from residential properties. If you think this is poppycock, pull up on your computer. Mr. Pepin, Mr. Anders and others have done their homework.

Give Deborah A. Keefe, chairman of selectmen, credit: She tried to explain background to the safety bump in front of the Webster Town Hall at a recent meeting.

The idea is to keep cars in the south-side travel lane. The post office’s mail box, now farther down the sidewalk, still brings motorists to the curb, but the slant to the bump forces them back where they belong.

The price for the awkward outcropping of concrete reads a couple of parking spaces, leaving, what, three on-street spots for people doing business at Town Hall? Or giving them the option to jaywalk across to the post office. The real costs may be in public cynicism.

Former Webster Selectman Robert J. Miller, edged for reelection in May, will probably run for the same office next year, judging from our recent conversation. It’s early, of course, but a cautious Mr. Miller seems to be doing the right things.

Our recent comment about Bill Jolda and his teen friends, how they thumbed about before Bill got to drive his father’s Graham automobile, brought recollections from Thomas W. Gorski.

“I was brought up on Lake Street, near Bembenek’s Garage, and remember when Jack Bembenek had the Graham agency,” says Tommy. The garage, next to a grocery, was on Lake Street at Beaudry Lane. The business name was Bem-Benek.

The Graham was a good automobile, but it wasn’t a great attraction in Webster, says Mr. Gorski. Yes, he remembers that William Jolda Sr. bought one, “but I don’t think Bembenek’s sold more than five or six in all.”

The Govina family on the Connecticut side of Thompson Road also had a Graham, says Mr. Gorski.

He’s strayed from his roots in Webster’s North Village, but Ray Siekierski, now with a Wilsonville, Conn., address, still talks about his buddy, Harry Tucker, and their teen years in the village.

Going across the French River to Dudley’s Jericho section was a kid thing to do, says Mr. Siekierski. “We used to have fun with some of the Jericho gang because no one knew where the name came from.”

As Ray intoned, “They still don’t know.”
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