Historic-district concerns stall YSU wind turbine project

By Denise Dick



A project to install wind turbines behind Melnick Hall at Youngstown State University has been postponed.

“That project has been delayed because the turbines were to be constructed there on Wick Avenue, north of Melnick Hall. And since that is actually a historic district, there needs to be an assessment made regarding the impact that the placement of those turbines will have on that area in terms of line of sight” and other factors, said Ron Cole, YSU spokesman.

The Wick Avenue neighborhood earned historic district designation on the National Register of Historic Places in the mid-1970s.

The university had received a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy for the turbines which were to be installed on 80-foot towers.

Students studying engineering technology were to collect and study data collected from the turbines.

Bill Lawson, president of the Mahoning Valley Historical Society, said that any time federal or state money is used for a project within a historic district, the Ohio Historic Preservation Office requires a review.

That assessment, conducted by an individual reviewer and filed with the state preservation office, will determine whether the project would have any negative impact on the district.

Martin Abraham, dean of YSU’s College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, said the $2 million DOE grant had three components, studying wind, solar and energy efficiency.

The solar and energy-efficiency components are complete. About $150,000 remains for two turbines for the wind component.

Abraham said the university is working on the project with a Cleveland-based company that makes a unique turbine blade.

“The original goal — and it’s still our intention – was to take their novel blade design and compare it to the traditional blade design with the two turbines in the same proximity,” the dean said.

A separate project involves a third wind turbine in the same general area that has a shorter blade. Students will compare the numerical calculations from the turbines.

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