Editorial: A fine vista revived

Posted 10/4/18

For all who cherish a good view, great news from the owners of those twin towering Somerset eyesores that grab attention from every part of Mount Hope Bay and beyond.

The owners announced recently …

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Editorial: A fine vista revived

Posted

For all who cherish a good view, great news from the owners of those twin towering Somerset eyesores that grab attention from every part of Mount Hope Bay and beyond.

The owners announced recently that the massive towers will come down next month— apparently in dramatic fashion with a planned implosion.

The demolition will be good both as treat for the eye and as dramatic repudiation of the current administration’s bizarre love affair with coal. Especially sweet is the possibility that the same land will host on-shore operations for offshore wind farms.

If it actually happens in a month or so as promised, this disappearance will be in sharp contrast to the slow-motion demolition of another blot on the area landscape — the rusting former Sakonnet River Bridge whose dismantling has been going on seemingly forever.

Once notorious for its standing as New England's worst air polluter, the Somerset coal-fired power plant also became a leader among visual polluters.

They started out as a pair of lumps on the Mount Hope Bay horizon. Soon, nobody could miss the behemoths that looked for all the world like nuclear power plant towers. They kept climbing and grew to a startling height of nearly 500 feet each (406-foot diameter at the base) by the time the job was done.

The region's tallest structures — they loom 70 feet above the tallest building in Providence and are taller than any New England building outside Boston — they dominate the view throughout Narragansett Bay and into Southeastern Massachusetts.

Mighty ugly, they were built to do a good thing — cool the hot water the plant had pumped into the bay for decades, a steamy outfall that was blamed for altering the bay’s ecology and killing fish by the millions.

The towers were apparently good at this, up until the owners reached the same conclusion as owners of similar plants — coal power plants no longer make economic sense.

The 'nuclear' towers have long tainted the look and feel of this beautiful waterway, provided a ghastly first impression to visitors, harmed the area's ability to lure more attractive ventures, and diminished the value of investments already made here.

People here deserve to get their view back.

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.