Both Sides of the Fence

A Tosa resident since 1991, Christine walks the dog, cooks but avoids housework, writes and reads, and enjoys the company of friends and strangers. Her job takes her around the state, learning about people's health. A Quaker (no, they don't wear blue hats or sell oatmeal or motor oil), she has been known to stand on both sides of the political and philosophic fence at the same time, which is very uncomfortable when you think about it. She writes about pretty much whatever stops in to visit her busy mind at the moment. One reader described her as "incredibly opinionated but not judgmental." That sounds like a good thing to strive for!

Beauty doesn't count, except. . .

Underwood Parkway, American Transmission Company, Beauty, Transmission Lines, Public Service Commission

When it comes to making decisions about where to put soaring powerlines and other “gray infrastructure” in our community, aesthetics don’t really count for much. Ease, space, and cost – and convenience to the power company – do. So said the representatives of American Transmission Company (ATC) to the crowd packing Underwood School’s gym last night.

Apparently the Public Service Commission, the decider in these matters, has decreed that preservation of beauty can’t be the deciding factor where our private property, our houses and neighborhoods, and our parklands are concerned. Can't bury lines, which is much more expensive, just because they are wicked ugly.

But where corporate interests are involved, apparently, the rules change. When asked why consideration was given to buried powerlines on the wide-open spaces in the area called Innovation Park (the UWM engineering school land on the County Grounds), the otherwise sharp answers of these engineers got a little fuzzy.

“There’s no room.”

“What do you mean there’s no room? There’s nothing but space there.”

“But there will be buildings there someday, and we don’t want to interfere with them or with their aesthetics.”

So the powers that be are perfectly willing to destroy existing parkland fronting existing housing. But an unspoiled view for researchers and condo residents in buildings that may or may not exist in the future can't be debated. It's off the table.

Maybe you can explain that to me.

In the meantime, perhaps we need to persuade our commissions, transmission companies, energy providers, and elected representatives that they need to rethink that "beauty doesn’t count" thing.

First, you certainly can measure what beauty adds to property values and desirability of real estate. Money gained (or lost) with every sale; tax revenue.

What beauty and walkability in an area add to improved physical and mental health may be measurable, too.

What it does for our spirits is harder to measure. But humans need and crave beauty. No matter what neighborhood you live in, beauty counts.

Doesn't it?

If we don't start figuring this out now, what will be sacred? What will be left?

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