A giant crane at Varian Semiconductor Associates, visible from Route 128, propped up the soon-to-be wind turbine’s first base section Friday morning, drawing attention from Gloucesterites and local employees on the windy drizzly day.
Many employees at the Varian division of Applied Materials, high above most of the city at Blackburn Industrial Park, have been parking a little further away for the last few days, since the crane moved into one of the building’s parking lots and two turbine blades and a few base pieces cover more than half of another commercial-sized lot.
But, even with frostier weather nipping through, some employees have not minded the walk. It gives them a chance to watch Gloucester’s first industrial wind turbine, believed to be the largest one in the northeast, come together, Shannon Turner of Verian’s wafer environmental team said.
”It’s worth the lost parking,” Turner said.
Turner’s work team had flocked out for a photo next to one of the windmill’s curved blades, which spanned along about 15 parking spaces. A team member knocked on the gray mass, another cocked his head to check out the curvature. The team even posed for a photo next to the expansive blade.
A security camera propped atop the building angles toward the construction site, and employees can view the progress in real time from their internal computer system. But, Turner said, since the camera only hosts 25 viewers at any given time, the office can be sort of vying for views at times.
”Everybody’s fighting to get on it every day,” Turner said.
That’s also why many find themselves wandering toward the site at lunchtime. Greg Gibilano and a colleague found themselves outside looking up at the turbine work. Gibilano said everyone checks it out and colleagues swap photos and videos of the progress.
”You get inspired by all this engineering,” Gibilano said.
Gloucester resident Mike Dailey is retired and never worked at Varian, but still, he comes out to see the progress each day, he said. Dailey said it’s exciting to watch each piece come together and he wonders about how the work crews will complete each step.
”It’s nice to see Gloucester on the move,” Dailey said.
Construction workers in yellow jackets and hard hats milled in and around the base, entering the actual base piece through a side door, climbing a ladder within it, carrying parts and tools up a curved hillside toward the piece. The workers, meanwhile, zipped around like worker elves in a fairy-tale factory.
As the lunch hour came to a close Friday and raindrops started to fall, most of their audience began to head back inside. Still, one family lingered among the turbine parts. Ralph Bolognese, a finance employee at Varian, was visiting with his wife Karen and children who have come for a lunchtime visit, this time featuring a special display.
”They’ve seen windmills before,” Bolognese said. “But never up close like this.”
His oldest child, 6-year-old Anne Bolognese skipped toward the turbine parts.
”I think it’s cool how long it is,” Anne said, her head tilted toward the blade, hands tucked against her green polka-dotted rain coat.
Karen Bolognese held her one-year-old son Andrew up to the turbine and he reached out to feel the smooth gray expanse.
Ralph, holding their other son, 3-year-old Will, said he looks forward to future visits from his family, when the kids can continue learning about the turbine and see it in action.
”It will be cool for them to come back and see it up and going,” Bolognese said.
Marjorie Nesin can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3451, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.