Editorial: Time to go to work

Sun, 10/13/2013 - 2:00pm

A startling, but quite true, statement was made to the paper last week. That statement was, in effect, that the headlines that filled the pages of The Block Island Times years ago — even decades ago — were still the topics of conversation on the island today.

To wit: what to do about the ticks, what to do about the tourists, what to do about electric rates, what to do about internet service (a newer topic, but still important), what to do about housing, to name but a few.

The underlying indication is this: there’s been an awful lot of talk out here, but little gets done. (To be fair, discussions on the deer tick issue seem to be progressing, if slower than some people would like.)

But take the discussion that began last winter about drug and alcohol abuse on the island. The issue was initiated by the frightening death of a 21-year old man, a young man who loved the island, and some people were full of indignation and energy about not letting this happen again.

After several talks that showed real promise, the issue quickly petered out. Now that we are entering the quiet, darker months, perhaps this is an opportune time to begin that discussion once again. It would be truly awful if another tragedy occurred on this island in the aftermath of this year’s earlier drug-related death.

Also, the Town Council, at the suggestion of Councilor Chris Warfel, has created an infrastructure committee to look at the condition of and to catalogue the inventory of town-owned buildings and property. This group is looking for volunteers with engineering and electrical experience. Anyone who is interested should submit a letter of interest to the Town Council.

That said, a survey that was issued by the Block Island Chamber of Commerce, which included some raw assessments about Block Island’s business environment, or lack thereof, seems to have spurred on some much-needed discussion that we hope will lead to real action.

The Chamber and the Tourism Council, at the invitation of First Warden Kim Gaffett, will meet with the Town Council about what can be done to address issues the business community has. These issues, the tardy opening of the Beach Pavilion, overflowing trash barrels, parking, and others, are well-known, so there does not have to be a lot of discussion about that.

The three most prominent groups on the island must find a way to work together so progress will be made. We certainly hope these discussions don’t begin with trying to find out who didn’t do enough to prevent these issues from coming to a head. Assigning blame will do no good.

Simply prioritize issues, identify any budgets that may be needed to address them and see where (and if) those funds can be found, assign leaders to specific tasks, inspire volunteers, and go to work.