Land Trust to poll resident priorities

After 16 terms
Thu, 10/11/2018 - 6:30pm

The latest Block Island Land Trust meeting started off with cookies and a card. The occasion was Land Trust Treasurer Barby Michel’s last meeting. After serving 16 terms, Michel has decided to step down, and her fellow trustees, Clerk Heidi Tarbox, and Land Trust attorney Joe Priestley expressed their thanks and appreciation.

Trustees Harold “Turtle” Hatfield’s and Barbara MacMullan’s terms are also expiring this year and they are both running for re-election. Joining them on the ballot this year is Keith Lang. 

While Michel is leaving the Land Trust, she will still be involved in land management. The Hodge Property is owned jointly by the town, The Nature Conservancy, the Block Island Conservancy, and the Land Trust. There is a representative of each entity on a special Hodge management committee which meets annually to review stewardship there.  There is also a “community member” on the committee.

Nancy Pike has been serving as the community member, a non-voting position, and wishes to step down. Members of the Land Trust suggested Michel be her replacement, and she accepted. 

The trustees had a preliminary discussion as to what questions should be included in a public priorities poll. The last poll included questions about the Block Island Wind Farm, deer hunting, and the need for a port authority. 

“This is our opportunity to change the questions around,” said MacMullan, suggesting questions about current concerns such as the use of Roundup on the island and broadband.

The last questionnaire was by phone and MacMullan suggested that might not be the way to go this time round. Since only those with land lines were surveyed, MacMullan said results were “skewed towards the elderly.”

In addition, there is the problem of getting people to actually answer the phone. “I know if I don’t recognize the number, I don’t answer,” said Michel.

Mail may not be the way to go either. MacMullan said results could be also be skewed by people answering more than one.

Michel started her last Treasurer’s report with a “drum roll, please.” The Land Trust collected $263,460 in transfer fees in September on sales of $8,782,000.  (One property off Center Road sold for $3,492,000.)

In August, transfer fees amounted to $115,729 on $3,865,500 of sales.

In her Secretary’s Report, Tarbox passed around information on a Rhode Island general obligation bond referendum on the November ballot.

The “Green Economy and Clean Water Bond” totals $47.3 million and includes amounts for 10 different categories, some of which may be of interest to Block Island, such as $5 million for coastal resiliency and public access projects.