Letters to the Editor, August 10, 2013

Mon, 08/12/2013 - 2:00pm

Letters to the Editor, August 10, 2013

To the Editor:

I am a property owner and a summer resident on Block Island. On Monday night, July 29, I attended the Town Meeting on the continued discussion of the evaluation of the Town Manager. Unfortunately, it was a perfect illustration of small town politics at its worst, where council members were pushing their personal agendas and personal vendettas rather than taking the higher road addressing what is in the best interests of the town.

One example was Sean McGarry, who came to this meeting with his agenda of “transitioning the Town Manager out of her position” with a lack of discussion with his fellow council members or with the Town Manager as to why a transition was even needed. His lack of understanding of the responsibilities and roles of both the Town Manager and council members was evident.

While he stated that change is needed, he never elaborated on that, except to dismiss the Town Manager, or who this change would involve, or how it would take place, or how it would change the responsibilities of the personnel employed by the town or the town council. To assume that non-renewal of the Town Manager’s contract is the way to implement change misses the point and the focus of the meeting.
Most importantly, the focus of the meeting was on the evaluation of the Town Manager, which involves evaluating her on her past performance. To avoid discussion with the Town Manager about possible changes for her role negates all the past years of responsible, reliable and incredibly capable performance that the town has experienced from the Town Manager.

Mr. McGarry, in terms of your capabilities in educating yourself on your role on the town council, relationship with town employees, assisting in staff development, working with competent employees to promote growth, in all these areas I would give you a rating of zero.

Amy V. Jaffe

Block Island


To the Editor:

Pertaining to the editorial in the July 27 edition entitled “Action now on beach erosion,” the writer and any reader of the editorial should quickly grab a copy of Les Sirkin’s “Block Island Geology,” published in 1996 by The Book and Tackle Shop in Watch Hill. He had a house on the Neck for many years and died maybe 10 years ago. The introduction sets out the geological history and the geological prospects of Block Island, showing that when the last ice cap retreated, the land area we now know as Block Island was three times larger than it is now. It shows, too, that by the year 2300 the island will be comprised of two islands with ocean water flowing between the downtown and the Neck. Sandy was earnest in trying to accomplish that last year.

Just this past month, Vanity Fair magazine had an article about the bluff shorelines of Malibu and Nantucket and the futile efforts to save the multimillion dollar houses situated atop them. Other articles have recently appeared concerning the Jersey Shore. One central point of these reports is that interfering with the natural processes of sand and tides has done more harm than good.

But the overarching issue for Block Island is to accept the natural process of erosion and live with it. Years back, the town placed large stones along the shoreline opposite the Beachead and it did not keep the ocean from breaching that area. I especially would hate to see the town or the state or even the Federal Government spend a lot of money to save expensive houses or any houses for that matter. Read Les Sirkin’s book.

Dennis DeBrandt

Minister’s Lot Road


Letter to the Editor:

Re: the front-page story in the Block Island Times, July 27, 2013 titled “St. Ann’s by-the-Sea celebrates 125 years.”

I’ve always admired the ecumenical nature of the island’s churches, cooperating with each other and sharing efforts for the greater good of all. But their histories should not be erroneously combined, with misinformation perpetuated into the future.

This story is wrong in the following statements:

“Beginning as a mission in 1888, St. Ann’s purchased land on Chapel Street and built its first edifice there in 1889.”

Correction #1: St. Ann’s, an Episcopal church, never had any building, nor any presence, on Chapel St. The only church on Chapel St. that burned in a fire was a Baptist Church (in December 1944). Those facts can be found using the indexes of local history books.

Correction #2: The first St. Ann’s was built off Spring St. in 1887 (not 1888).

Correction #3: Before completion, that church burned in 1888. There are no photos nor other images of this structure.

Correction #4: The 2nd St. Ann’s church was begun in 1888, finished in 1889, and consecrated in 1890. That is the building that was destroyed during the great 1938 hurricane, causing pundits to rename the church from the official “St. Ann’s-by-the-Sea” into “St. Ann’s-in-the-Sea.”

Omitted from the story in the Times are the names and actions of St. Ann’s original benefactors, who in the late 1880s donated the funds to construct St. Ann’s on Spring St. Their story would lead us back even further in history, into the depths of the nation’s Civil War activity when — it could be reasoned — the nurturing of Block Island’s future St. Ann’s was made possible.

The rest of the story in the Times is correct, and how fortunate for the island — despite the need for two resurrections of the building — that the story, and the history, and the church exist.

Robert M. Downie