Letters to the Editor, Dec. 14, 2012

Mon, 12/17/2012 - 12:21pm

This letter was sent to Peter B. Baute, Interim Director B.I. Medical Center, and copied to the Times:

In his letter to you in the 12/8 edition, Dr. Baute launched a gratuitous ad hominem attack on me riddled with distortion and hyperbole.

It should be seen for what it is: a red herring attempt to divert attention from the real issues of the day concerning BIHS. It remains to be seen whether the community will buy it.

Richard Weisbroat

West Side Road

To: the Editor—

I would like to add my voice to the chorus weighing in on the Block Island Wind Farm, because I think the development of a wind farm to power Block Island is fantastic!

The wind farm is a huge investment and, while I have read and heard many negative concerns, those of us who think the project is a great idea have been comparatively quiet. It is easy to fire off a letter or get up at a meeting when there is a ‘fire in the belly’ against something. It is, I think, more difficult to stand up for something for which there is a general feeling of support. So let me speak up.

I am passionately in support of the Block Island Wind Farm. I would be proud to be part of the first community in the U.S. to host an offshore wind farm, showing that, more than being a beautiful location, Block Island has a forward-thinking and scientifically sophisticated community. The wind farm is in my viewshed, and I am excited to see this new aspect of marine commerce unfolding off our shores.

The sound of wind turbines far offshore is a vast improvement over the sound of the generator(s) running at the BIPCo property. Obtaining the power on which we are so dependent by harnessing the wind is a well-tested and dependable technology with proven, limited ecological effects. It’s not like we’re fracking for oil and gas.

The Europeans have done the hard work for us in testing the concepts of offshore wind farms. In my visits to Europe, I have seen the wind farms in the North Sea, where there are similar ecological concerns and the weather and seas are similarly rough, and I think they are beautiful.

As for Deepwater Wind, it is truly gratifying to observe and participate in the open process being pursued by Deepwater Wind, with so many opportunities for public input. I guess I can understand that people resist change, even when it may be beneficial. That is why it is important for me, and others who support the wind farm, to speak up against the chorus of negative voices so that the Town Council gets a balanced view of the opinions of its constituency.

Judith Gray,

retired NOAA meteorologist

Sands Pond Road

This letter was sent to the Town Council and copied to the Times:

A short time ago I wrote to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers asking for an extension of the public's right to comment on Deepwater Wind. The limit was extended to December 31.

Following the publication of that letter in the Times, many folks told me they had objections to the Deepwater project.

Maybe some of you have forgotten that the R.I. Public Utilities Commission was forced to approve the Deepwater project and was also forced to consider only the positive aspects of it. The original vote of the PUC was to reject the project, but in that decision the commission advised that Block Island should have a stand-alone cable, with the cost to be shared by all Rhode Island residents. That was back in 2010. If that advice had been followed, we might well have the cable in place now in 2012.

The Rhode Island Special Area Management Plan designates a large area that runs from Southeast Point to Southwest Point as the only Renewable Energy Zone in state waters. That means 40 or more turbines in the near future could be constructed along the ocean just south of our Mohegan Bluffs. We have been cheated because there has been no independent study conducted to look at the positive and negative aspects of the Deepwater project for Block Island residents.

Keep in mind that the R.I. Economic Development Council (the same members who facilitated the Schilling 38 Studios project) are major players in the Deepwater project.

We need to remember the quote of Oscar J. Berlin: "When I stand at the Mohegan Bluffs, overlooking this magnificent sight, I feel like I am the only man in the world... and I could reach out and shake the hand of God." Once we lose this lovely view we will never get it back.

So if you feel as I do, all you folks who have told me you are not in favor of Deepwater, go to your computer today and get a letter in to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at michael.j.elliott@usace.army.mil. Or you can write to the USACE, 696 Virginia Road, Concord, MA 01742.

Edith L. Blane

Corn Neck Road

To: the Editor—

I can no long remain silent after reading yet another misinformed comment from the newly elected Town Council member, Sean McGarry, regarding the proposed Block Island Wind Farm.

Mr. McGarry most recently stated, as reported in the Dec. 8 B.I. Times, that a "large proportion" of this community is opposed to this project. He is incorrect.

I quote: " A recently conducted poll commissioned by the Block Island Land Trust showed a majority of respondents support the construction of an offshore wind farm off Block Island’s southern coast with a cable connecting the island to the mainland" (B.I. Times, October 3, 2011). This survey found residents in favor of the wind farm by three to one.

In addition, the Electric Utilities Task Group, an organization appointed to advise the Town Council, after three years of review and careful consideration is readying a letter highlighting the environmental and economic benefits of the project.

Block Island is not a community of NIMBYs (an acronym for Not In My Back Yard). Fifty years of coming to this amazing place, and just recently becoming a year-round resident, has helped me appreciate how lucky I am to be among such passionate environmentalists, innovators and "yeah" sayers.

This island is an ecotourism destination, known for being on the cutting edge of preserving our environment. Look at the pump-out program of Great Salt Pond, or the hard fought battle for the sewer plant and how it reinvigorated Water Street. I remember working in the 1970s at the Surf Hotel as a laundress and watching the sewage pour into the harbor before this community rallied to do the right thing.

The wind farm will be part of that legacy and conservation ethic we leave our children here, at one of the Last Great Places.

I am very concerned that a small group of opponents to this project is getting all the air time, and could potentially hurt its chances of being built.

Let's be honest with one another: Residents on the Southeast Side will see the turbines. There will be lights; if you get within half a mile of the farm, you may hear it. Will the turbines change the view? Of course they will.

Is it understandable that the majority of the opponents live or own property on the Southeast Side of the island? Of course! But every wind project everywhere will have some opposition based on the viewshed. In our fight to break free of our crippling dependence on fossil fuels, our world is going to change, and the view with it.

What is the alternative?

Mr. McGarry suggests that we are getting a stand alone cable to the mainland. This is a topic that has been discussed for more than 30 years on Block Island, with the same conclusion... it is just not economically viable.

But let's just assume for a moment that Block Island gets this cable. How much is the cost? Realistically, please. $45 million? $50 million? How can 1,850 metered customers on Block Island afford that cost?

I could argue that the projected 40 percent reduction in your electric bill (an EUTG study) and the positive environmental impact of ending the shipment of a million gallons of diesel to our beautiful island every year would make the decision to support the Wind Farm a no brainer. Now, it's your turn.

If you are in support of the B.I. Wind Farm, you need to be at the Town Council Meeting on Tuesday, December 18. It is so important that the council members see you fill the room.

You need to be heard. If you can't be there, write in to the paper, or better yet, talk to your council members.

Won't it be liberating to be for something for a change?

It takes a whole village — or town, in this case — to support a project, but only one person to make it fail. Be a YIMBY: Say yes! YES IN MY BACK YARD.

Gwyneth Wilson, Friend of the Block Island Wind Farm

Cooneymus Road

To: the Editor—

May I begin by commending the new Town Council for its resolutions of appreciation for the outgoing former members, each of whom had served the people of Block Island in both a superbly dedicated fashion, and with a fluidity of efficiency. No manner and amount of accolades would be excessive.

May I also say that, fortunately for us all, each of the new members seems to possess the tools necessary to maintain the level of excellence to which the outgoing members performed. With this fine, well-chosen group, I envision no loss of strength. Thankfully!

I must say, however, that I am a wee bit confused by the smell sensitivity of one of the new members. I am trying to remember if this is the same person whose major contribution, when he earlier served more than 25 years ago, was to lead the town into a threat to secede from the State of Rhode Island if he didn’t get his way? But let’s not go there just yet.

Gasoline fumes emanating from a tank, of any kind, being filled is an irrefutable fact of science. My question is, did he smell fumes when the mopeds gas tanks were all closed and capped?

For anyone to ignore 33 seasons of safe gasoline handling by responsible and concerned moped businesspersons is somewhat unfair and, perhaps, even a bit irresponsible.

And, to forecast a horrendous gasoline-related catastrophe is akin to predicting a Mayan calendar end of the world come 21 Dec. 2012, which is just a few days away. Will we get to celebrate Christmas this year, or should we open presents on the 20th?

I take exception to more of his comments, but I do not care for lengthy letters, so I’ll simply say that this is "to be continued."

Willis Brown

owner of The Moped Man

Weldon’s Way

This letter was sent to the Town Council and copied to the Times:

It disturbs me to have to try, again, to find answers to my concerns regarding the Easement that was granted to the Land Trust by the Town Council with regards to the management of Heinz Field. In spite of my letters that appeared on the Council Agendas of June 20, 2012 and September 4, 2012, the minutes, as approved by the Town Council, failed to report or bring to the “floor” the issues in my letters. Thus, I shall repeat my concerns again with hope that with a “new” Council, an agenda might be arranged so that appropriate action might help to bring finality to this issue.

1. The Town owns the land. It spent six hundred thousand dollars ($600,000) to build the field. Then it provided an easement to the Land Trust to manage the field that allows the Land Trust to turn around and dictate to the town the materials they must use, along with the costs of their choosing. While the Land Trust consists of respected members of the community, there is no requirement that any one of them must have any education, knowledge or experience in the science of turfgrass management of an athletic field. Thus the Block Island taxpayers receive directives to use only organic fertilizers that currently cost six thousand ($6,000) dollars (an increase of 300 percent) more, per year, than the so called synthetic fertilizers that would supply the equivalent nutritional value. In spite of repeated requests, the Land Trust cannot produce any scientific, research based facts that show that this organic fertilizer provides any added benefit with regard to the nutritional needs of turfgrass. Further, the Land Trust has refused the requests from the Town Council to pay for the added cost of their organic fertilizer.

2. The last lines of the Easement agreement states: “New language in the Land Management Policy allows for the Trustees to approve the use of synthetic products on a particular property if it is determined that they are needed. The burden would be on the Town to show why a synthetic product is needed.”

It is my contention that a burden (described in the dictionary as, “something oppressive or worrisome”) of requiring the Town to spend an extra $6,000 a year, for a practice that doesn’t deliver any added value to the Town or Heinz Field is sufficient enough to show that the use of synthetic fertilizers should be approved by the Trustees. If this contention is not sufficient to make a change to provide for the use of synthetic fertilizers, then I would strongly suggest that there is a problem with providing the Land Trust with an Easement in the first place. Whoever thought that this was a marvelous agreement to turn over the management of Heinz Field to the Land Trust certainly didn’t do the Block Island taxpayers any favors.

3. As I mentioned in my past two letters to the Town Council regarding this problem (5/29/12 and 8/8/12), I strongly suggested that the Town Attorney review the Land Trust Policy to see if it is legal for the Town to submit an agreement (easement) to another Town agency who can then turn around and dictate policy back to the Town, whereby the Town becomes liable for such action(s)? An opinion from the Town Attorney should be in written form.

In conclusion I submit the following quotations from a book, “The Truth About Organic Gardening (benefits, drawbacks and the bottom line)” written by Dr. Jeff Gillman, associate professor in the department of horticultural science at the University of Minnesota where he conducts research and teaches. The book is based upon Dr. Gilman’s review of 129 research papers.

“Assertions have been made by organic growers over the years that because organic fertilizers have nutrients that are tied to organic compounds they’re better, but that isn’t really the case. The nutrients that come from organic and synthetic fertilizers are the same once the plant being fed takes them up into the vascular system.”

“Synthetic fertilizers deliver nutrition to plants in a way that’s quick and sure, they’re cheap, they can be formulated to release nutrients slowly, and they can be concentrated so that much less has to be applied to get the same amount of nutrition as an organic fertilizer.”

Frederick H. Nelson

Beach Avenue