Letters to the Editor, Feb. 2, 2013

Mon, 02/04/2013 - 3:13pm

To: the Editor —

It has been pointed out that in my last letter to the Block Island Times I over-estimated the burden the Recreation Department imposes on taxpayers by not factoring in proceeds from the beach pavilion. I missed it because that income appears on another line in the budget. A call to Finance Director Amy Land confirms that it should have been counted, but to what degree is complicated by the fact that the facility receives certain benefits from other tax supported sources, such as payroll and administration.

The bottom line would change, but not the point I intended: Like the school, the police and town government, the Medical Center is an essential ligament in the social fabric of the island and must have whatever financial support is required to keep it healthy and functioning. And where charity falls short, it is incumbent upon the town to step up with with the necessary tax dollars.

P. S. Wood

Old Mill Road

To: the Editor —

I lost a dear and precious friend of 63 years when Marvin Salzberg recently passed away. I remember him with fond recollection as do those in the Block Island community who knew and cherished him.

Long before we met in 1949 as freshmen at Brooklyn College, it was predetermined that we would: our last names were alphabetically linked; hence, we wound up facing each other across a Bunsen burner in the Chem lab. A lifetime friendship ensued and thrived down to the present day.

He sponsored me as a member of his house plan (the stand-in for a fraternity in the city colleges where we lived at home), departed a year later to accept a scholarship to the Hartt School of Music, and the start of an illustrious career as teacher and composer — much to the chagrin of his mother who had expected to ultimately introduce him as “My son, the doctor.”

As he matured musically, he showed promise and was encouraged to continue to compose by such renowned composers as Aaron Copland, Milton Babbitt and Roger Sessions.

After receiving one of the first doctorates in musical composition from Cornell, he was recruited as the first faculty member of the music and art department at the Bronx Community College. Repeatedly elected by fellow faculty members, he served as chairman of the department for 14 years, a tribute to his fairness, evenhandedness and diplomacy, while wending his way through faculty politics which can be as hairy and cutthroat as any.

He brought his musical gifts to the Block Island community where he played the piano and organ at sing-a-longs, served as caller for hoedowns and square dances, and, with Richie Heller, compiled a Block Island song book — all of which brought us joyfully together for good times and bonhomie.

His generous hospitality and loving kindness gave guests a delightful taste of Block Island which led to their own foothold here: Bobbi and Al Maxman, Cherri and Joel Maxman, Richie and Michelle Heller, Micheline and yours truly.

After departing Block Island, he and his wife, Ellen, created a warm and wonderful home on City Island where they played an active role in the local theatrical community. During the last four years as he faced increasingly difficult health problems, Ellen, with unwavering love and devotion, was his vital and attentive caretaker.

Dear Marvin, ’twas a privilege and a blessing to have had and enjoyed your enduring and heartwarming friendship for so many memorable years. May the music, song, and love you benevolently bestowed upon us, bringing us ever closer, accompany you on your journey to the hereafter.

Richard Weisbroat

West Side Road

To: the Editor —

As a grandmother and recent retiree from Madison Avenue who has done my share of hunting and skeet shooting, I applaud Mr. Littlefield for making some important points in support of the 2nd Amendment. (Dec. 29 issue).

Carole Dixon

New York City

This letter was sent to the R.I. Coastal Resources Management Council and copied to the Block Island Times:

I am a resident of Block Island and have followed Deepwater Wind’s effort to design, build and sell its proposed development of the Block Island Wind Farm. Please accept this letter as my opposition to the Deepwater Wind application to waive the $700,000 application fee to build its proposed Block Island Wind Farm. Furthermore, all parties involved in the Project should require an Environmental Impact Study rather than having this project continue down a path of regulatory short cuts and process waivers (fees or otherwise).

The Joint Development Agreement (JDA) between the State of Rhode Island and Deepwater Wind signed in January 2009 specifically states that the purposes and objectives of the Special Area Management Plan (SAMP) are to “foster a well-informed and committed public constituency” — see SAMP Section 1(BB)(4). It has been my mission now for three years to be well-informed and to be a vocal constituency of the public in order to ensure information made available to the public was analyzed and communicated to decision makers and interested parties. On behalf of the residents of Rhode Island, you represent one of those decision-makers.

In order to justify its petition to the CRMC to waive the fee, Deepwater cites the fact that it has already reimbursed the state $3.2 million for the CRMC’s SAMP used to guide the development of offshore renewable energy in Rhode Island. The fee waiver petition and public relations initiatives undertaken by Deepwater in connection with its request to waive the $700,000 fee would have its audience believe that this $3.2 million reimbursement was discretionary on Deepwater’s part — suggesting, therefore, it should be given a break by not having to pay the statutory application fee.

Quite to the contrary, Section V(E)(2) of the JDA specifically obligated Deepwater to deposit into escrow $3.2 million for purposes of reimbursing expenditures by CRMC for costs incurred in connection with development of the SAMP. Deepwater’s obligation to pay the $3.2 million is part of its consideration and bargained-for exchange in return for the State of Rhode Island to designate Deepwater as the Preferred Developer and the State’s other obligations under Section II.C and elsewhere under the JDA. If that reimbursement obligation is directly or indirectly rebated through fee waivers, the JDA itself will be subject to attack for insufficiency or lack of consideration.

As for Deepwater’s petition for the fee waiver, it is in direct violation of Section II.E of the JDA wherein Deepwater agrees not to seek any state-paid subsidies for Deepwater’s obligations under the JDA or for the Block Island Wind Farm. Consequently, neither Deepwater nor the CRMC has authority to waive the $700,000 application fee since doing so would illegally subsidize the Project. Furthermore, a fee waiver would result in a $700,000 reduction in the specific $3.2 million reimbursement obligation contemplated by the JDA. Had the State of Rhode Island’s Department of Administration, CRMC and Deepwater contemplated the potential for a fee waive, the parties surely would have specifically addressed it while drafting the JDA.

Lastly, please be aware that Deepwater Wind and its capital providers stand to make over $127 million in profits from the power sold to National Grid under the pending Power Purchase Agreement. That represents fully 30 percent of every dollar paid for every megawatt of power to be generated by the proposed Block Island Windfarm. These $127 million in profits is after taking into account (i) cost recovery for building the windfarm, (ii) operating & maintenance expenses, (iii) cash taxes, (iv) decommissioning costs, and (v) costs of the cable (which will be paid for or reimbursed by parties other than Deepwater). All for creating just six permanent jobs — $127 million for just six jobs. Instead of waiving the $700,000 application fee, the CRMC should take the fee and fund a jobs initiative for the State of Rhode Island or have the funds specifically donated to the University of Rhode Island. Deepwater is in no position to cite financial hardship as the basis to waive this fee.

All figures cited in this letter are sourced from publicly available information in Dockets 4111 and 4185 at the R.I. Public Utilities Commission. Should you require specific citations, I can quite easily provide them to you.

Michael R Beauregard

Mohegan Trail

and Bloomfield Hills, Mich.