Letters to the Editor, Nov. 9, 2012

Tue, 11/13/2012 - 3:34pm

To: the Editor—

We really can’t keep our heads in the sand on this issue — there is, after all, not enough sand.

I read with some dismay that the CRMC is fast-tracking the process by which coastal homeowners with significantly damaged properties can begin to rebuild.

The properties that were destroyed along the southern coast of the Rhode Island mainland introduced pollution into the ocean and coastal ponds as septic systems were breached, in some cases leaked fuel oil from damaged heating systems onto surrounding land and water, and introduced quantities of debris and lumber into the waterways that will eventually end up on the beaches, or present a hazard to navigation.

The Coast Guard specifically forbids the introduction of all of these materials anywhere in coastal waters, and with good reason.

We are barely into this century, and are already experiencing “Storm of the Century” events with a lot more years to go.

The federal government supplies help in the Gulf and other areas in the aftermath of meteorological disasters, and this is inarguably a good thing, getting people back in their homes.

However, along our coast, things are somewhat different. Few of the homes impacted are occupied year round. Many are second homes, vacation homes, or seasonal rentals; I don’t think many families ended up with no roof over their heads as a result of this damage. There seemed no hue and cry to bring in the FEMA trailers.

Perhaps this rebuilding of non-essential housing should be viewed in a different way. Do we as full time residents really need the pollution that the destruction of these vacation properties leaves behind? Should vacated homes be required to pump septic systems, empty fuel tanks, and be adequately secured if left unoccupied for significant periods of time? Do they have a justifiable right to even rebuild these properties, when we know the next “Storm of the Century” will just repeat the conditions of Sandy?

I would venture to say that the final determination will fall upon town governments, which will have to make some unpopular decisions about who can legitimately obtain a building permit. But it is, after all, these same town governments that have to absorb a good deal of the clean-up costs.

Perhaps, when it comes to non-essential coastal housing, “One Strike and You’re Out” is a reasonable attitude for building departments to take.

Jon Campbell


This response to a letter last week from Peter McGill was prepared by John Hecklau of edr and sent to Block Island Wind Farm Manager Bryan Wilson, who forwarded it to the Times—

Edr Companies (edr) has been preparing technically accurate, legally defensible visual simulations for more than 25 years. We utilize precise data, state-of-the art computer applications and well-established/agency-accepted field protocols in all of our work. Our simulations of various energy and infrastructure facilities have been used in a variety of environmental impact evaluations and evidentiary hearings, and have consistently been found to provide accurate, unbiased representations of proposed projects.

Mr. McGill’s question regarding the lens setting/focal length used in the development of the photographic simulations of the Block Island Wind Farm is a legitimate concern. For a simulation to be defensible a lens setting that accurately represents human vision must be used. A lens setting of approximately 50 mm on a 35 mm film camera is the industry standard for preparing single frame photographic simulations. This focal length most closely approximates the central cone of human vision (approximately 40 degrees) and human perception of spatial/scale relationships in the environment.

Because digital SLR cameras have a built-in focal length multiplier, this must also be taken into account when selecting the lens setting. The Nikon D90 digital SLR cameras used to obtain the photos used in development of the Block Island Wind Farm simulations have a focal length multiplier of 1.5. Thus, to obtain 50 mm photos, the lens setting on the Nikon D90s were generally set between 30 mm and 35 mm. Please note that the simulation from Second Bluff utilized a wide angle lens setting to show the project in the context of its broader surroundings. An inset indicating the limits of an equivalent 50 mm photo was included on this simulation.



To: the Editor—

We at the Beachead Restaurant would like to say thank you to the Block Island community for all their support and help in the aftermath of Sandy. We feel truly blessed that we did not incur more damage and are able to still be open for the community. We were so touched by the outpouring of help and support from everyone who helped us get back on our feet… and who came to the restaurant to eat and drink when we reopened!

A special thank you to all the volunteers who worked to dig us out the next day — there were too many to name, but we know who you are and we would love to have you for a drink (or two!) at the Beachead. It was an amazing thing to see all of those volunteers doing back-breaking work such as shoveling sand and picking rocks all day, and we will never forget it!

Becky & Tim Clark, Kimberly & Norman Ward

The Beachead Restaurant

This letter was sent to Cliff McGinnes and copied to the Times—

The personnel of BIPCo, Howell Conant and you are to be lavishly commended for the work that you did to restore power. Here it is, two days after the worst storm of a lifetime, and all residents of Block Island have their power restored. Your foresight to organize three line crews instead of the usual one allowed the debris to be cleared and the lines repaired expeditiously.

The dedication and industry of the line crews and office staff cannot be overstated. The crew personnel included Scott Fowler, Tom Durden, Dick Martin, Howell Conant, Dave Milner and Cliff McGinnes.  These people worked diligently for long hours during the period of the storm and for the two days afterward. I give special recognition to Mr. Conant, who is not a BIPCo employee but who worked with Dick Martin and performed to the same level as the regular linemen, and contributed the use of his aerial truck as well.

Special acknowledgment has to be made to Seth Dulac and Abra Savoie who manned the telephones during this crisis. Their knowledge of the island allowed them to direct the crews most efficiently so that little time was wasted traveling from one repair site to another.

I give special thanks to our customers who recognized the severity of the damage and handled the frustrations of no electricity and property damage with equanimity and grace.

BIPCo is grateful for their support.

All of us are relieved there was no serious personal injury and we pray that the restoration of property damage will proceed as quickly as possible.

Albert R. Casazza, President


To: the Editor—

We wish to express our sincere and heartfelt gratitude to all who made the day of Bill/Dad’s funeral so memorable. By sharing with us his love of family, friends, the sea, the Navy and, of course, Block Island, you made the day one we will hold in memory always.

There are so many who worked to make this day so special and we cannot begin to name you all, but please know that we are truly grateful to each of you. In particular, our appreciation to Pat Queally and Father Randall, George and Ann Henault, the St. Andrew Choir and the Ecumenical Choir, Kimberly Ward and The Beachead, and all those who worked and baked and took such thoughtful care of our family.

Lastly, our deepest appreciation to the men of our American Legion Post 36 and to the representatives of the United States Navy who paid honor and a moving tribute to our father.

Jean Crawford and all the family

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

Thirty Boy Scouts of Troop 25 and their adult leaders from Manchester, Conn., embarked on a weekend biking trip to Block Island. Troop 25 has a long history of participating in such bike trips on the island. I was fortunate to be able to accompany them on this very weekend as a scout.

Speaking for my fellow scouts and adults, as well as myself, the highlight of the weekend was on Saturday, Oct. 13, when we visited the Block Island North Light. A very dedicated and passionate man by the name of Rob greeted us. He was very enthusiastic about the lighthouse and all the scouts, including myself, shared that enthusiasm. He spent nearly two hours with my group of 15 people singlehandedly, plus another hour and a half with the second group of scouts.

He is a great example of the model 21st century person. He is using modern technology, solar panels and a wind turbine to power the beautiful historic lighthouse. He was very passionate about continuing to give tours and went so far for our group as to give away postcards, which was a treat to my fellow scouts and myself. He was able to talk about how life on an island is different from the mainland, and many of the scouts found that very interesting, having spent just half a day exploring the island on bikes.

For many, this was their first island. He discussed continuing on to eventually register the lighthouse as a national historic landmark because of its design, which was the model for five others in the United States. This lighthouse is also important because it marks the entrance to Long Island Sound.

Rob discussed the process of its renovation, which to my understanding was undertaken a few years ago. He went so far as to show step-by-step photos of the process. Many of my fellow scouts are currently in trade schools for various trades such as welding and contracting, so this was a special treat to see ancient history reborn using modern trades that they were learning. My understanding is that this renovation cost upwards of $500,000, though it went to a great cause enjoyed by many, including the Boy Scouts of Troop 25.

For many of my fellow scouts, this was their first lighthouse visit ever. They were intrigued by the unique design, and the inner workings of the lighthouse. To top off the entire visit, we were allowed to go up to the light, which was incredible in the way the curved glass reflected the amazing views.

This was an experience like no other, and it wouldn’t have been possible without Rob and his tour of the North Light. For this, our thanks to Rob and those members of the New Shoreham Town Council for their support of the lighthouse.

Justin Pedneault, Life Scout - Troop 25

Manchester, Conn.

To: the Editor—

In last week’s issue, the third paragraph from the end of my letter to the Block Island Health Services leadership included a typo in the phrase “jot and tittle,” which at first blush, might mistakenly be taken for “job and title,” rather than a phrase that means minutiae or trivial detail. The latter word, “tittle,” Herman Hassinger would have loved, without blush — yea, with exquisite delight — pronounced right, titillatingly, and “trippingly on the tongue.”

Richard Weisbroat

West Side Road