Letters to the Editor

Thu, 01/07/2021 - 6:00pm

It takes a village

To the Editor,

Happy New Year Block Island! I would like to take a moment to thank the many, many people who helped the Tourism Council with our holiday festivities this year. First, the “Tree Crew” who assemble and dis-assemble the tree (two times this year since it blew over in a storm) at the Harbor Church: Pastor Peter Prieser, Hope Desmarais, John Cullen, Jorge Aragao, Brad and Anne Marthens, Rick Scully, Dave Sniffen, and Logan and Jim Chase. A big thank you to Sean McGarry and his BIRM crew for storing the tree and helping us get it in and out of storage. The Virtual Tree Lighting was a success (though we look forward to seeing you all in person next year). Thank you to MC John Cullen, Pastor Peter for the blessing, Santa for taking time out of his schedule to stop down, and Abigail Willi for turning the lights on right on cue.

New this year was the Great Block Island Ornament Hunt, the brainchild of Logan Chase. Thanks to Logan for assembling and placing the ornaments and especially for organizing and executing the amazing Photo Shoot with Santa (thanks again for your time, Santa). We would very much like to thank the Block Island Land Trust, the Block Island Conservancy, the Ocean View Foundation and the Southeast Lighthouse Foundation for granting us permission to hide on their properties.

I hope this hunt brought some joy and adventure to your children in these strange times. What we didn’t tell you is that one of the ornaments contained a “Golden Ticket” to claim a special surprise. Thank you to Eben Horton, of the Glass Station in Wakefield, for donating a one-of-a-kind snowman Glass Float for the prize. Congratulations to Blaize Hatfield for finding the ticket.

Thank you so much to all these people for donating their time, energy, and positive outlook to help Block Island feel more festive this season.

In the end though, we couldn’t do it without the perseverance of ‘Captain Christmas’, John Cullen. Thanks John.

Jessica Willi
Executive Director
Block Island Tourism Council


From the B.I. State Airport Stakeholders’ Group

The following letter was copied to The Block Island Times:

Dear Town Council Members,

The Rhode Island Airport Corporation (RIAC) has scheduled public meetings at the various communities that host State Airports to roll out their multiyear, “Strategic Business Plan” study with regards to prospective capital improvements and operations at the five outlying state airports.

Sadly, these studies have already been done, the much-needed airport projects have already been identified, and in 2015, RIAC Administrator Kelley Fredricks announced a dozen airport improvement projects including a $4.3 million “Aircraft Parking Apron Expansion and Improvement Project” for the Block Island State Airport to be completed in FY 2018-2019. Our airport only has 25 aircraft parking spaces for over 125 visiting aircraft on a busy seasonal day and this impacts airline, visiting aircraft, and emergency medical services operations.

When the new RIAC Administrator, Iftekhar Ahmed, came on board in 2018, he canceled all the General Aviation airport improvement projects and diverted the funds to improvements at TF Greene Airport in Warwick. When the Rhode Island General Aviation advocates complained about their airport projects being defunded, and the New Shoreham Town Council, in a Resolution dated April 24 2019, decried the loss of our $4.3 million aircraft parking apron project, RIAC responded with a delaying tactic, the multiyear, multi-disciplinary “Strategic Business Plan” study which in our view is a smoke screen designed to delay the important funding and construction of the projects that were already identified and funded in their FY 2015-FY 2020 Capital Improvement Project budget.

In the meantime, RIAC has offered to perform a $833,000 apron crack repair project for the B.I. State Airport in the next fiscal year. This is unacceptable. It does nothing to address the much-needed aircraft parking apron expansion identified by Statewide Planning in 2011. If RIAC performs the apron crack repair there will be no incentive for them to do the already planned and engineered apron refurbishment and expansion, for another decade.

Kindly refer to the TC Resolution of April 24, 2019, which is attached to this letter. We urge the Town Council to reaffirm this resolution and to contact our State Representatives to demand that RIAC restore the $400,000 State funding share for our airport parking apron improvement and expansion project, and to apply to the FAA for their 90% ($4 million) matching fund share so that this project can be completed next fall.

Thank you in advance for your consideration,


Henry duPont
Block Island State Airport
Stakeholders’ Group