Letters to the Editor
First Blood drive of the year a success
To the Editor,
What wonderful news! At our first blood drive of the year, we had 39 donors and 35 units of blood. We haven’t done that well for a long, long, time. While there is so much drear Covid news, it’s a relief to hear something so pleasant. And three of the donors were first-timers. My Blood Center supervisor said: “Wow! Great turnout… the efforts of the Block Island community are greatly appreciated and their support of the blood program will go a long way towards replenishing blood supply that ultimately saves lives.”
Our next blood drive is the first Thursday in March. Why not put it on your calendar now?
Again, thank you, thank you, thank you.
Rhode Island Blood Center
Champlin’s Marina Expansion
To the Editor:
On Monday, January 11, the Block Island Conservancy was shocked to learn that Champlin’s Marina had been granted a significant dock expansion in a closed mediation session with the Coastal Resource Management Council. Despite being an intervenor in the court case since 2003, the Block Island Conservancy was never notified nor invited to participate in this mediation.
The Board of Directors wishes to make it clear to our community and supporters our absolute opposition to this expansion, both in principle and the underhanded manner in which it was granted. Our rational is as follows:
The Great Salt Pond is the most ecologically-sound coastal pond in Rhode Island and one of the most pristine in southern New England. Permitting this expansion will irreparably degrade the quality of the Pond.
The expansion is, at its core, an example of a private company encroaching on public open space. The Block Island Conservancy lists “protecting…access to natural resources” as a key element of the organization’s mission. We would be remiss to not oppose this blatant privatization of a public natural resource.
We continue to resolutely stand with our partners against this egregious development, the latest threat to the Great Salt Pond.
Dorrie Napoleone, President
Jim McCormick, Vice President
Laurel Littlefield, Treasurer
Marti Dunne, Secretary
Nigel Grindley, Stewardship Director
To the Editor,
Decades ago, Champlin’s Marina sought an expansion and the ensuing court battles resulting from that request were very costly and, in the end, counterproductive. I say this as the Rhode Island Supreme Court recently remanded the case back to CRMC, which in turn approved a 156-foot expansion. I believe this decision is final, and all appeals have been exhausted.
As I understand the facts, in the beginning of the event a deal had been reached between members of the Town Council and the CRMC, which had been brokered primarily by Jerry Zarrella, a CRMC board member at the time. This deal consisted of an expansion of just one hundred feet into the Great Salt Pond.
As a result of the recent decision which is more than fifty percent more than what was on the table at the time, and extremely costly, it begs the questions:
Why was the one-hundred-foot expansion overridden by the town government at the time?
Secondly, after all this money and time was spent on this issue, who from the town decided not to participate in the CRMC mediation which resulted in this expansion? Had the town been represented they would have understood that the matter cannot be appealed. This was in fact probably the most important hearing of all the previous countless hearings.
This is an important lesson for the community, as negotiation and intelligent decision making is usually more productive than costly lawsuits. I think the then Town Council was amenable to a sensible compromise, but it was then taken off the table as a result of collective public opinion and outrage.
This should be used as a learning tool for the current town government in dealing with issues going forward. Public sentiment and input is an important part of collective decision making; but it has its place and limitations. People in management, including council members and government officials need to make decisions, even if unpopular, that are best for the community based upon all of the facts, and should always try to avoid costly lawsuits and court processes.
Block Island seems to be forever in a dispute and spending money on attorneys for lawsuits. The current discussions about mopeds, bars, and other businesses are largely fueled by public opinion, and have many salient points. What the town government must do is to redact the passion, stick to the issues, and negotiate matters in good faith and in the best interest of the entire community.
Let’s encourage our town government to negotiate and work sensibly with these businesses, seeking compromised solutions, and try to avoid any further lawsuits. If this can be accomplished, we may see 2021 as the “year of no costly litigation for Block Island.”
That would make for a truly happy new year, don’t you think?
Vincent T. Carlone
308 South East Rd.
Block Island RI
Doing the hard work
To the Editor:
This past year we lost two people in the renewable energy industry that you never knew: John Calhoun of Ellenville, NY and Jim Dunlop of Flagler Beach, FL. Why is this noteworthy? They, and are others like them have made possible the improvements and lower costs you are seeing in the solar industry today. These are people who did a lot of heavy lifting in design, installation, quality assurance, and education of solar electric technology all the way back when it was more of an oddity than an accepted means of consumers producing their own power. They often worked in remote places under difficult conditions. They were half of a team I assembled that taught over 12,000 firefighters, building officials, electrical inspectors, architects, engineers, and land use planners their respective areas of interest over four years. To date, the curriculum still is the best available in the United States. I actually met John Calhoun in high school when we wrestled for our respective teams. John was African American which was uncommon in our sport, in our locale. He was a great guy, and had the best line teaching firefighters about solar I ever heard: “When in doubt, turn the switch off. It’s not a nuclear reactor cooling pump that’s going to cause a SCRAM.” It brought great relief to the firefighters. Jim Dunlop’s book is the premier solar instructional tool in this country and I have given away several copies to interested people out here. It is the most referenced source for several solar national certification exams. He was in the process of updating it to the 2020 NEC when he passed away.
The point of my letter is that this industry is comprised of people who have done so much, and often are not recognized for their work. It’s not about suddenly being a solar cheerleader, ignorant of just about every aspect of the technology and how to implement it for the greatest good. It’s about showing up throughout the various facets of the industry, doing the hard work, paying your dues, and understanding the implications of every action you take in this field. I have been honored to work with people like John and Jim, and dismayed by the conduct of others, several who just so happen to be on Block Island.
Entech Engineering, Inc.