Letters to the Editor

Thu, 01/28/2021 - 5:45pm

Striking change of direction regarding Marina expansion

To the Editor,

I was particularly struck by CRMC’s 180-degree change of direction regarding its position relating to the Champlin’s Marina proposed expansion into The Great Salt Pond.

After seventeen years of fighting Champlin’s proposed expansion with the help and backing of The Town of New Shoreham, The Committee for the Great Salt Pond, The Block Island Land Trust and The Block Island Conservancy, I find it mind-boggling that the CRMC has unilaterally changed its position and further, never notified the opposition groups of its decision.

It certainly gives one pause, and in my opinion, somewhat coincidental that the directional change seemingly was in lock- step with the on-going negotiations and ultimate sale of Champlin’s. Something smells VERRY fishy.

Note to the CRMC: you have ignited a fire and our collective B.I. blood is boiling.

Eric S. Reimer
Corn Neck Road
Block Island, RI


Hey Block Island – Be careful!

To the Editor,

Judy and I had a very close call yesterday on our walk through the Clay Head Trails. A few friends had suggested that we share what happened to hopefully prevent this or something worse from happening to your dog or loved one.

We almost lost Moku, who was found stuck in the middle of a very deep and frozen pond during our walk yesterday. An incredible stranger named Diane led us to where he struggled to get up out from under the ice. There was no time to waste as Moku had been stuck for a little while, and we weren’t close enough to get to him from the land. We couldn’t break the ice near him either.

We decided the only way to get to him in time was to slide onto the ice, knowing it would break to get him. I very carefully slid out to him, communicating with Judy the whole time. The ice broke, and Moku and I went under. I was able to get Moku and myself closer to shore by breaking the ice with my forearm until we reached Judy, who had waded deep in the water to get us and pulled us in with a long branch. Diane met us at the shore, dried us off, and immediately took clothes off her own back to warm us.

We were so lucky to have each other. It obviously could have been much worse, and I fear this happening to someone walking alone. So please be careful. This is an easy accident that can happen to anyone.

Some things we learned (sorry if this is obvious to you):

-Don’t walk your dog off-leash when the ponds are freezing/frozen.

-Always call 911 if you attempt to go onto the ice, even if you don’t think you need to.

-If you attempt a rescue on the ice (not recommended for everyone and especially if you are alone), take off all of your heavy layers. I threw off my down jacket but forgot to take my winter boots off, making it very hard to swim back through the ice. It also provides dry and warm clothing for when you get out.

Be safe!

Anna Rose Mleczko


Just the facts

To the Editor,

There have been a number of letters and articles written lately in The Block Island Times about the Champlin’s Marina case. These are the facts regarding this case:

1. The Rhode Island Supreme Court did not recently remand the Champlin’s case to the CRMC. The appeal remains pending in the Rhode Island Supreme Court.

2. The CRMC did not “approve” a 156-foot expansion, because it has no jurisdiction over the Champlin’s application while the case is on appeal. The CRMC at the end of 2020 entered into an illicit memorandum of understanding with Champlin’s without the authority to do so, and without notice to the parties to the appeal. These maneuvers are being contested in the Supreme Court.

3. The expansion, originally proposed in 2003 and repeatedly denied both administratively and in the courts since then, would have added almost 3,000 feet of dock space to the existing 6,000 feet and expanding capacity for vessels from 250 to almost 400 boats.

4. The expansion was denied by the CRMC in 2011. Champlin’s appealed to the Superior Court in 2013, and in February 2020 the Superior Court upheld the CRMC decision. The Superior Court ruling said in a forceful decision it is clear the CRMC decision to deny the expansion was based on the facts and the law.

5. No deal was ever reached by the Town Council and the CRMC regarding Champlin’s.

6. Mr. [Gerald] Zarrella never brokered any negotiations between the Town Council and the CRMC. Mr. Zarrella was a member of the CRMC that heard the Champlin’s application when it was first before the CRMC, and was disqualified by the Supreme Court because of bias in favor of Champlin’s.

7. The Champlin’s case was never mediated. A mediation is an informal process for dispute resolution that requires the consent and participation of all parties to the dispute. The parties to this dispute are Champlin’s, the Town, the Committee for the Great Salt Pond, Block Island Land Trust, Block Island Conservancy, and Conservation Law Foundation.

8. In late November2020, the Town of New Shoreham was informed by counsel for the CRMC that CRMC had agreed to engage in “mediation” with Champlin’s. The Town was apparently misled, having been told that the CRMC would only “mediate” if the Town agreed to join the process, which it did not. The other three parties to the case inexplicably were not informed of any “mediation.”

9. The marina expansion that Champlin’s applied for is contrary to the applicable regulations governing marinas, as the CRMC determined after lengthy hearings.

10. In the litigation over the Champlin’s application, we won a denial of the application by the CRMC in 2006; Champlin’s appeal ended up in the Supreme Court, where we won again; the case was remanded to the CRMC, where we won again in 2011; during Champlin’s appeal of that denial of its application, it got the case remanded to the CRMC to hear another argument, where, after hearing, we won again; and in Champlin’s appeal of those decisions, we won again in 2020 in the Superior Court.

The Committee for the Great Salt Pond and its partners are confidently prepared to defend that decision in the Supreme Court.

R. Daniel Prentiss, Esq
Attorney for the Committee
for the Great Salt Pond


Bolder plans for moped reform needed

To the Editor:

Last fall, when #RespectBI asked over 650 survey respondents to list the three greatest challenges facing the island going forward, “Mopeds” came in first. The Town Manager’s recommendations to the Town Council on moped reform, informed by regular meetings with moped operators and a handful of others, are not going to change the status quo. Town Council: We need bold leadership now.

While banning Weldon’s Way as a training ground and implementing a new moped numbering system is progress, proposals like bracelets and new signage will not bring about systemic reform—what we need. Town Council’s duty is to ensure the safety of visitors, residents, and to relieve the overwhelming burden on our heroic medical and rescue services. Town Council’s duty is to make decisions that safeguard the community, not perpetuate the unsafe and costly practices of five private, profiteering moped operators.

1. Before the 2021 season, the Town Council should use its authority to take 34 mopeds off the roads by enforcing the existing Consent Agreement, which requires each moped operator to rent from a separate site (a requirement that’s been violated for many years now). Enforcing the existing agreement is a no brainer and would also reduce roadway congestion.

2. Per Section 8-79(c) of New Shoreham Ordinances, authorizing our elected officials “to safeguard the public interest” with regard to mopeds, Town Council should mandate new training and education protocols for all moped customers. #RespectBI’s recent analysis of five years of NSPD reports for moped incidents shows 80% of moped accidents occur after the driver loses control, pointing squarely to lax training on the part of moped operators. This carnage must stop! Streamlined training protocols developed by safety professionals are plain common sense (and in the best interest of operators). Precedents like Revel NYC, the electric scooter company, require standardized video training for every rental followed by a questionnaire customers must pass before getting the key.

3. The Town Manager’s recommendation to reinstate a Moped Safety Commission is good but not nearly enough. Town should require the incoming and future police chiefs to appoint a Moped Enforcement Officer annually. At the start of each summer season a Moped Enforcement Officer should be appointed by the police chief, as practiced on other resort islands, a position paid for by operators, who currently pay no licensing fees to Town despite earning an estimated $750 thousand each per season. It’s time to hold operators accountable for their unsafe track records. As a family-oriented community we can’t afford to settle for less in 2021.

Thank you,

Sarah Bacon
Founder of #RespectBI