Letters to the Editor

Thu, 02/25/2021 - 5:30pm

Give blood March 4

To the Editor,

The second blood drive of the year will take place on Thursday, March 4, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Harbor Baptist Church.

Blood supplies are down as never before throughout the country. Covid is a major reason and the fierce winter storms, particularly in Texas, add a significant problem. Accordingly, blood drives are cancelled and the supply simply drops. So, your gift of one unit is needed more than ever. The Block Island Medical Center supports the drives and the Rhode Island Blood Center personnel are tested. Please make every effort to give.

There are things to remember:

- Age 16 can give with a parent or guardian’s permission

- Age 17 and up can donate, with no upper age cut off.

- Those who have had Lyme disease may be eligible to donate. Those who had babesiosis can give after two years. If you have any questions of eligibility, call (401) 453-8307 and speak to a specialist.

- Bring photo ID. Appointments are the preferred method of signing up. This will permit donations to be speeded up and not all bunched up. To make an appointment, visit www.ribc.org/drives or call (401) 453-5383. Walk-ins are welcome, but appointments are first. Walk-ins will be accepted if spacing exists when they arrive.

So, you are essential. You can save lives. The need is greater than ever before. Give hope by giving blood.

Peter Greenman, Coordinator
Rhode Island Blood Center


BI Community at its best

To the Editor,

Today Block Island was at its best: police, fire, rescue, public servants, medical center staff, and medical board volunteers were all up in the wee hours of a wintry Saturday morning to vaccinate 200 of their elderly neighbors. Despite seven inches of snow recently, the road crew had the street around Legion Park clean as a whistle. Tables and signage were in place and everything was ready to go by 8 a.m. The entire operation was beautifully choreographed, thanks to careful planning by Dr. Warcup, Bill McCombe, and many others. Many, many thanks to all who were involved!

It is challenging for the state to meet distinctive needs in each city and town, so we are also indebted to state officials and representatives who listened to the advocates for Block Island. Sending us larger allotments spaced further apart enables more efficient delivery here. Many islanders do not have access to mainland distribution sites and the process here involves coordinating dozens of volunteers who must be brought together outside of their normal work or school schedules. It’s complicated, but it came off perfectly today.

Kudos all around. I feel fortunate to live in such a caring community!

Kay Lewis
Off Cooneymus Road


Vaccination thank you!

To the Editor,

What a pleasure it is to write this thank you note.

Thanks to a great bunch of volunteers who got up early on a snowy Saturday morning to vaccinate 200 of us senior citizens...and it went off without a hitch! It was well planned and well executed. People were there to greet us, direct us to the proper line, give us our paper work and finally send us to the line where we were given our shots. Our appointment was for 8 a.m. and we were home a bit before 9 a.m. So, many thanks to the B.I. Rescue Squad, the medical staff, the town, and Bill McCombe for a job well done!

Look forward to seeing you in March!

Margie and Bill Comings
Mohegan Trail


Hope for judicial fairness

To the Editor,

There is something very wrong happening at Rhode Island’s Coastal Resources Management Council. And it is threatening one of Block Island’s treasures.

We have, for many summers, fished, sailed, and swum with our boys (now adults) in and on the pristine yet environmentally-fragile water of the Great Salt Pond. So we were dismayed earlier this year as the sordid circumstances surrounding the “settlement” between CRMC and Champlin’s Marina began to emerge from the darkness. Many of the sad facts are now seeing the light of day thanks to the reporting of The Block Island Times, The Providence Journal, The (New London) Day, and others. And we have recently been heartened by Attorney General Neronha’s decision to oppose, in the Rhode Island Supreme Court, the attempt by CRMC and Champlin’s to circumvent long-standing Rhode Island state law – law that was put in place in order to preserve the public’s interest in protecting Rhode Island’s beautiful natural resources.

Also encouraging is the fine legal advocacy in the Champlin’s case, over a period of more than 17 years, of attorney Dan Prentiss on behalf of the town, the Land Trust, the Block Island Conservancy, and the Committee of the Great Salt Pond. Dan has worked tirelessly and generously in defense of the Pond, and Dan’s Feb. 16 legal brief to the Rhode Island Supreme Court is eloquent, compelling, and powerful. We commend it to everyone’s reading.

It is noteworthy that CRMC’s approval of the settlement with Champlin’s apparently took place within just a few days of the December 23 closing on the recent multi-million dollar sale of Champlin’s to new ownership, as reported in The Block Island Times of January 7, 2021. It has not been reported and, to our knowledge, it is not publicly known whether the CRMC’s newly-found favor with the Champlin’s expansion is related to the recent Champlin’s change in ownership. Perhaps the timing of the two events is coincidental, but we nonetheless respectfully suggest that the issue is worthy of question and further investigation.

We urge Attorney General Neronha to continue his opposition to the hastily-assembled and surely unlawful settlement put together by CRMC and Champlin’s. We know that Dan Prentiss will continue to fight, and for Dan’s work we are grateful. And we trust that, when the smoke is cleared away and transparency is again the rule of the day, the Rhode Island Supreme Court will restore judicial fairness and democratic due process, and decide the Champlin’s case on its actual merits.

Cheryl and Webb Moore
Richmond, Virginia


Response to Planning Board

Dear Block Island Friends and Neighbors,

I am writing this letter to clear up some false information that was communicated at our Planning Board meeting on February 10. I feel it is important to let everyone know that the perception that is being portrayed of me, my family, and the new home we are trying to build is very inaccurate.

We bought a 6.7-acre lot just north of Breezy Point on the Great Salt Pond in August of 2017. This property lies behind The Breakers on Corn Neck Road where I grew up every summer of my life and, my father, every summer of his. We were beyond excited to purchase this stunning piece of property so close to our old summer home.

We designed our beautiful home to be 100 percent compliant with the Zoning Ordinances for a Special Use Permit Section 514, as required to build a house on this lot.

In our first meeting, the Planning Board told us, in a nutshell, that they did not like our design because it was too big. Note - We didn’t have to change one thing in our design to be 100 percent compliant to the ordinance, but out of respect for the board, the zoning process, and Block Island, we hired our architect to redesign a new set of plans which reduced the size of the main house by 17 percent overall and the accessory structure by 21 percent. Our revised design also illustrated a reduced amount of door and window glass in areas of concern by over 30 percent.

It is hurtful that we are being portrayed as relentless and selfish when, in reality we are being cooperative and trying to work with the Planning Board. In return the board continually makes false statements that are publicly portraying a bad picture of our intentions.

1. Christine Grele falsely stated: “This is a house that is bigger than the Atlantic Inn and the Harborside Inn. We need to think about that. I don’t know if it’s fair to the applicant to keep coming back if we haven’t really addressed that.”

Fact – The Atlantic Inn main building has a Living Area of 9,463 square feet. The Harborside Inn has a Living Area of 17,848 square feet. Our home has a living area of 4,808 square feet. Not even close to the same size as either structure, let alone bigger.

2. Sam Bird stated: “I like to distill these things down to their essence and I think the essence of this project is that we still have a residence that is in a prominent and visible place on the island, and also in an environmentally sensitive place on the island. In essence when we look at the reduction that is going to be sought for the wetland buffers and the permission that is being sought beyond reasonable limits for the house size, the beyond line is the applicant is looking to waive environmental protections in order to build a house that is bigger than we feel should be built in the first place.”

Fact – We are not looking to waive any environmental protections and what the Planning Board ‘feels’ is irrelevant. There is an ordinance in place to set limits on house size and we are 100 percent compliant with that ordinance. In fact, we are allowed 4 percent lot coverage and our home only uses 2.3 percent of the allowed coverage.

3. Socha Cohen stated: “CRMC requires a 200-foot buffer zone, which this plan does not meet. If approved by the Planning Board, the application before us would not only show support for a sizable CRMC variance, it would also support the construction of a home whose footprint is 2.1 times larger than that of a standard house, with a living area 1.5 times larger, a total gross area 1.6 times larger, as well as a total building volume 1.6 times larger.”

g volume 1.6 times larger.” Fact – We went to CRMC with our original set of plans and they gave us a preliminary determination for an advised 150-foot setback, so our plans are 100 percent compliant with what CRMC has requested of us to date. The Planning Board does not have the authority to determine the allowable CRMC setbacks on any Block Island property. This is out of their scope. In addition, we are well within all of the Town of New Shoreham’s setback requirements.

4. Sam Bird falsely stated: “As I said, I think the bottom line is they are looking to build a house that is larger than our zoning ordinances will allow without further review. In order to build that house they have to go back to CRMC and ask for reductions in buffer zones. This is like murdering your parents and asking for forgiveness because you’re an orphan.”

Fact – Again, our design is 100 percent compliant with the zoning ordinance requirements. And that statement is rude, offensive, completely unprofessional, and has no place in a public meeting.

Making false public statements undermines the zoning process and pits an unfair bias against the applicant. The Planning Board’s job is to be presented the facts and work within the scope of such to accommodate any requests if possible, without any opposition from abutting landowners and to assist us in our planning while adhering to the written code.

Thanks so much to all of you who have reached out with support after seeing the articles in The Times. We love Block Island and, as many of you know, try to give back where we can. We have tried very hard to comply and follow all of the rules to build a beautiful home in a beautiful place. We only ask that we are treated fairly and our project is assessed by the ordinances and not by the personal opinions of a few.

Pam Gelsomini


Chaos at City Hall

To the Editor,

Within a few weeks unfortunately our Chief of Police Vincent Carlone will be leaving his post. This is a man that risked his own life to save a drowning man clinging to his sinking boat in rough seas at Black Rock and was awarded a medal from the Coast Guard. Again same Chief has kept crime at a minimum, enforced the law with a friendly hand and was fair to everyone on such a small island. It has been reported as a retirement move. Not waiting three more years to get a pension after seventeen years and with a constant unjustifiable barrage from the Town Council and specifically the new First Warden, let’s think it’s more like he just quit.

Keep in mind, Block Islanders, that our Island has 1000 residents, 150 town employees. We have 100 students in our school at a cost of 6 million dollars budgeted each year, that’s $60,000 per head. Our Town Manager is the fifth in five years if you count Shirlyne Gobern an interim manager who should have been considered for the post. The Medical Center has fired and hired three doctors in five years. I know of three Superintendents of our school system in recent years. Before Vincent Carlone the best credentialed Chief of Police was retired from the State Police and only lasted here but a few years. The Town Council protected the taxis year after year at the public’s expense, saying no to trolleys to be provided by the state. One thing hasn’t changed at least so far, the Town Council.

The Block Island Town Council, which just a few years ago banned the Pledge of Allegiance before meetings, has sort of a rotating basis, they get voted out then get voted back in. This can be looked upon like a Tammany Hall tag team match of the NYC bad old days. Unfortunately the most restrictive Covid laws in the state were implemented here on the island last year by this council. It placed a restrictive control on all of us, put islanders out of work maybe just maybe one person at a construction site while the remainder of the state worked. Rules prevented workers from coming here such as one person to a hammer or tool. More control by preventing people from coming here that had houses here. It was to supposedly control our tiny clinic from being over run with patients.

Well by June, July and August they came anyway, thousands upon thousands of them. They over-ran the island. These so called culprits wore no masks, exposed everyone on the ferries, walked our streets untamed by the Town Council, invaded our beaches swimming with no masks. They were threatened with $500.00 fines that didn’t exist. Something else didn’t exist, the pandemic wasn’t here and never got here, essentially no COVID.

Block Island, despite an invasion of unrestricted potentially contaminated polluted individuals, is and has remained one of the safest, healthiest areas in the country despite all of the above. Was it the fresh air, the stress-free environment if you ignored the council, limited lockdowns, stay at home on an individual basis unless you were vulnerable. Our Chief of Police was chastised because he didn’t enforce the stupidity which was impossible with his three men but let people decide for themselves. In the long run Chief Carlone had the right advice as is now being realized. The clinic was never over-run with Covid emergencies nor has the island been seeing anything of a sick population.

So I say, farewell good friend to this island, good luck and may God watch over you, Chief Carlone. Vincent Carlone and his heart will still be here. Because it is one of the last great places on this earth. I myself am never leaving of my own accord. When that time comes I have a reservation at the Block Island Boot Hill Hotel.

John Willis
Beacon Hollow Farm