Letters to the Editor

Thu, 03/18/2021 - 5:00pm

Beware empty threats

To the Editor:

During the March 4 Town Council meeting to vote to amend town ordinances on mopeds, Beth Noonan, attorney for the moped operators, made claims of “legal impermissibility” of the ordinances, and threatened to sue the town should the ordinances pass. #RespectBI’s legal analysis of Noonan’s March 1 memo, outlining her legal argument against the amended ordinances, shows her claims to be false and misleading to the public.

In fact, each amendment falls well within the scope of the actions permitted by the state statute, at R. I. Gen. L. §31- 19.3, enabling the Town to regulate and license moped rentals on Block Island. Further, Noonan’s reference to MilesUn-Ltd., Inc. v. Town of New Shoreham, C.A. 86-173, 1986 WL 732854 (R.I. Super. Sept. 2, 1986) is moot, as the case presents facts distinct from those surrounding the amended ordinances. Additionally, the amended ordinances are consistent with, and build upon, the terms of the most recent settlement agreement between the Town and the moped operators. Finally, the ordinances are not preempted by state law or regulation. Town government and the Block Island community should not be cowed by Noonan’s—and the moped operators’—baseless threats.

Thankfully the amendments passed, allowing the Town Council to further safeguard the public interest, per its mandate, with stricter moped rental training protocols, restricted operating hours, and more. Moped operators have threatened our core overnight and seasonal tourist industry and burdened our essential public health and safety services for way too long. #RespectBI will continue to support the Town in whatever ways we can to both ensure these new ordinances are maintained and enforced. They are, after all, just the fi rst step in achieving safer, saner roadways this season and beyond, with particular regard to the renegotiation of the consent agreement in 2022.

Sarah Bacon
#RespectBI / www.respectbi.org
West Side Road


Safety over profit

To the Editor:

I read with great interest your article last week regarding changes made by the Town Council to existing moped ordinances, together with a summary of the legal responses from the attorney for the moped operators, Beth Noonan. The facts of this situation are actually quite straightforward. The Block Island Rescue Squad and Block Island Health Services have been built over many years to serve the unique needs of the Block Island community. This critical infrastructure serves the year-round needs of the island quite effectively and efficiently. During the three-to-four months of the summer, demand on these critical resources increases dramatically. Some of this reflects the much larger summer population, but data from the Rescue Squad and Health Services clearly show that moped accidents involving inexperienced or intoxicated renters are a major contributor to this increase. The Town Council has taken reasonable steps to address the costs mopeds have imposed on our community: better and more organized training of renters, sanctions for intoxicated drivers and shorter operating hours. All of these are common sense efforts to address the very real costs imposed by moped rentals.

For decades, and continuing to today, the response of the Moped Operators has been to use litigation and legal pressure as a tool to stop efforts to address the problem. While they do contribute a modest sum, around $2,000 a season, to the Rescue Squad and Health Services, this amount comes nowhere close to covering the costs they impose on the community and the contribution is certainly a small fraction of what they spend each season on attorneys like Mrs. Noonan and their aggressive legal strategy.

I ask the moped operators to consider the question of what it means for a business to be a responsible member of the Block Island community? The Town Council is taking modest steps to protect the community by reining in the worst excesses of moped renters. Your response has been to deflect responsibility and hire expensive lawyers, all so you can continue making enormous profits while imposing significant costs on the community where you operate.

Joseph Lipscomb
Southwest Point


Grateful for the memories

To the Editor,

Last month our family sold our summer home, and it marks the first time in over four decades that we have not had our own place on Block Island. While I hope it is not for long, my brothers and I write to thank our neighbors on Cormorant Cove, and the amazing community of Block Island for giving us such wonderful memories and so much love over the years. Our parents started coming to Block Island in the 1970s when they decided Nantucket had gotten “too crowded” and found both beauty and camaraderie here. They partnered with Bob Closter to build a home, and our families became intertwined when his brother married our mother’s sister. In addition to weeks on-island during the summer, our family would come during Thanksgiving or New Year’s Eve and huddle around the wood stove doing puzzles under comforters. Every summer, the Greenlee kids and I, and our extended families, would put on theater and variety productions under our porch – a tradition that evolved into organizing ConserFest. Through my parents’ evangelism, aunts and uncles on both sides of our family would come to own homes on Block Island as well, finding the magic of this beautiful place as irresistible as we had. I spent summers working at the Glass Onion and the Oar (among other places), and my niece and nephew have taken up the mantle of seasonal work at the Block Island Club. I got married on-island in 2013, and was so lucky to have so many of our Block Island friends and family with us.

With our mother’s sudden passing early in 2020, our time on the island last summer was bittersweet, remembering her love of (fully licensed) clamming under the dock, (permitted) beach barbecues on Scotch and Charlestown, cocktail cruises to check out the boats on the Great Salt Pond, trips to Twin Maples for a fresh Eat Fish shirt, and to Jessie Edwards’ Gallery and the Glass Onion to fi nd something beautiful to take home with her. Cormorant Cove has been a constant in my life much more so than any place I have lived on the mainland, and the friends I have made on Block Island remain some of my dearest. We are so grateful for all the years we have spent on island, and look forward to many more to come.

With appreciation,
Alice Ely Inacker
Clute Ely
Alex Ely


A book by any other name…

To the Editor,

I expect Tony Pappas was wearing his “solar hat” when he gave a bow to Ernest Hemingway for borrowing the title to his novel “The Sun Also Rises” (BI Times March 13, 2021) for his Solar Report.

But had he been wearing his “reverend hat” he might have given an equal bow to the Bible from which the Nobel Prize-winning author took his title.

Douglas Gasner
Block Island