LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Fri, 04/30/2021 - 2:00pm
Category: 

Blood Drive May 6

To the Editor,
Our next blood drive, the third this year, will be held at the Harbor Church on Thursday, May 6 from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. With warmer weather on our side, we look forward to topping our January and March drives. All you need do is make an appointment and then there will be no waiting. To make an appointment, simply call (401) 453-8383 and speak to an agent or visit www.ribc.org drives. Either way is very simple.
Remember:
• Age 16 can give blood with a parent’s permission. Forms are at the school .• Age 17 and older can donate and there is no upper age cut-off. Those who have had Lyme disease may be eligible to give. Those who have had babesiosis can give after two years. If you have any questions about eligibility call (401) 453-5307 and speak with a specialist.
• Bring a photo ID.
Appointments are the preferred method of signing up. This will permit donations to be speeded up. Walk-ins are welcome but appointments are best. You are essential. The need is greater than ever before. Give
hope by giving blood.
Peter H. Greenman, Coordinator
Rhode Island Blood Center

Beyond Blue

To the Editor,
“Beyond Blue,” the stories and memories of Edith Littlefield Blane should be sent and nominated to the Academy Awards. This is an extraordinary film about a truly lovely and brilliant lady. American ideals
and Democracy are under terrible attack, and to me, the most important aspect of this fi lm is Mrs. Blane’s democratic ideals and good citizenship.
Sincerely,
Brette Thomas McCabe

Lots about the Overlook

To the Editor:
We have over eighty years combined experience in the real estate business on Block Island. We have participated in appraisals for conservation groups, banks, businesses, and private individuals. We have reviewed the appraisal submitted by Peter M. Scotti and Associates for the 4.6-acre parcel of the proposed Overlook subdivision. We believe the eight million one hundred sixty thousand dollars ($8,160,000) value assigned to the property is significantly higher than the Fair Market Value. The latest assessment by Vision Appraisal for the entire Overlook property, 6.2 acres and the 41-unit building, amounts to six million nine hundred eighty one thousand nine hundred dollars ($6,981,000). Scotti & Associates appraised the entire parcel at thirteen million three hundred thirty thousand dollars ($13,330,000). We are long-time supporters of conservation on Block Island and we strongly support the acquisition of the 4.6- acre Overlook parcel. However, it is our opinion that to commit ten million five hundred thousand dollars ($10,500,000) to the project is a misappropriation of conservation funds and taxpayer money.

Respectfully,
Blake Phelan, Michele Phelan
Payne Farm

To the Editor:
We urge Block Island voters to attend Monday’s Town Financial Meeting to support the town’s purchase of the Overlook Site off West Side Road. This is the open hillside you pass on the way to Champlin’s Marina. Purchase of the Overlook Site will provide key additional permanent public access to the Great Salt Pond. The Town would be in partnership with the Block Island Land Trust and island conservation groups with the town providing less than half of the cost.

This is an opportunity which will not come again. Do not risk having to tell your children, grandchildren, and future generations why this site was not preserved.
Come Monday and vote yes.

Margie and Bill Comings
Pilot Hill Road

To the Editor,
Last week three of the members of the Town Council signed a letter supporting the proposed $10.5 million purchase of a vacant portion of the Sam P. Meadow, a swath of which is now for convenience sake being called “The Overlook” property, in New Harbor. It was printed in the same issue of the paper in which the first disclosure of consideration of such a purchase, less than two weeks before Financial Town Meeting, was made. It carries with it a potential additional estimated cost of $2.5 million for a Harbors facility.
If you read the letter you must also have read the article which stated this Council approval was not unanimous, hence only three signatories; neither I nor First Warden Boudreau had any knowledge of the letter
or its contents prior to reading it in The B.I.Times.
For those who do not know, I have a long standing record supporting both conservation and housing initiatives on this island. I was the First Warden when we purchased Hodge, also when we took Housing Board legislation to the Assembly and got it passed. I chaired the Zoning Board which denied a boatel on the present BIMI shores, a decision which was upheld, with a welcome assist from BIRA. I was even on the first board of the Committee for the Great Salt Pond, because John Brotherhood asked me.
Perhaps more to the point, I know about a number of transactions, for example, I was Treasurer when the Town partnered with BILT to purchase Ball-O’Brien. The site was problematic, wetlands and topography
made shore access difficult not impossible. It was successfully argued that it was the last piece of undeveloped commercial real estate on the shore of the New Harbor/Great Salt Pond and, as such, should be protected.
The harbor facility originally for that site never happened. It was ultimately much to the benefit of the whole community as the section both owned and controlled by the town, including the playground and park, has been developed over time, with a huge assist from the local Lions Club. Now, you are being told the same last chance thing about the property next door, coupled with some misbegotten notion, if not flat out mis-statement of fact, that there is no public access to the New Harbor. The town alone owns: Andy’s Way; Mosquito Beach and the walkway; the launching ramp behind Dead Eye’s/BIMI; Ball O’Brien; and the Coast Guard Station complex. There are a number of other points of access and conserved properties, but I am limiting my list strictly to those town-owned.

You are being asked to spend $10.5 million for the balance of a partly developed parcel with problematic shore access. The taxpayers would contribute 4.5, the largest single share. An additional 2.5 has been suggested for a Harbors facility. That’s 13 million dollars, 7 million coming from the town’s taxpayers.
And all of this is coming to the voters with scarcely any breathing room, it was not even advertised as a part of the warrant to be acted upon last week. You haven’t read about it in the paper because there was
nothing made public – although the town received a surprising number of letters in support of the project from abutting property owners, a bit of a curiosity. That the Broadband cost impact has not yet been felt, that the final number for the power company settlement is not yet known, that we have existing, expensive projects upcoming aside, is this a wise purchase, especially so rushed? We seem to have fallen into the crazy notion that bonded money is not real; it is very real and will be reflected on your future tax bills.
We have access, we have a park right next door. “What of the boaters?” you might ask.
To that I ask: are we dismissing out of hand the concept of working with the two marinas with significant shore-side facilities already in place and currently in improvement stages? That may be, in truth, the real
once in a generation — if not lifetime — opportunity before us. A public/private partnership worked at Dead Eye’s, as the dinghy dock bears testament. Before determining we “need” to spend $7 million why are we not trying to negotiate long-term commitments from the two marinas with significant land? We might well be able to accomplish that as well as upgrade visitors facilities in Old Harbor for a fraction of $7 million. We would not have complete control? Based on the model of Ball-O’Brien, the town would cede a great deal of control in a partnership with the Land Trust.
The objective of this proposed purchase cannot be a place to launch kayaks and paddle-boarders, they’d be paddling out into the mooring field and the navigation channel instead of recreation areas beyond Andy’s Way! It cannot be for need of a park, we have a park next door. It is not assuring forever access to used, but not in fact not secured, open space, such as the land across from the National, Mansion Beach, Black Rock, and Hodge were. It most assuredly does not create a one and only, heretofore non-existent access to the pond shore. The waterfront, such as it is, is small, the delta of water extending from it very small, primarily behind the long established Champlin’s Marina perimeter.
And it is a great deal of money to spend on things we already have or may be able to secure, while there is so much more we still need, lacking funding. All absent any real public dialogue. Thank you for taking the time to read this lengthy letter.

Martha Ball
Mansion Road

To the Editor:
Next Monday we will have the opportunity to vote on purchasing 4.5 acres of commercial land, the “Overlook” property on the Great Salt Pond, guaranteeing public access in perpetuity and providing the opportunity for the Town to develop much needed Harbors facilities and for the community to have access to the pond forever.
This purchase is a partnership between the town and the conservation groups. As was the case with other large acquisitions we’ve made in the past, none of us can do this alone. The town and the Land Trust partnered to purchase the Ball O’Brien property, which is heavily used by the community in so many different ways. The town, and all three conservation groups (Land Trust, Block Island Conservancy and The Nature Conservancy), partnered together to purchase the Hodge property, ensuring it will remain as open space for the community to enjoy forever. Rodman’s Hollow was purchased through a joint effort of the town and the conservation groups, with help from the state. And this partnership will continue with the purchase of the Overlook. Our common goals with this purchase are to provide access to the pond for the community; facilities for the Harbors Department, including housing for town employees, docks, a welcome center, etc.; and to prevent the extensive commercial development that will otherwise occur (both on land and on the pond). A part of our plan includes transferring the development rights from this property to another town-owned property so that additional year-round housing can be built.
The conservation groups will pay $6 million of the $10.5 million purchase price, with the town (i.e. the taxpayers) contributing $4.5 million, and together we thought long and hard about whether it was “worth” it. The consensus was “yes”, or we would not be asking the taxpayers to vote in favor of it on Monday night. Real estate prices in general have escalated significantly, and commercial development is proceeding at
a rapid pace. Given these pressures and the knowledge that this opportunity, if passed by, will not come again, we must act now to secure the last remaining undeveloped commercial land on the pond, for us and for the generations to come.

Barbara MacMullan
Beacon Hill Road,
Block Island RI

Parade update

To the Editor,
The Double Ender Committee is pleased to announce that the Grand Marshals for the 2021 Fourth of July Parade will be the staff of the Block Island Post Office! Postmaster Becky Brown, as well as Tamzen Mazzur, Kara Stinnett, and Kim Bubko have worked tirelessly throughout the past year to bring Block Island residents their mail in a timely and courteous fashion. This was done even when the staff was seeing an unprecedented volume of mail and packages come to the island.

This year’s parade theme is “Celebrating America,” and honoring the staff at our Post Office is a great way to do just that!
Just a reminder: the fireworks display will be at dusk on Friday, July 2, and the parade will step off in front of the Oar at 11:30 a.m. on Monday, July 5. The parade and fi reworks will be held according to R.I. Department of Health rules and regulations that are in place at the time these events are held.
Donations can be made to the Double Ender Committee at P.O. Box 808, Block Island, RI 02807.

Thank you,
The Double Ender Committee:
Gail and Mike Dugan, Liz Doherty,
Bruce Johnson, Kristen Kiley,
Mary Lawless, and Lars Trodson

About those mopeds...

An Open Letter to the Operators of Moped Rental Businesses on Block Island, Police Chief Matthew Moynihan and the New Shoreham Town Council:

As we approach the busy 2021 summer season, RespectBI has urgent questions and concerns.
In discussions with our dedicated Town Manager last fall, the moped operators agreed to move training off Weldon’s Way and improve safety protocols for their customers. Then the operators violated that good faith agreement, the result of months of biweekly conversations, by calling for an injunction by a judge on the recently revised, legally permissible moped ordinances. To further ensure no changes would take
place, they achieved a TRO (Temporary Restraining Order) on said ordinances, which had been passed by the Town Council (with tremendous support from the community) to safeguard the public interest by ensuring moped renters are educated on the risks of renting/riding a moped on Block Island. And those risks are great: Last year moped crashes increased by 22 percent, with one crash resulting in a death, and life flights jumped 280 percent from 2019.
The operators’ rejection of the revised safety-enhancing ordinances, in particular a required training video for all customers and contained training sites off Weldon’s Way, reflects a brazen disregard for the well-being of your customers, of your neighbors and fellow island residents, and of the burden reckless moped renters place on our limited island services—medical, rescue and police.
To Chief Moynihan, to whom we extend a warm welcome: for years moped operators have violated existing town ordinances, by training customers for private enterprises on Weldon’s Way, a town-owned road, and by failing to educate customers on local ordinances, such as excessive beeping and dirt road access, to name a few. (RespectBI members rented mopeds last summer and can personally attest to no mention of either aforementioned ordinance.) We thank you for the increased police oversight of moped rentals— already above and beyond previous seasons!—and are counting on you and your cadet team to ensure that current laws are enforced for a safer, more peaceful 2021 season.
And many, many thanks to you, Town Council, and Town Manager Maryanne Crawford, for your hard work on and 3-2 vote in favor of measures to increase the safety protocols of moped operators, and for
your ongoing legal fight to implement the ordinances. However, despite First Warden Andre Boudreau’s passionate promise at the Jan. 29, 2021 Town Council meeting on moped operations, “We will be enforcing all the traffic laws that are on our books,” we see no evidence of this conviction yet on Weldon’s Way. Now that the 2021 season is underway, RespectBI urges the Town Council to once and for all use the powerful tool of a Show Cause Hearing to bring the operators to task for their continued illegal use of Weldon’s Way for private enterprise.
Additionally, #RespectBI respectfully requests that the Town Council inform its constituents of all critical judicial actions affecting the implementation of the new moped ordinances (to the extent they are able
given current legal proceedings), such as, by example, the TRO. The community has a right to know why the new ordinances are not being implemented. Thank you!
Finally, to anyone wishing to help ensure that our 2021 season is a safe and positive experience for both tourists and residents, please report all observed violations of moped rental laws by kindly doing the following:
1. Call police dispatch ASAP at (401) 466-3220
2. Document the violation with pictures and videos, *including the moped number*;
3. Email a description of the violation with date, location, and all supportive materials to both the Town Council and Town Manager (townclerk@new-shoreham.com and mcrawford@new-shoreham.com), and
to RespectBI at info@respectbi.org.
For those who wish to follow RespectBI’s efforts go to www.respectbi.org

Sarah Bacon
RespectBI
#MakeBISafe2021