Letters, Feb. 25, 2012
To: the Editor—
We are a diverse group on Block Island and often on different sides of an issue, but I think we finally have something that we can all agree on. Governor Chafee’s proposal to tax short-term rentals of private homes at 13 percent is a really bad idea.
I hope the Town Council and our state senator and representative will take action to stop this proposal. The Rhode Island Association of Realtors is also opposing it. If the legislation passes, it would put Rhode Island and Block Island at a huge disadvantage in luring tourists, considering they could go to Massachusetts or Connecticut where there is no tax on the rental of individual homes or condominiums. We are already obligated to pay state and federal income tax on revenue that we get from our rentals, plus a 1 percent tax to the Housing Board here on Block Island. Now the governor wants to add a 13 percent tax on rentals, and increase the tax on meals to 10 percent.
I could not think of anything they could do that would hurt our tourist industry more than to impose these taxes. The new house rental tax is supposed to generate $1.9 million dollars for the state. I suggest to the Governor that he cut spending by $1.9 million. He is not thinking of the ramifications here on Block Island. We have a 10-week season. Many people on the island rent their homes out just to be able to afford to stay here year round. We have a housing crisis for year round residents. We already give the state of Rhode Island much more revenue from Block Island than they give to us.
I have already contacted Cindy Pappas from Sullivan Real Estate and others from Block Island. I am sure they are going to be working on this. This would be devastating.
Another question I ask myself is, does this mean more people will be hired at the Division of Taxation to audit owners of rental properties? Those jobs will include retirement programs, health care and other benefits. So really, how much is the state going to net on the $1.9 million? And what’s to say that they will not increase this tax year after year?
Have you had enough? If so, email Marilyn Kiesel at Marilyneg@aol.com. She is an East Greenwich Realtor who is Chairman of the RI REALTORS Government Affairs Committee. Better yet, email your state representatives. Representative Donna Walsh can be reached at email@example.com, and Senator Sue Sosnowski at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There is a hearing on the bill at the State House at 1 p.m. on March 7. Plan on attending to demonstrate your opposition to the proposed tax.
Remember that success on these issues is measured by the number of people who oppose it. Do not rely on your neighbor. Take charge and do it yourself. Let the people on Capital Hill know we’ve had enough. Tell Big Brother, stay out of our meals and stay out of our homes!
Corn Neck Road
To: the Editor—
I’d like to comment about the Spring Street Pump House, which was taken down last week. Since last November a small group of concerned citizens has been working to rebuild the Pump House exactly as it stood in 1880. Bob Newhouse started the process and he has been joined by Bryan Wilson, Doug Gilpin, Mary Anderson, Mark Vallaincourt, Ray Torrey, Chuck McMellon and Peter Greenman. We meet monthly. Doug and Mark are both members of the Historic District Commission.
The Pump House and the land it rests on are owned by the town. The town had permission from Coastal Resources Management Council in October 2010 to demolish and rebuild the building. Our group is working with Scenic Block Island. We have met with the Town Council, HDC, and town manager and we agreed to salvage what we could, demolish the rest, and rebuild. A fundraising effort will begin in a few months.
All work of our group is being done pro bono. Doug is an architect in Virginia and flies to Block Island once a month for an HDC meeting. He took precise measurements and photos and then developed architectural renderings to use in the construction phase. Bryan, a former contractor and architectural designer, and Mark, an active contractor, have been invaluable.
The building will be an exact replication with board and batten siding as in 1880. This effort also enjoys the approval of Block Island Historical Society, Preserve Rhode Island, Inc. and Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission in Providence. The HDC said “The Pump House is a contributing structure of the historic district and as a historically significant structure is of the utmost importance to preserve the architectural heritage of the island.”
The Spring House began operation in 1852 and is the oldest inn on the island. Water was plentiful from the spring but needed to be transported uphill so it could be used. With no electricity here until about 1925, other methods were developed. A hydraulic ram which operated without electricity was used for many years. When electricity came, electric pumps were used.
So please be patient. The new building will be better than anyone can remember and will be properly maintained in the future. Grass will be cut as needed and so this should be a reminder of our proud tourism history here on Block Island.
Peter H. Greenman
To: the Editor—
I have been away from our island paradise a little over a month. As I walked my land enjoying the splendor of nature, I discovered that someone had dumped a load of blue-painted plaster in my driveway. Either a lazy construction worker or a homeowner, not caring about their neighbors, only caring about themselves, decided not to go to the town transfer station, but just dump this mess of blue-painted plaster in a barrel in my driveway. Let someone else take care of it.
We are beginning to suffer more and more indignities as our glorious Block Island community disintegrates into a group of me-only, non-caring individuals, not caring about our fellow neighbors, not caring about anything but themselves. We suffer when no one cares about the real quality-of-life issues on this island, only the real estate prices. We suffer when neighbors cut down trees on our property to glorify their own views. We suffer when our friends are Lyme-diseased because we cannot or care not to solve the deer problem. We suffer when builders speculate causing bubbles that drive all our lives into economic confusion. We suffer when the pump house is pulled down as our history fades into oblivion. We suffer when we understand that this wonderful February weather is only a harbinger of the weather chaos to come. I sit and watch the sunset and wonder where are we going, what are we doing. Do we not care?
West Side Road
To: the Editor—
My family and I would like to thank all the people who contributed to the Block Island getaway raffle on February 12 to raise funds for my brother Peter.
He was very grateful for your generosity, even though he has never met you. On behalf of my family, my husband and I thank you too!
Thank you to Interstate Navigation for tickets for two, a certain B&B that would like to remain anonymous and to the Lion’s Club for their generous donation. Thank you Joan from Ink-it, the crew at Club Soda and Carrie at the Red Bird. You will all be in our thoughts and prayers. His benefit went well and yes, Pete was very surprised. Thank you all so very much.
Marcel and Judi Dulac