Thu, 10/19/2017 - 8:15pm

Issues, issues

To the Editor:

Sometimes government action can overdo things, and sometimes it’s late to the table. Out in the big wide world such excesses or deficiencies may have dire consequences; here on Block Island, not so much. But still. 

Three examples come to mind. In the too-much category is the plethora of twin cautionary signs that showed up unheralded earlier this year on the island’s roadways: “steep hill; sharp curve; slow down, etc.” This duplication, unusual as it is unsightly, has no place on an island which prides itself on its rural profile, where the top vehicular speed is 25 mph. 

In the opposite extreme — the not enough or late category — let me draw attention to two timely examples: First is the lack of foresight to arrange housing for the recently-tapped Town Manager. Good governance should have made sure that bridge existed before the town faced the crossing. Council, Planning Board, and even the retiring Town Manager take note. How is it that we have been able to provide more affordable housing than state regulations require while not having a permanent residence for the top job in Town Hall? May one suggest that rather than building another new structure, we consider already existing space, such as living quarters in the Southeast Lighthouse, only waiting to be renovated. We had a warning of a like problem with the time it took to renovate the Doctor’s House. 

The second timely item coming late to the table is resolution of the method and financing to provide island-wide broadband service. The Committee convened to resolve those issues is only months old and is already about to lose its able chairman. Should not that problem have begun to be addressed as soon as the cable, including a fiber optic component, was first laid? At present writing we understand that may take another year, or possibly two.

Impatience, we all know, is not a flattering emotion, and we are sorry for that. But, dear Councilors, may your correspondent, who is approaching the end of his eighth decade, have faith that those challenges will be met, if not tomorrow, at least in his lifetime.

P. S. Wood

Old Mill Road


To the Editor:

Just a few notes of wonder and questions from the “Resident Island Pundit.” We have two ignominious failures at the Town Hall level that stand out. Many more that are present, but there are some just below the radar, such as the $60,000 cost per pupil at the school. Then the $8,000,000 internet.

We do own the Power Company now, I think. By “we,” I mean the town, but some question that. There is a President of BIPCo in place at a great salary. Somehow, a Board to oversee the workings just can’t easily be put in place; mishandling of ballots at the Town Clerk’s office and BIPCo, new ballot mailings where your name and a numbered ballot means everyone will know how you voted. Our bills have been about 25 percent less than under the McGinnes regime, for which there is nothing but confusing explanations. But this month (September), it dropped 100 percent from last year. Then we read a letter in The Block Island Times from the President that we were inadvertently charged the winter rate during a summer month and will get another additional bill for the difference. Knock knock, anybody home?

Now we hear that a stop work order is in place to stop construction of the above-ground fuel tanks at BIPCo when they are half way completed. A town official stops construction on a town facility. Have you ever heard that before? Would you think a stop work order would be placed when there was no permit as the work was started? Try to get an answer from Town Hall on that one. 

I thought we had wind power and a cable, but we also now have new diesel engines and fuel tanks, and an electric substation that we have pay for.

Then we have the saga of the new Town Manager. Haven’t had one for a year now, after spending $20,000 on a search committee only to have the “establishment” fire the last new manager after three months — with a healthy severance. Never have been given a reason, but it easily could have been his trying to limit their smoking breaks.

First Warden Ken Lacoste, now again in The Block Island Times, literally begging for a home for the now-new Manager. Hey, Ken, you’re a little late again, maybe looking a year ago and finding something might have interested an applicant. What good is a job without a home on an island?

There will probably be another push for more affordable housing when most of the homes are filled with the children of wealthy families, and our summer policemen have to live in small rooms with no kitchen facilities.

There is still the problem with the Old Town Road bridge just sitting there, that was going to be finished by Memorial Day 2017, now it’s 2018 — maybe. Then the Deer Task Force promising that the deer tag program would be privately funded but now want $40,000 from the Town.

The “establishment” at the Town Hall, that’s First Warden-for-life Ken Lacoste, who is under their total control and hasn’t been able to make a decision recently, except to not pursue a kneel for the flag and ban on the Pledge of Allegiance at Town Council meetings. Could he be responsible for all of this? I’m not trying to be picky about this, but where does the buck stop? This makes us wonder about who really is in charge here, if anyone. We are on an island, but it could easily be a ship at sea without a captain and our tax dollars floating away with the tide.

John Willis

Beacon Hill Farm