Thu, 04/12/2018 - 9:00pm

Housing, yes, 

but at a reasonable cost

To the Editor:

I'd like to weigh in on the housing issue for the town manager. We have to realize that a few key positions on the island in the 21st century need to be filled by persons with skills not commonly found on the island and some of these positions have a fairly high turnover rate. At present, there are two such positions on the island: The doctor and the town manager.  

We all know that our housing stock is grossly overpriced due to pressure from people from “away” looking for the perfect summer house. Therefore, in order to attract applicants with the needed credentials, we need to either grossly overpay them so that they can compete in securing housing in the open market, or provide such housing as part of the employment package. Such housing, of course, is to be terminated when the party departs the island. We already supply a fine residence for the doctor.  

So how do we accomplish this without breaking the bank? Our costs for building on the island are astronomical for two basic reasons: 1) The price of the building lot, and 2) the cost per square foot to construct a house, given The Block Island Factor.

It stands to reason that if a lot can be obtained at no additional cost to the taxpayer then we are way ahead of the game. At present, the town has two outstanding lots that could be used: 1) the grossly under-managed Thomas property across from the school, which could easily accommodate two additional dwelling units in addition to the mostly unoccupied and forlorn existing house (which has a legal apartment). 2) The Faulkner property south of the school and Medical Center.

While we all would like to provide work for island contractors, experience has shown that it is impossible to compete on “government jobs” with the often “cost plus” opportunities offered island contractors by luxury summer home buyers. I submit that we have several examples of pre-fabricated homes on the island, specifically the Ambrose Lane affordable units on the property adjacent to the Thomas property that were built 20 years ago; and the West Side Twenty affordable units built some 10 years ago. As Andy Transue pointed out in his comments to the Town Council, pre-fabs are likely to be more cost-effective.

Using our land and pre-fab technology, housing could be provided for a fraction of the numbers being bandied about. By the way, we are not talking about a freebee here. The rent collected would have the effect of amortizing our investment over a period of years. 

It looks like we have employed a first-rate town manager, and he is not grossly overpaid. If we don't level the playing field on housing we are bound to deal with this problem over and over again.

Steve McQueeny

High Street


Bo’s beloved Block Island

To the Editor:

On Sunday afternoon, April 8, 2018, the heart and soul of Block Island were on full display for the world to see at the Bo Gempp Memorial Shellfish Fundraiser. The love and charity demonstrated by the gathering and celebration of the man, the legend, and the island that he so loved was on full display. Bo’s persistent common-sense approach to all he did was and should be a lesson to us all.

That same Yankee common sense should be our focus in promoting shellfish restoration. Whether it be in encouraging the town to reinvest its revenue from shellfish licenses into the long-term health of our shellfish ecosystem or in a system of harvesting in overpopulated shellfish beds and replanting in areas where reproduction and harvesting might promote the long-term health of our most valuable of natural resources. In any case, our work has just begun and we will need our community's help in directing focus and allocating the funds raised.

Thank you to McAloon's and Kathleen’s staff for hosting this spring's celebration of "Bo" and his Land of Plenty. And thank you to all our best friends, Bo's best friends, and the best friends of our beloved Block Island.   

Bob and Pat Hoyt

Cape Neddick, Maine

The Bo Fund is a 501(c)3 qualifying tax-exempt charity under the umbrella of Block Island Economic Development  (BIED). Contributions may be sent to The Bo Fund BIED, PO Box 818, Block Island, R.I. 02807. Maura Cousins, Treasurer.