Thu, 10/24/2019 - 9:15pm

The Block Island Walk

To the Editor:

Nationwide, fall is known as “Walk Season” for the Alzheimer’s Association, as local chapters gear up for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s events that are the largest fundraisers of the year. The Alzheimer’s Association Rhode Island Chapter just wrapped up four successful walks in Westerly, Newport, Providence, and, new this year, Block Island.

The money generated by these walks is vital to help fund Alzheimer’s research in the hope of finding a cure, as well as supporting the programs and services that are available locally to people living with the disease and their caregivers.

It takes a lot of people working together to organize and run these walks, and we couldn’t do it without our numerous volunteers. We also depend on the support of state and local officials, whose efforts at the State House and in their community help in the fight to find a cure.

Many of our elected officials turned out in person to support the Walk to End Alzheimer events, and for this we are particularly grateful. Among those who participated were U.S. Congressman David Cicilline, State Senators Erin Lynch Prata, Louis DiPalma and Susan Sosnowski; Andrew Szala, Veterans Affairs Coordinator for U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse; Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza, Cranston Mayor Allan Fung, and Rose Amoros Jones, Director of the Rhode Island Office on Healthy Aging.

The Alzheimer’s Association would also like to extend a special thank-you to State Representative Deborah Ruggiero for serving as an emcee for our Newport Walk, and Lieutenant Governor Dan McKee for doing the same for our Block Island Walk.

With thousands of Rhode Islanders and others taking part in the Walks and state and local leaders giving the Alzheimer’s cause a higher profile, there is hope that one day soon we can end this disease.

Eric Creamer

Director of Policy for Alzheimer’s

Association Rhode Island Chapter


‘Not a conservation issue’

To the Editor:

The Block Island Times has been reporting one side of the developable land/conservation easement issue. We have our side and we are confident it would change the public’s perception and understanding of what has transpired over the past few years. We hope it will all come out some day.  What started out as a dream to provide for our grandchildren has turned into a nightmare. One of the many facts that has not been publicized is that the developable land definition, as it currently exists, has been codified in the Town’s Zoning Ordinances for nearly 30 years, since 1989. It was not until March 5, 2018 when, as part of a larger collection of state law land use changes, the Town Council modified the developable land definition. Just 37 days later, on April 11, 2018, the Planning Board jumped into compliance with its obligations under Rhode Island law and the Town Ordinances by modifying its Land Development and Subdivision Regulations to be consistent (not at odds) with the Zoning Ordinance’s March 5, 2018 changes.  

In January 2019, after the Town Council learned that its developable land amendment was not required by any state law, and that landowners like us who had relied on the decades-old definition were upended by the abrupt change, the Town Council reinstated the nearly 30-year-old definition. Despite that January 16, 2019 reversion to the original definition, and the haste (just 37 days!) with which the Planning Board had changed its Regulations to be consistent with the 2018 Zoning Ordinance amendment, the Planning Board has refused for over nine months to modify the Regulations so they are harmonious with the Zoning Ordinance. Not only does the Planning Board have no legal basis to defy the Town Council or the Zoning Ordinance, one would think 30 years was sufficient time to “study” the developable land definition, as the Planning Board suggested at its October 15, 2019 meeting it needed to do before amending its Regulations.

Let us make one thing perfectly clear: Our pending litigation with the Planning Board is not a conservation issue. We are simply asking the Court to require the Planning Board to uphold the Ordinances of the Town of New Shoreham and the laws of the State of Rhode Island, which the Planning Board is sworn to do.

Nor do we believe that we have to defend our commitment to conservation. The Phelan/Payne families are responsible for approximately 150 acres of conserved land on Block Island, including Mohegan Bluffs, and the land donated for the Block Island School.

Blake and Michele Phelan

Payne Road


What is wrong here?

To the Editor:

Our new Town Manager is leaving. No surprise.

Ed Roberge was far too over-qualified to be at the Block Island Town Hall. If you ever talked to him or met him, you would have been overwhelmed by his consideration and attention to your presence. Not so in any other of our town offices and especially the Town Council. Think of the confusion and chaos now rampant in both our Town Manager’s office and Block Island Health Services. We have a rotating carousel of doctors, and now three town managers in as many years.

Is there something seriously wrong here?

John Willis 

Beacon Hollow Farm


Task Force needed

To the Editor:

I wish to express my gratitude to the Solar Initiative group for its role in helping bring significant roof-top photovoltaic (PV) projects to the island and to the anonymous donor who has made this possible. According to the book “Drawdown,” solar photovoltaics provides less than two percent of the world’s electricity. The waves and particles of the sun’s light strike the surface of our planet with an energy more than 10,000 times the world’s total use. Roof modules are spreading because of their affordability driven by incentives to accelerate their development and implementation, economies of scale in manufacturing, advances in panel technology, and innovative approaches for end-user financing. It is estimated that rooftop solar PV can grow to seven percent worldwide by 2050. That increase can avoid 24.6 gigatons (billion tons) of emissions. As the demand and production has grown, and prices have dropped, further demand is being created. However, homeowners are not the only players in this issue.

For some utilities, roof-top solar PV is understandably seen as a free ride, impacting their revenue and profitability. Others are accepting its inevitability and are trying to shift their business models accordingly. Utilities, regulators, and stakeholders are evolving approaches to cover that cost. Net metering, selling excess electricity back to the grid, helps make rooftop solar financially more feasible for homeowners. However, according to a recent news article in The Block Island Times, there is currently a state-mandated cap on all net-metering projects on Block Island. The article continues by stating that BIPCo is concerned over the increasing number of solar projects creating less revenue needed for line and pole repairs, operating cost, and staff, possibly forcing a rate hike to offset that loss.

The Block Island Comprehensive Plan encourages the use of renewable sources of energy, where feasible. I believe BIPCo’s concerns are equally as valid and must be taken into account. I therefore propose the creation of an island Renewable Energy Task Force whose task is to help create a policy advocacy at the local, state, and federal regulatory level so that renewable energy projects can continue to grow and benefit both the public and utility companies alike.

Socha Cohen

Chapel Street


Do not over-develop

To the Editor:

In reading the latest edition of The Block Island Times, I was a bit concerned about the article “Marketing the island as a year-round destination.” From what I read, it sounds as if you want to turn Block Island and Rhode Island into something that they aren’t, namely built up, with no beauty, no wilderness, no beaches, no bluffs, no open space — just mass buildings taking up the space that all of the above is currently. 

You have stated that Rhode Island is the smallest state, so why are you trying to destroy the beauty that lies within the state, which is why people come. 

Block Island is my safe haven. I come up to unwind, unplug, and get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. I would hate to see it ruined. 

In the 40-plus years that I have been coming up, I have seen a drastic change in the island. Block Island is beautiful. It still is natural with bluffs to explore, the beautiful coastline beach, two beautiful lighthouses and enough space for people to come out and spend some time shopping, eating at all the restaurants, walk the beach, hit the trails, etc. It also has many B&Bs and hotels for overnight guests, or for people like me, who come out for a week or two to unwind and get away from it all. 

The state has grown by leaps and bounds since I first started coming up and I’m sure there are plenty of places to eat, shop and stay.

Please don’t make either the state or the island bigger than they are. Please don’t try to overdo and ruin the beauty and tranquility of the island and the wonderful feeling that you get when you go to unplug from life for a while. Block Island is the perfect place for that.

Please don’t turn Block Island into Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket. I have been to both and they are beautiful but too busy. You need a place to go back to unwind and enjoy the beauty and peace and quiet.

I would hate to come up next time, only to find the beauty and peace and quiet that I have grown to know and love over the years gone for good.

Jeanne Wyatt

Stirling, New Jersey

Ed. Note: It should be pointed out that the island takes extraordinary measures to protect its beaches, dunes, and almost 50 percent of the island is conserved land.


A hearty ‘thank you’

To the Editor:

On behalf of the Board and staff of Block Island Health Services, I would like to thank Dr. Rob Hayden and the musicians of Musica Dolce for their wonderful performance Sunday night at St. Andrew Parish Center. All those who attended the benefit concert were treated to beautiful music performed by Paul Rosenbloom on piano, cellist Steve Laven, Patricia Petersen on viola, violinists Meghan O’Connor and John Sumerlin, Rob Hayden on clarinet and the magnificent voice of Devon Russo, baritone. What a treat! (See photo above.) Special thanks to volunteers from St. Andrew, St. Ann’s and Harbor Church for helping to make the evening a success.

Cindy Baute

President, BIHS Board



To the Editor:

Thank you to everyone who took part in saving the Gothic Inn.

On Oct. 11, shortly before 7 a.m., we received a call telling us that there was a fire at the Gothic Inn. My grandson and I rushed to Dodge Street to find that the police and fire departments were already there.

The alarms had gone off and all the guests had been evacuated from the building.

It was amazing to watch everyone working together. The volunteer fire fighters were already in the building and the police had the road blocked off. Three fire trucks where there.

Because the Gothic Inn was built in the early 1870s, there are no fire stops between floors. If it were not for the fast and efficient action of the Block Island Fire Department, the fire could have easily spread throughout the building. There was a storm with high winds that day. If the fire had engulfed the Inn, it could have also spread to other buildings.

While the police and fire departments were doing their jobs, there were women giving out coffee and buns. A gentleman (Bill) who is in charge of the work being done across the street at the Gables Inn, came over to tell me that I could move the guests to The Surf, now called the Block Island Beach House.

One of our guests left the Inn without shoes or socks. Someone appeared with a pair for him. It was a fine example of a community working together.

Again, we wish to thank all those who took part in saving the Gothic Inn.

Toube and Bennet Wohl