This was sent to the Block Island Historic District Commission and copied to The Block Island Times:
To the Editor:
Dear Block Island Historic District Commission,
My name is Kristin Baumann and I am a resident of High Street. I would like to speak to you tonight about The Nature Conservancy (TNC) project on High Street. The TNC has not followed the plans you approved and has therefore degraded the historic character of High Street.
There is no point to argue there. The approved HDC plans and the actual building do not match. The differences are obvious. It is my hope that you will visit the site to understand the scope of their audacity; proven not only by the building but also by their intention to do as they pleased. I invite you to view the project from my yard and back deck and as you do hear these words I was told: “you won’t even notice the shed, it is being built into the hill”.
However, it is not merely my viewshed — ironic as that is considering the mission of the TNC — that I am asking you to protect. It is the integrity of the entire historic district, the fragile character of our island.
Looking at your agenda tonight speaks to the importance of your work. Big projects are before you and greenlighting the TNC’s disregard of your role as protectors paves the way for others to do the same. I would bet that many in this room tonight, as well as many others, have been held accountable to their plans and have never been allowed to dictate for themselves what they would like to build as opposed to what they were given permission to build. Many of us have lived here long enough to know this is true but the importance of right and wrong could not come at a more pertinent time. As the Manisses’ addition, Lark Hotels and others come before you tonight, I urge you to value your own work and set precedent that the old island adage of “asking for forgiveness is easier than asking for permission” be put to bed. That no matter who is on your agenda, the town employee, the out of state homeowner, the largest island hotel or this international conglomerate, you do the right thing. I am hopeful that you and everyone who contributes to TNC will hold them accountable to their approved plans.
Thank you for your time and attention.
Kristin J. Baumann