Fri, 07/17/2020 - 9:45am

Support high-speed internet

To the Editor:

Now let me tell you a story about my friend named Charlie as he wailed at his computer gone sleeping. He put down his mouse, kissed his wife and family and went to the Financial Town Meeting. Charlie is a long-time Block Islander — although not born here, he has been around for about 35 or more years. He bought his property in the 1980s and has enjoyed the appreciation in value of the last four decades. His house and land are assessed at about one million dollars, close to the average assessment. Charlie is not a “techie” but over the last 10 years he has tried to stay up with the stunning advances in computer technology and the internet. Like most of his friends and fellow Block Islanders, he is fed up with the super-slow Verizon DSL, which bills itself as high-speed internet. He hears stories from some of his friends who have homes here but live primarily on the mainland. They tell him about the very fast broadband they have access to. They praise the wonderful opportunity their children and grandchildren have to participate in quality on-line educational experiences. They boast of their ability to stream movies and documentaries and to interact with their doctors through internet telemedicine. He thinks it would be great if he could enroll in some internet college courses. He often talks with some of his island friends who have businesses here and hears how the slow internet cripples their efficiency. Most of all, he resents the extra time the slow internet costs him in delaying his other chores and therefore his leisure time-sailing, beaching, walking the greenways.

Charlie has followed the progress of the Broadband Committee over the last several years. Actually the Committee has been working on the issue for 10 years or more. He understands that there is a proposition on the warrant for the voters to approve (or reject) a bonding issue to build out an island-wide fiber optic network which will connect all the premises on Block Island with fiber to the home (FTTH) broadband.

The price tag on the project seems pretty steep to Charlie, but when he considers the tax burden for himself (based on his one million property assessment) will be about $23 a month and his internet subscriber costs about $62 which includes his internet at $30 and the operational and maintenance charge of $32, the price for the network starts to make good sense.

He would still want his mobile service from Verizon or another provider, but would now have home internet at speeds at least 50 times faster for download and upload with his 50/50 service level plan. (He may switch his landline phone to a new service as well for an optional $19.95 per month.) He probably will sign up with HULU for their HULU+ Live TV package and get live and on demand TV programing from more than 60 channels including local news and sports. The cost for this is $55 a month. He will have plenty of other options to choose from for accessing video, many of them free. Goodbye to DirecTV.

When all the costs are added up Charlie is well ahead and his internet is in the 21st century. Charlie plans to vote yes on July 27 and hopes that many other voters do the same!

Ray Torrey


Block Island Broadband Committee


Wear a mask

To the Editor:

I am not a resident, but a long-time visitor to beautiful Block Island. Over the years, I made many friends there, many of whom were older folks. (P.S. I’ve been a newspaper reporter for 45 years.)

It distresses me to read that while the new town ordinance requires face masks in public because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is not backing up restaurants and other businesses that want to refuse service to folks who aren’t wearing them. Without that protection, they are being forced to put both their employees and customers in danger.

I understand the island has already had a case or two. I can only imagine there will be more. This would be disastrous for a town of New Shoreham’s size.

After all the visitors return to their homes, it could be left shouldering the health and economic consequences for years to come.

Block Island’s leaders need to take a good, hard look at what putting money before people has done to states such as Florida where bars and entertainment venues prematurely opened. The virus is raging there, especially among the young.

This has nada to do with politics. It’s just plain common sense.

Sincerely, and with prayers that folks will wise up before it’s too late,

Carol A. Reif

Peekskill, N.Y


A heartfelt ‘thank you’

To the Editor:

A heartfelt thank you to all of the wonderful people who took the time to send condolences when my husband Hutch passed away in April. We loved the island and were sad to leave. I will never forget the help and care received from the Medical Center, the Rescue Squad, and our neighbors.

Your cards and letters mean so much to me and I want to thank each and every one of you for your thoughtfulness.

A burial service will take place on the island when travel restrictions are lifted.


Joanne Hutchins and family


Enforce the mask ordinance

The following was sent to Police Chief Vincent Carlone and copied to The Block Island Times:

Dear Chief Carlone:

We are concerned residents of New Shoreham who have observed numerous Island visitors indifferent to Town of New Shoreham Emergency Ordinance III, adopted June 24, 2020 which requires masks be worn in public indoors and outdoors with a penalty of $50.00 for each violation.

The COVID-19 pandemic has reached our shores, and although our population is relatively uninfected as yet, we have no expectation of herd immunity, no vaccine and meager treatment resources. Everyone is at risk of infection with this deadly virus. It is extremely difficult and unfair for business owners whose livelihood is dependent on tourism to be held solely responsible for their customers’ compliance with mask-wearing. 

ask-wearing. Whereas the ordinance requires due diligence on the part of law enforcement, and since education efforts by ferry operator Interstate Navigation and, furthermore, mask distribution by Town Council members and businesses has helped but is insufficient to effectively promote the use of masks in public, we call upon you now to fulfill your sworn duty to uphold and enforce the New Shoreham Ordinance along with all the Officers under your supervision.

Thank you for understanding our demand that the Ordinance be enforced.


Shannon Cotter Marsella, Maggie Kain, Thea Monje, Kathleen M. Martin, Susana Garelnar, Richard C. Warfel, Peter Kinoy, Meg Vitacco, Dr. Eletha Buote-Grieg, Abbey Hester, Carolyn Collins, Matt Doug, William Sellar, Laura Hester, Josh Maldonado, Mary E. Lutz, Clyde E. Shorey, Amy S. Shorey, Christina Zucht, Selena Smith Albino, Andrew Wheelan, Kurt Cerulli, Mary Cerulli, Jeffrey Foley

Today, July 11, 2020, I delivered the above letter to Chief of Police Vincent Carlone. The letter asks the Police Department to enforce the mask ordinance. We had a cordial exchange, but he was insistent that it was not the function of police to enforce any mask ordinance, maintaining that most violators of the ordinance had been drinking and he expected unnecessary conflict to arise. Moreover, he says that there are no police enforcing mask laws anywhere in the country. Personally, he finds the mask uncomfortable and creates difficulty in his breathing. He had several actionable recommendations: stay at home, reduce the number of ferries to the island, use police to educate—not sanction — the public, have the businesses refuse service to the unmasked, and wait eight weeks “for it all to be over.”

I stressed that public lack of respect for police would only increase if they do not uphold this law created for the public’s health, and without prevention efforts the whole Island will likely be engulfed in Coronavirus before summer is over. I mentioned to him that the published risk for this week for Washington County is “high,” with an increasing rate of infection (see covidactnow.org), and the county’s ICU capacity is already over-tasked.

Since so many tourists do not follow simple public health precautions, businesses are being asked to add “no mask” to the “No shirt, no shoes, no service” rules, to sanitize, get employees tested and enforce this all by themselves. I agree with the Chief that educating the public is sorely needed in this matter, but I disagree with his argument that because some police departments elsewhere (not all) are disregarding the law, it’s okay for New Shoreham’s to do so. Remember your parents saying, “If everyone else jumps off a cliff, are you going to also?” Perhaps issuing and strategically publicizing some $50 fines would drive the point home. On this Island, it appears that posters, free masks, and education are not sufficient.

At the end of our conversation, we respectfully agreed to disagree. It is now up to the New Shoreham Town Council, workers, businesses and residents to insist that the New Shoreham Police Department fulfill its obligations.


Mary E. Lutz, PhD, MPH

Corn Neck Road