Overlook management plan revealed

Wed, 12/08/2021 - 8:00am

Town Manager Maryanne Crawford presented the management plan for the Overlook property to the Town Council on November 17, outlining the proposed uses
and planned facilities. The management plan states that approximately 1.75 acres will be considered the development portion of the property, but the exact size and location of this development portion is yet to be determined. The area will be mutually agreed upon by the town and the Block Island Land Trust after “complete engineering studies, appropriate administrative review, architectural plans, and system studies have been made by the town, and [the development portion] may or may not be contiguous.” The management plan goes on to say it is the “expectation” that the development area will be adjacent to the Great Salt Pond.
Council Member Martha Ball suggested that the idea of the town and the Land Trust determining the development portion was “muddying the water.”
“Developable land is determined by Zoning,” she said.
First Warden André Boudreau said the various studies to determine the development area should be done before adopting a plan, “so taxpayers know what they are
The plan outlines the proposed facilities to be built on the property, including a multipurpose structure that will include a Harbors Department facility with housing for town employees, welcome facilities, decks, docks, ramps, wharfage, bathrooms, showers, and watercraft storage. The plan also mentions a boardwalk from the property to the abutting Ball O’Brien Park.

Council Member Mark Emmanuelle pointed out that the management plan clearly stated that the public would have immediate use of the property. The plan says that since funding for the facilities is “not yet identified,” the beach at the property will be available for public use, including “landing and launching of dinghies, paddleboards, kayaks, canoes, and other small recreational watercraft.” In previous council discussions, the facilities have been estimated to cost $2.5 million and have not been budgeted for at this time.

The management plan also makes clear that a plan for management and maintenance of the facilities, once built on the property, will need approval from both the town and the Land Trust. This did not sit well with everyone, as Boudreau said: “We have $3.6 million of taxpayer money and we have to go to the Land Trust for everything we want to do?”

The management plan requires a written plan for the protection of any rare species, should any be found on the property, and also allows for environmental education and research to take place with approval by the town and the Land Trust.
Until the facilities are built, the plan calls for the town to take care of mowing and trimming. A path is stipulated to be cut linking the road and the shoreline that must be big enough to accommodate small watercraft.
The council voted three to two to adopt the management plan, with Ball and Boudreau opposing the measure and Second Warden Sven Risom, Council Members
Keith Stover, and Emmanuelle voting in favor of the plan.