Plantings at Mary D. Park on hold

Until land-use is determined
Wed, 11/22/2017 - 8:15am

A proposed planting of shrubs to beautify the Mary D. Park has been put on hold by the Old Harbor Task Force. That’s according to Chair Margie Comings, who told The Block Island Times the project ran into a snag when the OHTF learned that the targeted area for the proposed plantings, on the south side of the park, would be installed on property owned by Interstate Navigation.

In a memo sent to the Town Council on Nov. 6, the OHTF stated that it had wanted to install “a row of bushes and grasses to screen Mary D. Park from the parking lot and the road leading to Interstate’s freight office.” However, after Harold “Turtle” Hatfield, who came up with the idea, reviewed the plan and the plat maps, the OHTF discovered that that “part of the park belongs to” the ferry company.

Bill McCombe, Director of Security for Interstate Navigation, said the ferry company has no objection to the OHTF installing plantings on the property line. The Task Force noted in the memo that installing the bushes on the property line would move the plantings “approximately 20 feet into the park,” which “makes no sense.”

Comings said if the plantings were shifted to the property line, the bushes would be situated between the bicycle rack and the telephone poles, and thereby reduce the size of the park. As a result, “The project is being put on hold until Interstate has a better idea of how they are going to use their land,” said Comings.

Comings noted that Sue Linda, one of the owners of Interstate Navigation, informed the Task Force that the ferry company was not interested in installing plantings on its property. Interstate Navigation doesn’t “know how they want to use the area,” said Comings.

Despite the conundrum, McCombe and Comings admitted that the discussions between the two groups were not “adversarial.” McCombe occasionally attends Task Force meetings, and the two groups share their thoughts and ideas regarding improvements at Old Harbor. 

“We like the concept, but we don’t have any interest in putting the plantings on our property,” said McCombe. “It’s not an issue of a property dispute. As we all know, whether it be for parking, the downtown area is at a premium. And we don’t want to restrict the property’s use any more than it already is.”

“We do look forward to continuing to work with the Old Harbor Task Force,” added McCombe. “They have good ideas. And we want to continue to utilize their experience. It’s been a good working relationship.”