Tails from Beacon Hollow: A view from the bridge
As I sit looking over our farm, basically in the center of the island and probably 80 to 100 feet above sea level, I feel comfortable about the climate changing, tide-rising forecasts that could change the way we live here on Block Island — but probably won't affect the farm. I do think about the consequences, however, for the coastal areas. Some of these changes could actually benefit us in some ways. Human adaptation will prevail and life will go on.
National Grid has already spent enormous amounts of money trying to correct an exposed cable problem on our beach; surveying, core-sampling, dumping sand, and more. This becomes a non-problem. The cable is presently sitting on the beach at low tide, but will be more than 15 feet underwater if the climate predictions ring true. What a savings for National Grid.
Moving our Police Station to higher ground is another story.
It already sits on a hill and is higher above sea level than Town Hall. I'm not sure what the logic is here, but let's go with it and possibly place the Coast Guard Station there in the abandoned Police Station, the Coast Guard will then be much closer to town. A deep water dock in back of the Old Weather Station would be possibly 15 feet deeper than the present low water channel.The channel is not quite deep enough now, but much larger boats will be able to maneuver when the tide rises. Speaking of that, the planners predict Corn Neck will be cut off from the main island. I can envision a small ferry, much like the "On Time" ferry on Martha's Vineyard, which carries two or three cars to Chappaquiddick. Our Corn Neck Ferry would run the few minutes to The Sullivan House from the Old Weather Station Dock with the name, "We Told You.”
Let's get into town.
With the high water now supposedly getting into Water Street, Interstate will have to dock at The Mary D. Park. The National Hotel will be the new Ballard’s. The Mohegan will have a dock bar take-out. The Moped Man (the name is now a gender liability) will become Johnny's Jet Skis. Finn's Fish Market will be on a barge with fresh lobster in "cars" — underwater lobster cages right under the store.
A new large marina will be in what was the Interstate parking lot, and Old Harbor Take Out will be a "Dock and Dine.” The taxi cab area will be a gondola terminal where you can be taken to your destination via a singing gondolier (summer only). All of this will be under the eye of the Rebecca as she blows bubbles.
Now I am no planner, no politician, and certainly not a Nostradamus-predicting oracle. This may all sound absolutely ridiculous and untenable and maybe it is. In the 50 years that I've roamed the waters and beaches of Block Island, I haven't seen evidence of one inch in increased water levels. Sure, we have high tides and loss of land due to erosion. Block Island was once attached to the mainland. The 1938 Hurricane leveled the dunes and cut off Corn Neck and that was 80 years ago. I went clamming this week with one of the lowest tides I have seen in years.
Nevertheless, here I am sitting overlooking our farm on Beacon Hill, about 100 feet above sea level. I have my old dinghy tied up to the porch, ready to go.