The Block Island Times

BIRA to donate to Early Learning Center

By Joel Taylor | Feb 25, 2014

The Block Island Residents Association (BIRA) agreed Saturday to make a donation to the Early Learning Center (ELC) and guarantee the security deposit for the building the center rents from Block Island Economic Development.

BIRA met on Saturday morning at Harbor Baptist Church, where members were greeted by Christina Grele, director of the ELC, and Debby Hart, secretary for the ELC.

Grele and Hart presented some of their budget numbers and asked BIRA for assistance, particularly with the security deposit for their building rental. BIRA currently rents space in the community center from Block Island Economic Development (BIED). Recently, BIED increased the rent for the Early Learning Center. “Our primary concern is the security deposit,” Grele said.

After some expressed skepticism about the reasoning behind the rent increase, BIED Vice Chairman and BIRA member Peter Saxon assured, “BIED’s expenses have gone up recently. This is an attempt to break even.” BIRA agreed to make a donation to the ELC and to guarantee a security deposit to BIED so the ELC wouldn’t have to pay it.

In response, Hart thanked the committee for its “creativity in response to the issue.”

In other community affairs, BIRA will continue to sponsor the Poetry Project and visited the idea of donating more to the Blues on the Beach Festival. George Dodge, who coordinates and directs the Blues on the Beach Festival annually, announced his plans for hosting three bands again this summer at the Town Pavilion.

“I have lots of good candidates,” Dodge said. “I love these bands. I’d invite four if I had the money, but I think three is enough.” He said with a laugh, “Last year one of the pavilion employees mistakenly left a tip jar outside, and it was full by the end of the evening. I wasn’t sure what to do with it, so I gave it to the sound guy.”

BIRA agreed to hold Blues on the Beach on July 23 and to keep the lineup at three bands. Major contributors to the festival also include Deepwater Wind and the Block Island Tourism Council. BIRA also decided it will host the Lunch Bunch this year on April 22 and will serve lobster.

Chairman Bill Penn asked the association members whether they would like to take a side publicly on the Wind Farm Project on Block Island. The majority rejected the idea.

“If anyone wants to go out personally and do flips and wave their arms, that’s fine. We don’t need to lose any members,” board member Jim Hinthorn said. Treasurer Donna Corey agreed, saying it’s like “batting at a beehive.”

BIRA did agree to send out another survey to association members regarding the Wind Farm Project. Penn said of the survey, “We know a lot more about the project at this point. Some people on the margins said they need more information to make a decision.”

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