The Block Island Times
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BIRA work plan for 2014

Many island projects underway
By Lars Trodson | Dec 03, 2013

Members of the Block Island Residents Association (BIRA) compiled their work plan for 2014. The scope of projects range from continuing education on the Deepwater Wind project to participating in the reduction of the deer herd to supporting such community events as Blues on the Block. This list was compiled on Nov. 18.

“This is the second year we’ve put together a work plan of this degree,” said BIRA President Bill Penn. “It outlines what we want to accomplish and what we want to put out to the community about what we ought to work on.”

The plan is divided into three categories: “Island Infrastructure,” “Environment and Conservation,” and “Community Support.”

Island Infrastructure:

- Provide education on the Deepwater Wind project

Penn said that BIRA wants to continue to “educate the public about events that come along.” Penn said that the group will remind its members that there is a Deepwater hearing on the mainland on Dec. 11.

- Advocate for the BIPCo distribution system upgrade

“The town and the Electric Utilities Task Group doesn’t want to do anything until the Deepwater Wind [project is completed], but we need this whether Deepwater does or doesn’t go forward,” said Penn. “People are complaining about service brownouts and the effect on their appliances, that kind of thing.”

- Advocate for town infrastructure

“We want to work with that committee [the recently formed Infrastructure Committee that was formed by the Town Council] and advocate for their review of the infrastructure on the island,” said Penn. “We’re an advocate for that but not a decision maker” on what gets done.

Other items are self-explanatory:

- Support efforts to bolster and expand telecommunications and internet access

- Advocate for improved ferry service

- Inform concerns for maintaining affordable home owner’s insurance

Environment and Conservation:

- Maintaining beach access while preserving and restoring sand dunes

- Participate in development of the Beach Special Area Management Plan (SAMP) plan

- Provide education on septic system upgrades

“The town is considering making everyone that has galley systems to replace them with newer technology,” said Penn. “We want to educate the public as to why the town is taking this position and to help people comply with it and communicate potential funding sources” for the new systems.

- Participate in the major reduction of the island deer herd

Community & Civic Support:

- Helping hands

“That’s the island food pantry and we have been contributing significant funds,” said Penn. “And we want to continue doing that.”

- Scholarship/School support

- Lunch Bunch (BIRA hosts this weekly event.)

- Blues on the Block

- BIRA discount card program

“Each member gets a discount card for participating restaurants and merchants on the island, sometimes up to 10 percent,” said Penn about this program. “It’s a good deal for islanders and the businesses.”

- Candidates night

“This is a political forum that we’ll be co-sponsoring next fall,” said Penn.

BIRA was founded in the early 1970s. As of September, BIRA had 293 families and 68 single members. Total individual membership is 654, according to Penn.

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