Letters to the Editor, April 5, 2013
Letter to Editor:
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! The Block Island Residents Association and the Conservation Commission want to thank all of you who participated in the Crescent Beach Dune Restoration Work Day on Saturday. There were about 100 of you and you accomplished a great deal. You dug 360 post holes, you installed 50 rolls of snow fencing (that is about half a mile) and you fenced six beach access paths from the Baby Beach to Scotch Beach.
While you made major strides in restoring the Dunes, we still have more work to do. We will be scheduling a second Work Day for later this month. Keep tuned for details.
Ned Phillips, Jr.
Chairman, Conservation Commission
To the Editor:
In an unprecedented move, the Block Island Motor Vehicles for Hire Commission (MVFH) added Chief Brody to the board.
“We were so impressed with his new and practical suggestions that we invited him to join the MVFH and he accepted,” said chair Vin McAloon in a recent interview. Chief Brody will be commuting to the meetings until he finds a home for his wife and eight children, three dogs and a partridge in a pear tree.
To the Editor:
The Federal Aviation Association (FAA) is considering decommissioning a major air navigation radio transmitter facility, the “Sandy Point” (SEY VOR/DME) at the Block Island Airport and this, in my view, will negatively impact air navigation to and from Block Island, and to nearby airports to a significant degree. The FAA has published a notice of proposed action, and is accepting public comment on their plans to decommission this important air navigation radio beacon.
Background: The SEY VOR/DME is one of over a thousand FAA owned and operated navigational aids (NavAid), which is located in the small round structure with a white inverted cone on top, just south of the runway at the airport. It is an electronic beacon that transmits signals used by aircraft navigation radios. The SEY VOR/DME is major hub in the national airspace system for enroute traffic and also serves as the basis for two of the four FAA published instrument approaches to the Block Island Airport (VOR 28 and VOR/DME 10). The FAA plans to start decommissioning some of the nation’s VOR/DME facilities in the future, once a majority of the aircraft using the nation’s airspace, have converted their radios to use GPS navigation.
The FAA routinely studies the NavAids which make up the national airspace system to determine their cost with respect to FAA air navigation program goals. As part of this review, the “option to decommission” the prospective NavAid is always considered. On Feb. 1, the FAA published a notice that they are conducting such a study and are requesting public comment on their proposed option to decommission the SEY VOR/DME.
From a pilot’s point of view: the SEY VOR/DME is one of the most important NavAids in our region. It is the basis for two instrument approaches to Block Island and provides fixes for instrument approaches at six other nearby airports including Westerly, Newport, and Quonset. It is a hub for four separate airways and used in defining 36 airway intersections. Its decommissioning would be a significant loss, especially for general aviation aircraft which do not yet have the latest GPS IFR (instrument flight rules) enroute or approach navigation capability.
From a Block Island policy maker’s point of view: the VOR/DME decommissioning by the FAA, and the loss of the VOR instrument approaches to the airport, will make it impossible for aircraft not equipped with the latest GPS technology, (and the new GPS navigation receivers cost about $7,500 each), to conduct an instrument approach to Block Island in marginal visual or instrument flight conditions. Not only will this limit the number of aircraft who normally fly to B.I. in inclement weather but it will also impact the ability to conduct emergency medical evacuations by aircraft not GPS IFR equipped. Its decommissioning would mean that even aircraft equipped with IFR capable GPS, will not be able to conduct an instrument approach to Block Island when the GPS satellite system is out of service due to system maintenance or atmospheric conditions (Sunspots). In this case aircraft would normally use the VOR/DME instrument approach backup system, if there was one.
The proposed decommissioning of the SEY VOR/DME will clearly have social, economic, and health and public safety impacts for a community which utilizes air transportation as a major means of access to that community.
Please help keep the SEY VOR/DME alive. Kindly consider sending a statement to the FAA from the Town of New Shoreham objecting to any proposal to decommission the Sandy Point VOR/DME at this time. Please find the FAA contact information for this case below. Kindly reference “Aeronautical Study 13-ANE-201 NR” in the Subject Line. It would also be very helpful to appeal to our U.S. Congress, and Senate representatives, to support the town’s position, in this case.
FAA Contact Person for this proposed action:
Ms. Melinda George, FAA
Eastern Service Center
Operations Support Group (AJV-E2)
Non Rule Case No. 13-ANE-201-NR
PO Box 20636
Atlanta, GA 30320
Even though the published deadline for public comment is March 28th, in our experience, and because this is an ongoing study, the FAA will still consider letters or emails after that date.
Thank you for your consideration.
Beacon Hill Road
To the Editor:
The April 1 discussion of the Deer Task Force’s proposed herd elimination/reduction plan led to an interesting exchange of opinions and ideas, and in the end the Town Council voted by a 3 to 2 majority to support the plan (in concept). The proposed plan calls for multiple night-time hunts each year for five years, using deer baiting, spotlighting and rifles, with local hunters doing the shooting. The Deer Task Force said that details of the proposed hunts, including costs, would be worked out at a later date.
Along with others at the meeting, I voiced my concern regarding the risks inherent in night hunting, especially with rifles, and I urged the Council to ask the Task Force to come back with a plan for daytime managed hunts. My thanks goes to Police Chief Carlone and two Island hunters, Paul Dean and Chris Blane, whose comments reflected their belief in the importance of safety.
In the end, despite the concerns of some residents, the Town may agree to support and fund night hunting with rifles. If so, I suggest the following measures be put in place to help ensure there is no unintended harm to the hunters, persons assisting in the hunts, island residents, visitors, pets, property, livestock and wildlife other than the targeted deer:
Make public in a timely, informative way the dates and hours of all night hunts.
Make public in a timely, informative way the location (plat, lot and “street” address) and owner of all properties being hunted, including private property, Town land, State and Federal land.
Notify abutting property owners and/or residents of the intent to conduct night hunts.
Identify and make public the carrying distance of the weapon type to be used (there is a significant difference between the range of a shotgun and a rifle).
Identify all properties where livestock are pastured or stabled that are within the weapon’s carrying distance, and notify the owners/caretakers so that they have the opportunity to take special precautions for the safety of their animals.
This last item is especially important to me as I have horses on my property. There are a number of other Island residents who keep valuable horses, cattle and goats.
I urge the Council to take very seriously the safety issues related to night hunting with rifles. Block Island has a long history of legal, safe hunting and I would not want to see that track record broken.
West Side Road