Letters to the Editor, December 21, 2013
To the Editor:
Regarding “Harbormaster seeks new building at Boat Basin,” The Block Island Times, Dec. 14, 2013: “While acknowledging the generosity of The Oar Restaurant for providing bathroom facilities to the general public, Land noted that the facility ‘is inadequate and overused, causing it to typically become ‘a mess’ within an hour of being cleaned.’”
A couple of clarifications are called for.
First, the location given in the headline: the building is not proposed for the Block Island Boat Basin property, but for the K & H property, between the Boat Basin and Ball O’Brien Park.
Second, the bathroom facilities: the toilet and shower facilities located inside the Oar building, under the restaurant, historically belonged to the Block Island Boat Basin marina, not to The Oar. The Oar had two restrooms of its own, accessible from the restaurant but separated from the marina facilities by a wall and a separate door.
A few years ago, an agreement between the Block Island Boat Basin and Block Island Resorts (owners of The Oar) resulted in the marina toilets being opened to public use. The underlying purpose was to allow Oar customers to use the more spacious toilet facilities of the marina.
A further agreement two and a half years ago, between the two businesses and the Mott family (owners of the property) resulted in reconstruction, by Block Island Resorts, of the toilet and shower facilities, and elimination of the two restrooms that had been The Oar’s. Accordingly, the marina toilet facilities are now shared by the restaurant, and remain open to the public. The Oar has assumed responsibility for cleaning, and has kept up remarkably well with this difficult job.
The shower facilities are reserved for the use of marina guests.
The Block Island Boat Basin has been pleased to allow public use of the marina toilet facilities these past few years, for the benefit of the public and in the best interest of the two businesses.
At the same time, we applaud a plan that calls for more extensive public toilets and showers nearby. As presented, the Harbormaster’s plan would be of great benefit to New Harbor and the surrounding businesses.
Fran Migliaccio, General Manager
Block Island Boat Basin
The following letter was sent to the Block Island Town Council and copied to The Block Island Times.
To the Editor:
Today the front page headline in The Boston Globe declares “3 heart cases, deaths tied to Lyme.” While one can question how important the story is for Block Island, given the small numbers involved in the Northeast, etc., nonetheless it and its predecessor articles (the Globe has run an entire series on Lyme) show that we face a very serious public health problem on Block Island in the form of Lyme and other related deer tick-borne diseases. As a result, I encourage you to approve the deer culling proposal that the R.I. Department of Environmental Management (DEM) has made to address this problem.
At present, perhaps, we do not have to face the huge inconvenience that the deer herd represents on Block Island in terms of its depredations to gardens, their threat to drivers, etc. Someday perhaps there will be an effective vaccine available to us that will prevent Lyme disease. Now, however, there is none. The situation is like that which some of us can remember in the 1940s and early 1950s when polio threatened children everywhere before Drs. Salk and Sabin delivered us from the scourge.
Today, we are fortunate that even though we are not immune from the broader effects of the invasion by rural America of suburban — and even urban America — in the form of invasive animals and plants, we can do something about this one. And the cost of this invasive — in terms of medical bills and sheer human suffering — is tremendous. What an irony: we may be at the epicenter of America’s eruption of Lyme disease, but as an island we can finally eradicate it by approving and implementing the DEM proposal.
It is the first step, and I urge you to take it.
To the Editor:
This past week I experienced the legendary Block Island community’s love when my husband was laid to rest in Island Cemetery. I felt Tony and I both were in a warm embrace with many familiar faces arrayed before us.
I want to thank Bill Bendokas for being sure my sister Deborah and I made the last plane on Dec. 3; Fran Migliaccio and Arlen Dean Snyder who, through a flurry of emails, made all the arrangements for us, and even had a warm dinner waiting for us the evening of the third. I so appreciate Lars Trodson for writing an obituary that truly reflected the person Tony is.
On Dec. 4, the sun shone, and the sea was calm, so the Greenwich Village Funeral Home hearse and family could come over on the only ferry. At the graveside, I was so moved to watch the pallbearers Mike Shea, Rich Tretheway, Gary Pollard and Tom Durden help set Tony’s casket and flowers in place on that hillside halfway to heaven. Eileen Lindeman and St. Ann’s by the Sea, and Andre Boudreau, led the simple ceremony so elegantly and gave me comfort and love. Fran sang beautifully, as did Tony’s sister Kathi Walker, Arlen read his poem for Tony, many more members of Tony’s family spoke of their often funny and loving memories, as did Nancy Worth and Nancy Greenaway, who read Prospero’s incredibly appropriate passage from Shakespeare’s “The Tempest.”
And, finally, to Rita Draper and Kimberly Ward, who hosted a reception at the 1661 so that we could be with all our friends who attended.
As my mother was fond of saying, “my cup runneth over” with joy and love at the support shown Tony and me. I’ll never forget it, and would like to thank everyone who was part of this most meaningful day.
With love and gratitude,
To the Editor:
On behalf of the Block Island Tourism Council, I would like to thank Martha Ball for her years of service on our board. Martha has been our treasurer and our “go to” person for Block Island history fact checking. Martha brought her valuable opinions, years of experience and sense of humor to our table and she will be missed immensely.
I would also like to thank Martha on my own behalf. I was appointed to the Tourism Council eight years ago. Although I have worked in tourism for most of my life here on Block Island, this was my first experience serving on a board of directors. Martha not only lobbies for the best interest of this island she loves so dearly, but she also sets a wonderful example for those of us starting out in small town politics. Martha is open-minded and listens with intensity. She has been a mentor and has become a true friend.
Thank you, Martha!
Block Island Tourism Council
To the Editor:
I have been following the Deepwater Wind proposals quite closely during the recent past, and have some open-ended concerns about the route that this saga is taking.
While I whole-heartedly agree with the need for alternative energy sources and respect the step that many are taking in regards to supporting Rhode Island’s chance to be a leader in America’s search for renewable energy, I cannot support the way in which Deepwater Wind and other backers of the wind farm have taken in regard to respecting the opinions of the residents of Block Island and other concerned members of the public.
The CEO of Deepwater Wind, Jeff Grybowski, publicly claims that, “Block Islanders have been fully engaged in this issue since 2008. They’ve attended public hearings, heard their Town Council members debate the issues, written letters to the editor, and visited with us at our many open houses on the island” and then rather misleadingly asserts that, “To claim that Block Islanders somehow have the wool over their eyes insults the intelligence of this very civic-minded community.”
However, it took two years for the residents on Block Island to be offered the chance to publicly take a side on the 30-megawatt turbine wind farm proposal. In May of this year, a lopsided panel of speakers (24 for, 12 against) were invited to address the public about their opinion regarding the wind farm. One-tenth of the year-round population of Block Island attended the hearing where Town Councilor Norris Pike asked, “It’s not our generation that will feel the effects (of climate change), but our children and grandchildren that we’re going to leave this world to. Are they going to look back and blame us?” and David Chatowsky, a local artist, warned, “Don’t let anybody rush this project.”
Following the hearing, the Narragansett Town Council voted to put off the negotiations with Deepwater Wind regarding the placement of the power cable on the island until June of this year. These negotiations were not open to a public forum, although the concerned residents of the area turned out to attend in the audience. The council “sparred” with Deepwater Wind and ended up unanimously rejecting a landing on town property.
Seemingly following the advice of “not rushing into anything” before construction of the five-turbine wind farm can begin, Deepwater Wind also must receive federal and state permits from agencies such as the Department of Environmental Management (DEM), the Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Two of these hearings took place this month, where opponents of Deepwater Wind’s demonstration-scale wind farm off the coast of Block Island repeated many of their past points such as: the project will overall increase ratepayers electric bills; the landing of a transmission cable will disturb Scarborough State Beach and fishing waters; the Town Council already unanimously rejected a landing on town property and also that the taxpayer money being used to fund this project could be used to insulate homes of low-income residents and fund science and engineering programs at state universities.
After the 38 Studios bankruptcy fiasco that left Rhode Island taxpayers with a multi-million dollar bill to foot with no benefits, I can understand the concern that many have about the risks involved with a project like this. The wind farm is projected to cost $205 million, with the installation of the cable an additional $60 to $70 million. Those costs will be passed on to National Grid’s customers in Rhode Island. This goes against Grybowski’s assertions that, “only private-sector funds are involved in this project — a $25 million investment to date”; and while the six jobs that are projected to be created from the wind farm is better than six lost, it isn’t a major investment in the economy of those on Block Island.
I appreciate the search for alternative energies and the enthusiasm that many feel towards the environmental benefits that the wind farm will spur, but there should be more investigation into the economic costs that will ultimately be taken up by the Rhode Island taxpayer. A decrease in Block Island electricity rates could very much be cancelled out by the $265 million burden that will be tacked onto National Grid customers in Rhode Island. Perhaps more research into ways we can both reduce the cost to the taxpayer and increase the benefit to the environment is idealistic, but to go ahead with Deepwater Wind’s plans at this point is rather hasty in my opinion.
Providence College, 2014
To the Editor:
The Ninth Annual Block Island Turkey Trot proved to be memorable with new sponsors, the same fun route and the largest field of participants in Turkey Trot history!
A lot goes into organizing a race, and we are grateful to Kathy Szabo and the Chamber of Commerce for overseeing it. Our special thanks go out to everyone that manned the registration area and water stops, the New Shoreham Police Department, the Block Island School Friends, and to all of the sponsors that helped make the day come together. This really is a community event.
Next year will be the 10th anniversary of the Turkey Trot and we are currently planning a fantastic event for everyone. We look forward to seeing all our old friends, running partners and sponsors, as well as welcoming new ones.
Keep logging those miles, and see you next November at the starting line.
Turkey Trot results are available at coolrunning.com.
Kathleen Hennessy, Coordinators
To the Editor:
Many of us are saddened by the sudden loss of an esteemed citizen of Block Island, Barbara Gaspar, who died on Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013. In accordance with her wishes, there will be no obituary or public funeral service. As her friend of more than 25 years, I feel compelled to write a few words.
First, Barbara’s knowledge of Block Island families was truly phenomenal, culled from years of patient research. Even more importantly, she always generously shared the fruits of her research with others.
For people who could not access island records from afar, she spent countless hours making connections so that others would be more aware of their heritage.
A lighthouse keeper’s daughter, Barbara shone as a beacon of light and hope. May she be remembered with much fondness.
Michael F. Dwyer