The Block Island Times

Letters to the Editor, June 21, 2013

Jun 24, 2013

To the Editor:

I’m sure my island friends can attest to my “mean spiritedness” as Mr. Wood accuses [in a letter printed in The Block Island Times on June 15]. However, since I don’t know him, nor does he know me, he errs in referring to me as retired. I am still practicing architecture (gonna do it till I get it right) and fully 30 percent of that practice involves designing for disabled persons. The pay for that segment of my practice is low, probably less than a politician, but the psychic income is very high. It does my “mean” heart good to help someone achieve a measure of independence.

As a child of the 1960s, I have a sense of idealism. Camelot; Right makes might! I marched down Fifth Avenue in protest of war, cheered when Nixon resigned and have strived to keep my politicians honest and working for the public instead of their own interests.

If that is mean spirited — so be it.

Arlene Tunney

Corn Neck Road


To the Editor:

In his letter of June 15, Peter Wood challenged the complainants to explain why ethics complaints were filed against the First Warden for participating in the appointments of her father and son-in-law to town positions and for negotiating a contract with a member of the Block Island Health Services Board while that member was her campaign chair. I gladly accept that challenge.

The people of the State of Rhode Island require that public officials adhere to the highest standards of ethical conduct, respect the public trust, be open,accountable and responsive, avoid the appearance of impropriety and not use their position for private gain or advantage. (R.I. Gen. Laws, Section 36-14-1.) ·Government officials must maintain the trust of the electorate when making decisions; otherwise the public will infer that unfair or arbitrary decisions will impart some unwarranted benefit to, or discriminate against, a group of citizens. I direct your attention to the actions of the Internal Revenue Service in discriminating against conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status. Once confidence is lost in the fairness of an official, a crisis arises. The First Warden’s [Kim Gaffett] conduct is disrespectful of the public trust, gives the appearance of impropriety and uses her position to benefit family members and business associates. Such behavior is upsetting to the adults and children of this community who look up to their elected leaders as role models. When an elected official is sworn to office that person agrees to set an example for the community. Richard Nixon provided many positive accomplishments for this country, but ethical lapses ruined him. My only motive in filing my complaint was to prevent such behavior from recurring, to show our children that elected officials must play fair and to ensure a level playing field for all when dealing with Town officials.

Peter Saxon

Corn Neck Road


To the Editor:

A recent article includes several factual inaccuracies about balloons and the environment, which led to many incorrect conclusions that would only cause harm to the many members of the community who sell balloons for their livelihood (“Council: Please don’t use Mylar or vinyl balloons”).

Research shows that balloon releases do not constitute serious litter or ecological problems. There are 14 categories of debris that are far more prevalent on the Rhode Island coast than balloons, according to the 2012 Coastal Cleanup Report from the Center for Marine Conservation. According to the report, balloons account for only one percent of the items found during the cleanup on the coast in Rhode Island.

In addition, latex balloons are a fully biodegradable, 100 percent natural product made from the milky sap of the rubber tree. Latex is farmed in sustainable, ecologically friendly processes and the oxygen produced by the trees in the photosynthesis process is beneficial to the environment. In the manufacturing process the latex is colored with natural dyes. Research has demonstrated a latex balloon will degrade at approximately the same rate as an oak leaf.

While some animals may chew latex balloons, researchers have found no credible evidence that balloons have ever caused the death of an animal.

The Balloon Council, a national association of balloon manufacturers, distributors and retailers, has developed standards for balloon releases in order to minimize their impact on the environment. These guidelines recommend the use of self-tied, biodegradable balloons without attachments, including strings, plastic plugs or other weighted objects.

Balloon retailers across the nation have joined the Balloon Council’s nationwide “Responsible Balloon Retailer” program. The retailers have committed to adhere to a code of smart balloon practices and proactively educate consumers about smart balloon use to ensure appropriate handling.

Based on the facts, the Town Council’s letter on this topic was well-intentioned but misguided. Stopping balloon sales would have no impact on the environment, but it would cause economic harm to the many people in the community who count on balloon sales for their jobs.

Noah Lichtman

The Balloon Council

Trenton, N.J.

Ed. Note: The Block Island Town Council made a recommendation to not use Mylar or vinyl balloons for functions. The intent of the council’s letter was not to prohibit sales in any way.


To the Editor:

There is a new line of flagging across the dunes on the west side of the Neck. It starts at the beach end of the dump road and runs parallel to the shore down to the tidal pools of Great Salt Pond. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service needs access to their station down at Bean Point, and they want to run a new alignment for the portions of West Beach Road that were washed away by the sea years ago. The new alignment, as indicated by the stakes and flagging, runs through reeds, beach roses, bayberry and dune grass. Almost all of it is on sand.

This area is too sensitive to drive on. Town ordinances forbid individuals from driving on the dunes, but the road across the sand dates back to the time before we cared about such things. Now that we know better, and now that the road has been broken by the sea, we should abandon it.

My family has owned land in that area since the 1960s, and we have always left a deep buffer of natural vegetation. Even so, the beach has been eroding inward at about a foot a year for the last few decades. That is the natural rate, without human interference. Contrast that to 2008, when the sea reached the old roadbed. It washed out the road along more than 100 feet of frontage and about 15 feet inland in one winter. It may all have happened in one winter’s night. That is what you can expect with a bare sand road.

In addition, there are freshwater ponds close to the beach; the road would have to pass between the salt and freshwater habitats. There is a good possibility that renewed traffic would break down the edge of a pond and drain the pond into the sea. So, this road could have environmental impacts on either side.

We need a better solution. At present, fishermen with permits for beach driving can get down to Bean Point along the tideline. Also, the Fish and Wildlife property is just a short boat ride from Coast Guard Road. Perhaps a small dock on the pond side of Bean Point would be enough to handle the occasional building supplies and propane deliveries the research station needs.

I encourage people with alternative ideas to contact Charlie Vandemoer at the Fish and Wildlife offices in Charlestown. His email is:

Ross Wagenseil

Corn Neck Road


To the Editor:

The Swing Into Spring event on June 2 at Smuggler’s Cove was a festive and successful event. The proceeds of the event will provide much needed support for the Medical Center’s programs and services.

We are grateful for the help and support of so many. We thank the Drapers for allowing us to use Smuggler’s and providing kitchen help, Chris Warfel of Sun Farms Oysters and his shuckers Champ Starr and Scott Cooper, Linda and Bob Closter, Dr. Janice Miller and her family, Millie McGuiness and her family, Block Island Grocery and Board Members, Cindy Baute, Bob Fallon, Sue Hagedorn, Pam Hinthorn, Ken Lacoste, Cookie Lenoci, Kay Lewis, and Pete Tweedy. Also appreciated are the individuals and businesses that contributed food, beverages, and door prizes for the event: Aldo’s, Ballard’s Inn, John Barry who donated two hours of iPad assistance to the winner of the iPad, The Beachead, Bethany’s Airport Diner, Clark Farms, The Cooked Goose, The Depot, Old Island Pub, O’Neil’s Liquors, Poor People’s Pub, Purple Cow, Stedman’s Cycle Shop, Wakefield Liquors, and Winfield’s.

We especially want to thank everyone who came out and supported the event. You ensured the success of Swing Into Spring.

Barbara Baldwin, Executive Director

Block Island Health Services

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