Letters to the Editor, Oct. 19, 2012
To: the Editor—
I am writing to my fellow friends and surfers, parkers, lurkers, photographers, walkers, bikers, eaters and whoever has used the Solviken lot to chill out.
I donated to the conservation fundraising effort this fall, and urge you to do the same. I think that after seven years of parking there, napping and eating, etc., I am grateful for the use of this land and to the Block Island Conservancy for undertaking the preservation project.
To: the Editor—
We write as enthusiastic supporters of renewable energy who oppose Deepwater Wind’s proposed string of five wind turbines close to Block Island’s southeast shore. Despite the alluring prospect of the long-sought cable from the mainland and the possibility (though not the certainty) of lower electricity bills, the proposed plan poses far too many risks to wild and human life on the island. The turbines would turn one of the most lovely and tranquil places in New England into a huge machine. We urge: build them, but build them further away.
The photographic simulations of Deepwater Wind’s proposed wind turbines, published in the BI Times October 6, go a long way toward helping readers visualize the enormous change that could soon occur in our environment. (There are more simulations at www.dwwind.com.) The article also explains how extensively Deepwater Wind has researched the environmental impact of its planned turbines and accompanying cables; the plans have been altered, the article states, to minimize the impact on the seabed, on fish, and even on birds.
The photographs and the article did little to dispel our concerns and indeed intensified them. Many troubling questions remain:
* Location: The turbines look close and gigantic in the simulations, not far off on the horizon. Even from the Springhouse Hotel they can be seen to loom up over the shoreline. Exactly how far from shore would the turbines be? We have seen estimates ranging from 2 ½ miles to 3 miles. Could the BI Times publish a map precisely charting their proposed location? Why couldn’t the turbines be located further off from the island, say, 10 miles offshore? Deepwater Wind also proposes a much larger group of turbines, to be built about 20 miles offshore (the “energy center”), where it would likely be less disruptive to human and animal life; why, then, now build so close to Block Island?
* Noise: What would the turbines sound like onshore and to boaters? Startlingly loud noise has been a key issue in recent community protests against existing wind turbines in Maine, Massachusetts, and New York. (The pop music playing over Deepwater Wind’s simulation video will presumably not accompany the actual turbines.) Sound carries all too well over water. Exactly how many decibels would the turning blades produce in low, medium, high, and gale-force winds? Are we to expect “whump, whump” in some winds and “thub-thub-thub” in others? How much would be audible onshore? Would a day’s fishing at popular fishing holes off the southeast corner and south shore become nightmarish instead of restful? What about those of us onshore: How would we feel if our peaceful days and nights were replaced by life inside a noisy, thumping machine?
* Lights: Some islanders prize our view of the stars unspoiled by city lights; what will the lights on the turbines, prominent and strong in the simulation photograph, do to our precious dark night sky? Could Deepwater Wind be asked to produce a simulation of this effect?
* Birds: The article in the BI Times states that the location off the southeast corner was chosen because there are more birds flying to the southwest corner, where the shallower water attracts them. Deepwater Wind acknowledges that wind turbines pose a major threat to birds, but “there aren’t a lot of birds off the southeast corner,” states the company. As property owners in the southeast corner, we can attest that birds, including migrating flocks, are numerous. Do we want to see even a few birds killed by flying into the turbines? Do we want to take the risk that migrating birds may not always stick neatly to the corridor Deepwater allows for?
*Cost/benefit: Let’s remember that, at the dawn of nuclear energy, proponents thought it would be so cheap to produce that electricity would become virtually free. Maybe the turbines would overproduce, as the article suggests, but maybe they would underproduce. Claims that the turbines and the cable would bring down islanders’ bills may be overly optimistic projections; do we know all the costs we would be asked to bear? The article reveals that there are additional expenses — such as eventually dismantling the turbines — that would have to be figured into Block Island’s gains and losses.
* View: The Nature Conservancy, the Block Island Conservancy, and countless other groups and individuals have worked hard and creatively over the years to keep Block Island as it is — to preserve its wild beauty and unspoiled ecology. Do we, as a community, really want to transform our unique environment into a machine, the primary purpose of which would be to produce profit for the owners and investors of Deepwater Wind?
We would like to reiterate that we support wind power; we would just like to see it produced in a way that is more sensitive to environmental concerns. We applaud Deepwater Wind’s effort to generate power further out to sea. We hope that others who may have thought it inevitable that Deepwater Wind would get permission to install the turbines close to Block Island will be moved by the simulations and by the opening of the public comment period to write, as we will, to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and speak up against it.
Katy Homans, Patterson Sims, Mardet Homans, Eleanor Homans, Margaret McCandless, George Dresser, Helen McCandless, Mark Edwards, Margaret Homans
Southeast Road, Block Island
To: the Editor—
Several years ago the Conservation Commission took on the project of Dune Restoration. To achieve this, we began by installing snow fencing at several access points along the dunes on Corn Neck Road. The purpose of the snow fencing was two-fold. First objective was to delineate the paths through the dunes and to keep bathers from climbing the dunes. The second objective was to rebuild the dune pathways by accretion. This has been successful and in some cases the sand has built up to the point that the snow fencing installed three years ago is now almost buried. Vegetation is being restored behind the snow fencing and the dunes are growing.
We were assisted in our project by a generous donation from a private individual and a donation from Block Island Residents Association. We have installed more than 30 rolls of snow fencing (cost is about $50 per roll) and some of the funding was used to improve the beach access at Gracie’s Cove.
We are now at the point that we need to install additional snow fencing, but we are in need of funding. This letter is an appeal to the general public and local volunteer organizations for support in our attempts to improve beach access and dune restoration. We are soliciting financial support to continue these projects as we have no budgeted funds of our own.
Donations may be sent to the Town Manager and should be identified as Town of New Shoreham Conservation Commission Donation.
Ned Phillips Jr., Conservation Chair
Fred Leeder, Conservation Co-Chair
To: the Editor—
I’m a deer hunter and I just reviewed the Notice of Public Hearing for a proposed amendment to Sec 10-16 of town general ordinances (attached) that will in effect shorten the deer hunting days for Block Island by not allowing overlapping of firearm and archery seasons.
Personally, I find this hard to believe on an island that is overrun with deer and Lyme disease. The current R.I. Department of Environmental Management regulations allowing overlapping seasons for archery and muzzle loader during November would be eliminated by this new change as it is proposed, and archery would not be allowed during the January to February shot gun season.
I discussed the deer population and hunting issue with my neighbors in Sheeps Meadow and the sentiment is overwhelming that the deer must go! So why then would the town consider an ordinance to reduce the days that hunting can be done? I spoke with Mary Sue Record from the Deer Task Force and it seems that some person (not sure who) claims that there is a safety issue. I’m not sure whose safety we’re talking about, but after some research into hunting safety and accidents, I was not able to find a single reference from any state in the northeast where overlapping seasons caused harm. I submit that if this claim of safety is accepted by the Town Council as a legitimate reason to set policy, then other non-hunting activities such as hiking, bird watching and walking, which are allowed to overlap hunting seasons, should be restricted as well.
My point is if we want to remove more deer then we have to make more hunting opportunities available to hunters, not less. This season I polled 15 of my neighbors asking if they would allow hunting on their property and the response was 13 said yes to archery, one said yes to archery and gun, and one said no to all. If this is indicative of property owners on Block Island, then we should do everything we can to allow archery hunting as many days as possible. That means allowing archery hunting during the November combination season and January-February special season (currently limited to shot gun only).
By the way, the entire state allows archery hunting during shot gun season, so why not do that here?
If you agree with me that this is a common sense approach to the deer and Lyme problem, then send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org and indicate that you want them distributed to the Town Council.
The public hearing on this issue is scheduled for November 5, Old Harbor Meadows Community Center.
Sheeps Meadow and Nesconset, N.Y.
This letter was sent to BIHS leadership and copied to the Times:
In my letter to you of 10/9, I requested that the bylaws be promptly corrected to restore to the members the provision for removal of directors just as it was under the 2003 and 2005 bylaws.
Please put this correction on the agenda for the regular monthly meeting on 10/29 and be so kind as to confirm to me that you have done so. Thank you.
West Side Road
To: the Editor—
With all my heart I wish to thank the New Shoreham Police Department for its role in recovering a very valuable bracelet that I lost last September. The bracelet had been falsely claimed by a visitor to the island, and taken off-island.
The detective work involved in identifying and locating the visitor and negotiating the bracelet’s return was truly above and beyond the call of duty.
I will always remain deeply grateful, and am honored to have received such extraordinary help.
Catherine Barrett Andrews
Block Island and Madison, Georgia
To: the Editor—
Our first Boy Scout car wash was a success! Thanks to everyone that came and supported our B.I. Troop.
The Scouts wish to give a huge thank you to Jason Howarth and his family for generously donating the use of their space (along with buckets and Simple Green). They were so helpful to us in facilitating this fundraising activity and we really appreciate it. The boys learned about teamwork and customer service and got a good work-out in the process.
The funds raised will go toward the purchase of archery equipment, mainland field trips, and perhaps toward buying materials for an upcoming photography merit badge course taking place on island this winter. Thank you, everyone.
Block Island Boy Scout Troop 30