Letters to the Editor, September 21, 2013
To the Editor:
I find it bothersome that our Block Island Tourism Council has unanimously supported a ferry from Quonset Point to Block Island. This will probably not increase tourism one iota. If someone can travel to Quonset Point they can travel a few more miles to Pt. Judith. Do not think I am opposed to competition — I am in favor. It keeps vendors honest and prices down. But competition needs to be on a level playing field.
To compete means you conduct daily ferry service 12 months a year, not just the heavy passenger months in the summer. Further, I am bothered by [Rhode Island Fast Ferry owner Charles] Donadio, who wants the town to build a dock for him. Why not purchase land and build your own dock, just as Interstate Navigation did many years ago. Further, Donadio wants to carry people only — no cars or freight. So: year-round service, build your own dock, and carry everything as Interstate does and we have competition.
Let’s not forget the unbelievable job Interstate has done for 80-plus years. It’s safe, on time, very clean, and with very polite and accommodating crew members.
Imagine a competitor ready to sail without a place to dock! Our town should not be in the business of building expensive infrastructure so other ferry services can compete.
To the Editor:
Hats off and many thanks to all the wonderfully generous folks who dropped off so much new and lightly-used clothing at the Not New Boutique.
The shoppers were delighted with their finds, men, women and children — many of them our seasonal workers — filled bags with pieces that were just right for them. All happy with their bargains.
This is recycling at its best!
The Block Island Catholic Ladies Guild will use the proceeds to fund special projects at St. Andrew Church this coming year.
Thanks to our special helpers: Janet Merritt, Jean Taber, Helen Hubbard and Helen Lynch. We are grateful to Ed Northup who assisted in setting up and putting away each day — and disposing of the trash!
There is one more time to stock up for the winter. We will be open on Oct. 12 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Hope to see you there.
To the Editor:
What wonderful news!
At our most recent Blood Drive, we collected 35 units. This is the largest amount since January of 2009. As we all know, Tim Connor, a Block Island School student, has leukemia. It is wonderful how our island family can come together at a time like this. Many, many thanks to all who gave, and especially those who took time off from work to do so.
Another incident from the drive occured when one of our island family called me and wanted to make a monetary contribution. This person was a former donor and received blood while undergoing surgery. So, I gave him the address in Providence. What a wonderful gift.
Our last drive of the year is Friday, Nov. 1. Look for my letter and posters for the time. Let’s break our present record of 35 units next time.
Coordinator, Rhode Island Blood Bank
To the Editor:
It was David vs. Goliath. Deepwater Wind, backed by a huge hedge fund, planned to run an electric transmission line from its proposed Block Island wind farm under Narragansett beach and the town to a National Grid switching station. It was defeated by a tiny, committed, enthusiastic group of citizens called Deepwater Resistance (DWR).
Deepwater Wind dropped its underground plan and communicated that it would run the line overland, erroneously thinking that it had the town’s permission. The overland route was cheaper and faster to construct, it seems. The line would be staked on ugly seven-foot extensions of existing utility poles that would dominate and visually pollute the middle of town.
Narragansett residents, previously placid on the matter, erupted, furious that the treasured town beach (and the town’s economic engine) was being tampered with. Deepwater Wind lost its credibility and the community’s trust.
With 35 members, DWR crystallized around three Narragansett residents: Robert Shields, Gerry McCarthy and Myron Waldman. They attracted members of other concerned groups, such as “Where’s The Town,” a group dedicated to forming a town center in place of the one destroyed by a condominium and retail development. They gathered interested people who responded to newspaper articles on the subject. DWR’s single objective was to convince the Narragansett Town Council to deny Deepwater Wind access to the beach and town in any form.
Their focused actions were twofold. First, their targets were the Town Council and the general public. Dozens of DWR and independently written letters and articles appeared in The Providence Journal and other local newspapers.
Second, there were speakers at every council meeting. A large number of DWR’s supporters attended the meetings. They took the opportunity to lobby individual Town Council members in person and by email.
The mechanics and makeup of DWR are classic examples of the anatomy of effective citizen protest. Its members were highly committed to keeping Deepwater Wind out of Narragansett. In addition, there were varying personal interests. About half were solely interested in solving the Narragansett problem. The other half had a potpourri of added related causes: They were against all offshore-wind projects; felt that the tax and electric-rate impact on the taxpayer were too high; and disliked the look of turbines within the sightlines of shore.
The individual skills of the members were diverse and relevant.
There were lawyers, particularly former state Atty. Gen. Jim O’Neil, to guide them through the legislative processes. There was one Town Council member, Matt Mannix, who, after examining the facts and impact of the venture, worked with the group and helped them flesh out their campaign. At a critical point, he recommended that the newly elected council suspend rushed negotiations with Deepwater Wind to give them needed time to further study the issue. As a byproduct, DWR had more time to campaign for its point of view. There were engineers, oceanographers, business people, computer experts and concerned citizens. There were representatives from the fishing industry, Block Island and Newport.
The mix permitted them to analyze data, evaluate technical issues and understand leverage points in state and local laws. They then used the information to track the permitting process to see if they could influence and perhaps stop future permits for Deepwater Wind.
The collected intelligence made for powerful and, for the most part, fact-based communication. Myron Waldman developed a website, updated almost daily, to inform the public, including the media, and seek volunteers.
There was no single leader. The group that met every week was fluid. As one person said, it was a ball of energy bouncing all over the place and then lighting on an issue or action to be dealt with. A facilitator was sometimes used to prevent “opinion mayhem.” But there was usually an obvious consensus and someone always picked up the responsibility for acting.
Many took the responsibility for writing letters to newspapers. There were no assignments to do so. Several emails a day were posted to the entire group by individuals with ideas, pertinent articles and information to share. But the fundamental drivers were the group’s persistence, high level of commitment, intelligence and enthusiasm.
It didn’t hurt that DWR’s competition was weak. The Sierra Club of Rhode Island put on a tepid pro-Deepwater Wind media and email campaign aimed at the Town Council and general public. It was countered in the press by DWR. It petered out. Deepwater Wind, which could have been a formidable competitor, did little public relations to support its cause. Nor did it explain wind power and its ramifications to the public.
The Town Council voted 5-0 to turn down Deepwater Wind. Ninety percent of the audience stood and cheered the decision.
C. Davis Fogg
To the Editor:
On behalf of the Block Island Lions Club, we would like to extend our thanks and appreciation to everyone involved in the Lions Club annual clambake on Saturday, Aug. 31. This year the Lions Club celebrates its 20th year of proudly serving the community of Block Island. The weather was perfect and the overall attendance was outstanding.
The Narragansett Inn has been generously donating their beautiful property each year to host the clambake and support the Lions Club and this community since the very first one. The other individuals and businesses we would like to thank are: Robby Closter for his efforts, the Harbor Baptist Church for the tent, Littlefield and Sons, Block Island Recycling Management, Robby Brown Septic, McGovern’s Yellow Kittens/Winfield’s, Block Island Woman’s Auxillary, The Oar, Calise Bakery, Champlin’s Marina, Block Island Housewright, Coke-A-Cola, Rebecca’s, Block Island Grocery, McLaughlin and Moran, Mark Groton for the kayak donation, Joan and Howard Ballard, Wine Wizards, Club Soda, MS Walker and Horizon Beverage.
I would personally like to thank the Lions Club members, friends of the club and especially our new Leo Lions members — consisting of young Block Islanders aged 13 to 20 — who donated their time to the day’s efforts. We would also like to thank the people who attended the clambake for contributing to our biggest fundraiser of the year… and one of the best!
Block Island Lions Club