The Block Island Times

Spring to-do list

By Nancy Dodge | May 06, 2013

It always surprised me that May arrives so unexpectedly. It’s not as if the calendar changes year after year. May follows April always — it’s just that the “tomorrow” list of “to do” items that precede the summer season become endless undone lists at this time every year. But as anxious as we get about completing all the work to begin a new season, this island always shines when Memorial Day weekend rolls around.

Let me begin by giving you a brief update on our winter. Since October we have seen some fierce storms batter our shores, from Sandy through all the no name nor’easters that limited travel and kept us bundled up well into what should have been warmer weather. Our beaches still bear the scars of an angry sea, and our dunes show signs of the wear and tear they endured.

You will see many many feet of snow fencing erected by wonderful volunteers along our dunes this spring. It is there to help rebuild the dunes and keep people from trampling the beach grass and brush that holds the sand in place. Anyone can see that the dunes have been diminished, but they serve a vital purpose and we hope that all residents and visitors alike will respect the efforts to replenish them ... and report — or reset — any snow fence that you see out of place throughout the summer.
Our beach pavilion suffered damage last fall and we are hopeful that the repairs can be completed by June. To the extent that this becomes a work in progress, I ask that you all bear with us. There is a new roof going on just this week and additional repairs in the pipeline. You will see that our most severely damaged roads — Corn Neck and Spring Street — were promptly repaired by the State Department of Transportation last December. Ocean Avenue, from Bridgegate Square north, is scheduled to be repaved next fall or spring by the state so we’ve worked on repairing certain drainage pipes etc. in advance of this work. The Sewer Commission also hopes to replace the force main under this road prior to the repaving. It makes for a bumpy ride now with all the patches, but it will only get better.

The remaining storm damage from Sandy is visible in the Old Harbor, where the town’s bait dock and the Army Corps East Dock took the brunt of the storm. The East Dock is standing and can be used for dockage this summer, and it will be repaired by the Army Corps. where needed after Oct. 1. We had hoped to have the bait dock repaired and functioning by June but we’ve been told that lumber is at a premium right now since most of the available supply is being shipped to New Jersey for its boardwalk repairs. So that will be rebuilt in the fall. The Army Corps also has money to repair the breakwater and the Coast Guard is in charge of replacing the light at the head of that breakwater. It’s our understanding that work will also be scheduled sometime after the summer.

Repairs were done at the northern end of the island following Sandy and you will see that we were able to persuade the state to replace the guardrails around the parking lot there with wooden rails. It would be nice if we could make that substitution in other locations, but the cost differential is usually a stumbling block. Take a look, though, when you are next up at Settler’s Rock and see if you think we should keep trying.
With the rush to get everything operational for our summer season comes the final budget debate at Financial Town Meeting. This year it is on Monday, May 6, as always at the school cafeteria. The budget was the subject of several long meetings these past two months and includes some fee increases and a reduction in the exemption on the automobile excise tax. The newspaper has been reporting on the Council’s meetings over the budget and copies of the budget are available at Town Hall for anyone who would like one in advance of the meeting next Monday. Be sure to come on the May 6 and let your voice be heard.

As always, I’m available at Town Hall to answer your questions, accept your suggestions — or your criticisms — and provide whatever assistance I can. Don’t hesitate to stop in or call. I look forward to the start of a wonderful, and safe, summer season as May arrives.

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