2014-04-10 / Opinion

Take an Island-Wide Perspective

To the Editor:

All residents of Aquidneck Island should take deep, deep cleansing breaths.

Tolls: The mandate of the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority is to manage and maintain the bridges assigned to it. Currently all bridges serving Aquidneck Island and Jamestown are the responsibility of the authority. The Sakonnet River Bridge was recently rebuilt by the DOT after falling into disrepair. Support for the management and the maintenance of the RITBA bridges comes from tolls primarily generated by traffic on the Newport/Pell Bridge. A Sakonnet toll (a reasonable and rational toll structure) would generate needed revenue for all four bridges while lifting some of the burden of bridge maintenance over salt water from Rhode Island residents and sharing it with users from out of state. Fees on R.I. registrations, licenses, and inspections burden only Rhode Islanders. Out-of-state travelers literally get a free ride.

Water, Sewer, Cesspools: The City of Newport is spending significant monies to upgrade water, sewer, and storm drain infrastructure. Both Middletown and Newport were forced into these projects by a consent agreement stemming from a lawsuit. The alternative would have been to defend the indefensible in court while the putridity of our surrounding waters continued and existing infrastructure fell into permanent disrepair. Currently the cesspools of Portsmouth drain into connecting bays and rivers shared by all of us. If two communities must clean up the mess, so should the third.

Schools: The economy of scale resulting from a unified school system is only as valuable as the shared feeling of community. That sense of community is individually defined and can be very selective. A cooperative venture changes the focus. Align school calendars, curricula, grading, and graduation expectations. Share among us the best of what each has to offer. Our children already have joint experiences and look upon the community with wider lenses. Perhaps in a generation we might be blessed with community members and leaders who not only support education and the funding of it, but also have the ability to view issues from an island-wide perspective. Carolyn Booth


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