2015-01-15 / Opinion

Roll Up the Red Carpet

To the Editor:

Well, here we go again. Less than two months after the casino fiasco was defeated, the Newport City Council is poised to vote on a proposal to hold rock concerts at Fort Adams and it would appear that a majority of them, along with select Rhode Island officials, are ready to vote “yea” and roll over for the latest outside entity promising to add a buck to the city coffers.

As a resident of the Castle Hill neighborhood, I have legitimate concerns about not just the substance of the proposed concerts but the hundreds of cars that will travel on our narrow roads to get to and from these concerts. In contrast to statements by some, the residents of the Castle Hill neighborhood are not all "wellheeled." No one ever referred to my family as well-heeled when we moved to Castle Hill in 1969, and I believe that still holds true today. And before anyone sheds a tear for us poor unfortunates, what few people around today realize is that in the 1960s and 70s, no one wanted to live out here. It was too far outside of town. In addition, Brenton Point State Park, aka The Bells, didn't exist and was actually an overgrown wasteland of discarded automobiles, refrigerators, and other assorted junk. Those that did choose to live out here were locals with such (high paying) jobs as car salesman, accountant, high school teacher, etc., and moved here simply for the appreciation of the now long gone peace and quiet.

I'm guessing the people pushing hard for these concerts are not the ones that will have to deal with the fallout of increased traffic, increased drunks on the roads, and increased litter. I can attest to the fact that Ocean Drive is pretty much a 24-hour race track and judging by the empty beer cans and bottles I see regularly discarded on the side of the road, alot of these people are already driving around drunk. I cannot support a proposal that's going to bring even more summer congestion and put potentially hundreds of more intoxicated drivers on these narrow neighborhood streets. I would suggest to the council members supporting this proposal to instead turn your attention to first solving some of the real problems facing this city, not the least of which is addressing the problems associated with the suffocating explosion of tourists and summer residents Newporters endure every summer.

Ever since the previous administrations started selling off chunks of Newport to the highest bidder, with a few noted exceptions, Newport has been the victim of lazy leadership willing to roll out the red carpet for any outside entity that couldn't care less about the quality of life in Newport, as long as they promise to fatten Newport's piggy bank. How else would proposals such as casinos, shark tournaments, and rock concerts even get off the ground? How else would you explain the fact that the majority of communities in Rhode Island voted to approve the expansion of gambling in Newport? You can bet your last dollar those same people would never approve a casino in their town/neighborhood. It most likely wouldn't even make it onto the ballot in any other Rhode Island town but Newport.

“Good for the economy” does not necessarily translate into “good for the community.” Hosting rock concerts sponsored by Live Nation and Budweiser is just not an image Newport should be fostering.

David O’Brien
Newport

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