2015-06-18 / Opinion

Association Works to Better City

To the Editor:

It is hard to know how to respond to a letter so full of errors as that of Mr. Fitzgerald’s in last week’s Newport This Week ("Association Driven by Personal Agenda," June 11).

First, Judge Gallo did not rule against us last year on the questions of zoning law; he merely sent the case on to the Zoning Board. The Supreme Court has accepted our appeal of that decision. Our position is the same one that the City Council adopted in May 2014 when it denied the Preservation Society the right to serve food to the public. We and the council believe that if the Preservation Society wants to run a chain of restaurants in our residential district, the zoning ordinance must first be amended.

Second, the letter Mr. Fitzgerald mentions was not from just “an attorney” – it was from Mr. William Corcoran, who has been the Society’s corporate lawyer for more than 30 years. He recently received a lifetime volunteer achievement award from the Society. At the City Council hearings, Mrs. Coxe’s senior staff denied having any idea that they were violating the city’s victualing license law when they illegally served food. This letter proves conclusively that this is not true.

Third, it is true that the Society is a valuable asset to our city. I am proud to be a 20-year member. However, last year was the most successful year in its history. Its total revenues were $20.2 million. Its capital campaign has raised $25 million. The financial future of the Society is not at risk. We support a modern ticketing facility near The Breakers. It does not need to inflict these restaurants on our neighborhood. The Society is highly profitable, and unlike Salve Regina, unfortunately refuses to pay “PILOT” (payments in lieu of taxes) to the city.

Fourth, the Bellevue Ochre Point Neighborhood Association (BOPNA) is committed to preserving both the welfare of our neighborhood and city. We have proven this by working with Salve Regina on many projects, including the new chapel, the reconstruction of the cafeteria at Miley Hall, the reconstruction of O’Hara Hall, and new parking lots for the Pell Center. We supported the construction of the new bathrooms on the Cliff Walk. The Cliff Walk gets over one million visitors annually. BOPNA members are proud to be their hosts; it is part of living in our neighborhood. The Society received over 928,000 visitors last year. Nearly all of them ate their lunch in downtown Newport. The Society’s announced strategy is to capture those lunch visitors for themselves. Their Breakers restaurant plans to sell the vast majority of its lunches as “grab and go.” Go where, exactly? Why the Cliff Walk, of course, adding more than 1,000,000 sandwich wrappers, soda bottles, and plastic salad bowls to already overflowing Cliff Walk trash barrels.

Before this conflict began, BOPNA maintained positive relations with the Preservation Society. Four years ago our annual meeting was held at Rosecliff. We look forward to the day when we can work for the betterment of Newport together.

Jim Moore, President,
Bellevue Ochre Point
Neighborhood Association

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