2018-01-11 / Opinion


Voters Voice Silenced

To the Editor:

I recently learned that the Newport School Committee passed the two required readings on policy changes. Newport School Committee being a policy board I was very pleased to hear that. However, one policy change really jumped right out at me. That change states that no member of the committee can put anything on the agenda without permission of the superintendent or school committee chair. If they say no you need to get two other members, beside yourself, to put an item on the agenda.

Newport School Committee members have always been allowed to put items on the agenda, to my knowledge, for their constituents. If any other of the committee members do not like that particular item on the agenda, you may not get a second and it would die without any discussion. However, if you can get a second and discussion is going in a way any other members does not like they can call the vote on the item. With a two-thirds majority in the affirmative, of the whole committee, the discussion is now over. That particular agenda item is now voted up or down, without any further discussion. This is the way democracy works.

This policy change basically shuts off the voice of the people. You are elected by the voters who at times will ask a committee member to put an item on the agenda that is important to them. For example, Pell School basketball courts- neighbor’s concerns, cell tower- neighbor’s concern, etc. So, by passing this policy change you might have just “silenced” potential neighborhood focus groups. The result is probably legal but surely seems like communism or fascism to me.

Bobby Leary

Will Newport Become the Next Monte Carlo?

To the Editor:

One thing travelers notice when visiting the tiny Principality of Monaco is: how Monte Carlo has taken over the waterfront view that French citizens once enjoyed. Similarly, it would be identical to being on Thames Street and not being able to view the harbor at all, obliterated by large hotels and micro shops blocking access to the water front. Is this what is really best for Newport? Thank you for your consideration.

Paul Bernier

Newport, There’s Hope

To the Editor:

Under frozen mounds of snow throughout Newport are 866,500 daffodil bulbs. But don’t feel sorry for them, they’re designed by nature to withstand these cold winter temperatures. Indeed, they rely on winter’s cold to trigger the biochemical process necessary to bring the bulb to flower in spring. This fortunate chemistry helps to keep bulbs safe and snug in their winter beds, ready to explode in a riot of eye-popping yellow in time for our 5th Annual Newport Daffodil Days Festival, April 14-22.

Fall saw a record planting of 184,750 bulbs, bringing Newport ever closer to its “Daffodillion” goal of one million daffodils. Thanks to the City’s Tree & Park Supervisor, Scott Wheeler, and his stalwart crew (aided and abetted by our automatic bulb planting machine), last year’s bulb plantings included: • 15,250 bulbs on the front lawn of St. Peter's, at Broadway’s entrance into the city. • 41,000 more bulbs across from Easton's Beach on Memorial Blvd., now totaling over 60,000. • 17,000 re-planted at Ballard Park. • 15,000 more on Cliff Walk - now totaling 55,000. • 13,750 along the train tracks on America's Cup Ave. • 10,000 in and around Miantonomi Park - now totaling 25,000.

An additional 62,750 bulbs were given away to local residents and businesses at Easton’s Beach, the Farmer's Markets and the Broadway Street Fair. Our remarkable "Daffy" volunteers then planted another 10,000 at prominent spots throughout Newport.

Thanks to State Representative Lauren Carson, Governor Raimondo and RIDOT took interest in our efforts, requesting that Daffodillion plant at highly visible locations leading to the Pell Bridge, and in Warwick, off the 195 Interstate. For these demonstration projects, 15,000 bulbs were donated to the state to which they added another 25,000.

None of this would be possible without the support of the City, Daffodillion donors and volunteer planters. With such continued generosity, the once unfathomable goal of one million daffodils perennially greeting Newport each spring should be reached this coming fall.

For more information or to contribute to reaching a Daffodillion, go to daffodillion.com.

John Hirschboeck
Daffodillion Project Director

Managing Development in Middletown Needed

To the Editor:

The entire Middletown community needs to work together to protect our environment, quality of life, and property taxes. Proposed residential developments have recently increased dramatically–more than 50 new houses, including two major subdivisions, are in the pipeline. Newport National Golf Course is also proposing adding a nine-hole course, driving range, and clubhouse to the existing 18-hole course on Mitchell’s Lane.

Development is essential, however, the extent and density of currently proposed developments will strain existing fire, police, DPW, and other resources, decreasing road safety on narrow roads due to greatly increased traffic, increasing storm runoff, risking drinking water contamination, and diminishing wildlife.

Proposed developments located in or close to watershed areas for Aquidneck Island’s reservoirs, raise concerns about septic systems, increased pesticides/fertilizers, salt, sand, and other pollutants finding their way into our drinking water supply.

Stormwater runoff from thousands more square feet of impervious surfaces could put hundreds of wells at risk for increased contaminants. Drilling so many wells in a concentrated area, 24 wells on Peckham Lane and 11 on Mitchell’s Lane, risks reducing water supply for existing wells.

The proposed Mitchell’s Lane and Peckham Lane major subdivisions rely on complex community sewage treatment systems to squeeze the most houses possible onto the property for maximum profit. Is this type of septic system and high-density housing in Middletown’s best interests?

Every new house is a net expense to the town, costing more in town services than covered by revenues from new property taxes, translating to increased taxes to cover that gap.

While growth is inevitable and property owners have the right to develop, Middletown residents need to be actively involved to rein in the pace of development so that it can be properly managed in conformity with Middletown’s Comprehensive Community Plan, minimizing waivers and variances.

The Middletown’s Planning Board was slated to discuss whether the town should limit the amount of residential construction on Wednesday Jan. 10, at Town Hall. Email rlevoie@middletownri.com to let them know how you feel about whether the amount of residential development needs be controlled in the best interests of the town as a whole.

Bob Carrellas, Don Chisholm,
George Day, Lisa Kinsella,
Theresa Spengler

Good Deeds of the Housing Hotline

To the Editor:

Donations to the Housing Hotline provide assistance to the homeless during the extreme weather conditions. People were housed at Bay Willows, Rodeway Inn, Motel 6 and the Mainstay Hotel. Working together with the McKinny Shelter and Seamen’s Church Institute, we were able to shelter one female living in a tent, a family living in a camper, two different females living in their cars, and a female with stage IV cancer, for a total of 15 adults and nine children.

To make a donation to the Housing Hotline and continue fulfilling our mission, checks can be mailed to the Housing Hotline, P.O. Box 3833, Newport or to the Community Baptist Church Annex, 40 Dr. Marcus Wheatland Blvd., Newport.

Jimmy Winters

Return to top