2005-11-24 / Letters to the Editor

Troubling issues with meeting

The following letter was recently sent to the Town Council and copied to the Press:

I’m writing about some particularly troubling issues from the work session for the noise ordinance on Nov. 15, 2005.

1) One Town Council member mentioned that noise complaints for the past 6 to 8 months in the downtown area are down from a year ago, implying that the noise problems have lessened. I have purposely not made any complaints about the Narragansett Cafe noise in recent months, and I suspect this has skewed the data. My reasons for not making any official complaints to the police is I was expecting another public hearing for the second noise ordinance draft, and I assumed that my position about the Cafe noise was

well known. I also was tired of calling the police every Friday and Saturday to make a complaint. Let me state for the public record that there is not a Friday or Saturday night when the chronic excessive noise from the live amplified music at the Narragansett Cafe is not a major annoyance.

2) Mr. Long, you stated several times during the work session, “I don’t need anymore information.” The implication was that you have all the information you need to decide whether or not this ordinance should go to a public hearing. Mr. Long, with all due respect, this ordinance is wholly incomplete and inadequate for several reasons. First, it lacks low frequency decibel limits (C-weighted), which are often more problematic than the higher frequency A-weighted decibel levels.

Secondly, the Town Council is misinformed if they think the proposed decibel limits are too low. The limits are in fact far too loud. I wrote extensively about these and other issues in a letter to the Jamestown Press on April 7, 2005, after I had reviewed the second noise ordinance draft. None of these concerns were addressed in the subsequent public hearing on May 9. I encourage all Town Council members to read my April 7, 2005 letter and consider the issues I raised.

3) The overwhelming tone of the workshop was an unbalanced concern for how this ordinance might negatively affect businesses, which are a major source of noise complaints in the downtown area. I heard a lot about making this ordinance constitutional. The question in my mind is who has the rights here, the noise offenders or the people affected by the offensive noises? Are you trying to make this so “constitutional” that it becomes a meaningless watered down document without any teeth?

There was hardly any mention of protecting Jamestown residents and visitors from excessively loud and offensive noises. After a short online search for town council mission statements in the United States, I found the following: “to preserve and enhance the quality of life in the community through the policy development process,” and “committed to promoting the health, safety, and general welfare of the community, and fostering public awareness and active participation in safeguarding the community, in order to maintain a high quality of life.”

I couldn’t find a mission statement for the Jamestown Town Council, but I’m guessing that none of the aforementioned portions of other town council mission statements are inconsistent with the reasons why each Jamestown Town Council member ran for office.

4) Despite the concerns by each Town Council member that the ordinance is inadequate in many regards, three council members appeared to be prepared to support this ordinance based solely on its value to the police as something to fall back on when they respond to noise complaints. What an insufficient noise ordinance does for the police is irrelevant if it doesn’t protect the rights of the population. Passing a bad law for the sake of having something on the books is not a good justification.

I hope the Town Council agrees that the second noise ordinance is inadequate as it stands and can not possibly be considered for another public hearing without significant changes.

Stephen Mecca

5 Green Lane

Web site launched

Citizen’s concerned about the safety of the water supply in Jamestown can review a Wall Street Journal article entitled “Chemicals in Tiny Doses Raise Health Issue,” download a North End Concerned Citizens (NECC) lap top presentation featuring original RIDEM and engineering documents, and read about filters referenced from prestigious journals, plus more, on a new Web site launched by the North End Concerned Citizens.

An electronic ribbon flashing across the Web site reads, “Are You In The Threat Zone? Click here.” and produces a map with mileage radii rings.

The home page features another map, produced by the URI Environmental Data Center, entitled “Potential Threat to Water Resources, Rhode Island Source Water Assessment, Jamestown, RI,” which can be enlarged to see the color coding of potential threats. The entire Web site can be viewed at www.NorthEndcc.org.

Additionally, 450 residents just received a NECC newsletter. The newsletter cover story reads, “The safety of well water for homes in the North End of Jamestown is being threatened! Here’s the whole story!” with newsletter captions of “Contaminants can travel several miles in bedrock aquifers” to “Test Wells Reveal Contaminants.”

The newsletter describes the geology of the entire island of Jamestown, noting that the North End has highly fractured bedrock that provides a holding system for water but also a means of ready transport for contaminants that enter bedrock geology.

“It’s this free flow hydrology that has us worried,” a NECC subcaption notes.

The North End Concerned Citizens was formed to bring awareness of: the necessity of an environmentally sound remediation of the landfill, the risks inherent in building the proposed highway barn on the 75-yearold EPA Superfund CERCLIS landfill exhibiting carcinogenic contaminants in test wells, the danger of contaminants to a sole source bedrock aquifer, and the need to protect the drinking water on Jamestown.

Jamestown residents interested in volunteering or donating to the North End Concerned Citizens please contact either NECC Donations, c/o David King, 1180 North Main Rd., Jamestown, 02835 or to volunteer call Ellen Winsor, 423-2304, or Rosemary Woodside, 423-1051.

Ellen Winsor


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