2006-02-16 / Editorial

 LETTERS 

Operation ‘share bear’ begins

We are two high school students who are starting a stuffed animal drive for the children in Iraq. We have a friend who is a soldier there who says that there are plenty of opportunities to hand out the stuffed animals that people send.

He reports that the soldiers hand them to the little girls, because they’re cute, and they don’t have anything. But these little girls, who have pretty much nothing, more often than not turn and hand those teddy bears to their younger brothers and sisters.

Compared to those children, every single one of us is abundantly blessed. Can we share some of that wealth, so that these children can at least have a teddy bear to hold? We have so many stuffed animals that are simply sitting on our shelves, never even played with.

We want to make a difference, no matter how small, in the lives of these children, and we’re offering you a chance to help. All it takes are a few stuffed animals to give these children a smile.

If you have some stuffed animals that are still in relatively good condition, we are looking for donations. We will wash them, and put on new ribbons as needed. If you will call us at 560-0285, we will be happy to pick up stuffed animals, or you can drop them by our house at 5 Buoy St.. We are also accepting donations to pay for the postage costs. Thank you so much!

Erin and

Danielle Brown

Jamestown

Use a flashlite to light your way In your editorial of Feb. 2 you advocate turnng on the lights in Jamestown. This strikes me as in opposition to many residents’ veiws, official town policies and philosophies you have previously espoused.

I cannot object to lights at the entrances to public events but I balk at lighting up the town.

Thank goodness much of the island is dark at night. Flashlights are available, cheap, and useful.

Spencer Potter,

Jamestown

Correction on highway barn

The highway barn article on page 14 of last week’s Press erroneously stated that the voters vetoed Lot 47 for the highway barn. That is wrong. Lot 47 was never rejected by the voters.

The voters never had an opportunity to vote on Lot 47. In 1998, Craig Amerigan’s council decided to locate the barn there, but the project was delayed for several years while the ground water around the old landfill was tested. In 2002, the Planning Commission presented Guy Settipane’s council with a long list of town-owned lots to be moved into the newly-created Public Zone. On a 3-2 vote, the council decided not to rezone Lot 47 as public.

After that, Lot 47 was never discussed by the council as a site for the highway barn. It has never been presented to the voters.

Mary McGrath Webster

Jamestown

Comments on barn meetings

I must admit that I have not been able to attend any of the recent meetings concerning the current highway barn proposal but have been following it in your paper.

The report in your paper last week on the recent meeting with GZA and the Town Council illustrates that the current issues under consideration are inconsistent with those considered during past highway barn proposals, including most recently at Taylor Point. O

ne of the two prongs that lead to the defeat of the Taylor Point ballot question was the proposed cost of the barn at that location, including the extensive site work that would be required. A voter considering that ballot question may have favored the Taylor Point site but objected to the projected costs (which most likely were inflated). The site work described by the GZA representative in the meeting sounds equally, if not more, extensive than what was deemed necessary at other sites.

However, I believe that the figures presented at the most recent financial town meeting listed site preparation at only $200,000 and the total cost of the entire project at slightly more than $1 million. These numbers don’t come close to covering the amount of site work that is being described and/or promised. Hopefully, our town leaders will review the proposed costs and provide the town taxpayers with more realistic estimates before they commit more tax dollars to the current site under consideration.

The GZA representative also stated that the location of the barn at the former dump site will not have an effect on runoff and should not increase any risk of contaminants entering the water table. Again, this seems inconsistent with the statements made by the Conservation Commission at the time of consideration of the Taylor point site. I seem to recall that commission members had grave concerns that salt, oil, hydraulic fluid and similar contaminants would flow from the barn location into Potter Cove.

This seems contrary to the strong statements from GZA that there would be no adverse effect from barn runoff. How did this problem get solved with only $200,000 of site work? It is more likely that it remains a potential problem that should not be minimized. Regardless of your views on this site or any other site, there are too many inconsistencies and unanswered questions which should be answered before further taxpayer funds are spent.

Charlie Normand

Jamestown

Restrictive remediation

I am disappointed in the way the state Department of Environmental Management is conducting the requirements for closure of the Jamestown landfill.

Foremost is my concern that the DEM is treating the Jamestown landfill closure with no attention to the unique fact that the town of Jamestown will never be able to bring water to any resident on the north end of the island. In meetings, DEM insists upon comparing Jamestown to communities like Exeter and Hopkinton, where landfills have been closed and surrounding residents also derive water from private wells. What DEM seems to consistently miss is these communities have the ability to bring municipal water to their residents if their wells become contaminated. This is not the case in Jamestown! The town of Jamestown has consistently stated, that if this should occur, it would not and could not supply water to any residence located on the north end of the island. This is also emphatically stated in the town’s comprehensive plan.

This unique character of Jamestown requires the DEM to install more restrictive monitoring and remediation requirements, not less. The original shortand longterm test protocol developed and proposed by GZA was to remediate the landfill only. The proposal to include a highway garage upon the site was included in the 30 percent design phase for the first time. In its 30 percent design comments, the DEM proposed that all soil disturbed to build the highway garage be tested and hauled off island. DEM also requested that a proposed road over the landfill and a composting area be protected with an impermeable layer, thus requiring both to be paved.

During the 50 percent design workshop on Feb. 1, GZA’s proposal included the following:

• A previously required impermeable paved road over the landfill to become a gravel highly permeable road.

• A previously required impermeable paved composting area to become a highly permeable gravel composting site, subject to pooling of water from constant backhoe activity.

• A reduction in the number of test wells and frequency of testing because GZA’s statistical analysis has shown a level or slight downtrend in maximum contaminant levels (MCLs), when in fact the September 2005 Monitoring Report indicated:

• Eight of 15 target inorganic analytes sampled for were detected. Two wells in particular, GZ5 and GZ6, contained seven of the eight, the highest number detected this round. Why is this statically insignificant to GZA? Because the EPA has not established MCLs for all these items.

• Four volitile organic compounds were detected in samples from two wells down gradient of the site. Again, why is this statistically insignificant to GZA? Because the EPA has not established MCLs for two of the four VOCs detected.

• A statistically significant upward trend was established for cobalt in GZ5. Again there is no MCL for cobalt and Region 1 of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has not adopted risk based concentrations for Cobalt.

• Concentrations of chromium increased this quarter in two of the three monitoring wells that showed detections last quarter.

A statistical analysis is required for all detected constituents observed above the EPA’s MCLs; none is required for contaminants that the EPA has not established the maximum levels for. However, the EPA has recently voiced concern that MCLs may not be the best way to measure risk to individuals. It is currently investigating the possibility that a combination of chemicals and metals, at lower levels, may be more dangerous to human health than one chemical exceeding an MCL.

The uniqueness of Jamestown — no expansion of municipal water, ever — and the fact that it sits upon a sole source aquifer demands placement of more restrictive, not less restrictive, requirements upon the closing of the landfill. DEM should deny the town of Jamestown any relief:

• From off-site disposal for all disturbed dirt and trash.

• For any reduction in the number and frequency of wells monitored.

• For any relief in providing an impermeable cap over the entire site.

The town of Jamestown should also be required to post a bond sufficient to cover the cost of providing municipal water to north end residents if it wants to build on this high risk contaminated site.

Raymond Iannetta

1219 North Main Rd.

Another view

Town Councilman Bill Kelly appears to be too quick to replace dollars spent on education with dollars spent on infrastructure.

Money aside for a moment, we would be curious to know how Mr. Kelly defines “community.” What does he believe the foundation of a community should be? Granted every municipality struggles with the challenges of shoring up its roads and buildings while striving to give residents all the proper amenities their hard-earned tax dollars are meant to cover. But is that what gives a community its identity? Is that really why most of us decided to make this our home?

We would argue that Jamestown is about families who feel fortunate to be living in a town that reflects our personal values and ideals. A place where education and learning are meaningful priorities and the future of bright, healthy kids is the number one investment.

A place that believes in equal opportunities for all of its members, including those that may need extra assistance and support in realizing their full potential. Slashing specialeducation programs and staffing is asking a select group in our community to bear the brunt of our fiscal dilemma. Not only is this unfair; it’s not the answer, and it’s not what Jamestown is all about.

Take away our schools and you take away the glue that connects families and creates a dialogue among community members where shared ideas and events create an energy that helps shape our town. Councilman Kelly is wrong and shortsighted when he says closing Lawn Avenue school “would be doing a real service to the taxpayers of Jamestown.” We would hope that while we formulate a realistic and reasonable plan to address declining enrollment we don’t forget what makes Jamestown a special place.

The council continues to rely on property taxes for almost all of its revenue. This lack of effort allows for those without vision to offer untenable non-choices. Councilman Kelly’s insensitive suggestion presents a perilous view of our community. In our close knit community, he seeks to divide. In a community that basks in the sunshine of an education system with an outstanding reputation, Councilman Kelly seeks to board the windows.

Like it or not, schools are the foundation of our community and define our future. That’s where this discussion should begin.

George Zainyeh, Betsy Gooding, Kate Petrie,

Duval DiGasper, and

Mary Hall Keen

Reckless proposals

The recent proposal floated by a member of Town Council suggested closing the Lawn Avenue School is not well thought out and bears a negative impact on the morale of everyone in the school system.

We are fortunate to live in Jamestown for many reasons. We have the lowest tax base of any community in Rhode Island, with the exception of New Shoreham. Summer residents contribute a third of our taxes, without benefiting from many of the services that they fund, such as the educational system. In addition, we save money through the dedicated men and women who volunteer in the fire department and emergency medical services. We have all benefited from an appreciating real estate market, as well. Our children are fortunate to grow up in Jamestown. It is a safe and familiar community and an ideal environment in which children are free to learn, explore, and grow. The size of our school system nurtures children and enables them to develop skills and abilities that will enable them to successfully venture off island to high school. All of these aspects of life have a symbiotic connection. When one system is jeopardized, it affects all of the systems.

As someone who has spent 30 years working in schools as a school psychologist and consultant, in addition to being the father of three young children, I am very concerned about the direction in which our elected officials are heading. We have great people working in the schools right now. Beth Pinto, the special education director, is one of the best with whom I have ever worked. She knows every child, special ed. or not, and cares about our youth. How can we expect her to do the same amount of work on a part-time basis? Each time an article is published suggesting reductions in staff, morale further erodes. If we continue to devalue our administrators and teachers, we will ultimately create a system that is substandard and void of caring and involved professionals.

Insensitive and, in my opinion, reckless proposals serve no constructive purpose. While I know creative ideas need to be explored and implemented as a result of shrinking class size, consideration of the impact of these ideas needs to be recognized. Busing our middle school children off island to be part of a larger system with larger classes is the most counterproductive ideas yet, for reasons that are too many to innumerate. We need to keep our standards higher than those of our neighboring towns. We do not need to lower our standards in order to save money. These are our children and their ftiture! These proposed changes would have a profound impact on many aspects of our community, including real estate values. These changes would affect those with children as much as those without.

Bennet Z. Hirsch, JD, PhD

Jamestown

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