2006-12-07 / Front Page

Quonset port a 'whim' says town liaison

By Dotti Farrington

Reconsideration of Quonset Point in North Kingstown for port development is definitely not an option, according to Sav Rebecchi, a member of the Quonset Development Corporation's board of directors as liaison for Jamestown.

He spoke at the open forum of the Nov. 27 Town Council meeting to dismiss a recent suggestion by William Murphy, state House of Representative Speaker, that the state needs to revive possibilities of port development at Quonset. Murphy tied the need for development to offset the rejection in the November election of a casino. He said the state needs to look at all areas of economic development and he believes the 3,000-acre Quonset industrial area is not being fully used.

Jamestown, mainly under the leadership of island resident Dennis Webster, and other towns worked for several years to defeat promoters of the concept of a container port at Quonset. Rebecchi was appointed by the Town Council about two years ago to succeed Webster.

The island's liaison characterized Murphy's suggestion as a "whim." Rebecchi said no one on the board "has ever mentioned any interest" in returning to the port concept. "It is not in the board's plans, and I will fight" if it were revived, he said.

"We will not let legislators shove it down the board's throats," he said.

Rebecchi also assured the council that he would continue to keep them informed about board activities and Quonset development.

The Quonset Development Corporation is a special purpose subsidiary of the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation, a quasi-public company responsible for the development and management of the Quonset Point Industrial Park.

Murphy explained he was speaking for options other than a container port, and possibly a look at ships that carry machinery that does not fit into containers. He said such options would be explored by the House Finance Committee when legislators reconvene in January. Opponents to port uses included the Sierra Club, and fishermen and residents concerned about environmental impacts.

The two sections of Quonset Point are known as Davisville and West Davisville.

The area was a historic naval installation from 1939 to 1973, and the state bought the property in two sections, in 1979 for $25 million and in 1998 for $22 million. It includes Quonset State Airport, a golf course, the Davisville Piers, a marina, approximately 500 acres of wetlands and other environmentally sensitive areas, about 400 acres with industrial uses for more than 100 companies that together have more than 5,000 employees, and about 800 acres under development according to a summary from a few years ago.

The Quonset corporation is working on an $80 million plan to bring in commercial development such as a hotel and shops, many of which were committed at the start of the plan.

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