Faulty reasoning on barn decision
The Town Council disappointed their constituents on June 28 when they chose, by a 3 to 2 vote, to ask the taxpayers to buy land from the Bridge Authority and put the highway barn at Taylor Point.
Listening carefully to the Council members' arguments, it was clear that the reasoning of the majority was faulty in at least three respects.
First, two members seemed to believe the fabrication of the North End Concerned Citizens that a highway barn on Lot 47 would somehow threaten their drinking water. But nine years of study by GZA Geoenvironmental, the Town's consulting engineers, has clearly demonstrated that a highway barn on Lot 47 would be safe. Why would any Council member spend so much taxpayer money on engineers, then ignore their conclusions and instead base a decision on unsubstantiated allegations by a small group of NIMBYs? It's not reasonable.
Second, two Council members claimed there would be no visual impact from the Taylor Point barn. How wrong they are. From the Newport Bridge the 12,000 square foot metal roof of the barn would be clearly visible only 25 feet away, with the large asphalt apron just beyond. The sewer plant would be much more visible because most of the trees that now screen it would be removed. A new, large salt storage building would complete the picture. The Jamestown end of the bridge would look a lot more like the Newport end looks now. That sure sounds like visual impact to me.
Third, and perhaps most disturbing, is that the deciding factor was the concern that a lawsuit might be filed if the Council chose Lot 47. Fear of litigation should not be the basis for Council decisions; it's the wrong way to run the Town. If the voters allow this to stand, it will be a poor precedent and a sad legacy.
With this flawed reasoning, the Council (for the second time in three years) is asking the voters to fund the highway barn on a too-small site at Taylor Point. While professing concern for the plight of the Highway Department employees, they are ignoring the request of those same workers to put the barn on Lot 47.
In 2004, 67 per cent voted against the Taylor Point barn; this proposal deserves the same response. Fortunately, this time there is an alternative waiting in the wings. If the voters reject the Taylor Point barn on August 28, the Council is prepared to present us - finally - with the lot 47 proposal at the November 6 election.
On August 28 we decide whether to ratify the Council's flawed decision or to provide firm direction to the Council that we want the barn built on Lot 47. It's out choice.