2007-07-26 / Editorial

Why was Taylor Point selected?

By Julio DiGiando

The residents of Jamestown will be asked to express their collective opinion regarding the siting of a new highway barn facility at upper Taylor Point later in August. It is again another crucial decision point in this long drawn out process. I believe it is incumbent on me, as an elected official, to share my perception regarding the propriety of this proposal.

As the Town Council liaison, I served with the neighborhood advisory committee as we worked through the details of the previous Taylor Point proposal. From that process, a number of issues became abundantly clear. If and where we site a highway barn, requires us to consider four major issues. These issues are intertwined with each other, and all must be equally respected. Our inability to meld these issues led to the defeat of the last proposal.

The site that our community chooses needs to be environmentally friendly, economically viable, esthetically pleasing, and operationally sound. None of these issues are greater than or lesser than any other. All must be equally respected.

Both the Town Council and town administration are proposing that the community support a bond that will not exceed $1.5 million dollars. We are confi- dent that we will be able to do the necessary site work, and construct a building for these dollars. This figure is not more than or less than any other proposal.

By locating the barn at Taylor Point, we will be able to consolidate all of our municipal operations at one site. There is room for our treatment plant, the barn, a modified salt shed, and if need be, a future expansion of the tank system associated with the treatment plant. There is a distinct advantage in having these uses at the same locale. It is important to note that we will not have room for infinite amounts of material storage, but there will be room for our day-today needs. It may be better economy to only store what we need, be it sand, gravel, piping, or cold patch. Having a facility that would be served by public water and sewer is also a major operational advantage. There is no need for an expensive sewer pump, as gravity works in our favor. Nor do we need to be concerned with the drawing of well water effecting other neighbors' water supply.

All along, we have concerned ourselves with a site that would be unobtrusive. While we want the barn, it would be nice if we didn't have to see a barn. The Taylor Point location, at the top of the hill, tucked up against the bridge, will be as minimally visible as can be. Yes, you will see a roof as you approach from Newport, as you do today. You will not see the building from East Shore Road, the Sea View Drive neighborhood, the farms, or the crossisland highway. We do not want to put the barn in a highly visible place. While the lower Taylor Point site had this flaw, the upper area does not. The recommendations that emanated from the neighborhood committee regarding light pollution would continue to be incorporated into the design of the facility.

There has been a major controversy regarding environmental impact issues related to a highway barn. The council, through its consultant, GZA, as well as through the RIDEM, have listened to these concerns and modified highway barn plans where appropriate. Whether the environmental concerns that have been raised are real or not is in the eye of the beholder. Yet another advantage to upper Taylor Point is that there is no debate regarding environmental impact. The soils have been tested by both the town and the bridge authority, and nothing of consequence has been found. There are no environmental concerns related to Taylor Point. Probably the major flaw in the last Taylor Point proposal was the necessity of placing a barn next to a treatment tank, thus creating an environmental conflict. To try to resolve these conflicting issues forced the cost to an unacceptable level.

In closing, it is important to note that we did not have the current Taylor Point option available to us when we previously voted. By acquiring the parcel from the RITBA, we have given ourselves an opportunity to resolve the question of where to site the barn. We now need you to express your opinion on August 28th so that we may finally move forward.

The author is the vice president

of the Jamestown

Town Council

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