2007-08-16 / Letters to the Editor

Taylor Point a better choice

By David J. Long

I would like to share my reasons for Jamestown to support the Town Council vote locating the highway facility at the upper Taylor Point location.

As stated the night the council voted, I believe both Lot 47 and Taylor Point are suitable, justifiable locations. Both have equalizing advantages and disadvantages. Both are relatively the same cost. Both would get the job done. It is also no secret that for the past eight years I have supported locating a facility at the north end. I have also consistently made clear my opposition to, and distain of, the tactics of the North End Concerned Citizens in thwarting that location. So why do I conclude upper Taylor Point is the better choice? Let me explain.

The landfill remediation must be finished before any facility can be built on Lot 47. In order for the town to complete the remediation and comply with state and federal regulations, the town may need written permission from two of the North End Concerned Citizens abutting the landfill in order to upgrade drainage onto their property. There is no guarantee from DEM that those signatures will be mandatory. Both abutters have said they will not sign if the garage is on Lot 47. They cannot be forced to sign. That would bring the project to a standstill.

Due to Katrina, federal, state and local authorities have re-examined and restructured emergency management. Centralizing and coordinating all facets of police, fire, rescue and DPW is considered crucial to effective response, be it a snowstorm, hurricane or any disaster. Accordingly, our police chief, Tom Tighe and emergency management coordinator, Fred Pease, recommend Taylor Point, as does the RI Emergency Management Agency.

Also recommending upper Taylor Point are Town Administrator Bruce Keiser and Town Engineer Mike Gray. Among their reasons are central location, waterand sewer hook-ups and expedient project completion. Town solicitor Peter Rug- giero also advocates Taylor Point, citing less permitting and legal obstacles incurring even more time and expense. Fire Chief Jim Bryer, Town Planner Lisa Bryer and - especially significant - Highway Department Supervisor Kevin Deacon also endorse Taylor Point.

Regarding my opinions of the North End Concerned Citizens, I would not, nor do I have any right to, prohibit any citizen from disagreeing with town policy or expressing their opinions. I do, however, take great exception to anyone using fear tactics and misinformation to frighten others into supporting their cause. I believe the highway facility could have been built on Lot 47 years ago. Since that time (due, in large part to the NECC), the town has hemorrhaged hundreds of thousands of dollars in studies, legal fees, rebuttals, consultants, etc. I, for one, do not want to give the NECC anymore opportunities to drain Jamestown's fiscal blood.

And speaking of misinformation, it now appears to be coming from the other side as well. Recent ads condemning the Upper Taylor Point council vote and claiming the Lot 47 location as a forgone conclusion are simply not true and irresponsible. The permitting process alone for Lot 47 could still take years, resulting in additional, unforeseeable costs.

Also of note, the Upper Taylor Point location has never been available before. If it had, I believe it would have been seriously considered. As I stated earlier, it is as viable an option as Lot 47 - not a second best option - but an equal. Another recent development is the town now has a signed commitment of $150,000 to secure Lot 47 as a permanent buffer to the landfill. This is a good thing. It lowers the cost of the facility (even after purchasing Taylor Point for $97,000) and accomplishes the other reason why Lot 47 was acquired by the town in the first place. Remember, according to the official minutes of the meeting in 1986, Lot 47 was purchased for future use as either a highway facility or a buffer to the landfill.

Finally, I'll propose the most critical reason to support the council vote, but sadly, the one that seems to have been cast aside. This project started two decades ago because our DPW personnel - our friends and neighbors - work in a dump. A crumbling, hazardous, leaking, freezing, cramped dump. What has instead become the consuming issue is which side regarding the location debate is right. Which location advocacy group will get their way. It's now an armchair argument of letters to the Press and chest-thumping at council meetings (from both sides of the table). Compared to lying on frozen, wet ground under a truck, early one February morning, it's very easy to squabble endlessly.

Presently, the council has selected a viable site to end this fiscal and emotional nightmare. It is not necessary to demonstrate to anyone that the NECC has done a great disservice to the community. Instead, it is time to stand tall, put self-absorbed, personal vindications aside, and do what is right for our town workers and the preservation of Jamestown's community spirit.

I sincerely urge you to support the Council's decision on Aug. 28.

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