2007-10-11 / Front Page

Council approves $15k for wind energy study

By Tom Shevlin

Town Councilors on Monday unanimously approved the allocation of $15,000 to fund a study to determine the feasibility of constructing a wind turbine on the island.

However, the vote did not come without debate. Town Council Vice President Julio DiGiando, who has been a supporter of the wind energy committee in the past, expressed initial reservations over funding the study without knowing the extent and availability of additional outside funding.

"I feel like I'm in the dark, and I'm not comfortable with that," DiGiando said. Jamestown Wind Energy Committee Co-Chairman Robert Bowen sought to ease councilors' reservations by saying that the committee was seeking funding in order to "turn the lights on to inform your judgment."

Members of the Jamestown Wind Energy Committee had previously requested a total of $50,000 in funding in order to hire third-party consultants to navigate the town through the site selection, economic analysis, and initial project design process. The town previously had agreed to allocate $10,000 towards the study, bringing its total commitment to $25,000.

The funds will be allocated from the town's incidental fund, which currently stands at $46,756.50.

Councilor William Kelly also endeavored to determine what the town would get for its over- all investment of $25,000. Bowen replied that the town would be laying the groundwork for the development of a more comprehensive study. In addition, with town backing, Bowen felt that it would make the process of obtaining additional funds easier.

In addition to town funds, committee members are also exploring the possibility of securing private and public sources of funding, such as grant awards and state or federal loans. According to Bowen, members of the committee are scheduled to meet with the governor's office this Friday to discuss possible funding sources.

Lot 47 offer rejected

Town Councilors unanimously rejected an offer to purchase Lot 47 on Monday.

The one-time proposed highway barn site, which had been the subject of fierce debate for island residents, had been the subject of a Request for Bids following an offer of purchase by a neighboring homeowner, which would have helped off-set the cost of the town's highway barn project at Upper Taylor Point.

The town officially received an offer of $150,000 to purchase Lot 47 for restricted passive use in August with conditions that the town abandon both Cedar Street and the lower portion of Prospect Avenue in order to create a unified parcel. However, that bid, according to town councilors was approximately $140,000 less than the appraised value of the property.

The potential to use funds from the sale of Lot 47 had been used during the debate over the location of the highway barn facility as a way to offset the projected higher price tag of the Taylor Point facility.

Despite their decision, councilors lauded the offer as a good-faith gesture that helped move the highway barn project to a vote.

Town Administrator Bruce Keiser said that while rejecting the sale of the property could impact the town's total $1.5 million budget for the Taylor Point facility, maintaining a town presence at Lot 47 was beneficial.

Advocates argue against

NK fishing pier

Members of a recently-formed citizens' group argued against the construction of a fishing pier on the North Kingstown side of the old Jamestown Bridge on Monday.

Anthony DeLuca, of Saunderstown, and spokesperson for the North Kingstown Coastal Preservation Association (NKCPA) argued that construction of a fishing pier in close proximity to the new Jamestown Bridge represented a potential calamity for the state in the event of a hurricane.

Describing the proposed pier as a potential "battering ram" and an "inevitable hurricane-driven" consequence, DeLuca urged town councilors to draft a resolution expressing the town's opposition to the project.

Donald Kern, also of Saunderstown, and a member of the NKCPA, echoed DeLuca's sentiments. According to Kern, a retired engineer and Harvard and MIT graduate, "building a fishing pier in the location of the old bridge's trestle section would reintroduce the risk of serious damage to the new bridge as a result of the fishing pier being driven into the new bridge by a hurricane surge."

Additionally, Kern and DeLuca asserted that it was the belief of the NKCPA that a weighted fishing line could "strike vehicular traffic" traveling on the new Jamestown Bridge causing potential harm should the line be cast from the north end of the proposed pier structure.

As Saunderstown residents, both DeLuca and Kern acknowledged their proximity to the proposed pier, however argued that the issue was not limited to North Kingstown.

In a memo entitled, "The Jamestown Verrazzano Bridge: Every Rhode Islander's Back Yard!" NKCPA members assert that the economic impact would be "catastrophic" for the entire state.

The North Kingstown Town Council expressed their opposition to the pier through a resolution passed on July 23, 2007. Jamestown town councilors did not indicate whether the matter would be further considered.

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