Vote on Tuesday
Next week is important to the future of our island. Jamestown voters will go the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 6, to elect a new Town Council, two School Committee members, and a town moderator.
This year's election rhetoric has been standard island fare. There are no sizzling issues. We've heard talk about the perpetual problems which confront the town. We've got a wide selection of candidates who say they are up to the task and would like our votes.
It's important to note here that the next Town Council will have big shoes to fill. Under the leadership of retiring President David Long, the current council has posted a significant number of accomplishments. Topping the list are the following:
• hiring our current town administrator, Bruce Keiser, who most will admit is doing a bang-up job;
• securing citizen approval (and therefore funding) for a new highway facility, ending years of feuding over where to put the structure;
• preserving several island farms, vital open space that will remain green for future generations to enjoy;
• constructing the functional and historically attractive new town hall and office complex, a project that was long overdue;
• and completing important upgrades to the town water system.
So what will the new Town Council have on its two-year agenda? Finances loom large, as the town decision-makers must continue to grapple with increasing costs while keeping the tax rate as low as possible. Doing more with less, as they say.
Then comes the cost of buying town water. Upgrades to the water system, coupled with a finite supply of water and the necessary conservation, have spurred consumer prices upwards at an alarming rate. Housing here has become unaffordable for many. Will water soon be the same?
The words "housing" and "affordable" combine to create another issue, one that is becoming increasingly urgent. Jamestown must soon meet a mandated quota for federally-approved affordable housing. But we also need to consider legalizing accessory apartments to allow our aging citizens to maintain their island residency and to permit the younger generations to establish island homes. We can also encourage the development of more apartments in the village to create additional housing that people can afford.
That then leads to the question of planning and zoning regulations and their relationship to the development of our island. We recently completed a comprehensive review of our village and its future. The next question for the Jamestown Vision project is "where do we go from here?"
A decision will soon be required on the fate of the old highway barn at Ft. Wetherill. The facility is located on a prime chunk of waterfront real estate. We should maintain the spot for the enjoyment of all islanders. What do we do with the property?
These are only a few of the many issues ahead. There are no easy answers and quick fixes. There will be vocal differing opinions on what should be done.
We applaud all the candidates who are making the commitment to public service locally. Holding a public office is time-consuming and an often thankless task.
As voters it is our duty and reponsibility to evaluate the candidates and select those individuals who we think will best represent our interests.
Please take the time to listen to the candidates and vote this Tuesday.