2008-05-15 / Letters to the Editor

A 'dream team' gets the job done

Congratulations and hooray to Rolling Agenda for positioning the Town of Jamestown to receive a $250,000 Federal Safe Routes to School (SRTS) grant. The grant, passed through the State of Rhode Island, has several goals: promote safe walking and bike riding for our school children; increase the number of walkers and bike riders to school, thereby improving their physical well-being; reduce school- related traffic congestion and improve air quality in the vicinity of our schools.

In 2005 the SRTS program, developed over several years by local advocacy and government groups, was adopted and funded jointly by the Federal Highway Administration, the National Center for Disease Control, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency. A major element is that it be implemented by a true partnership between a local advocacy organization and local government.

As a recent permanent resident to the island and retired Regional Program Manager with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, I was delighted to meet Rolling Agenda's enthusiastic and skilled chairwoman, Carol Nelson-Lee, who invited me to join the RA group.

Having worked at both the municipal and federal levels with SRTS, I accepted, and made modest donations of information and materials to an already well-organized and knowledgeable group of volunteers.

Under Nelson-Lee's leadership, Rolling Agenda achieved much. They conducted existing traffic and land use audits, organized walk/bike to school days, sought and received private donations and grants to hire a professional design firm to develop a community land use plan, and coordinated the community design review effort that determined best land use.

This group laid the foundation for the town to pursue the grant. In short, Rolling Agenda was (and still is) a bureaucrat's Dream Team. Without Rolling Agenda there probably would be no infusion of federal dollars to bring Safe Routes to School to our town. All users of the public way will benefit from the physical improvements planned. Fewer vehicle trips to the schools will reduce traffic congestion and contribute to cleaner air. An added bonus will be the money saved at the gas pump for those families that change their travel habits.

Let's thank Carol Nelson- Lee and her Rolling Agenda team, and keep them at the helm of this most important project. Let's continue this successful open process - public meetings and open decision - making by elected town officials. Let's guarantee that monies earmarked for specific elements of this comprehensive project get spent as intended. Edwina Cloherty Jamestown

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