2010-02-18 / Letters to the Editor

Town’s issues need careful consideration

Stories and letters in last week’s Jamestown Press raised several issues.

First, the future of Ft. Getty: As a former member of the Ft. Getty Master Plan Committee, which was recently disbanded, I worked with others to develop a survey designed to elicit the views of the town’s citizens as to the preferred future uses of this unique piece of real estate. I would strongly suggest that this survey be included in that now being prepared by the Planning Commission, so that a single survey can be made as comprehensive as possible.

A primary issue is whether it makes sense for the town to continue to operate Ft. Getty as an RV campground. In so doing, the town does earn some income, about $250,000 per year. However, this comes at a relatively high price. Anecdotal evidence suggests many of the town’s residents feel uncomfortable using the park while it is occupied by the RV campers. If this facility, which amounts to a low-cost vacation site for off-islanders, were eliminated, the park would then be far more useful to town residents.

Other uses that would benefit the town could then be considered, such as concerts and movies on summer evenings (the slope opposite the boat ramp would be an ideal spot); construction of a banquet facility, which could be expected to bring in a revenue stream from weddings and the like; a town boating facility and many others. The FGMPC’s survey was designed to evaluate the community’s opinion on the subject.

It should also be understood that if the RV park is to continue, substantial improvements in water and electricity infrastructure are needed. Although precise estimates are not yet available, our understanding is that investment on the order of $1,000,000 would be required. That would require bonding, which would effectively commit the town to continue operation of the RV park for the 20-year term of the bond. Are we really sure that as Jamestown residents, we want to pay additional taxes to pay off this bond – again so that off-islanders can benefit from Ft. Getty’s unique advantages?

Second, on a related point, the construction and siting of wind turbines: I see that the Wind Energy Committee has voted to propose the construction of two wind turbines, one at Ft. Getty and one at Taylor Point. It is hard for me to see the logic in this decision. Surely a single larger unit is less costly to construct and simpler to maintain than two smaller units?

As to location, again before a large and to many, unsightly and disturbing unit is located at Ft. Getty, I would hope that the voice of the citizens would be sought. By comparison, Taylor Point is already full of quasi-industrial uses, such that a turbine would not adversely affect the character of the area. The fact that a turbine at Taylor Point could be connected directly to the town’s power grid, while one at Ft. Getty would require a long and ineffi cient power connection should also be considered carefully.

While there is some urgency in making this decision so that grant money can be applied for, I would suggest the grant be written in the alternative, so that the actual decision can be carefully considered.

Third, as to LNG: I agree with John G. Shannon’s letter that it is very distressing that the Town Council has for apparently partisan reasons been unable to act forcefully in opposing construction of an LNG terminal in Mt. Hope Bay. This would be a disaster for the entire region, for the reasons Mr. Shannon eloquently states, and it behooves town leadership to go on record against it.
Michael de Angeli
Jamestown

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