2010-03-11 / Letters to the Editor

Stop taxpayer fleecing

The Jamestown sheep are about to be fleeced again.

What is the best way to invest $160,000 with an assured rate of return of 10% or possibly getting several million? You could invest it with Bernie Madoff or you could make a contract with the Rhode Island DEM.

That was the proposal made by Dr. W. Michael Sullivan at a sparsely attended workshop on Feb. 22, 2010 on the re-use of the old highway barn.

True to form, the council discarded and did not discuss previous recommendations made by the Planning Commission and a group of civic-minded citizens who worked long and hard on the project in 2005 and 2008, coming up with the recommendation that the site should be for the benefit of the taxpayers of Jamestown, who – after all – put up $160,000 in 1993 when we purchased the site from the United States. The recommendations were discarded based on allegations that a site which could be used for public functions may disturb some folks, completely ignoring the wedding reception facility for up to 150 guests next to the park that has existed for years without any complaints.

Here is the enticing offer from DEM: “The Department proposes to provide the Town with a market value plus 10% exchange through a land swap proposal. The land location and total area to be negotiated. DEM is proposing to offer land that may be suitable as a site for future Town wind power generation. Values will be based upon market appraisal conducted by certifi ed appraisers.”

What a deal! Who wouldn’t jump at the chance to trade one’s house for property that is worth 10% more. Beavertail State Park, where the town already owns 20 acres, would be the likely location. The problem is, as stated in the mostly ignored Wind Energy Report, the connection costs would exceed two million dollars. The new parcel at Beavertail should have a value of at least $2,970,000 (based on a standing offer of $2,700,000 from Conanicut Marine Services for the old highway barn) plus 10%. But what good will it do us? Will DEM pay us fair market rent based on the new value, $2,970,000, since it will still be “their” park?

Taxes can be reduced by increasing revenue. The R.I. Turnpike & Bridge Author- ity gives the town $25,000 annually for renting our land. It’s about time that the council demands that DEM step up to the plate and pay us fair market rent for our 20 acres on Beavertail and for the 1.62 acres of town property adjacent to Ft. Wetherill that they confiscated in 1988. Let’s stop this fleecing of the taxpayers and NIMBY objections to projects that should benefit the majority. I will do my part in not objecting to future activities at Ft. Getty, such as a sailing school, just because 100% of the increased traffic that will be generated will travel past our house.
Frank Meyer

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