Jamestown has had a tough time trying to decide what to do with Fort Getty over the years. Now, the sitting Town Council is attempting to determine how the town-owned park should be utilized.
Should we continue to allow camping at Fort Getty? Should the camping be limited? The campground provides an important revenue stream to the town. But the infrastructure will require a substantial investment going forward. What is the net return to the taxpayers?
Should a community sailing center be constructed at Fort Getty? We’ve got all this water surrounding Conanicut Island, yet no public place to take lessons or rent a sailboat.
Where should the new pavilion be built? Many believe the top of the hill is a better location that the previous pavilion site.
Should the picnic areas and hiking trails be expanded at Fort Getty? How can the outdoor and natural opportunities be developed at the park?
Ask just about any islander about Fort Getty and you will receive a different opinion about how the town should operate the facility.
There’s no question that Fort Getty is an island jewel. The property has commanding views and offers islanders rare waterfront access. But many Jamestowners complain that they do not feel welcome at the park because of the campground and its seasonal residents.
There is no easy answer. In past years a master plan was developed for Fort Getty. Recently, a charrette was held to gauge residents’ opinions about Fort Getty’s future. Neither the master plan nor the charrette has gained much traction with the Town Council.
Perhaps the town should draft two development plans for Fort Getty. One plan could continue with a full campground, one plan could have limited camping. Project the expenses and revenue. Let the taxpayers know how the different proposals will impact their pocketbooks.
Then let the voters decide.
— Jeff McDonough