Fort Getty is ‘delicate’ land worth protecting
I believe we can agree on one commonality: that we have been blessed with a rare and spectacular tract of land at Fort Getty. Whatever side you are on, I think it can be stated clearly that the occupation of the government during World War II and then the use of the seasonal campers had at the very least thwarted the necessity for development over the years.
Thus we are left today with the rare opportunity and blessing to decide the fate of this magnifi- cent place. Let it not be mistaken: This is not a brownfield that we are discussing, but part of a delicate ecosystem. I am one in favor of rehabilitating neglected, abused and old toxic ports into thriving cultural centers that benefit society, such as the notable and very successful Frank Gerry Museum in Bilbao, Spain, as well as ports here in Providence and throughout the country. I petitioned and rallied along with Karina Lutz, who was then president of the Rhode Island Chapter of the Sierra Club, to prevent the environmentally disastrous “megacontainer port” from happening in Quonset.
I wrote to our governor and legislators to promote alternative cultural, civic and environmentally sensitive development for Quonset Point, such as in the example of Bilbao. This was at the very onset of the much-heated debate, before North Kingstown or Save the Bay had come out against it.
But with that said, Fort Getty is no toxic wasteland, rather an environmentally sensitive tract of land that lies in conjunction with Fox Hill Marsh, Sheffield Cove, East Passage and the undeveloped Dutch Island, which is a rare stretch of undeveloped land and sensitive waterways that should be protected and preserved – one that we have access to every day of the year.
But amphitheaters, marinas, sailing schools, private beach clubs? Although they are nice assets to have, it will transform the landscape of Fort Getty forever. Furthermore, the idea of reducing the water quality classification for our own means is not only ill advised, but it is counterprogressive and a slap in the face to the individuals who fought tirelessly to make laws that protect our environment and the quality of our water.
Let us not be ruled by the million dollar-asset argument, but lets look to our neighbors in North Kingstown who under the leadership of then Senator Chafee, preserved Romes Point from eager developers. Also, Middletown’s Sachuest and Norman Bird Sanctuary, both invaluable and spectacular real estate that could have easily fallen prey to the hands of developers, but was instead protected and preserved – what a noble cause and legacy to leave to our children and further generations to come.
What better way than to teach our children to preserve and protect the environment. God knows this planet can use all the help it can get. In celebration of Earth Day, let’s do just that and protect and preserve her everyday, starting right here in our own backyard.
Elisa Stufano Conte