Golf course not place for performing arts
As a former officer of the Jamestown Golf Club, I can only second Chip Young’s comments in last week’s Jamestown Press (Letters, “Golf and arts should be separate pastimes,” Nov. 21).
In 1986, as a new resident of Jamestown, I was privileged to participate in the vote to acquire the golf course from the Costa family. It passed without dissent. Most in the audience were not golfers but recognized the need to preserve the course as open space. It has fulfilled that role admirably, and with the addition of irrigation, it is recognized as one of the most beautiful nine-hole courses in Rhode Island. The Mistowski family has ably managed the course since its purchase by the town and received the 2006 business of-the-year award by the Audubon
Society of Rhode Island. It’s landscaping has won commendation from Jamestown’s Quononoquott Garden Club, as well as serving as a home to many birds and animals. It is the jewel in the crown that is Jamestown.
It was also my privilege to serve as a library trustee. One of my concerns was the construction of the Jamestown Arts Center on Valley Street, not because I didn’t want it, but because of the competition for parking with the library and our adjacent playground. I note a sign in the library lot now states that parking is for library users. If one drives by the golf course on a weekend, you will note it is at capacity. If a performance event is scheduled on a weekend day, can you imagine the competition for spaces? If a larger parking lot is required, where will it go? The course parameters do not allow for it unless the town signs a hold harmless agreement for wild golf shots that end up through someone’s window in an expanded lot.
A rare event, you say? Bill Ritter, whose lovely home sits adjacent to the par-3 seventh hole, is regularly hit. Bill collects about 300 balls a year from his backyard. Jamestown caters to golfers of every skill level or no skill at all.
As a season ticket holder to the Gamm Theater and a Jane Pickens member, I sympathize with those who desire a performance center. However, the golf course is not the answer. It has been a positive presence on the island since 1895, fulfilling the recreational needs of its citizens as well as anchoring the southern end of its green belt. Additional buildings on the site would be a mistake. I hope the planned survey of arts organization and available town land will reveal a site that will accommodate the desires of those who advocate a dedicated performance space.