Two boards mull location for Robert Kinder memorial tree
A memorial tree honoring Dr. Robert Kinder, who died in July, is being planned for Taylor Point, but the proposed location has sparked questions from the Jamestown Tree Preservation & Protection Committee.
Kinder, an ophthalmologist, was a former member of the Conservation Commission and a past director of the Jamestown Historical Society. He was also a longtime organizer of the Fools’ Rules Regatta. The 2013 event was dedicated to him.
At their December meeting, the conservation commissioners were prepared to vote to allocate $100 for materials for the Kinder memorial, but the panel held off after Commissioner Patrick Driscoll reported the town’s tree board is resisting the proposed location at Taylor Point.
Driscoll, who serves as the liaison to the Tree Protection Committee, said he broached the idea at the panel’s October meeting. The tree board suggested Fort Getty as an alternative home for the memorial tree.
Driscoll discussed planting the tree in the “center of the public parking lot at Taylor Point,” but after some discussion, the committee members concluded Fort Getty would be the preferred location for all memorial trees.
“That’s just their opinion,” Driscoll said, “because Taylor Point’s also a fine location.”
According to Conservation Chairwoman Maureen Coleman, the selection of Taylor Point was important because of Kinder’s contributions. He was particularly invested in the area, she said.
Driscoll replied he would communicate that information to Jim Rugh, chairman of the tree board.
Rugh raised several other caveats about planting the memorial tree at Taylor Point, including the impact on a struggling flowering cherry tree already planted there.
According to the Oct. 15 minutes, “The chairman noted there is a formal memorial tree program in place and any such tree must be approved by the Town Council.”
Rugh said the cherry tree was planted last year and although it’s not in “very good shape,” it is alive and will hopefully improve.
Rugh also noted Taylor Point may not be ideal because it is generally “hidden” and there is a possibility that this area might be “cleared and improved.”
The tree committee delved into a discussion about memorial trees, saying there are a few good locations, but they need to be in a public location, not on rights-of-way.
In other business, Coleman reported the Tick Task Force, which had agreed to post a disclaimer on its website about the use of pesticides, has run into technical difficulties.
Councilor Gene Mihaly, who serves as the task force’s chairman, suggested the disclaimer after the conservation commissioners pointed out the pesticides posed a potential hazard to marine life. Council President Kristine Trocki agreed the website incorrectly implied the town has taken a stand advocating for use of pesticides.
But the task force was unable to fix the site to change the information about the pesticides.
“They wanted to do a pop-up,” Coleman said, meaning a disclaimer would appear when users clicked on the pesticide information. The plan had to be scuttled, however, because the pesticide information is being supplied by Dr. Tom Mather’s website at the University of Rhode Island, and the pop-up would have to be generated from there.
Coleman said the task force planned to use an overall disclaimer as an alternative to a pop-up message.
Meanwhile, forums have been planned to discuss Lyme disease and prevention.
“Education is really critical,” Coleman said.
On a separate subject, Commissioner Michael Brown asked the commissioners if they wanted to renew efforts to investigate the water quality at Sheffield Cove, which is closed to shellfishing due to high bacteria levels.
“Do we want to take this back on?” he said.
Commissioner Ted Smayda said the commissioners had referred the problem to Town Engineer Michael Gray.
According to Smayda, Gray was supposed to get in touch with the state Department of Environmental Management to discuss whether the state would agree to step up monitoring at Sheffield Cove.
Currently, Smayda said, the state tests water samples every three years, but the monitoring should be done much more frequently.
Brown said the tests have shown the pollution is coming from a point upstream. If the source could be identified, then the problem could be solved.
“Monitoring is first step, and Mike has spent time trying to chase it upstream,” Driscoll said.
Brown suggested talking to Peter Fay, who had brought up the issue at conservation meetings earlier this year.
“Peter did a great job,” Smayda said.
Coleman suggested the next step would be to find out where Gray stood with DEM on monitoring at Sheffield Cove and proceed from there. Brown and Smayda agreed to look into the situation and report back to the commissioners.