Highs and lows from last week: North Stonington Emergency Services building, Westerly State Airport and more 

Highs and lows from last week: North Stonington Emergency Services building, Westerly State Airport and more 



(High) If all goes according to schedule the long-awaited North Stonington Emergency Services building will be in service around May with just finishing touches left to complete. Last week, we took a tour of the site and reported that the 13,3538-square-foot metal building is about to be closed in within weeks meaning interior work can begin. The much needed facility, which will replace the 1947 firehouse, has been a long time coming. The project was conceived in 2008 as a 24,000-square-foot brickfaced, two-story building with five bays. But bids came in higher than expected and voters rejected a $2.24 million proposal to cover the difference. Finally work started on a smaller, one-story, four-bay facility and now that 2008 dream is close to reality. While showing us around last week, Gary Baron, president of the North Stonington Volunteer Fire Department recounted the long road but said it’s all behind them now. “We’re very happy; it’s going to be a boost for the town in terms of safety and getting to emergencies quickly.”

(Low) The complex issues surrounding Westerly State Airport have been made more confusing by the lack of communication on the part of the Rhode Island Airport Corporation. The oversight agency has plans to shorten all of the airport runways as a sort of Plan B option since residential neighbors have been successful with legal maneuvering in preventing the quasi-public agency from removing trees it says are interfering with pilot safety. Now pilots, airport businesses and advocates are feeling shortchanged and more likely betrayed by the agency since shorter runways will change operating procedures. There’s been no explanation for this major shift in strategy, a silence all too common from RIAC.    

(High) Richmond, Hopkinton and Charlestown police together with local firefighters participated in the Stuff-A-Cruiser program recently just as Westerly and Stonington departments have in recent weeks. Together all the departments have collected hundreds of toys together with cash donations and food – thanks to the generosity of area residents – for needy families across the region. This program allows officers to interact with the community in a positive, relaxed manner as opposed to the more typical interaction whether it be for an emergency response or a resident’s brush with the law. 

(High) The nation’s first off-shore windfarm has, on balance, been an improvement for Block Islanders based on last week’s Southern New England Offshore Wind Energy Forum, a two-day program featuring participation from scientists, marine business representatives, state and federal officials and environmentalists. The forum was sponsored by the wind farm developer, Deep Water Wind, and Rhode Island Sea Grant, and was hosted by the University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Oceanography. Residents of the island say they are happy to no longer depend on diesel generators for power and fishermen say the five towers three miles off the island have attracted marinelife. Yet to be determined is the effect of the farm on migratory birds and bats, something still to be studied in more depth. 


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