After several years of controversy it was hoped that a land use issue involving a large tract of land located on the north side of Route 1 across from Ninigret Park had been brought to an end.
At a special meeting held on Aug. 22, the Charlestown Town Council adopted a resolution to purchase 74.9 acres of land known as Whalerock for $2.1 million. Over the years its owner had proposed various uses for the land but its final use had been the proposed site for several large commercial wind turbines. That created a public outcry from town residents, particularly those in the nearby neighborhood, which led to the town’s decision to buy the property.
Now, here comes the Charlestown Land Trust of the infamous YMCA land deal scam, aka “Y Gate.” Once again, it appears that it is attempting to elbow its way to the table for a free lunch at the expense of Charlestown’s taxpayers.
In a letter to Town Clerk Amy Weinreich dated Aug. 16 and co-signed by its president, Karen Jarret, and treasurer, Russell J. Ricci, M.D., respectively, the land trust expressed its willingness to participate in “the acquisition process and conservation restriction in an amount paid by the CLT not to exceed $2,500.”
As an antagonist involved with the YMCA land deal, Dr. Ricci was a defendant named in the Superior Court lawsuit, (Donoghue v. Charlestown) that stopped “Y Gate” in its tracks. After reading his sworn deposition in that case and presuming that he told the truth, it’s a wonder that he could remember his way to the Town Hall. That’s because he testified that he couldn’t remember much about the deliberations between the Charlestown Land Trust, the YMCA, and representatives of the town when the land trust was attempting to scam the taxpayers into paying for property that it would own.
Its blatant disrespect shown for the intelligence of the people in the “Y Gate” land deal is now compounded by its attempt to scam the taxpayers again by inserting itself into this land transaction. To those of us familiar with conservation restrictions it’s obvious that the land trust does not trust the people and/or future town councils to make responsible decisions regarding the use of this property.
Its disrespect for the taxpayers is seen again in its disgraceful attempt at influence peddling. Its offer of $2,500 to acquire a conservation restriction on property that the taxpayers are spending $2.1 million to buy is insulting. The Charlestown Land Trust apparently believes that the $2,500 will buy it enough influence to participate in any deliberations regarding the future use of the property and to veto any proposals that it doesn’t like.
The taxpayers and voters should strongly object before the Town Council decides to make a unilateral decision to accept this offer. The only way that the Charlestown Land Trust should be permitted to participate in the acquisition of this property is if Charlestown’s taxpayers vote to approve it at an all-day financial referendum. Anything short of that is likely to result in another legal battle in Superior Court.
James M. Mageau