This letter is in response to Michael Chambers’ Feb. 25 letter to the editor (“Site needs to be preserved, not reserved”). Mr. Chambers’ letter was filled with so much misinformation — it’s disingenuous, and ridiculous.
First, no one proposed holding the Moraine Preserve hostage. I’m not sure where Mike Chambers generated that conclusion from. In fact, quite the contrary is true. It is we, the taxpayers who paid $2.1 million for that property that should not be held hostage. The Moraine Preserve was purchased with $2 million in bond money that was approved in 2004. The language for the bond stated, “Shall the Town Treasurer and the President of the Town Council be authorized … to issue and refund from time to time, bonds, notes … in an amount not to exceed $2,000,000 in order to finance the acquisition, preservation or protection of open space … for preservation, ground water protection OR THE DEVELOPMENT OF PUBLIC RECREATIONAL FACILITIES …”
The language in the draft management plan presented at the February Town Council meeting specifically prohibited the “construction or placing of any building, tennis, or other recreational court.” That, in conjunction with granting easements to outside entities, were the words I objected to. Not because I want to hold the land “hostage to a developers’ bulldozers” or “dig up Route 1,” as Mr. Chambers speculates, but because I don’t believe that we the taxpayers should be held hostage over what we are able to do on the property that we the taxpayers spent $2.1 million to purchase. As I stated at the meeting, we should not be tying our hands.
At the February Town Council meeting, it was stated that the land was for passive recreation. As evidenced above, the wording in the bond that was approved by the voters in 2004, specifically allows for the development of recreational facilities.
Mr. Chambers stated in his letter that, “Recreation is recreation. To separate recreation into passive and active pursuits is disingenuous, at best.” I agree. That is precisely why I took exception to the statement that the land was for passive recreation.
The statement that the land was not viable for building tennis courts was also not true. That is why I mentioned that the Moraine Preserve (aka Ninigret Hamlet, aka Whalerock) was determined to be the location for the school when Charlestown was considering withdrawing from Chariho. There are many documents available at the Charlestown Town Hall that show that this location is suitable for building.
Mike Chambers states that I “neglected to point out that the high school plan was rejected out of hand primarily due to insurmountable costs.” The discussion was about the suitability of the land for building, so I’m not sure why he thinks a lengthy discussion about the pros and cons of withdrawal would be appropriate at that time. That’s his issue, not mine. I do find it curious, though, that he has concluded that’s why the withdrawal did not pass. I recall hearing many arguments. It is disingenuous for Mr. Chambers to purport to know what everyone who voted against withdrawal was thinking.
Mr. Chambers stated the 2004 “bond referendum included the word ‘recreation’ so that the Town Council would put the item on the ballot.” Also not true. The bond referendum was the result of a petition from the electors, and the exact language was determined by bond counsel.
Mr. Chambers concludes his misinformation-filled letter with the following sentence, “Ms. Carney would elevate her desires above the majority to eliminate easements and hold the land in reserve, not preserve, for some future developer.” Again, another untrue statement.
Since 2000, there have been three bonds approved by Charlestown voters for open space and recreation, $5 million in total. Of the $2 million approved in 2004, 100 percent went toward open space. Zero went toward recreation. Of the other $3 million approved, a minimal amount went toward recreation.
Mr. Chambers states it would be “economically more feasible to disturb the land at Ninigret Park.” I agree. But, unfortunately, zero dollars of the 2004 $2 million bond went toward any sort of improvements at Ninigret Park and there are zero dollars left available for recreation at Ninigret Park.
Taxpayers spent $2.1 million on the Moraine Preserve. We the taxpayers did not have a direct vote as to whether or not we wanted to spend the entire amount of open space/recreation bond money on that one piece of property. Now that we the taxpayers own that property, we should not be giving away any of our rights to that property; $2.1 million is an awful lot to give away.