The taxpayers and voters of Charlestown should take exception to the town naming the 27-acre forest preserve in Carolina after Patricia Sprague, as reported in The Westerly Sun on Saturday, Aug. 25, in the article “New preserve to be christened Sunday.”
I attended grade school with Patty (Laskey) Sprague at the Pawcatuck Valley School, now Charlestown Elementary School, until she left to attend a private school. I know that Patty inherited that property from her parents, Dr. Howard Laskey and her mother, Brenda.
During my elementary school years, Dr. Laskey was the only doctor in town and his office was in a building on the property. He also used to engage in farming, raising strawberries and other types of vegetables. Her mother raised horses that were kept on an adjoining section of property, which her sister Stepheny ended up owning.
After Ms. Sprague's death, her son decided to sell the 27 acres to the town. He was eventually paid $599,000 for the property. The taxpayers of Charlestown contributed $341,000 for the property and the balance of $258,000 came from a state grant.
Now comes the question. Why was it christened the “Patricia Sprague Forest Preserve?” I'm not quite sure how this worked. I don’t recall Ms. Sprague ever serving the public’s interests in a manner that would warrant this sort of recognition.
Was it because she inherited the property from her parents and then lived in a house on the property? Or was it because after she passed away her son sold the property to the town for a cool $599,000 and then after returning from the bank he helped to develop some hiking trails there?
No, I don't think that is why. I believe that it was because Ms. Sprague was a member of the Charlestown Citizens Alliance and a personal friend of Ruth Platner, chairman of the Charlestown Planning Commission. I believe that Ms. Platner orchestrated the naming of the preserve in honor of her friend, which I believe is wrong. Public property should not be named for private people.
The Town Council should adopt an ordinance stipulating that whenever taxpayers’ money is used to purchase property, or a portion thereof, it shall not be named in honor of a private individual without a strong justification!
James M. MageauCharlestown