In Sunday’s Westerly Sun, deep within the D section, was a legal notice that many readers likely did not even see. It listed a “Request for Qualifications” for professionals to develop, in its words, “the construction of a Charlestown Community/Recreational/Senior Center building design, with support for recreational programming within Ninigret Park, Charlestown, RI.” Further the construction “is proposed to be constructed within the 55-acres without usage limitations.”
So, my fellow citizens of Charlestown, your Charlestown Citizens Alliance (CCA) dominated Town Council seems to have decided that the $3,095,000 surplus will be used for a “Community/Recreational/Senior Center” to be located within the 55 acres the town controls. The Council has made this decision after Virginia Lee, the Council President, in a letter to the Sun on May 26th, said “I am sworn to represent the citizens of Charlestown and am eager to hear your ideas in public meetings, so that I can represent you well.” While CCA Council members may well be “eager to hear [citizens’] ideas,” the legal notice shows they have already decided on how the funds are to be used and where any building will be placed. This is in the face of strong opinions to the contrary voiced in person and through a petition signed by more citizens than signed a petition supporting the center. HOW ARROGANT!
Ms. Lee also states that an “Ad Hoc committee of highly qualified residents was appointed by the Charlestown Town Council to survey public opinion and actively engage town residents in an open conversation to determine how best to allocate these funds…”. Actually a significant number of highly qualified residents who happen to be opposed to the center submitted their applications for the Ad Hoc committee prior to an earlier council meeting. Council leadership, though, decided not to act on those applications but carried the process over to a later meeting. During that time, members of CCA realized they needed to apply and did so. One can only guess who were selected for the committee.
CCA and the council it dominates are out of control. They make decisions before council meetings, they ignore citizen input, they make decisions that may negatively impact the town (as by eliminating a venue for outside events by building housing on what would be the venue site), and by generally acting as an independent and unresponsive governing body in our town. Unfortunately we cannot change the makeup of the council until the 2020 elections, but in the immediate term all citizens of Charlestown MUST vote to reject the budget on Monday (NOT Tuesday) June 3rd. Only then do we stand a chance of getting what we, as citizens and taxpayers, want for Charlestown.
Kenneth M. Robbins