An onslaught of disinformation has been directed at members of town government endorsed by the Charlestown Citizens Alliance. None of this poison spread by our political opposition is true.
Instead, the truth is that everything that the majority members of the town government have done is procedurally correct and conducted in the open. These individuals, endorsed by the CCA, act in the best interests of all the citizens of Charlestown.
Let’s look at the some recent accomplishments:
Excellent pandemic response — It was realized at the outset that the pandemic would not be over quickly. The town responded so that town services would not be interrupted; information was provided to our residents, including sending police officers into neighborhoods to contact elderly residents who could not be reached by phone; funds were provided to local agencies that provide food, health care, and other needed services; our beaches and parks opened; and much more.
Smart budgeting—A municipal budget was developed and adopted on time, even though the amount of state aid and whether pandemic expenses would be reimbursed were unknown. The tax rate was reduced for the third year in a row, and money earmarked for the police pension system was paid.
Comprehensive planning for the future — Our Comprehensive Plan for the next 20 years was certified by the state of Rhode Island. The town now has protection from outside influences and can begin to implement the plan’s policies, goals and action items.
Preservation of critical natural resources — The council voted to acquire, with the help of a $400,000 Natural Heritage grant, over 66 acres of forested open space along Alton Carolina Road (Route 91) that will protect important natural, scenic, ecological and agricultural resources.
Establishing future fiscal goals — Good budgeting has enabled our town to build its reserves for emergencies. A study of the risks facing the town and the amount of money that should be held in reserve for emergencies has been completed, and experts will present recommendations to the Town Council.
Protecting the town from outside threats — The Federal Railroad Administration has announced a required study of capacity and speed in the area between New Haven and Providence. The council has responded, including enabling our town administrator to take whatever action is necessary to protect the town.
Response to climate change — Proposed is an Environmental Resiliency Commission to study the possible impacts of climate change (e.g., coastal and riverine flooding and drought) and to advise the council on measures to adapt to these impacts.
Good governance — Led by a talented, experienced, and long-serving town administrator, Charlestown operates like a good football team. Town staff is creative and engaged. Our police department is one of the few certified departments in the state. Our Harbor Management and Hazard Mitigation plans are up-to-date. Every resident and taxpayer has been invited to provide feedback through a town-wide survey, with a report expected soon.
Let’s focus on many positive accomplishments by those elected to serve. The spreading of disinformation needs to stop.
Bonnie Van Slyke
The writer is a member of the Charlestown Town Council.