This is in response to my Hopkinton Town Council colleague Barbara Capalbo’s letter to the editor in The Sun on Thursday, Jan. 24, titled “Hopkinton’s future brighter with solar array.” Of the seven terms I have been a Town Council member, the solar issue is the most controversial, and impacts the whole town. That is unlike the dog track and “big box store” issues, which were focused on Exit 1 off Interstate 95 in the town.
Surely Councilor Capalbo is entitled to her opinion on praising or criticizing any person or group in town. I think it is fair to take exception to her comment from her submission: “I have appreciated Hopkinton United for offering to ‘just raise our taxes’ to save the trees”. Issues have multiple angles to them. The town has shown an openness already for small solar arrays, which are seen as beneficial to helping property taxpayers. Whatever can be said about trees, it is part of living in the western Rhode Island, and makes it a desirable area. I am concerned about the emphasis of the threat of building houses if we as a town council don’t acquiesce to every development proposal. That mindset can lead us into approving non-preferred development to prevent houses from being built.
I take strong exception to the huge demand Councilor Capalbo has made regarding getting this large solar array, called Brushy Brook, approved. It begs the serious question, what other considerations or favors will she think the town should demand from other large solar array applicants if we have her mindset? It is interesting in Councilor Capalbo’s opposition to the large solar array that was proposed near Exit 2 off Interstate 95 last year, and her rather obvious excitement over the Brushy Brook proposal.
Controlling spending, as well as broadening our tax base, is very important. However, we need to step up our efforts to have the state support education better financially. That responsibility needs to be a goal of all our cities and towns, as well as the state itself. We need, as a state, to find better ways to finance elementary and secondary education. That includes reducing the reliance on the local level of using the property tax so much on education. Spending on education locally not only impacts property owners financially, but general government like police, public works, recreation, and other town functions.
Scott Bill Hirst
The writer is vice president of the Hopkinton Town Council.