August 23, 2013
Rhode Island

Charlestown Democrats support Whalerock purchase

By ecoRI News staff | August 22, 2013 |

CHARLESTOWN – The Whalerock industrial wind turbine project stirred up much opposition since it was first proposed three years ago. The Charlestown Democratic Town Committee (CDTC) clearly voiced its opposition and called on the Town Council to negotiate a fair purchase price to secure the land as open space.

Now that the Town Council has reached a tentative deal with the property owner, CDTC Chairwoman Catherine O’Reilly Collette said, “We are pleased to see that such a deal is now on its way to fulfillment. Buying the land for open space will end the three years of turmoil and provide Charlestown with one of the most strategically located open space parcels in the town.”

The CDTC has also approved a resolution to call on the Town Council to “show respect for the taxpayers by putting the deal before the voters.” A vote on any Whalerock purchase was promised by the Town Council Majority, led by council President Tom Gentz and mandated by town solicitor Peter Ruggiero at the council’s Aug. 10, 2011 and May 9, 2011 meetings, according to the CDTC.

Even though there appears to be sufficient funding in the town’s Open Space-Recreation Bond fund, the council majority has set the precedent for placing such matters before the voters, when it decided to put the construction funding for Charlestown’s beach facilities to a vote in 2011 rather than use available bond funds. Voters approved that measure June 6, 2011 by more than 10 points despite strong opposition from beachfront property owners.

“I think it is very reasonable to use existing open space bond money for this purpose and believe there is strong support for a fair and reasonable solution to the Whalerock controversy,” Collette said. “Let’s handle this transaction with full openness and transparency. We call on the council majority to honor its past positions and promises and allow voters the final say.”

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