February 13 Town Council Meeting plus your comments

Town Council Meeting
Tomorrow Night, 7 pm
Charlestown Town Hall Route 2

Discussion:
Potential formation of an Affordable Housing Advisory Review Panel comprised of representatives from the Affordable Housing Commission, Planning Commission, Zoning Board of Review, Conservation Commission, Wastewater Management Commission, the Town Planner, the Building Official, the Wastewater Management Specialist and the Town Administrator.

Potential formation of a subcommittee to explore the potential acquisition of and development of the Cross Mills Fire Station building and property into a town center/park

Approval of $250,000 in Affordable Housing Bonds

Potential action in support of the Charlestown Land Trust’s purchase of the YMCA property for preservation with advisory opinions from the YMCA Land Advisory Panel, the Conservation Commission and the Planning Commission.

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Your Questions:
Does anyone know if the sludge that is being pumped onto our town beach has been tested for PCB’s DDT, heavy metals, herbicides, Scott’s turf builder, Monsantos’ roundup, noxious bacteria and other cancer causing health hazards? I can’t help but think they are making our beach into a superfund site as the black ooze spreads onto the sand. Diluting the pollution which will concentrate in our own bodies through swimming, walking, sitting on the beach this summer and eating fish caught.

Editor’s Comment: From what we understand, the dredging is being done in settlement or catchment basins that were initially dredged by the Army Corps of Engineers. The dredge is picking up the sand that had clogged the breachway and settled in the settlement basins. If the breachway continued to be filled in, the sand would choke off sea water exchange in Ninigret Pond, and the pond would die. The sand is being pumped out on the Town Beach to build up the beach, as it is Town property. The dredging company is an expert in hydraulic dredging and headquartered in Indiana. CRMC also has a news page about the dredging at http://www.crmc.state.ri.us/news/2012_0124_ninigret.html. It says among other things “Sand dredged from the sedimentation basin will by hydraulically deposited into the intertidal beach (just offshore) at Charlestown Town Beach, so that it will naturally wash ashore to create beach habitat used by Piping Plover and other important species. Eelgrass, an important native aquatic plant that grows in shallow sub-tidal areas, functions as a nursery, refuge and feeding ground for many marine species.” According to the CRMC, it is sand that was washed into the catchment basin, which may contain other organic material, but not any more concentration of the chemicals listed than are already in the pond. The main objective of the dredging is to keep the pond alive and not kill it.

To the Steering Committee – First of all, thanks for all you do to keep us informed. Don’t think it goes unappreciated. And on another note, what’s our town’s status re “unfunded public employee pension funds”?

Editor’s Note: For the past three years or so, the Town has put about $300,000 into an account for OPEB accounts which is for retiree healthcare payments, like health insurance. We are funding that as fast as possible, and were one of the first towns in RI to handle the OPEB issue. As far as the Pension system, that is a state run plan called MERS, Municipal Employee Retirement System. The State Treasurer tells the town what our contribution needs to be to properly fund the retiree pension plans. Again, we are doing exactly what the State requires the Town to do, or we lose state aid. The figures are still being calculated due to the pension reform, but we are in much better shape than other towns in RI that are in the newspaper, like municipal pension plans that are currently being addressed.

There was nothing about wind turbines that I could find on any of the links.

Editor’s Note: The wind turbine information needs to be updated on the Town’s website home page. The MET tower will be finished collecting wind information in March and the Town Council will then discuss the next steps. Alteris, who installed the MET tower, was merged into a new company. If you are looking for information on wind turbines on the CCA page, go to the search page and search on wind many stories and letters etc. show up. There is a link to the search page in the right side navigation on every post and page, but that page is at http://charlestowncitizens.org/search-cca/.

Just curious if the CCA has any comment on the upcoming elections?

Editor’s Note-Do you mean the Presidential Primaries or the local elections in November? We will certainly cover the local elections. We’ve never taken positions on national politics except for local impacts such as federal gambling policy. The Steering Committee is made up of all different political points of view on national politics.