Charlestown – the almost ideal community

Guest post by Michael Chambers
Every time I see a state-base map showing the economic condition of the towns and cities in Rhode Island, I expect to see Charlestown at the bottom of the list suffering from housing problems, high taxes, low median income, low housing values, difficulty selling properties, median sale prices, population loss and other Census Economic Indicators. That is if you believe the Democratic Committee. It isn’t happening. Charlestown’s economic health is good; its population seems to be living in an almost ideal situation, given that it is in Rhode Island.

In the May 2 Providence Journal, housing sales and median sales prices of single family homes increased 13.5% in Charlestown. Only five towns showed increases over 12%, Burrillville, Foster, Coventry, Charlestown, and Jamestown. As a geographer I look for commonality within spatial relationships. The five towns are either rural (low housing densities) or coastal (summer residential areas) or both (primarily Charlestown). We are not in economic distress. We are a desirable relocation area. We offer a variety of things that many towns in Rhode Island cannot offer. High density housing, burdensome tax rates, traffic congestion, and other characteristics of urban and suburban Rhode Island towns are not found in Charlestown. A solid Comprehensive Plan, conservative zoning regulations, and a hard working town staff guided by an informed town council combine to keep Charlestown progressing deliberately and inexorably forward.

When was the last time steady growth, economic solvency, and a satisfied population needed change? Check out the Journal article and ask yourself how many of the towns in RI would gladly change places with Charlestown. Better yet, ask the people in those towns if they would trade places with the residents of Charlestown.