The Copar Quandary

The following opinion piece appeared in the Westerly Sun, and the Chariho Times and is reprinted here with permission of the author George C. Tremblay. Mr. Tremblay is a member of the Charlestown Town Council.

I can only guess at the anguish Susan Clayton and her neighbors feel over their frustrated attempts at resolving their conflict with Copar Quarry (her letter appeared in the Westerly Sun Nov. 19). Ms. Clayton’s charge that local politicians have failed to help Copar’s neighbors is correct, to the extent that we have not succeeded in bringing them the relief they seek. But our failure is not for want of effort, and we have not abandoned their cause.

The Copar operation is located in Westerly, on the border with Charlestown, and Charlestown has no authority over Westerly. Nonetheless, Charlestown’s Town Council has been unanimous in its efforts to bring relief to all residents adversely affected by this mining operation. The Copar conflict has been on the agenda of a majority of the Council’s Executive Sessions over the past year, the Council sent a resolution to state authorities on behalf of Copar’s neighbors, Council members have attended related hearings in Superior Court, and the President of the Charlestown Town Council, Tom Gentz, has faithfully attended all Copar hearings of the Westerly Zoning Board. Indeed, Gentz’s vigorous objections to mistreatment of Copar’s neighbors earned him a public rebuke from Westerly authorities. As these facts indicate, we continue to explore opportunities to bring this conflict to a satisfactory resolution. It is not out of our neglect that Copar plaintiffs have yet to find relief.

George Tremblay