Statement of the Charlestown Land Trust on Railroad Proposal
Re: FRA Railroad Proposal January 8, 2017
To Whom it may concern;
I am Karen Jarret, President of the Charlestown Land Trust. We are adamantly opposed to the preferred Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) bypass from Saybrook, Ct to Kenyon, RI. It is beyond reasoning that Charlestown and it’s partners were not considered stakeholders in the FRA’s process due to the level of impact. There was no public review or comment in the environmental impact study due to the lack of notification.
We are here to defend the natural and human resources that this proposal destroys. This preferred route includes the degradation of homes, farms, our watershed and conserved lands of the Nature Conservancy, local Land Trusts, RIDEM, Tribal and municipalities. We have a legal obligation to object to the sale, degradation or taking of these lands. There are legally binding conservation easements and management plans attached to conserved properties, with the intent of preservation in perpetuity. Perpetuity meaning forever, protected on the basis of common trust and not to be violated.
When the government takes land through eminent domain it allows for the taking of private land for public use. Much of the proposed route is already public land , intended for public use.
Why is our transportation plan based on a modification of 19th century steam rail technology? New technology will make this plan obsolete before it is designed, constructed and put into operation.
Historically, voter approval is high for the health of our natural world here in RI. Since 1985 local open space grants have made it possible for land trusts and municipalities to protect 160 properties and more than 10,000 acres. Since 2002, Charlestown voters alone have approved $5,000,000 for open space funding. In this past election, 67% of the voters in RI approved 35 million dollars for the Green Economy Bond.
The Federal Railroad Administration NEEDS TO LISTEN TO THE VOTERS, THE PEOPLE OF THIS STATE. They need to open their eyes to the environmental impact to southern RI.
As stated in the EIS report:
Connecticut and Rhode Island would bear the greatest negative environmental effects. This is due to the Stamford and Old Saybrook-Kenyon segments. The Old Saybrook Kenyon segment is approximately 50 miles in length and traverses New London County, CT, and Washington County, RI. Improvements along this segment would result in notable effects, including impacts to numerous water resources, ecological resources, prime farmland soils, and prime timberlands; additionally, these effects would occur in the coastal area, which could be inconsistent with policies that support adherence to the Coastal Zone Management Act.
Our elected and appointed leaders need to closely research the EIS documentation, listen to the people and support us with the denial of the Saybrook to Kenyon alternative. This route is an insult to the long history and hard work of environmental initiatives. We don’t need to destroy Charlestown to bring efficiencies to a rail line or jobs to Providence.
Karen Jarret – President
Charlestown Land Trust
PO Box 1387
Charlestown, RI. 02813
Dr. Russ Ricci