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Saturday, May 14, 2011

Bring on the Campers!

Now that the largely out-of-state property owners south of the derelict YMCA camp on Watchaug Pond buffaloed the Town Council into tabling Ted Veazey’s proposed conservation development, what’s next?

Maybe Mr. Veazey will follow Council President Tom Gentz’s suggestion – Solomon-like or chicken-crap, you be the judge – that Veazey go back to the drawing board and try to come up with a new plan that pleases everybody.

Or maybe Mr. Veazey should return with a proposal for an affordable housing plat with cheap homes built on tenth of an acre plots so that they’ll fit right in with the Sonquipaug neighborhood.

Or maybe Mr. Veazey and the YMCA ought to stick with the camp’s original use. I know the Y doesn’t want another camp that will compete with its newer camp on the Pond. But how about a different sort of camp?

William Miller - new neighbor in spirit?

Like a Bible Camp! Just last weekend, the Seventh Day Adventists hosted a gathering of 3,000 young people at its “Courage 2 Shine” Pathfinder Camporee in the Burlingame campgrounds. I know they all must have had a good time because I could hear every word clear as a bell over their very impressive sound system even though I live almost half a mile away.

Plus, according to the Westerly Sun (May 7) they only had two casualties – two teenagers, a boy and a girl, stabbed by a third kid, aged 14. But hey, they didn’t die and I’m sure the kid who stabbed them was just caught up in the heat of the moment.

Now that the Adventists have discovered what a great place Watchaug Pond is for youth events, I’ll bet they’d jump at the chance to have their own permanent campsite. And again, I think it will fit right in with their Sonquipaug neighbors who really, really, really don’t want the Y camp changed from being a camp ground. Plus you can fit a lot of kids - maybe MORE than 3000 - into all that open space.

Now it’s true that the town heard authoritative testimony from Art Gold of Watershed Watch that campgrounds on lakes like Watchaug Pond are a problem. They overwhelm waste treatment facilities and cause algae blooms. But the neighbors don’t seem to care and the Town Council didn’t seem to listen – and didn’t want to buck the tide of angry e-mails from out-of-state property owners.

I hope the Seventh Day Adventists come to town. I’ve been fascinated with them since I studied them in college. Did you know their origins lie in a Doomsday group called the Millerites? This group followed William Miller, who believed the end of the world was coming in 1843. And then maybe 1844. Or 1845. Anyway, being optimists about the end of the world, many of his followers stayed together despite what was called “The Great Disappointment” and went on to form the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Seventh Day Adventists.

Charlestown could use that sort of optimistic approach to disaster.

Author: Will Collette