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Thursday, May 3, 2012

Cummings challenges Slattery's Ninigret attacks

"We have always been open and honest"
From the Ninigret Park Master Plan
By Sonita K. Cummings, Member of the Charlestown Parks and Recreation Commission

 The Parks and Recreation Commission has always acted in an open and honest manner in their actions.

When the Town was developing the Master Plan for Ninigret Park, all opinions and ideas were sought out from our residents, organizations, groups and businesses.  The Town residents then voted on the Master Plan.

Shortly after the present Council was sworn in, the Parks and Recreation Commission asked for a workshop with the Town Council to see how they wanted us to proceed with our job as a commission working on the beaches and parks.  Our directive from the Town Council was to update the beach facilities, to upgrade the entrance to Ninigret Park, to bring electricity to all parts of the Park and to construct an events center.
In the open meetings of the Parks and Recreation Commission, Holly Eaves spoke on the needs of the Frosty Drew Nature Center and its relationship to Ninigret Park.  They requested electricity, wi-fi and dark skies.  They also presented two events to become annual fundraising projects for Frosty Drew (The Annual Sea Star Marketplace Art Show and their 5K Run).  [see the minutes of our 9/7/10 & 6/28/11meetings on-line at]

When the Parks and Recreation Director wrote the RIDEM grant, these concerns were taken into account.  Lighting for the football field would be compatible with “Dark Skies”; on only when fields were in use and using the latest “dark skies” technology if selected for the grant.  The upgrade/maintenance of the sports fields would have matching funds from the football league and the soccer league.  [Minutes 11/29/11]

Fish and Wildlife representatives were at several of the Parks and Recreation meetings, expressing their concerns for the Dog Park, lighting and tree removal.  The Dog Park became a good neighbor and the Fish and Wildlife claimed and replanted all the native RI fauna from the Park construction areas onto their abutting property.  Lighting was planned as “Dark Sky” compatible which met the Fish and Wildlife needs.

As events registered for the use of the Park, if any were questionable as to conforming to Park guidelines, Fish and Wildlife needed to give their approval for the event as well, including having fireworks in the Park.  The Commission has never been an adversarial environment between any group and the Parks and Recreation Commission.

Again, if the wind turbines are the “adversarial” environment, our meetings are open and posted and the minutes are available for anyone to read. We, as a Commission, were asked to see if alternative sources of electricity were available.  The Met Tower was free; would record the wind speed, direction and consistency at the Park.

It was set up on the 55 acres owned by the Town.  The records are to be shared with other towns and the state.  The information gathered is useful to many groups.  The Parks and Recreation Commission hasn’t had a formal vote on the information gathered because it is still collecting data and all decisions such as electricity, lights, grants awarded, turbines, events being held at the Park all go before the Town Council to be approved. 

Please, come to a Parks and Recreation Commission meeting—everyone has a chance to speak up.