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Monday, May 14, 2012

Two ways the Westerly Land Trust is different than the Charlestown Land Trust

Hint: one of them involves money
By Will Collette

At tonight’s Charlestown Town Council meeting (that’s Monday, May 14 at 7 PM), there should be some decision about whether town taxpayers should pay the Charlestown Land Trust $475,000 so they can buy the abandoned, over-priced 27.5 acre Westerly YMCA Camp on Watchaug Pond.

Too bad the Westerly Land Trust wasn’t the one at the core of Y-Gate, because if they were, we might not have such a divisive issue before us.

According to the New London Day, the Westerly Land Trust just completed the purchase of another old camp ground, the 72-acre former Camp Wahaneeta from the Girl Scouts of Rhode Island.

But unlike the Charlestown Land Trust, the Westerly Land Trust seems to have gotten a much better deal on their property and didn’t need Westerly taxpayer money. Instead, they received a grant from the Lattner Foundation of Florida (also a major funder of the RI Statewide Coalition Foundation).

The Westerly Trust recent campground purchase involves almost three times as much land, a more public-friendly plan to use the land and fewer problems than the Y Camp the Charlestown Land Trust wants Charlestown taxpayers to fund.

In another way, the Westerly Land Trust is very different than the Charlestown Land Trust. The Westerly Sun reports the town of Westerly is going forward with its plans to site two commercial-sized wind turbines in Bradford to supply electricity to municipal buildings.

One of the sites is the Bradford Preserve which is one of the Westerly Land Trust’s properties. The Land Trust agreed to the partnership to help the town after determining “determined a wind turbine would not adversely affect open space and recreational opportunities at the preserve.

Sure, I know some readers are thinking that Westerly isn’t Charlestown, and we’re glad of it. They are entitled to that opinion. I like Charlestown and we chose to live here. But I like Westerly, too. And in my opinion, based on these two very recent actions, it seems to me that their Land Trust makes better decisions than our Land Trust. They seem much more interested in contributing to Westerly than taking from Westerly.

I hope the Charlestown Land Trust might learn from their example that it's better to act like an earth worm than a tick.