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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

“How do you kill a Zombie?”

How do we stop the Y-Gate Zombie from stealing OUR tax dollars?
Y-Gate - the issue that wouldn't die
By Will Collette

Despite an outrageous attempt by CCA Town Council President Boss Tom Gentz to ramrod a vote on Y-Gate at the end of the Town Council's second overtime Monday night, action on Y-Gate has been postponed until June 25th. 

This move was so over the top, that even Gentz's usually reliable cohort, Deputy Dan Slattery said NO to continuing the Council meeting to take up Y-Gate.

Boss Gentz is now out of the closet as the leader in pushing this once dead taxpayer rip-off , now resurrected after a secret May 14 meeting between the Council and the Y-Gate players.

That means there is still time for you to contact the Town Council members to voice your opinion.

Y-Gate involves Charlestown taxpayers paying $398,000 to the Charlestown Land Trust to buy a worthless conservation easement. Without the promised vote by town residents! Click here to read the Town Council resolution.

The Charlestown Land Trust then combines Charlestown taxpayer money with state taxpayer money and pays the Westerly YMCA their new price of $600,000 for a busted-out campground on Watchaug Pond valued at $730,000 in an appraisal that was based on hypothetical conditions “known to be false.”

For ALL the Y-Gate stories, all with links to original documents, click here.

The good news shown in the documents is that the cost has dropped slightly. The Westerly YMCA dropped their sale price from $735,000 to $600,000, though that price is still too high. And the amount the Y-Gate players want to lift from Charlestown taxpayers’ wallets has dropped from $475,000 to $398,000, which is still too high.

Supposedly, there is still a state DEM grant of $367,000 in the mix, but the state wants an honest appraisal based on more realistic conditions before it releases the money.

It almost looks as if the Y-Gate players are no longer counting on the state grant, since the Westerly Y dropped the price by $135,000 (but the price to Charlestown taxpayers only dropped by $77,000).

If the state $367,000 grant actually gets paid out and the Charlestown Town Council approves Grand Theft – Open Space, the Charlestown Land Trust will have $765,000 to buy the camp from the Westerly Y for $600,000. That leaves the Land Trust with an additional $165,000!!!

But there may be a Town Council majority ready to vote for this blatant rip-off, all facts be damned. They will vote on two resolutions, the first to generally approve the rip-off (click here)  and the second to issue $200,000 in new bonds to be added to the cash balance in open space/recreation to make up the $398,000 town payment. Click here

Before Monday night June 25th rolls around, Charlestown residents need to contact the five town Council members and tell them what you think about Y-Gate.

Among the key issues:
  1. Do you want the right to vote on this deal before it is approved? The Council members said last month that they felt they were obliged to put this issue before the voters. But under the resolution they will vote on Monday, we will not have the right to vote?
  2. Are you concerned that the new numbers don’t add up? Is the state money gone – and is it gone because the state wanted an honest appraisal? Is Charlestown taxpayer money now the only public skin left in the game? What will the Charlestown Land Trust do with the excess $165,000 if the state grant comes through?
  3. Do you want a new, unbiased honest appraisal done before any deal is made? The appraisal the Y-Gate players are using is based on assumptions “known to be false” (according to the appraiser himself). The appraisal was based on the land being used for a major housing development and assumed that none of the obvious environmental problems – twenty derelict buildings, cracked paving, old septic systems – don’t exist. This is what the State of Rhode Island wants before it releases the $367,000 grant. Is Y-Gate going to become Charlestown’s version of 38 Studios?
  4. Do you feel there are other priorities for the use of the money? Some examples I have raised – buying LeBlanc’s land which really is open space and also the site for a string of unpopular developments, including an industrial wind farm. Or tax relief for resident taxpayers.

Here are your five Town Council members:

Gregg Avedisian. Mr. Avedisian has been a long-time supporter and a broker for the Y-Gate deal. He also told the Westerly Sun last month that the Y-Gate deal was “dead” and that the only way it was going to come back is if it was put before the voters. Monday night will be his opportunity to stand by those words and vote NO unless the deal will go to the Charlestown voters, as he promised..

Tom Gentz. Town Council President and member of the Charlestown Citizens Alliance Steering Committee. Boss Gentz has flip-flopped on the Y-Gate issue, most recently changing sides and joining Gregg Avedisian and Marge Frank to form a majority in favor of robbing the taxpayers to pay money to the well-endowed Charlestown Land Trust and Westerly YMCA – for the benefit of the non-resident vacation home owners in the Sonquipaug Association. Gentz has attacked Chariho over spending, yet is willing to blow hundreds of thousands of tax dollars – Reverse Robin Hood style of robbing the poor to give to the rich.

Marge Frank. Marge has been a supporter of paying whatever it takes to make the Y camp into some sort of rustic paradise. She has been able to ignore the harsh reality that the abandoned YMCA camp is more of a rural slum. Each time she has voted to advance Y-Gate, she has sung the praises of the beauty of Watchaug Pond. The Pond is beautiful but the Y camp is actually more like a junkyard with a view, or as Frank Glista put it, a lot like the German prison camp depicted in Hogan's Heroes. 

Lisa DiBello: Regular Progressive Charlestown readers know I have been a frequent critic of DiBello on many issues, and for well-documented reasons. But on Y-Gate, DiBello has been stand-up from the beginning. She has consistently and staunchly opposed this rip-off, almost always being the lone NO vote in a long string of 3-1 pro Y-Gate votes.

Daniel Slattery. CCA’s own Deputy Dan Slattery has not voted in any Y-Gate related matter. He has consistently recused himself because the back line of his property borders directly on the Y Camp and, as an abutter, he has a conflict of interest. To his credit, he has acknowledged and acted on that ethical bind. Regular Progressive Charlestown readers know it makes me gag to have to praise Deputy Dan for his action, but there it is. You may want to contact him on this anyway, even though he will not be voting, because Deputy Dan is not a potted plant when it comes to any town issue.

You can also just go to this page  on the Town website and click on the e-mail links. To ensure your e-mail gets into the public record, send a copy to Town Clerk Amy Rose Weinreich at