Menu Bar

Home           Calendar           Topics          Just Charlestown          About Us
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Sunday, June 15, 2014

New state money for open space rejected by the House

By TIM FAULKNER/ecoRI News staff
Attempt Forest animated GIFPROVIDENCE — It’s an open-space bond without funding for open space. On June 12, House leadership rebuffed efforts to restore $3 million to buy open land as part of the $53 million Clean Water, Open Space and Healthy Communities bond referendum.

“(Open space) is the foundation of our outdoor recreation economy," a dejected Rupert Friday, director of the Rhode Island Land Trust Council, said after the vote.

Despite the public’s strong support to fund open-space purchases, the House rejected an amendment to restore the money by a 48-24 vote. It’s the first time since 1985 that voters won’t have an opportunity to approve state funds for open-space protection.

“I don’t believe we should be borrowing any more at this particular time,” Rep. Raymond Gallison, D-Bristol, said. Gallison opposed the measure even though his district is currently asking the state for $580,000 to buy open space. He said the remaining $1 million in state money from the 2012 referendum will be sufficient to fund open-space purchases for two years.

The call to restore the money received support from several Republicans.

“We just gave $45 million to (pay for) a parking garage that’s going to be empty. I think we can give $3 million to open spaces,” Rep. Patricia Morgan, R-West Warwick, said.

“God’s not making any more of this stuff. So let’s preserve it,” said Rep. Michael Chippendale, R-Foster, who noted that these funds often attract two to three times the amount in matching dollars.
“We’re losing open spaces rapidly; we should take advantage of these opportunities to allow the people to decide these things,” Rep. Brian Newberry, R-North Smithfield, said.

Since 2004, about 70 percent of voters have approved funds for open-space protection. In 2012, voters approved $20 million for farmland, parks and bay restoration.

If approved by voters in November, the $53 million Clean Water, Open Space and Healthy Communities bond funds:

  • $5 million for brownfield remediation and economic development.
  • $3 million for flood prevention.
  • $3 million for farmland protection.
  • $4 million for local recreation grants.
  • $15 million for improvement to Roger Williams Park Zoo.
  • $3 million to Roger Williams Park.
  • $20 million to the Clean Water Finance Agency.