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Sunday, November 4, 2012

More to environment than open space

Old waste sites, operating polluters demand town's attention, too
By Frank Glista, CDTC candidate for Planning Commission

Something frightening is looming around our Charlestown neighborhoods. In past years we have been inundated with requests for preserving open space parcels of land in our community. Good idea? Of course, but there is more to protecting the environment than just acquiring open space.

When the Charlestown Citizens Alliance (CCA) took control of our town government back in 2010 one of their main objectives was to acquire and preserve as much area as they could without the voter's approval. Case in point was the attempt to purchase the YMCA property off Prosser Trail for the Charlestown Land Trust using state and Charlestown taxpayer money. This deal fell short because of the mismanagement of their own proposal, a tremendous loss for the citizens of our town.

But we have many other environmental issues at hand besides open space. In 2011, I stood before this Town Council and requested information about the old town dump that is located on Narrow Lane. As a child growing up here, I remember it as a "burn" dump. Back then, there were no controls as to what could be placed there. Items such as farm chemicals (DDT), toxic waste from neighboring mills, materials containing asbestos, general household waste and maybe an animal carcass or two. Burned or buried, it all ended up in Charlestown's environment.

The CCA controlled council passed this matter over to former Town Administrator, Bill DiLibero. He and the town staff moved quickly to resolve any concerns that I had. But once they forced DiLibero to resign, that left this potential environmental mess lurking about.

I remembered another problem that came to the town's attention a few years back. There was and still is a toxic waste dump off Sand Plains Road where one of the local mills disposed of its waste. Although attempts have been made to clean and monitor that site, much of the material still exists. Cardboard barrels were used to contain the waste, and when attempts were made to remove them, they disintegrated, leaving the waste material to saturate the ground. The waste is still there, covered by a cap but free to move underground into our groundwater.

The CCA doesn't want their supporters to know about these and other environmental problems around town because they wouldn't be happy knowing that the beautiful, pristine New England town they sell to the voters is anything but.

Now we have another serious environmental threat along our north western border. COPAR Quarries have been in litigation with the residents of Westerly for some time, but now we find that their operation is affecting the citizens of our town. Noise and dust from crushing and blasting not only affects COPAR'S Westerly neighbors but Charlestown's as well. There is evidence that streams and wetland areas are being affected by the run-off from their mining operation. The dust that envelops their homes and their cars is bad enough but the worst is the air that their children are trying to breathe.

Don't be fooled by the CCA propaganda machine. There is much more to being an environmentalist than wanting to buy more open space. Don't be fooled by their open-space rhetoric. The CCA environmental platform led by Ruth Platner and Gordon Foer is simple, toxic waste dump = no development = open space.

The Charlestown Democrats will fight to keep our environment safe for all of our citizens and neighbors. Please support us this November 6th. Vote for Paula Andersen, Tom Ferrio and Tim Quillen for Town Council and Mike Breton, Brandon Cleary, Frank Glista and Melina Lodge for Planning Commission.