Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Bristol Harbor Update from Barbara Healy

June 21, 2010 from Barbara Healy
Many thanks Barbara for this update on Harbor issues in Bristol.

First, thanks to Lindsay's blog, I learned that the Planning Board is holding a Public Informational Meeting tomorrow night, June 22, at 7 PM, at Town Hall regarding the Robin Rug building. Please go to the Town website to review the agenda. The purpose is to review the master plan which is available at Town Hall and can be viewed by appointment. This was a major issue of discussion when we were holding regular meetings as a Task Force. It faded away for a while but now seems to be on the table again, perhaps as a result of the slowly improving economy. I do have some concerns, particularly regarding the handling of wastewater from this site and plan to be at this meeting.

Second, the Charter Review Commission, of which I was a member, has completed its task of review and has now forwarded its recommendations to Town Council. The Council has the final word on what reaches the ballot and will hold a public hearing later in the summer. Please note the the Council has scheduled a special meeting for Thursday, June 24, as a working session to iron out among the members what will be presented to citizens for the public hearing. Regarding waterfront issues, we have recommended that the Harbor Department be under the charter aegis, which it currently is not, in the section dealing with public safety along with Police and Fire departments. This was well received at a recent workshop. We also recommended that the harbormaster report to the administrator rather than Town Council. This seems to be a more contentious issue and bears watching as it really is the crux of the whole harbor department organization. Regarding the issue of job descriptions, the charter commission had several discussions. Finally, we recommended that job description for department heads be compiled by the town administrator (or mayor, if title changed) and Personnel Board and be placed on file in the administrator's office. We also recommended an organization chart of Town government be placed on file. I also plan to be in attendance at this meeting.

Third, the water sampling project for Bristol Harbor is in full swing for its second season. Keith Maloney is one of the coordinators of this effort by Save Bristol Harbor to gather data in support of a Predictive Habitat Model for the harbor. This is an ongoing project which will take several years to gather data. URI is a partner in this experiment. It is efforts like this, by interested and committed volunteers that make this town so special. Contact Keith if you have the time or inclination to help out.

Fourth, one of the long term issues that really concerns me, and is a component of many of the development projects is the effect on water quality in the harbor and beyond down into Narragansett Bay. I attend just about every Harbor Commission meeting. These meetings are also regularly attended by shell fishermen, and they are expressing increasing concern over closing of the shellfish beds due to pollution. There was a massive outpouring of sewage during the recent torrential rains in March. This was understandable because of the huge volume which had to be handled, but the regular, run-of- the- mill closings seem to be increasing and the fishermen are concerned. It is their livelihood. They are worried that the aging sewer system is being overwhelmed and we should be, too. I see no long-term planning in the works about this issue. Perhaps there is, but I haven't noticed.

And of course, the LNG threat is always with us. Susan Maloney has been great in sending along information. I am more hopeful that this horrible proposition on the part of Hess will die due to lack of need. It's always about money. Keep informed and join any grass-root efforts that you can to fight this plan that some are trying to force on us.

See you around,
Barbara Healy, Charter Review Commission member and Voices for Bristol Waterfront Task Force Chair.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the update. On your last point about--Is there a list of the closings of the bay to shellfishing for the last five or more years? It seems that a factual list would be a usefool tool to use to follow up on your terrific point about long term planning, particularly as it relates to another high density development such as that at Robin Rug.