Land Trust steps up security on bank holiday weekends

For the second year in a row, the Land Trust had an issue of illegal drinking and underage drinking on the beach just south of Ballard’s Beach Resort on July 4th. To get to the popular beach, either walk through the Land Trust property where there is a beach access path, use the old abandoned path (‘the cooler path’) at the Ocean View Pavilion , walk down Spring Street via the sewer drain or cross from Ballard’s.
After last year’s party left a beach trashed, Chief Constable Matt Moynihan asked the Land Trust if they could hire a security guard to patrol the area on weekends and days holidays, inspecting and possibly confiscating alcohol from coolers and backpacks, which they did. (The Land Trust has the right to prohibit people from having alcohol on its property.)
At the Land Trust meeting on July 14, President Barbara MacMullan said she received a call from the guard on July 4 asking if he could stay longer. She said he had arrested around 200 to 300 people with alcohol, including about 20 minors. “He would like two people for the day” on holidays like July 4 and VE Day, she said.
Although there was also a police presence and community service officers at the entrance to the Ocean View property until the parade began, many people simply changed their route and walked through the property to the beach. by other points, in particular by the car park of the post office. .
An observer said Block Island time that the children seemed to be reacting to a social media app telling them to go this way or that way, to change their routes, with the crowd of children staring at their phones and spinning almost in unison, reacting like ants on a way to sugar.
Administrator Corrie Heinz said all mainland beaches have parking fees and it’s cheaper to buy ferry tickets to come to Block Island. “People know it’s a free game,” she said.
“This conversation should have taken place at the city council meeting, not here,” MacMullan said.
The Land Trust has approved a motion to hire a second security guard.
Clarify your mission
“I put it on the agenda because there’s been a lot of talk around affordable housing,” MacMullan said at the start of the meeting. “It” being the mission of the Land Trust.
The Land Trust collects a three per cent tax on property transfers, a tax that can amount to millions a year, or almost nothing at all, depending on the whims of the market. How revenues can be used is controlled by enabling legislation passed by the Rhode Island General Assembly decades ago. Now some housing advocates want some of that money, even though Block Island has a housing council, also created with enabling state legislation with its own, albeit smaller, revenue stream, which is a tax of 1% off private home rentals on a transient basis. This revenue stream currently stands at around $100,000 a year, while the Land Trust raised $168,796 in June alone.
Housing advocates have also asked the city and Land Trust to identify plots they own that could potentially be used for housing.
Land Trust solicitor Joe Priestley said he was asked before the meeting to explain under what circumstances land owned by the Land Trust might be sold or transferred to the town for housing. He explained that first, directors must vote on the issue with a four-to-one approval. Then the deal would go to a financial town meeting where it must be passed by two-thirds of voters.
Additionally, the package must have been deemed “no longer fit for the purpose for which it was acquired,” Priestley said.
The agenda item caught the interest of a few members of the original Land Trust, Keith Lewis, Claire Costello and Doug Michel, who all weighed in on the matter.
Regarding the misappropriation of Land Trust income, current Trustee Keith Lang said: ‘To make such a change you will have to come back to the General Assembly.’
“Once you go to the General Assembly, you lose all control,” Priestley said. “The whole legislation is in front of them.”
Dorrie Napoleone, President of Block Island Conservancy, asked if other cities have dedicated conservation transfer taxes.
There are only two in the state, Block Island and Little Compton, although Priestley and Lewis were unsure whether Little Compton had the ability to incur debt to fund acquisitions, as Block Island does.
Costello said the Land Trust’s openness to legislation could eventually “make it vulnerable to the property lobby”.
“You’re more likely to get housing transfer tax for the Housing Council than for the Land Trust,” Priestley said.
It is possible to be active partners in both land conservation and affordable housing. Lewis was involved in one of the first affordable housing ventures on the island, single-family homes on Beacon Hill, and for convincing the Champlin Foundation to help fund it.
“We have a well-established history of working with housing when it fits our legislation,” Costello said.
“It’s important to remind the community what the Block Island Land Trust is doing for the city,” Lewis said.
People started listing some – Mosquito Beach, Heinz Field, the Solviken and the Hodge Preserve, among others. Conservation groups have also contributed financially to affordable housing projects by taking a conservation easement over portions of land acquired for this purpose. More recently, the Land Trust helped the town acquire Sam P. Meadow where it is hoped that a boating facility with housing for town employees could be built.
“Conservation also played a role in slowing development,” MacMullan said.
Administrator Harold “Turtle” Hatfield said the water and sewer companies would not be “able to handle it”.
“It’s not just a Block Island problem,” Costello said. “There are housing problems everywhere.

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