There have been many articles addressing the upcoming council election in Charlestown. There’s no shortage of speculation by the Charlestown Citizens Alliance as to what their opposition desires. With this in mind, I’d like to share with you what I, and my fellow Charlestown Residents United candidates, actually wish to accomplish.
Like the CCA, Charlestown Residence United, has an equal love and admiration for Charlestown and the natural beauty and splendor of the community. Both groups, the CCA and CRU, want Charlestown to maintain its rural character and preserve its natural resources for current and future generations. Our opinions and views of the future for Charlestown diverge upon the execution of the finer details of local government and what it means to represent all members of our community.
First, CRU intends to make Charlestown more business-friendly for organic and home-grown local businesses. We do not seek nor want big-box stores for obvious reasons. CRU envisions a Charlestown in which small businesses are able to both flourish and fit into the fabric of the local ambiance of our town and are consistent with the character of the community.
Second, Charlestown’s tourist/vacation community growth must remain within responsible and equitable boundaries that are held in balance with the families and year-round residents that are the backbone of Charlestown. CRU doesn’t believe in forcing landowners to give conservation easements to the town or requiring them to donate open space in order to build on private property. We believe open space purchases must bring value to the community as a whole. We are firmly against purchasing additional property at inflated values or double premiums compared to actual appraised values or reasonable market prices.
Third, as for Ninigret Park: it’s true that we support the 2008 Ninigret Park Master Plan, which includes a concert/festival venue. However, it’s categorically absurd and false to assert that CRU is advocating for or pushing to create an 8,000- to 12,000-capacity venue. Similarly, the assertion that CRU is seeking to allow out-of-town profiteers to turn large profits and host giant extravagant concerts is ridiculous. These statements are in contradiction of the values that uphold CRU and can be attributed to poor attempts to incite fear-mongering.
CRU envisions a space in which our town residents and their families can enjoy small concerts and events. A venue where the community can enjoy Shakespeare in the Park, or perhaps the occasional movie on a large outdoor screen. This permanent venue would accommodate events that already take place in the park, such as the Seafood Festival or the Rhythm and Roots concert. However, it is the intention of CRU to wait for the results of the townwide survey before moving forward on any plans.
Finally, CRU is committed to an open and transparent government. Our candidates value the opinions and input of all residents, including our opposition, the CCA. The more participation and respectful discourse around issues that are important to our community, the better off we are.
Stephen J. Stokes, Charlestown
This article appeared as a letter to the editor in The Westerly Sun on October 7, 2020.