We have again returned to the biennial ritual of the Charlestown town elections. True to form, the Charlestown Citizens Alliance has begun its regular letters to The Westerly Sun in the hope that people forget their mismanagement and lack of transparency in the governance of the town through their control of the Town Council and the Planning Commission. Over the last several days we have seen letters from Ruth Platner, an active CCA member, extolling the advisability of the town to continue to purchase properties for “open space,” accusing Charlestown Residents United of advocating that “we should acquire no more [open space land].” Ms Platner, it should be noted, is the chairwoman of the Charlestown Planning Commission after having won no better than the second alternate to the Planning Commission in the 2018 election. Welcome to the world of CCA.
Bonnie Van Slyke, as a CCA member of the Charlestown Town Council, in her letter, tries to convince voters of the transparency of the Town Council in deciding the outcome of a proposed purchase of property on Charlestown Beach Road at a significantly inflated price. This proposal was presented as an agenda item about a week before the council was scheduled to vote on it and without critical information such as the confirmed boundaries of the property. The fact that the council voted the purchase down does not change the lack of transparency in the process that has characterized the CCA. It does not acknowledge the lack of trust that citizens of Charlestown have developed toward the CCA.
Francis Topping, a CCA member and vice-chairwoman of the Planning Commission, takes credit, among other points, for preventing Dollar General from opening in Charlestown. That is, after the Planning Commission prevented local business from using the area in question, leaving an opening for the Dollar General.
The CCA-dominated government of Charlestown has apparently never seen a property they will not try to purchase, regardless of the price, for what they identify as “open space.” The CCA-dominated government of Charlestown has also apparently never agreed to a new business coming into town or expanding in town without often expensive delays and rehearings. The CCA-dominated government of Charlestown has also apparently never had a citizen’s request for the further development of their property without an apparently unlawful demand that some of the property be turned over to the town for a “conservation easement” without compensation.
Charlestown Residents United is NOT opposed to open-land purchase when the process is honestly performed, the price is proper, and the best interests of the people of Charlestown are considered and protected. But CRU also recognizes that for a town to prosper and grow, a balance is needed between open-space needs, business needs, and the housing needs for those who would move here to raise the next and future generations of Charlestown residents. CRU is committed to strike this balance and make town decisions based on the input, needs and requirements of all residents.
This article appeared as a Letter to the Editor in The Westerly Sun on September 12