Help ensure the character of our town

The Middletown Citizens for Responsible Development would like to thank the town’s Planning Board for the extraordinary time and effort spent thoroughly evaluating a proposed large-scale residential development on the town’s east side.

On Sept. 26, the Planning Board held a special meeting to publicly consider a proposed 24-house development. For nearly three hours, Chairman Paul Croce and the other Planning Board members patiently listened and asked questions of representatives for the applicant, as well as legal counsel representing Silveira Kindergarten and Preschool, and dozens of residents from across Middletown opposed to this development.

The applicants put forth information they believed supported Planning Board approval of this large development at the end of a very narrow dead-end road, located in a rural neighborhood across from an established preschool. This development will be dependent on two complex neighborhood sewage treatment systems located within the wellhead protection area of the school.

Many residents from across Middletown repeatedly stepped to the podium, clearly voicing concerns that although they understand and respect the property owner’s right to develop the land, a development of this size would significantly strain Middletown’s existing infrastructure and limited resources.

They described how the estimated 80 additional daily driven vehicles will decrease the safety of students waiting for school buses, pedestrians, cyclists and drivers on the narrow rural roads, and expressed valid concerns that the increased storm runoff would add to the contamination of both drinking water and waterways, thus risking increased beach closures due to excessive bacteria levels.

After a thorough deliberation and discussion period, the Planning Board justifiably voted to deny approval of this development.

Although growth is inevitable and property owners certainly have the right to maximize the use of their land, the Planning Board’s decision clearly signals that they are dedicated to ensure the pace of development is deliberated in a very thorough and transparent manner, is in conformance with all ordinances and adheres to Middletown’s Comprehensive Community Plan.

On behalf of all Middletown residents that recognize the need to protect the unique and valuable character and nature of the town’s diminishing open spaces, Middletown Citizens for Responsible Development encourages everyone, regardless of what part of town you live in, to pay increased attention and play an active role to ensure that proposed developments continue to be carefully scrutinized during each step of the application process. Attend the Conservation Committee, Planning Board, Zoning Board and Town Council meetings. Support your fellow citizens that are volunteering their free time to serve on these groups. Help ensure the long-term character of our town is not sacrificed for the shortsighted benefit of a few.

Dave Huntoon, Middletown

 

Newport has enough hotels

Is it just me or is anyone else out there extremely disappointed about the hotel going up where the Newport Yachting Center is located? It’s awesome walking or driving down Memorial Boulevard and seeing the harbor. It’s one of the few places you can actually see it. Newport’s got enough hotels! Such a shame.

And I’m certain there will not be any tax benefits for the full-time residents of Newport. Nor additional funding provided for the children of our city. Again, such a shame!

Melissa Turner, Newport

 

Drivers need to stop at crosswalks

As I read the article in Wednesday's Daily News about another pedestrian in Newport being hit by a car while in the crosswalk ("Man charged in pedestrian hit and run"), my immediate thought was: I can't believe it's happened again! My next thought was: this has to stop.

One time is too many, but Newport has had more than its fair share of pedestrians hit by cars while using the crosswalk, several of them resulting in fatalities. Perhaps more than many of our surrounding communities, Newport has a mix of heavy pedestrian and vehicular traffic. As they should be, crosswalks are everywhere and most people utilize them when crossing the street. The problem is not lack of crosswalks, visibility or pedestrian compliance. The problem is enforcement of the law requiring vehicles to stop for a pedestrian waiting to cross the street and not passing another car that is stopped at a crosswalk.

I've lost track of the number of times I've seen people, including children and parents with strollers, waiting to cross in a crosswalk while car after car speeds by. I myself have almost been hit by a car reversing at high speed through a crosswalk.

I call on our police department to uphold these laws with stricter enforcement. Several police departments in our region have instituted sting operations where an undercover officer attempts to cross in a crosswalk, and cars that do not stop are ticketed. This program is badly needed in Newport. Please implement it now, citywide, before we have another tragedy on our city streets.

John McCabe, Newport

 

Street fair was a success

This past weekend, the third annual Broadway Street Fair was a resounding success. Perhaps 15,000 people, Newporters and visitors alike, walked the recently widened sidewalks and temporarily closed streets to revel in a perfect autumn day, listen to musical performances, shop and enjoy food from street vendors and restaurants alike. Lynne Tungett deserves tremendous credit for conceiving of this event and helping guide and grow it through its infancy.

As the event has increased in size and complexity its management has required professional assistance and this has come in the form of the very capable Jennifer Sunderland. Fifteen thousand people create an enormous amount of debris and Clean Ocean Access did outstanding work in managing the trash and recycling stations. A small army of volunteers mobilized to help get vendors located and set up, to help keep the event running smoothly all day and then to clean up at the close of day.

Many of the activities returned the spaces to former uses: Washington Square was once a again a common for communal activity. The Colony House was again a backdrop for community gathering and Broadway was alive with retail trade. This type of event shows that Newport is succeeding in its program to make the city an exciting destination to visit and a great place to live, but tapping into its historic character. It was also a chance for public-private partnership with the city, the Police Department and the private organizers all working in a well-coordinated way. However, these types of events don’t run on their own.

I urge the new Broadway Merchants Association to take up the baton and run the fair in the future as they are the main beneficiaries of this type of event. It is wonderful to see the Broadway area blossoming and becoming the sort of destination location where businesses can thrive and people can live, work and play. Let’s see it go onward and upward in future years.

Ross Cann, Newport