Lake Mishnock Preservation Association

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Kevin Breene and West Greenwich honored

From the Providence Journal 6-10-2007:

People working to conserve land in Rhode Island have been using words like "heartwarming" and "incredible" to describe the 632-to-16 vote by the people of West Greenwich last year in favor of spending $8 million to help buy and preserve 1,566 acres of pristine woodlands.

This week the people of West Greenwich will get another thank you.

The state Department of Environmental Management is giving its prestigious Alfred L. Hawkes Award to West Greenwich Town Manager Kevin Breene, who also serves as a state senator. And in an unusual move, the agency is also honoring the people of West Greenwich with the award.

The award will be made at a luncheon scheduled for noon on Friday at the Carousel at Goddard State Park. People wanting to attend should contact Melissa Stanziale at the DEM director's office by the end of the day Monday. The cost is $20.

Breene was nominated by DEM Planner Lisa Primiano, who said the town's purchase led to the preservation of three key parcels in The Borderlands area of Rhode Island and Connecticut.

"I really think that Kevin Breene, with his reputation in that community, the trust people have in him, was key to making this happen," Primiano said last week. "It's something we've never seen before -- such a small community making such a big commitment. The whole conservation community recognizes that what happened there was extraordinary."

The purchase blocked plans to build 168 houses on the property and, in the end, could stand in the way of an additional 400 house lots in a town whose residents insisted they didn't want more sprawl.

It is estimated the purchase will cost the owner of an average house in West Greenwich $150 a year for the next 20 years. The deal had the unanimous support of the Town Council, the West Greenwich Land Trust and the local Conservation Commission.

Local supporters kept in touch with a list serve that quickly spread the word for every meeting and deadline relating to the vote.

Three separate properties were involved: 471 acres owned by the Cioe Companies, 127 acres owned by Alexander Bates and 968 acres controlled by the estate of Phebe M. Shepard.

Supporters of the project said its cost would pale compared with the cost of educating hundreds of new schoolchildren that new development would bring to town.

Some 510 people voted during the Financial Town Meeting without even listening to a word of debate.

The town, the DEM and The Nature Conservancy plan to manage the property as the Tillinghast Pond Management Area, which will allow for a wide range of public uses.

The Hawkes award is named after a longtime director of the Audubon Society of Rhode Island. Past recipients have included the late Sen. John H. Chafee, Providence forester John T. Campanini Jr. and University of Rhode Island wetlands expert Francis C. Golet.

CRMC to hear permit requests

The Coastal Resources Management Council has scheduled two of its most controversial permit applications for hearing Tuesday at the Narragansett Bay Commission offices at One Service Road in Providence.

The meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. But the council first plans to hear a report on the status and trends of residential docks before considering the two applications.

The first, a request by Frederick and Louise Williams to build near wetlands in Little Compton, may actually resolve a controversy that has continued since 1986.

In the early 1990s, the state Department of Environmental Management first gave the Williams a permit to install a septic system on the property, then discovered the wetlands and ordered them to remove the septic system and a house foundation. Years of legal battles followed.

The property later came under CRMC jurisdiction. The Williams modified their plans, met with the council, and agreed to scale back their plans yet again to minimize any impact on the wetlands.

Several council members said they are convinced the Williams' lot is unbuildable, but others seemed willing to consider a permit.

The second permit is requested by Rocco D'Angelo for a house on the Narrow River. CRMC staff has recommended against approval because the property requires so many variances. The staff noted that D'Angelo purchased the property for just $25,000 in 1998, a price that "reflects the difficult development constraints inherent to the property."

D'Angelo's lawyer, Joseph DeAngelis, who has won some difficult permits from CRMC, has requested two postponements of the hearing.

People's Power celebrates 5 years

Rhode Island People's Power & Light, an organization that promotes renewable energy sources for Rhode Island, is having its fifth anniversary celebration from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday at the Save the Bay Center in Providence.

Andrew Dzykewicz, commissioner of the Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources, will talk about the energy group's successes and discuss Rhode Island's energy future. Leaders in energy, politics and the environment have been invited.

Talk to focus on marine changes

W. Michael Sullivan, director of the state Department of Environmental Management, is scheduled to give a talk on the state's changing environment at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Slater Mill Theater in the Blackstone Valley Tourist Center in Pawtucket.

Sullivan's talk, "Marine and Freshwater Resources: Managing for the 21st Century," will cover the impact of environmental changes related to coastal population growth, industrial activity, agricultural uses and fisheries.

Seating is limited, so make a reservation by calling (401) 874-6842.

Rain barrels to be sold at discount

A Massachusetts company that markets outdoor rainbarrels as part of a campaign to reduce home water use is offering its first reduced-price rain barrel sale in Rhode Island, thanks to support from the Providence Friends Meeting.

The barrels, made from 55-gallon blue plastic recycled containers, come equipped with brass spigots and devices to keep out children, pets and mosquito larvae.

The company, New England Rain Barrel, normally sells the barrels for $89. But when community organizations support sales drives and provide a distribution location, the price is reduced to $68.

For this first Rhode Island campaign, orders will be accepted through Thursday. The barrels will be distributed from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday in the rear parking lot of Hope High School, in Providence.

Joan Freele, one of the principals of the company, says she got into the business several years ago because as a homeowner and gardener, she couldn't find any reasonably priced rain barrels during a drought.

"We remain committed to keeping the cost to the end user as low as possible," she said in a recent e-mail. "Of equal importance is the growing concern for the environment."

For more information, and to order, go to www.nerainbarrel.com

The Environmental Journal is a listing of brief news items about the actions of individuals, organizations and businesses that affect the air we breathe, the water we drink and the landscape that surrounds us. If you have comments or suggestions, please contact environment reporter Peter B. Lord at (401) 277-8036, or by e-mail at plord@projo.com or by writing him, care of The Providence Journal, 75 Fountain St., Providence, RI 02902.

plord@projo.com