Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze Woonsocket North Smithfield 05-23-2019

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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NORTH SMITHFIELD BLACKSTONE WOONSOCKET | VALLEY BREEZE | MAY 23-29, 2019 LETTERS TO THE EDITOR 15 Osier to promote open space During my campaign I advocated for fiscal responsibility, transpar- ency, and the promoting of open space, beliefs that I have continued to stand by and actively promote since taking office. Too long have we relied on spending without planning to fix our past problems. This philosophy is simply not sus- tainable, especially if it will nega- tively impact the taxpayer. Instead, I believe that we need to plan. Today, we have an opportunity to better our community and protect our rural character while being fis- cally responsible in the process. On June 3, at the next Town Council meeting, I am going to propose a new ordinance aimed at promoting open space. It will call for the establishment of an open space committee, commu- nity involvement in the planning process, as well as pursuing grants and/or other funding opportunities. Together we can do more, and we will. I hope to see everyone there! DOUGLAS OSIER JR. North Smithfield Town Councilor Gold land deal has long history In 2017, when I was the Town Council president, the issue of the Gold Forest came before us. I was against spending town money to pur- chase this property. However, Paul Zwolenski asked me to take a tour of the property before I made any final decisions. After spending one Saturday morning riding through and seeing what this land had to offer, I knew we had to find a way to make this happen for the town. Though I now supported the pur- chase, I was determined to make that happen without expending taxpayer dollars. Zwolenski and I approached Mark DePasquale of Green Development and we dis- cussed the purchase of the Gold property, questioning whether or not it would be possible to dedicate a small area to a solar farm in order to pay off the bond. Mr. DePasquale stated it would require too large an area to do that without ruining the whole reason we wanted the land in the first place. A short time later he asked for another meeting, and stated that Ralph Ferra wanted to put a solar farm on his property and with the money the town would receive, $7,000 a megawatt, would be more than enough to pay off the bond on the Gold property and leave addi- tional money to fund other projects. The purpose of supporting the Ferra solar farm was so we could purchase a beautiful piece of open space and it would not cost the taxpayers one cent. We would get money from private land we can't use and put it towards the purchase of public land we can all use. In October of 2018, I, along with Zwolenski and Paul Soares, met with Mr. Gold. After much debate we agreed on a price that we would bring back to the coun- cil. We only needed one additional vote and believed we could get it. Unfortunately this was late October and timing in life is everything so I was not able to follow through. Quite simply, that is the Cliff Notes ver- sion on how we got to where we are today. This deal was as close as you can get to happening without actually happening, and the cost to town tax- payers would have been zero. There are people or groups I can think of to blame for losing out on this opportunity far more than the current Town Council, but pointing fingers and what if's at this point will do no good. A new opportunity is now before us. Mr. Gold will lease his land to a solar developer who will use approxi- mately half of the property to erect a solar farm. The other half of the land, will generously be provided to the town to be used as open space. In 20-25 years, when the solar farm is decommissioned, the remainder of the land will be donated to the town. Not exactly what we envisioned last October but still not a bad deal. Soon town leadership will have to consider what to do with the revenue from the Ferra solar farm, which will likely be in the millions over the life of the farm. This money can do great things if it is earmarked prop- erly. Maybe go towards programs for our youth and seniors, fixing our roads, or even the purchase of more open space. And we certainly need improvements to our parks infra- structure, vital to the health of our town and residents. JOHN A. BEAUREGARD North Smithfield Town should protect, use Gold land Dear North Smithfield Town Council members: Last Saturday we took advantage of the ability to tour Gold Forest in North Smithfield. It is truly a beau- tiful piece of land. We have hiked many places with our children and appreciated the wide, well main- tained trails throughout this large piece of property, as well as the ponds and streams. We can envision many in the future enjoying the land for walking, mountain biking, cross- country skiing, fishing, etc. We have been homeowners in North Smithfield for the past 18 See GOLD LAND, Page 16 thank you for supporting our Valley Breeze advertisers. They make this free paper possible! Letters to the Editor Letters to the Editor are welcome from readers. Please: • Limit to 500 words. Longer letters may appear online only. • Letters on local or state topics and issues will take precedence over those on national issues. • No more than one letter per person every 8 weeks, please. • All letters must be signed and include a hometown. Send by e-mail to: news@valleybreeze.com, or mail to The Valley Breeze, 6 Blackstone Valley Place, Suite 204, Lincoln, RI 02865. Family owned & operated since 2001 511 Broad St., Cumberland, RI 02864 Open 24 Hours for Rental Pickup 401-405-0196 Grad party rentals Tents & Balloons Delivery or 24 hr Pick up Helping you bring smiles to your next event! 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