Council Endorses Cullion Settlement

The Cranston City Council passed a non-binding resolution in support of the proposed $1.9 million settlement. David Scharfenberg of the Projo reported on the meeting here:

CRANSTON — The City Council approved a resolution last night backing the proposed $1.9-million buyout of the controversial, half-built Cullion Concrete Corp. batching plant in the Eden Park neighborhood.

The 6-3 vote, though nonbinding, provided critical political support for a deal that appeared tenuous in recent weeks.

“I’m happy that they’re moving forward to resolve this matter,� said Mayor Michael T. Napolitano, who urged the council to back the resolution in a series of emotional appeals last night.

Napolitano, a Democrat, announced his tentative settlement last month, winning plaudits from neighbors who worried about the potential for traffic, noise and pollution should the plant be completed. [full text]

Like a lot of people, I’m glad to see this moving toward completion. I still think whatever careful checking can be done to make sure the appraisal is accurate and the land is clean, and the stipulations of the clean-up are as thorough as possible. According to Suzanne in the previous thread on the concrete plant, Councilperson Terry Livingston did a good job of outlining “the scope of what needs to be met before this can be resolved.”

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6 responses

  1. To follow is the body of my letter to the Mayor and City
    Council regarding the Cullion settlement under proposal:

    January 30, 2008

    Mayor Napolitano and Cranston City Council Members,

    I have spoken to some of you as you once sought my opinion on the proposed settlement, and I had stated that if it took $1.9 million to rid us of this threat then pay it and let’s get it out of our neighborhood.

    I must admit that I find it deplorable that we are forced to pay this out of court settlement, indeed this ransom, due to the fact that the City has failed us in its responsibility to protect the interests of its citizens. One could conclude that we have no choice but to accept this proposal when one hears that litigation could take up to three years, could cost two to three times the proposal amount, and that we could even have a concrete plant or some other industrial nightmare on our doorstep should we lose.

    I now see a group of elected officials posturing to claim salvation of the residents from this atrocity, but let’s make no mistake, there are no heroes in this matter save for those citizen volunteers who donated their ten or twenty dollars, those citizens who gave of their time away from their families and friends, those citizens who carried signs, wrote letters, and made phone calls in an attempt at self-representation.

    The City now has an obligation to restore faith in Cranston’s government to those very citizens; therefore, I call upon the City Council and the Mayor to do two things:

    • Rezone the property as open space and grant its custody to the Pawtuxet River Authority to ensure that the land will be protected well into the future, without the threat of the City converting it to its own use, or to prevent the sale of the land for private development.

    • Retrace the steps of this deficient building permit through the Zoning Administration, determine the root cause of this problem, and implement new procedures, controls, and oversight in order to prevent its duplication in the future. If this is not done, you should consider yourselves fully accountable in the event an injustice of this nature happens again considering you had knowledge of the problem, had the power to bring about remediation, but chose to ignore corrective action.

    Sincerely,

    Dennis J. DeMarco

  2. Dennis,

    This is an excellent letter. There is a meeting of the DEM environmental justice community network tomorrow, and I am trying to find out if it is open to the public. If so, I will post about it, as this might be a place where people concerned about the concrete plant can join with others concerned about environmental justice statewide.

    There is honor in what has been done by ordinary citizens to protect our residential environments. There is also honor in leadership who negotiate a fair settlement and let the public see the terms of the settlement before it is signed. There would be still more honor in setting better zoning procedures, and it would be criminal not to. I understand that business interests need to be protected, but residential interests need to be protected as well. There needs to be a balance.

    Thank you again.

  3. Dennis,
    Did you send it to the State Delegation too? I know that Hanna Gallo has voiced support for the buyout and may want to see it, as would the others that cover your neighborhood.

  4. Kiersten,

    I just want to say that I agree with everything you said. Especially as it relates to the honor of ordinary citizens who stand up to protect their own interests and those of the community as a whole. There is real strength in people working responsibly together to bring about change, or hold government accountable.

    I also commend Mr. DeMarco for calling for an immediate re-zoning of the parcel and for an investigation into this sad affair. The second will be the more difficult of the two, but if we work together perhaps we will succeed in discovering what went wrong in the process and make the necessary corrections so that it doesn’t happen again.

  5. Folks, I have made similar remarks to this in past correspondence, but it bears repeating until our government, and those who elect it, get it through our heads:
    The proposal to put a concrete plant at that site, as well as the proposal to place “big box” stores on the Mulligan’s Island site, are both ridiculous, and completely inappropriate for their respective sites. When will we all work together to create a “people-friendly” city, with small, environmentally clean businesses for our tax base? And when will this city become more friendly to pedestrians? We need such things as pedestrian bridges over Reservoir and New London Avenues and other pedestrian aides. I would like to see stronger filters against proposals that are obviously bad, and some more creative proposals for making Cranston both prosperous and people-friendly!
    As to the current $1.9 million buyout settlement, we were indeed backed into a corner, and I think the best policy now is to wince and buy the property, but protect it fully from then on.

  6. Thanks to all who have expressed words of support; I especially wish to thank Geoff Schoos who has consistently been honest, objective, and on point in his writing.

    Also a special thanks to Rachel McNally and SCOS. I think it is especially important for all individual groups to ally with one another, across ward boundaries and in endeavors that have common goals.

    The day we stop thinking NIMBY and start thinking CITY is the day we begin to regain control of Cranston.

    I agree with Geoff that if we all work together we can bring about change. I am willing to speak with anyone and work with any groups who would like to join forces to do that very thing.

    If anyone wishes to contact me, you may do so through CCRZD. They will know how to reach me.

    Finally, thanks Kiersten for hosting this most relevant and much needed site.

    Dennis

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