A Hummel Report Investigation
What ever happen to…? It’s the question we get often weeks or months after a Hummel Report investigation. This week: we revisit four of our stories from the past year, all with new information or developments. From a controversial DEM plan in Exeter, to an update on the timetable for gantries to be installed to toll trucks passing through Rhode Island.
This week - we bring you some new developments in several of our ongoing Hummel Report investigations. Our quarterly update begins with a heated exchange between top officials of Rhode Island’s Department of Environmental Management and an auditorium full of people in South County.
Resident: ``Take it around the corner put it around the corner, make it four levels so you can see the sunset. I don’t care. But it doesn’t belong on the pond.’’
It was a tough crowd right from the start. Director Janet Coit and half a dozen others from the Department of Environmental Management were on the defensive for much of the night during a two-hour meeting at Richmond Elementary School.
They were trying to explain - and defend - plans for a $7.2 million, 13,000 square-foot natural resources and visitors center on the banks of this pond within the Arcadia Management Area.
Many who spoke said they didn’t particularly oppose the concept of the building - but they wanted to know why the public wasn’t engaged during the initial planning stages five years ago.
Resident: ``You never asked for any input from the people who live here, the people who love nature, the people who move down here because of nature.’’
Resident: ``The main draw is not your classrooms, it’s for hiking, it’s for fishing, you’re not telling me that there’s concrete plans to repair those trails and footbridges. That’s what draws people to Arcadia. It’s not your center, it’s not going to be your center.’’
Coit began the meeting by apologizing for not doing a better job of engaging the public. But she had told The Providence Journal that the decision whether to still go forward with construction was not on the table - only issues like lighting and landscaping.
Resident: ``I’m not here to talk about lighting and landscaping. I’m here to tell you, you’re not putting that building on Browning Mill pond. Read my lips, you’re not putting the building there.’’
Resident: ``Why wasn’t this put out to the public for suggestions as to where to put it, instead of sticking it in our face. This is nothing but a $7 million office building for a bunch of bureaucrats that want to go to work in the woods.’’
Coit said she would meet with her team to discuss the comments at the meeting, but a spokeswoman tells The Hummel Report this week no decisions have been made.
We have some good news for you out of the town of Smithfield, where problems with DOT-installed mailboxes on state highway seem to have been solved
A year ago this is what Pleasant View Avenue - Route 116 - in Smithfield looked like. Mailboxes in various stages of destruction, the victim of snow plows during rough winters and faulty construction when they were installed five years ago.