Balancing interests

Fri, 05/28/2021 - 9:00am

To the Editor,

I feel compelled to respond to “Bill Billings” (a pseudonym) letter in the May 15, 2021 issue of The Times.
About RespectBI...
RespectBI is a grassroots organization formed in the summer of 2020 in response to a way of life that went way out of control with increased traffic, congestion, reckless behavior (both roadway and otherwise), compromised public safety, draining of limited health and safety resources, multiple injuries, and deaths.

RespectBI is an organization with several hundred supporters comprised of full-time residents like myself and seasonal residents who share the goal of restoring and sustaining a balanced, bucolic quality of life on one of The Last Great Places in the western hemisphere.
RespectBI is a 501 (c) (3) organization with a mission that contains several proposed initiatives looking toward the future of Block Island. The first of these initiatives is moped reform.

The moped reform issue is all about public safety. How it can be construed as a “personal vendetta” is beyond my comprehension. I spent 44 years of my time on Block Island training and working as a very active member of the Rescue Squad. I also worked as a mom, a school teacher, a public safety dispatcher and the administrative assistant to the Police Department. I feel I have a good grasp of the world of public safety as it relates to the island.
RespectBI is a genuine campaign for the overall health and safety of residents and visitors, and an attempt to restore a more
peaceful quality of life. Individuals and their families are not being “attacked” as intimated by “Bill Billings.” Conversely, it could be construed that the community is under attack by five business owners, the moped operators, who are disrespecting the island with unsafe practices. (This is my opinion and is not necessarily that of my colleagues.) Nor is this a “witch hunt,” or an effort to shut down moped operations by any means.

RespectBI has done a great deal of research on the moped situation since its inception. All of that documentation has been shared with the Town Manager and Town Council to provide them with the tools to thoughtfully grapple with this issue. Our
organization has met weekly (or more) since last fall and we will not fade away (as was assumed by some).

Last summer many long-term homeowners, renters and first-time visitors said they would not be returning to BI, largely because of the moped culture. It’s time for real compromise and real change, in which we sincerely hope the moped operators play a part. It is my hope that everyone can open their minds and think more broadly to find a shared vision for what is best for the community as a whole. RespectBI will be surveying the community again this summer on the future we all envision for this island. Survey results will inform our second community event this summer, a dialogue about long-term solutions for the island we all hold so dear. Together we can prioritize ideals that will make the present livable and the future sustainable.
And I proudly sign my real name,
Lisa Sprague
RespectBI Steering Committee
West Side Road