Collaboration or just words?
To the Editor,
In 1988, my husband and I bought a beautiful upside-down house on a hill, brand new, and one of three that Jeff Phillips and Tom Neumeyer built in the Pheasant Trail area off Lakeside that overlooked Fresh Pond on one side and the ocean and New Harbor and Old Harbor on the other sides. It was our piece of paradise and in it we found it quiet, serenity and our safe place, a place to get away from the craziness of everyday life. We never rented because we looked at this house as truly another home. In those days, we would go more during off-season because we sailed in the summer and not always to Block though that was our first visit in the 70s, by our sailboat. We loved going off-season with lots of books to read and our two Siberian huskies and when we walked them, everyone would wave because they knew that at that time of year, and being with our dogs, we must have been cottagers.
In those days, we would go to Ballard’s for the wonderful large and inexpensive lobster dinner, always going early with our young children before the bar crowd would be coming in and things would get a bit more rowdy. But we were there sometimes in-season. Any place that had a bar was pretty lively, not always a bad thing, but as the years went on, it became more and more of a problem. In 2014, illness reared its ugly head and we had to put our house and boat up for sale and give up our private mooring.
So it has been quite awhile since we have had our place of safe haven but I still continue to subscribe to The Block Island Times and our daughter and her family have their own home on Block Island now. Even though I am not physically there anymore, my heart is there and my love of that very special place remains.
I have been following the meetings about the problems within the island and read all of the articles about this, especially about the underage drinking but also the amount that people seem to be drinking at all ages. And I have read about the drinking problems especially at Ballard’s. To hear what Steve Fillipi said about cooperating however he could to keep things under control with the problems in general about drinking, and then speaking out of the other side of his mouth by setting set up a scenario that was the result of hundreds and hundreds of people coming to Ballard’s on Victory Day and causing violence that made Ballard’s close down earlier than they advertised. And for the ferry organization to have to put on extra ferries to get these people all off the island is unbelievable. My understanding is that at other times things like this have happened there, but maybe not to this degree. People and the authorities were all in danger.
The Filippis may feel that I have no right to comment on a place where I no longer have a home but if anyone feels this way, they are wrong. When you love a place, have respected it from the mid-70s when you first experienced, it, owned a home for 27 years and your heart remains there, then I think I do have a right to speak. I feel that everyone deserves to earn a living but it is not always appropriate how people choose to do this. The Ballard’s owners should feel shame. Most likely they don’t. To think that the island is called a party island is not the image that I believe the islanders and the cottagers and all the sane people who visit for a day or a week, etc. would want.
I am not calling out just one establishment in general, but I don’t understand why the authorities can’t do something about this. On Victory Day, I am calling out one place. All that jumps out at me is how many articles talk and talk about looking into things, making suggestions, but what is actually happening other than all these discussions? Where are the actions that should follow?
I will end with a quote from Ballard’s - “We take pride in being a member of the Block Island community and the safety of both our guests and neighbors is paramount. We will continue to collaborate with the town and our fellow islanders while we proudly serve our valued patrons.” Just words!!! If any of this was true, Ballard’s would not have advertised, off-island, what they were offering that day. You are not the only guilty ones but your behavior as a town business is egregious and that you being allowed to continue for now is equally egregious. Give us back the real island paradise that I fell in love with and don’t allow money to be the bottom line as it usually is.
Carol L. Sachs
(Still and always will feel being a part of Block Island)