Featured Letter

Thu, 05/03/2018 - 10:00pm

To the Editor:

It has been almost four years since I first brought attention to the Town Council concerning the old Old Town Road culvert. It was a few years before that that Merrill Slate took me to the site on the north side of the culvert saying, “go on down in there, crawl if you have to, and see for yourself what I’m talking about.” He continued, “Doc, don’t let them destroy this, it’s a keepsake of old Block Island.”

I did go reluctantly, on my hands and knees through water and weeds and flashed my camera to behold this magnificent structure. When the road began to crumble a few years ago I again went to the Council to implore in earnest, Merrill’s words, “Save the culvert” as they planned on repairing the road. I have brought the pictures there over and over again, finally getting some help from Martha Ball with older pictures dating back to mid- to late-1800s of the culvert. Finally, it was decided to save the old bricklayer’s work of art. 

I was going to wait until the project was finished but seeing what an astounding job the Lynch Construction Company was doing I couldn’t wait. The public needs to see how the culvert was being preserved in process as if it was a fine painting of antiquity being restored by professionals. Meticulous work is being done by bricklayers duplicating a process started over 150 years ago and now being restored to allow a road to continue over it. The culvert had to be extended to allow for widening of the road. That’s multiple layers of brick and mortar placed the old fashion way. The end result will be a structure preserved for posterity that all will be able to see without climbing through weeds as it pours its water down the only babbling brook on Block Island. 

An added bit of gratitude also goes to Lynch for painstakingly adhering to all ecological concerns about the Mill Pond during this process. The water level of the pond never dropped more than three inches as three huge diesel pumps (only one was needed but the others stood standby) kept the water bypassing the culvert as it was restored and repaired. Not a fish, turtle (and there are some very large snappers in there), or frog was caught in the mesh filtering the stream to the pumps.

It’s a tribute to the wishes of Merrill Slate, who lived next to it for 60 years and was born in his family home just around the corner 88 years before. The finished product will be a salutation to another historic preservation for Block Island and a resounding tribute to The Lynch Construction Company for their efforts that have gone beyond the ordinary.

John Willis

Beacon Hill Farm