Master plan needed for long-term housing needs

Thu, 11/30/2017 - 7:30pm

The idea of adding two dwelling units to the design plan for the Fred Benson Beach Pavilion is a good one, and, given the island’s current housing crunch, more than a symbolic gesture even if the units will only house three people. The “No lifeguard on duty” sign has become all too familiar by the middle of August, and these units may entice some seasonal workers who can stay on closer to Labor Day than in years past. We’ll see.

The Harbor Church is also at the beginning stages of adding units to its building, and hopefully some time in 2018 the five homes at the Cherry Hill Lane affordable housing subdivision will be completed. These proposed units will certainly help solve the problem, particularly in light of the fact that new proposals — such as high speed internet — are designed to make island life more attractive. More appeal could mean more people. 

It seems as though this is an opportune time for the town to take inventory of the property it owns — such as the always-empty two apartment building known as the Thomas Property located across from the school — to see what can be used as housing (and also to see what it may not need any longer so it can be sold). If Block Island continues to grow, it will have real world ramifications: more teachers, more police, more town employees, more residents, all of whom will need to live somewhere.

The time to begin shaping a long-term housing solution is now.