2018-05-10 / Opinion


Maintaining Neighborhood Integrity

To the Editor:

In an open letter to the Historic District Commission (HDC) and Zoning Board, a grave injustice is playing out on Historic Hill. The HDC and the Zoning Board must revisit and reevaluate their decision to destroy Historic Hill. The groups made this decision despite three vocal protests in the past year from over 30 neighbors working to protect their privacy, and in many cases their only asset. The HDC and Zoning members must reassess their priorities, moral core and the missions of the committees they were appointed to represent. They must stop ignoring their own rules, code regulations and intentions of integrity.

A decade ago the application from the then owners of 81 Prospect Hill Street to build a "small" deck was denied. The deck was built anyway and the owners paid a very small fine for a big deck. A few years later the house was sold and the new owners greatly enlarged that deck and added dormers. The latest owners felled a 100-year-old tree that was shading the deck that once again had been enlarged. Trees are being traded for sunny decks. There are very few trees and shrubs on Historic Hill as it is. We neighbors should have spoken up a decade ago. We were far too polite, too complacent. Well, we're speaking up now.

A year ago the application for a huge deck on a similar location in the middle of the next block at 101-103 Prospect Hill Street, circa 1880, was denied by the HDC. Last October the HDC administrator grossly misrepresented the details of a new application by stating they were for a ground-floor patio. As a ground patio was not a deck and the dimensions slightly smaller than the original application, which had different materials, the administrator had the authority to approve the application without the consent of an HDC hearing on this house.

This latest application was in fact for a glassed-in deck on a third floor Mansard roof circa 1880. Neighbors asked to have this new application returned to the HDC, but it was "too late." The administrator had stamped the application. Staff notes were written five months later to fix the lie. Except for the dissent of one brave man, the Zoning Board just approved a glassed-in deck in the heart of Historic Hill on a circa 1880 house, thus continuing the precedent to defy the historic integrity of Historic Hill.

Shame on you Historic District Commission and the Zoning Board. You can still make it right. Admit that a grave mistake was made and save faith. Save Historic Hill by rescinding the application for a glassed-in deck at historic 101- 103 Prospect Hill Street. Otherwise the people you are supposed to be representing will be gravely disappointed by your lack of moral core.

Didi Lorillard

Wooden Bat League Still Thriving

To the Editor,

August 4, 1919…Who would've thought that, nearly a century later, the Sunset League, now the George Donnelly Sunset League, would still be active, and thriving.

Certainly when Dr. Peter Integlia and Arthur Leland set out to start a new baseball league in Newport that fall, no one thought it would last 100 years. After Manager Vietri of the Bijou Theatre threw the ceremonial first pitch, George Tubley of the Orioles toed the rubber and started the Sunset League.

We have faced many obstacles, from financial instability to the potential tearing down of the William H. Warrens-designed and built Basin Field, now Cardines Field, for a parking lot. The league started on two different fields in Newport, one at Wellington Park and the other field at what now call Cardines Field.

Players have come from all over the country to play in the Sunset League. We have had teams from the Army, Navy, and Marines and teams from New Haven, Conn. to New Bedford, Mass. up to Pawtucket and down to Bristol while maintaining a great selection of players from Newport itself.

As the Commissioner of the League, I take great pride in its history and the fact that it is an integral part of the fabric that is this great city of Newport.

I encourage you to come down to Cardines Field this summer to catch some quality amateur, wooden bat baseball in an historic ballpark. Truly nothing beats sitting in the third base stands watching a game as the sun sets over Newport Harbor. You can see what a great place the City by the Sea is, all while watching America’s Pastime.

Chris La Rose
Commissioner GDSL

Did Armory Vote Meet Requirement?

To The Editor,

On April 11, the Newport City Council voted 4 to 3 to sign a letter of intent to sell a portion of the Armory building to the Sailing Hall of Fame despite the objections of numerous taxpayers and citizens and the history of that organization in Annapolis.

Newport’s charter mandates that all public property “…if it be declared surplus…shall be sold at public auction after suitable public notice with a fair market value set as a minimum price and shall be sold to the highest bidder who complies with the conditions of the sale.” A further section however allows five members of the council to vote to waive the above procedure, “…where such waiver is in the best interest of the city and the common good. A statement by the council shall set forth the basis of the best interest of the city and the common good.” The vote to authorize this private sale was adopted by only a 4-to-3 vote, not the requisite five. When did the council meet to approve a private sale authorized by five members and proclaim a statement fulfilling the requirements of the charter provision? And how is the Armory “surplus” when the city occupies one-half of the building for its maritime uses and is collecting rent from the street level commercial portion of the building much greater than the annual tax would be after a proposed sale? The vote to commence the process to approve this sale should be deemed void as violating the Charter provisions.

Debra Vivace

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