Dear Councilmembers Gendron, Sierra, Murray, Cournoyer, Brien, Fagnant and Beauchamp,
I know that on Tuesday, January 10th, the Woonsocket City Council is scheduled to vote on whether to sell Woonsocket water to Invenergy to operate their power plant in Burrillville. Although I’m from Providence, I attended the public hearing on January 6th, and heard many people from Woonsocket speak, mostly against the deal.
The comments that struck me most sharply were the ones about being good neighbors: about Woonsocket being a good neighbor to the many people in Burrillville who have declared that they don’t want this power plant in their town, and to the other towns that have joined Burrillville in opposing the plant. About Woonsocket standing with Burrillville, one town supporting another, in the hopes that in your time of need Burrillville will stand with you; about the ways that with this support, Burrillville could then turn around and support Woonsocket by participating in your city’s economy.
I came from Providence to try to be a good neighbor, to support the Woonsocket and Burrillville residents who don’t want this health-endangering and environmentally disruptive power plant to be part of their homes—people who recognize that its long-term costs outweigh its short-term benefits. I was struck by Woonsocket residents’ other reasons for objecting to the plant as well: their fears for their health, their resentment that Woonsocket is the “dumping ground of Rhode Island”, the desire to protect the air and water and woods, their concern that Invenergy would not keep to the original terms of its deal, or that they’re being disingenuous about the amount of water the plant needs to run safely; their concerns about committing potable water to this usage, especially in light of the drought conditions that are predicted to become more common in the Northeast in the next few years.
But when Leslie Mayer said, “You have the opportunity to be heroes” to the people of your city and your future—to make the right, the neighborly choice—that rang true to me. If the people and towns of Rhode Island are able to collaborate with one another, to work together, to have each other’s backs rather than competing with each other or treating each other as enemies, our chances of surviving and thriving are better when conditions are difficult.
Please be a good neighbor to Burrillville.
Please be a good neighbor to the other cities and towns of Rhode Island.
Please be a good neighbor to the water that the people of your city drink and bathe in.
Please be a good neighbor to the trees and plants that filter the air all Rhode Islanders breathe, and to the air itself.
Please be a good neighbor to your fellow Woonsocket residents, who have given so many reasons why they don’t want the city to agree to this deal.
Please reject Invenergy’s proposal.
I just sent that letter, as an email, to the people on the Woonsocket City Council. Except that for about five of them, before I caught it, instead of writing “Please be a good neighbor to the other cities and towns of Rhode Island” I wrote “…cities and towns of Providence.”
Typos happen. But this typo is particularly unfortunate, because I’m writing about cities and towns working together throughout the state, keeping each other in mind, not being at odds. And I typed the name of my own city instead of the name of the entire state.
I hope it won’t invalidate my investment in this question; I don’t think it would make anyone change their minds, that mistake. But it’s careless, and chauvinistic, and I apologize for it, and will try to learn from what it has to show me about paying attention.
Still, please, help prevent Invenergy from building this power plant, because it’s bad for everyone–even the people who work for Invenergy, in the long run.
You can write to the members of the Woonsocket City Council (via a form) here.