Monastery ballot question approved

Monastery ballot question approved

Questions raised about legality of breaking conservation easement

CUMBERLAND – Amending the 2004 Town Council resolution and accompanying restrictive conservation easement for the Monastery Grounds may not be as easy as officials have been indicating.

An attorney assisting the Monastery Preservation Alliance told Town Council members Thursday night that the conservation plan was filed according to a state law so robust that tampering with it - even to isolate just 10 acres - wouldn’t survive the legal challenge MPA is prepared to mount.

Nonetheless, Town Council members went ahead with their expected 4 to 3 decision to add a question to the November ballot that will give residents their first ever vote on the future direction of the 525-acre woodland and old monastery complex.

Voters in November will be asked to approve spending up to $12.5 million on a new, combined rescue headquarters and police station.

Then they’ll be asked about putting it on Diamond Hill Road across from the post office, on 10 acres of Monastery land.

Mayoral candidate Manny DaCosta, and Republican councilors Art Lambi and Scott Schmmitt were opposed to the ballot question.

A third question asks approval for $2.5 million for road repairs.

During the course of two meeting nights, councilors devoted more than five hours of debate to this issue, yielding the floor to opposition residents for most of that time.

Alexandra Curran, the powerhouse 22-year-old behind the MPA who has clearly won the admiration of even town officials who oppose her position, filled the Town Council Chamber with T-shirted supporters but couldn’t convince the majority of Cumberland’s lawmakers to back off a ballot vote on the land that’s in her Roland Street backyard.

The new legal information came from Kimberly McCarthy, a member of the Cumberland Public Library’s Board of Trustees who said she was speaking as an individual.

According to the information she distributed to councilors just before Thursday’s meeting, Cumberland’s Monastery is protected by a conservation restriction governed by Chapter 34-39-3(a) and 3(d) of Rhode Island General Laws.

McCarthy argued that since the easement was imposed, the Monastery’s primary conservation purpose as a habitat for various species of animals and plants hasn’t changed therefore the town can’t meet the test of demonstrating that it’s become unsuitable or has ceased to be used for the purposes protected by the restriction.

She told councilors, “I don’t understand why you would ask people for permission to do something not permissible under law.”

Town Solicitor Tom Hefner maintained that Cumberland can go ahead with locating the safety building on Monastery land, but with the permission of the attorney general and court.

In an email to supporters after the meeting, Curran said, "There will doubtlessly be a lot of talk, anger, confusion and disappointment about tonight's Town Council meeting. I want you to know that tonight's events in no way diminished my resolve to fight for the permanent preservation of our Monastery."

NOTE: See the Aug. 7 Valley Breeze for more details on this story.


From my understanding of council president Higgin's remarks is that we the tax payer are actually being asked to allocate 10 acres for MUNICIPAL USE and NOT strictly a police rescue building. By definition municipal use is anything under the town umbrella a new town hall, a new fire station, town administration office of any kind and possibly a new bigger town garage.
This is why I am questioning why if it is supposed to be only for a new police station and rescue would they need ten acres. That does not seem to me much of the total land but it does when you compare apples to apples. The City of Providence safety complex sits on 130,000 square feet which equate to only 2.98 acres so you have to ask what are the other 7 acres?
Chapel four corner can not support anymore increase in traffic and we certainly do not need to relocate all of our municipal buildings on the land.
We will soon be over run with traffic once the manufacturing facility is completed and opened is this the reason to try to push this through so quickly?
I beg everyone to read the exact question before you decide on your vote to turn 10 acres of land over for town use. In general and not specifically for only a rescue/ police building.

The question only asks about a "public safety building." ie. police/rescue.

Higgins said that he would propose that any and all expansion beyond that (say, fire or town hall) would require another public ballot question in the future.

I understand he said he would propose but will that be after we vote yes or will be be written into the stipulation of the allocation of the land. These can have two very different out comes for the tax payers. just because he says he would propose something does not make it law. People change their minds. Apparently From 2004 when he voted to preserve the land until now Mr Mutter''s position or mind has changed.
Nothing if for sure until it is put in writing and made a stipulation of allocating the land.

Apparently nothing is for sure even after it is in writing. Isn't that what they are trying to do? Are they not trying to manipulate us into undoing what was put in writing in 2004? OH yes," let's blame those opposed to building on the Monastery for denying the town a new police station." Why not blame the planners for not coming up with a better, clearer, fully disclosed plan, that we can be sure would not be at the expense of the Monastery.

Also, I would urge voters who haven't already, to take a walk and visit the site. I walk that trail 2 times mostly every day, and I could not help but notice how the site does not appear as close to nine men's misery on the paper satellite maps as it actually is.

Bravo to Manny DaCosta, Art Lambi and Scott Schmmitt, for listening and voting in favor of the will of the people. It's time for a change - vote the rest out, this fall.

Neil your either part of their campaigns or your an idiot! These "public servants' have no leadership skills. They vote with whichever way the perceive the political winds they think are blowing! I have been watching the town council meetings the last few months and their disgusting! Dacosta spent five years on there never saying a word and now he has something to say every meeting. I would also point out that their backers, including former Mayor Iwuc wanted to put a ATV park in the monastery. This is an important election lets not go backwards.

Agreed we can not go backwards but the present path is not a good one either at this point. So now what? Someone needs to step up and be willing to really look at the situation and find an acceptable solution. There is always an answer if you are willing to look at a problem objectively.

My dog suffers less from single-minded obsessiveness than the town leaders who can't seem to stop salivating over the same raw hide (even after it's been locked away in a separate room). McKee went after the Currier-Chace Playground as if it was grade-A kibble, and in the process sent out a pack of lies through the town about the seedy Central Falls types who use the park. I imagine the town's research into who used the park consisted of the town clerk going across the street during her lunch hour on some Tuesday and saying "Hey kids, where ya' from?"

Canines aside, I think the best part of all of this (other than the fact that I've settled on a decision to vote no for both ballot questions) is that we now have new voices involved in our town politics. It's unfortunate that our choice for legislators and leaders is almost always middle-aged/retired men. After hearing the way that Bill Murray rudely said to Alexandra during the Monastery Preservation Alliance "Can I talk?" and then shaking his head during the proceedings as if he was Jabba the Hutt and we just all moseyed into his throne room, and after dealing with other town council members' masculine chest pounding as if the Town Council chambers is some satellite studio for Hollywood, I've become fairly convinced that we need more, diverse voices in our town decision-making processes. Next election season, it would be more fully democratic to have more choice for whose voices we choose to highlight, and we shouldn't be afraid if we don't have political experience (seriously, look at Beth Moura and Jeff Kearns (some of Jeff Kearn's qualifications for public office listed on his website is that he's a Catholic and that he was "self-proprieter" of Jeff Kearns Photography, which I take to mean that he took a picture of a sunset while on vacation and sold it to his buddy). Part of being a public servant is engaging with the public; Alexandra has done just that. Our town council members should take note; if you want to be immersed in the issues affecting town residents then you should have forums where people in your districts can bring up issues. During that time you can explain to them how complicated and slowly the town works for its citizens (I'm thinking here of how quickly that charter school got rammed through the bureaucracy), but still work to help those citizens get the ball rolling.

If you want to call someone derogatory names (which makes you sound rather ignorant, and confrontational ) please, use the correct contraction of you are.

Maybe The Mayor is looking to build another school.


a person who advocates or acts for the protection and preservation of the environment and wildlife.

Dan McKee is full of crap. Curran Park was open space and look what he did to that.

Put the damn thing on Angel Road on town owned property so it is situated between Mendon Road and Diamond Hill.

If the land has too much ledge then blow it up and level it out. If the developers can do it on Rte. 1 in Attleboro across from Stop and Shop then they can do it here as well.

Cumberland will never get a fair opinion from the Attorney General since he and Dan McKee are friends.

Not surprised. Figured he had to have someone on state level in his back pocket.

We both have no idea why there isn't a plan b, if this is voted down (which I hope it will). We also, believe the current station could be renovated, and additional space could be built at the ball field behind Garvin. Also, he informed me that the building across from the police station is for sale, and would also be a solution.

Let's not lose another park (ballfield), please.

If you honestly think about it, it is only used in the spring and summer months . I wouldn't have a problem giving it up, over Monastery land. This would solve many problems and trees!

I was at the council meeting the other night and asked why the building of a "public safety complex" had to be tied to the use of Monastery land and did not receive satisfactory answer. I hate to think cynically but I hope that it is no one's intent to create a backlash so that voters will vote "no" on the question. I sincerely hope that the concerned citizens are not being used to defeat the question. The council is not required to put the question on the ballot, so why are they? Is it to gather public opinion or is it so that later anyone can block the building of the complex by saying that it was put on the ballot and the voters overwhelmingly voted against it? In today's political climate one has to consider all posibilities.

Secretary of State is posting another Town Council meeting for Tuesday. Item on agenda says "Reconsideration of Resolution 14-38A".

Wonder what is going on?

There is a new meeting, at town hall Tuesday August 5, to reconsider taking the Monastery off the ballot. The Mayor originally said he wanted to have the two separate questions because he feared people would vote no or borrowing 12million for the safety complex, if the voters feared it would be at the Monastery. Now, knowing that there is growing opposition to protect the Monastery, he now wants to take it off the ballot. My guess would be, he wants the vote yes for the safety complex without letting voters know where it will be located. Be careful, remember when his town center in the Monastery got voted down, he said we will put it aside "FOR NOW" I think asking voters to borrow money for the complex is way to premature. If the police station is in such bad shape, then maybe he should have been doing his job while he has been the Mayor for the last 12 years, instead of paving his way for higher office.

They keep things going straight, but sometimes that is right passed the answer. Neil...YOU don't care about the baseball field...maybe you forgot that has produced the very LL team representing Cumberland and all of RI. How about that's ok to get them mad...

You can't renovate a dump. It's still a dump...the old station has NO room to build on. The car lot across the street??? try fitting the building on that...oh yeah, also, let's just take away the potential hazardous (Car repair and underground gas tanks) dangers from the current owner...oh yes happens to be an Alves supporter...and give the liability to the isn't that great leadership...

Love how we can just bash someone without thought...McKee may not do things you like, but how can one be full of crap? Oh because he leads the way to save 500 acres across the town, but is in favor when THE TOWN COUNCIL approves the sale of a lot.

Got Logic??? I sat across the room from Mr. Murray...I guess you didn't hear how he was rudely interrupted, now did you, I did. That whole meeting was slanted and they had the right to do that...but between the way they treated him and then the way they acted at the town council meeting shows them to have a very limited's all about them. Not the whole town, nor about respect for others.

Everyone can keep their blinders on to their own little world and forget the rest of the town. Check how many voters there are.

I am happy that McKee is moving to pull the Monestary question from the ballot. I'm also happy that he is following the Charter and convening a building committee of the issue. However, the devil will be in the details. Out of the gate McKee raises the hair on the back of my neck that he believes that this committee would be the equivalent of a town wide vote on this issue. The simple answer is NO! I've seen too often that a committee is formed and appointments are made to stack it with those who have an opinion that predetermine the recommendation to be made....not that any appointing official in this town would ever do that. Appoint the committee...on the up and up...allow them to do their work IN PUBLIC....then go t the voters with multiple options. A majority of five appointed members do not speak for a majority of registered voters,

It was an oversight....the prior comment was submitted by me....

Brian Kelly

My apologies...the quote about the appointed committee being the equivalent of a town wide vote is from a letter fromCouncilor Kearns to McKee....but my sentiment remains the same...the opinion of a majority of five does not replace the vote of a majority of registered voters.

Brian Kelly

Kearns is the absolute worst, and that's a Cumberland fact.

This quote ("This new committee, in my opinion, will serve as an equivalent to a town wide vote to approve or disqualify the Monastery site as a safety complex construction site") gives you a glimpse into how the man's mind works. Also his "request" is necessitated by the town charter, thus it's not a request at all; he acts like he had a lightning flash of an idea while he was staring out his kitchen window. It will be a small tragedy if he runs unopposed again, especially because he doesn't know how awful he truly is. Respect!

If this committee approves the monastery location, then the town will be sued by the Monastery Preservation Alliance and I will happily donate money to sustain that lawsuit. Ka-ching!

I want to make it clear that the Monastery Preservation Alliance will not be "suing" the town if they build on Monastery land. Because, by building on land protected by a Conservation Easement, the town would be breaking state law, the attorney general will take the town to court. Then, when the town loses this lawsuit, the Cumberland taxpayers will be responsible for paying the attorney general's legal fees. The MPA wants to see updated safety facilities, just not on the Monastery.
-Alexandra Curran

See even your own leader has to prove you's people like yiou talking half truths and nonlogic that gives both sides bad light.

BUT Ms. Curran, I thought it was said at the Council meeting that the AG could allow the law to be changed?? seems many are trying to pin that on him being McKee's friend. But Kudos to you and your group.

See even your own leader has to prove you's people like yiou talking half truths and nonlogic that gives both sides bad light.

BUT Ms. Curran, I thought it was said at the Council meeting that the AG could allow the law to be changed?? seems many are trying to pin that on him being McKee's friend. But Kudos to you and your group.

So, I'm wrong; why don't you dance on my grave?

I think we can all agree that the issue has become both a) complex and b) difficult to understand fully and follow if your'e not a lawyer or some old-ish retired dude with time to burn. Truthfully, the MPA is an organization whose only cohesion seems to be T-shirts. The proper information is not coming down the pipe, thus the fact that my overlord had to correct me.

With that said, how do I worship at the altar of CumberlandFacts? You seem to be a much better leader. Lead me out of the forest of half-truths and non-logic and teach me to see with pure objectivity.