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Preserve Our Monastery

This petition had 2,395 supporters

The Monastery is many things to the residents of Cumberland. It is a place of community, where nature-enthusiasts, dog-lovers, cross country fans and others exchange smiles and conversation. For me and many of my fellow Cumberland residents, the Monastery is a home, a place to collect thoughts, exist in nature and be at peace. So I know I speak for many Cumberland residents when I voice my concerns about the proposed Safety Complex. Building on Monastery grounds would not only be illegal but a grave error.

In order to ensure the permanent preservation of the Monastery, Town officials passed the Conservation Easement and Restrictive Covenant in 2004. This document, signed by Mayor McKee, “a conservation restriction under the laws of the State of Rhode Island” prohibits,

"The placement of construction of any new buildings, structures, or other improvements of any kind including without limitation, camping accommodations or mobile homes, fences, signs, billboards or other advertising material, tennis courts, swimming pools, asphalt driveways, roads, parking lots, utility poles, towers, conduits, or lines or other structures, other than those located thereon."

Today, McKee and other town officials are circumventing the proper legal channels, putting the project to a vote without bothering to overturn the 2004 Conservation Covenant. And although McKee and Town Council President Jim Higgins have made no secret of the fact that the Monastery is the only site under consideration, the bill’s sponsor, Representative Mia Ackerman, refused to disclose the planned location for the Complex!

Town officials portray this project as a vital safety issue, all while concealing the facts from voters. Veteran town official and Monastery champion Jeff Mutter calls this a “time-tested political strategy.” Facts are, once a portion of the land is cleared for a Safety Complex, there is nothing stopping the destruction of the entire Monastery. Mayor McKee’s much-publicized “Town Common” will be next. Once the precedent is set, there is no going back.

This is not only a legal issue. The Monastery is rich with historical significance. It boasts Nine Men’s Misery, the site where nine American colonists were killed by Narragansett Indians in 1676. The monument marking this site is considered by historians to be the oldest veterans’ memorial in the United States. Anyone who has ever walked through the Monastery has noticed much more. The remains of carved granite structures are commonplace, not to mention the beautiful stone wall that surrounds the grounds. These are vital historical artifacts, and they need to be preserved.

            The Monastery is also home to a diverse plant and animal population. I spent my childhood chasing frogs, snakes and turtles at the place my family called the “Frog Pond.” Deer, coyotes, raccoons, opossums, and rabbits all call the Monastery home. With a bit of luck, you can spot rare birds like Baltimore orioles, bluebirds and wrens building their nests or frolicking amongst the trees and fields. Construction around town has forced these animals to seek refuge in the last remaining mass of untouched land. If we tear down even a fraction of the Monastery, we rob these beautiful creatures of their home. They will overrun residential areas and eventually die off.

            Logistical concerns also weaken this plan. As it is, Chapel Four Corners is perhaps the busiest intersection in Cumberland. Traffic is backed up not only at peak hours, but all the hours of the day. Adding a Safety Complex to this area of town would only worsen this problem, not to mention make it more difficult for safety officials to hasten to emergencies. If traffic grows more congested, businesses like Dave’s Marketplace, Pop’s Liquors and Honey Dew will suffer. Additional development of the Monastery will lower property values and make Cumberland a less desirable town to live in.

            While there may be a need for updated safety facilities, town officials need to consider other options. If the plan remains unchanged, town officials have made it clear that a vote for the Safety Complex is a vote for the destruction of the Monastery. Sign our petition and preserve our Monastery.

Today: Alexandra is counting on you

Alexandra Curran needs your help with “Town Officials of Cumberland Rhode Island: Preserve Our Monastery”. Join Alexandra and 2,394 supporters today.