Letter: What would Ben Franklin do on Glen?

Letter: What would Ben Franklin do on Glen?


To the editor:

Can we make decisions for future generations? That simple question was the central theme of the heated discussion at the June 10 Portsmouth Town Council meeting. Thank god that individuals in the United States have made decisions and preserved open space for us and future generations. I can understand the hesitancy that the council has in deciding this issue, but it is not the council’s decision to make. We cannot foresee the future and predict what the future will bring.

What we can do is plan and make the best possible decisions today for ourselves and future generations. I stated in the meeting that if given the opportunity, I would gladly vote to burden my children and grandchildren with 127 acres of preserved land free from any discussion or chance of development. My only regret would be that the initial $1.5 million would be used only for this generation.

I learned last year about Benjamin Franklin’s unique will. In 1789 he bequeathed $4,400 each to the cities of Boston and Philadelphia. The cities were allowed to utilize interest on the funds for 200 years. By 1990 the Boston fund had grown to over $5 million, which was used to fund the Franklin Institute of Boston.

If Portsmouth residents decide to take the Aquidneck Land Trust offer of $1.5 million, we can take half of the amount, $750,000 and place it in trust for future generations. Using a simple 3 percent compound interest, the town would earn $262,394 dollars in 10 years. Let each council take 50 percent of the interest earnings at 10-year intervals. With this formula, the town would have $466,000 of combined distributions in 30 years and $929,000 of combined distributions in 50 years, with a balance in trust of $1,679,000. Don’t we wish that the council from 50 years ago was provided with this same opportunity that the Land Trust is offering?

Our decision is simple, do we want to encumber future generations with open space and a trust fund? Or allow future councils or generations the opportunity to destroy what this and previous generations have worked so hard to obtain.

Craig L. Clark