Carlo Pisaturo, a former City Council member and recently appointed member of the Warwick Sewer Authority, said last week he intended no disrespect to Native Americans when commenting on repeated delays of Bayside sewers that have been promised for the past 25 years.
Pisaturo said Saturday he attempted contacting Narragansett Chief Sachem Anthony Dean Stanton by telephone without success and finally sent him an email on Aug. 14.
“Yesterday I made some comments and after a great deal of reflection, I deeply regret my inappropriate comments. They were disrespectful and hurtful to Native Americans. They were also disrespectful to all who respect and promote diversity and an appreciation of our culture,” Pisaturo writes. He goes on to say that the incident has taught him “that you are never too old to learn.” He said he received a number of calls from Native Americans inviting him to at powwow at Foxwoods this month.
Comprised of Riverview, Longmeadow, Highland Beach and Bayside, the Bayside sewer project would make sewers accessible to 937 property owners. Pisaturo was a councilman representing area when he proposed a $180 million bond in 1992 aimed at completing the extension of city sewers, including those to Bayside. The bond gained voter approval, but Bayside was left by the wayside.
Such has been the case for years largely due to the rich history of the area, where Indians camped, hunted and fished. A survey of the area, which included digging pits in Tidewater Drive where a main sewer interceptor would run, found evidence of Indian activity as well as archeological features deemed as “sacred sites.”
As a means of leaving those sites undisturbed, the authority has plans to install the sewer system with the use of directional drilling in place of the conventional open cut method. This would leave the sites undisturbed and require a low-pressure system with homeowners using grinder pumps.
Citing cost and the long wait for sewers – and the fact that water and gas lines run down Tidewater – Pisaturo suggested the authority move ahead with conventional construction without regard to the area’s history. He said the time for “Pocahontas and Tonto” is over. The terms used to describe the Indians prompted rebukes from Mayor Joseph Solomon, members of the authority and the public.
Pisaturo said he still doesn’t like a system requiring homeowners to have pumps.
“I guess we’re going to have to live with it,” he said.
He said he apologized to Solomon for his remarks and also mentioned grants and low-interest loans as means of reducing costs to homeowners who will pay for the system through their assessments. He suggested WSA hold a meeting of the 937 property owners affected at which the proposed system and options would be outlined.
“I’ve got so many calls saying they don’t want the sewers. They can’t afford it,” he said.
Approved septic systems, as Mark West of Longmeadow Drive will attest, can cost $30,000.
Solomon has refrained from endorsing the Bayside directional drilling project until he has a more accurate fix on its cost and what it would mean to the homeowner. Depending on the extent to which connections are made – the authority could include home connection costs as part of the assessment as opposed to leaving that to the homeowner – current project cost estimates range from $23 million to $27 million.
A more precise estimate would become available once the project is bid. That is expected to happen in the spring or early summer of next year.