Summer 2021 Update

Summer 2021 Update

A message from the President, Joe Loya

We are well into the Summer of ’21 and from a casual observer’s view of Old Harbor on most mornings, things are back to normal!

Now, “normal” may not be an ideal state, but at least here on Block Island, most folks would agree that we have overcome the worst of COVID 19 – thanks in large part to our Fire and Rescue Squad, our Block Island Medical Center, our Emergency Management team and our Town Council — as well as to the many islanders who social distanced, wore masks, and looked out for each other this past year.

Some of the same issues we faced before the pandemic are still with us this summer. They’re still trying to fix the powerline at Benson Beach and broadband internet is still not available. Many folks continue to struggle to find affordable year-round housing. Traffic and congestion are back. The debate over mopeds continues. The pandemic is certainly NOT over. And the list goes on…

But there is good news — and there’s lots of it – Block Island residents, both seasonal and year-round, continue to work together to address these issues and to make changes where and when possible. And as the pandemic begins to recede, we can return to enjoying the quiet beauty of Block Island (that has never gone away) as well as just having some fun with family and friends! We also can renew our efforts to preserve and care for our cherished environment, strengthen our social fabric and continue to care for this island that we love so much.

Membership Update

Our summer membership drive has been mailed to all Block Island PO Box holders to remind you to join BIRA or renew your membership, if you have not already done so. The postcard also gives us an opportunity to highlight the many initiatives BIRA has supported, both on its own and in collaboration with other organizations on the Island.

Community Support

• Affordable Housing
• Helping Hands
• Block Island Rescue
• Lunch Bunch
• International Student Center
• Police Dog Support

Education, Entertainment & the Arts

• Student Grants and Scholarship
• Blues on the Block
• Movies on the Beach

Our Environment

• Dune Restoration
• Deer Reduction
• Ban on Plastic Bags
• Conservation Easements
• Shoreline Access Improvement
• Moped Reform
• Reduction of Traffic and Congestion
• View Shed Preservation

Island Infrastructure

• Broadband Introduction
• Utility District Formation

BIRA Website Updated Featuring Steve Miller’s Photography

We’re pleased to introduce our newly refreshed website, where you can keep up to date on our current activities, learn more about BIRA’s portfolio of support, and of course, renew your membership. This summer, BIRA is also thrilled to be able to feature the work of island photographer, Steve Miller on the pages of our website. Steve has been a full-time Block Island resident since the early 90’s. He is a charter captain, contractor, and took up photography after the pandemic began. The island’s stunning beauty has been the inspiration for a growing body of his work which can be seen at, the Spring Street Gallery and Oddfellows Cafe. Thank you, Steve for sharing your talents and your stunning work with BIRA!

New Advisory Council Shines Spotlight on Important Issues

Based on feedback from our 2021 Survey earlier this year, we have formed a Council of Advisors to work with the Board to engage in a coordinated research effort on two specific topics identified as critically important on the survey and by the Board: (1) affordable housing on BI; and (2) the protection and restoration of BI’s iconic viewsheds. Our plan is to meet with and share our collective findings with the Block Island community (including the Town Council, the Block Island Times, the Block Island Housing Board, the Block Island Economic Development Foundation Inc., The Nature Conservancy, the Block Island Conservancy, the Block Island Land Trust and Scenic Block Island) to underscore the importance of these issues and to facilitate progress in finding solutions to them.

If you are interested in joining our Council of Advisors to work on these issues or others that you believe BIRA should focus on in the future, please let us know by emailing Joe Loya at

Stronger together on Block Island.

Scholarship awarded to Cole McGinnes

BIRA is pleased to award a 2021 scholarship of $500 to Cole McGinnes. Cole has grown up on Block Island, attending the Block Island School from kindergarten through his senior year. He’s been an active athlete, playing soccer, basketball and baseball from 6th grade all the way up until his senior year and was awarded with varsity soccer’s most improved player and varsity basketball’s defensive player of the year award.

Cole finished his senior year with a 3.7 GPA and has been on the honor roll every quarter throughout high school. He’s worked several summer jobs on the island, but the position he values most is his role at the Block Island Harbors Department where he’ll be returning this summer for his fifth summer.

In the fall, he’s heading west and will be attending Colorado State University in Fort Collins, planning a major in business and entrepreneurship. Congratulations Cole and best of luck!

Interested in Joining the BIRA Board of Directors?

The Block Island Residents Association Board of Directors is a 12-member board, elected from the membership of the Association. We currently have two open board member positions. If you are interested in becoming a BIRA Board member, please email us at, outlining your reasons for seeking nomination to the BIRA Board.

SAVE-THE-DATE! Annual Meeting September 12, 2021

We are pleased to announce that our Annual Meeting will be held in person once again, on Sunday afternoon, September 12, 2021. Mark your calendar and plan on attending if you can. We expect to have lots to report on and we are looking forward to awarding the BIRA 2021 Island Treasure Award at the meeting. More details will be available later this summer.

We hope you have found this update to be informative. We encourage you to stay connected and share your thoughts with us on how BIRA can remain a vital organization in the life of Block Island. Our email is: