While the race for Governor and some other offices has dominated our attention, Rhode Island voters will also get to vote on Question 3, the $47.3 million “green economy and clean water” bond which the legislature has submitted to the people.

$18 million of that total is in the “green economy” section. Its to be used in a variety of ways including restoring “brownfields” – contaminated sites that if cleaned up can be safely redeveloped. Other sections involve preserving farmland now especially important as consumers seek fresh locally grown food, helping cities and towns to develop recreational facilities and protect open space, and to extend and enhance the state’s bikeways.

The $29.3 million “clean water” aspect of the bond includes stormwater control, drinking water protection, improving access to our coastline, and projects to reduce or eliminate flooding along the coast as well as in some inland areas, so important in face of stronger storms and rising sea levels. Also to reduce the risk of flooding there would be funding for repairing or removing state owned dams. And new this time is a program to dredge the Providence River to repair and restore safe access to this river and enhance navigation and water quality.

All this should help both our economy and environment. The environment benefits from cleaner beaches and waters, from the preservation of special natural areas, from promoting truly non-polluting transportation choices, and from removal and disposal of contamination. The economy benefits from potential reuse of old industrial sites where existing infrastructure often can be efficiently utilized, from growing the tourist economy, and from the enhanced quality of life that can help attract progressive companies and entrepreneurs to invest here. We’ll never have the cheapest energy or cheapest labor, but we can promote our relatively abundant water resources, natural beauty, access to clean beaches and parks, and an extensive and connected bike path network.

These programs being funded have a long record of accomplishment but they do need new resources, often needed to leverage or match Federal, foundation, or private funds.

While incurring additional debt is a legitimate concern and never to be taken lightly, beware those negative voices that like to denigrate Rhode Island, sneer at public investments to improve the environment and economy, or foolishly say that voting doesn’t matter.

Yes on 3!