Council, Roberge to set goals

Fri, 01/05/2018 - 11:30am
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The town’s priorities will be the first order of business for the New Shoreham Town Council as it welcomes Town Manager Edward Roberge to office.

Roberge, who was hired by the town on Sept. 25, will begin as Town Manager on Monday, Jan. 8.

The Town Council will meet at a work session for the first time on Wednesday, Jan. 10 at 4 p.m.

Lacoste said he thought “it should be obvious that this year’s priorities for the Council and Town Manager will include completion of major projects,” such as the West Beach revetment, repairs to Old Town Road, and the Mill Pond Bridge, continued renovations of the Fred Benson Beach Pavilion, broadband development and funding, affordable housing, New Harbor issues, including facilities and access improvements, and the sale of the Block Island Power Company’s assets to the Utility District.

“I am as excited as everyone else is to finally have the new Town Manager in place,” said Lacoste.

Councilor Martha Ball said, “It is my anticipation Ed Roberge will spend the first weeks he is here learning about the operations of this place, what is in process, what needs to be done, what works, etc.” 

“It has been the role of the Town Council to meet as a body with the Town Manager and set priorities,’ said Ball. “It is not about what I want; it is about what we need, and there is no place for a personal agenda in good governance.” 

Second Warden André Boudreau said, “We will be discussing priorities at our work session on Jan. 10. This was one of the first things I had asked as a new Councilor last year. What are the community's priorities, and what does the community want me to focus on as a Councilor.”

“I don't see my job as concentrating on my issues, rather what’s best for all of us,” noted Boudreau. “I’m hoping for a large turnout at our work session. I can say that housing for year-round workers is a high priority, and the resolution of the empty/illegally rented houses at the West Side 20 are high on the list. We were supposed to receive an update on that situation from the Block Island Economic Development Foundation in early December. To date, we have heard nothing. I will be requesting that our Town Solicitor get involved for a speedy resolution so we can move on.” 

Boudreau said he “would encourage anyone in the community to stop by the Town Manager’s office, and say hello, and give him your thoughts. We will be working very closely with Ed to forge a future of inclusiveness to all residents and listen to their concerns. It’s truly an exciting time to be able to shape the future.” 

Councilor Sven Risom said, “We are looking forward to the new Town Manager joining us next week. I have been very impressed with how the ship has run over the past year since the interim Town Manager has held the reigns. Credit goes to all the town employees for making this work.” 

“But now it is time to begin digging in and managing the town toward the future,” said Risom. “While I look forward to the full Council working with the Town Manager to establish priorities and milestones, I have identified five top opportunities that I look forward to working on with the new Town Manager:”

Reinforcing and strengthening the island community — making sure the new Town Manager gets connected and immersed into the town and island to understand our uniqueness.

Ensuring the town's capital (buildings, etc) are maintained and supported and plans are in place for optimal use and development.

Getting the West Beach revetment project underway and completed.

Establishing a plan to address the town's seasonal and year round housing needs.

Developing and implementing high-speed internet (broadband) capability island-wide.

“There are many other topics we can hit on, but I think these are pretty critical,” said Risom.

Councilor Chris Willi said, “As for priorities, you can take a look at the agendas for the last two years and add it up. Top of the list is town infrastructure, broadband, housing, and overall town managing. Everything is a priority.” 

As for Roberge, he told The Times he was “quite excited to join the Block Island community next week. I have been following a number of priorities over the past month and I expect to be quite busy immediately upon my arrival.” 

“I will work closely with the Town Council to assess priorities and policies on a number of initiatives,” said Roberge. “I’ll hold comment on details until I can get a better assessment with Council and staff.”

The public can meet Roberge at a special meet and greet event that will be hosted by the Town Council at The Barn at The Spring House on Monday, Jan. 8 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.