Funding for broadband project gets the green light

Thu, 09/10/2020 - 6:15pm
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The Town Council has unanimously approved the issuance of an $8 million bond for the long-awaited island-wide broadband network.

“[This project was] a combination of months and years of hard work on the part of many people in town, to get this through and done,” said First Warden Ken Lacoste. “We said this before — we commend everyone who has worked on this. We look forward to it and this is one step towards that goal.”

Lacoste said the council had received the resolution concerning the funding from Town Finance Director Amy Land, who was also a key player in the broadband project.

“We are excited to bring this to the market,” said Land.

Lacoste made a motion “to sign a resolution of the Town of New Shoreham approving the issuance of bonds and/or notes in an amount not to exceed $8,000,000 for financing, engineering, construction, equipping, deployment and initial operation of a municipal broadband network for Block Island.”

The motion was seconded by Councilor Chris Willi. The council voted 4-0. Second Warden André Boudreau was absent.

Town Manager updates

New Town Manager Maryanne Crawford joined the meeting to give her first update. Crawford joined the Town of New Shoreham on Monday, Aug. 24, succeeding Interim Town Manager Jim Kern.

“In the past two and a half weeks, I have met with numerous people, and other meetings will be scheduled. For major construction projects, what I hope to do once a month is to provide a simple update as to where those projects are, to keep the council informed,” began Crawford.

Crawford listed the following ongoing public works projects: the Island Free Library window replacement project, which is in “the first phase of a two phase project and work is anticipated to start” on Thursday, Sept. 10; the National Grid project to rebury sections of cable at Fred Benson Town Beach is slated to begin Tuesday, Sept. 15; Mansion Beach restrooms, “we anticipate getting a quote in two to four weeks, and the project could be done before the winter.” There is also a $75,000 capital budget project for the Fire Department’s front garage. “A structural engineer will take a look at that,” Crawford said. An apaplication to the CRMC has been filed for the Andy’s Way beach project. “Once we get that permit, we will move forward,” said Crawford. The Heinz field drainage project is “a small drainage project, and an engineer will be coming out for elevations.” As for the landfill revetment project, Crawford said “that project is essentially done, we are waiting on some more materials to thicken the cap in certain areas. The fence and everything [else] on that project is done,” summarized Crawford.

Crawford noted the Fred Benson Town Beach restrooms “will be open this weekend,” but then will be closed during the reburying of the cables just off shore.

Update on administrative projects

Crawford continued into her updates for the council, addressing administrative projects.

“I am currently working with [Building Official] Marc Tillson. He has decided he will retire at the end of November. I will look to see how we will organize that position… I am also working on reviewing the current fire inspector and deputy fire marshal. [With the] ongoing moped [discussion], I have met with the Chief [Vin Carlone] and looked through a lot of the information,” said Crawford. “The chief and I have some ideas in the coming weeks as it relates to next summer. I have asked the chief to provide us for the next meeting statistical information that relates to citations that were issued by the State Police, to begin to wrap our brains around the numbers as it relates to statistical information.”

Crawford also said she “met with the doctor [Tom Warcup], he has advised me he may have the best data and information as it relates to medical information with mopeds. He said he will do some data mining in the coming months. For the last area, the IT, I met with [IT Specialist] Michele Spero and received an update as it relates to IT town-wide. Michele and I decided to meet on a weekly basis for prioritizations and to address IT concerns and issues,” said Crawford.

Announcements on Boards, Committees and Commissions

Lacoste made an announcement that he had received a letter of resignation from Zoning Board Chair Elizabeth Connor, and made a motion to accept her resignation.

Willi noted the length of time Connor had served on the Zoning Board is “noteworthy,” with Lacoste adding “a lot of time and commitment, a great service to the community.”

Lacoste made an announcement of Senior Advisory Committee member Sandra Hopf resigning from the SAC board, opening up a seat on that board.

The notice had not been placed on the agenda, but Lacoste announced that the council had received a letter of resignation from Vice Chair Vin McAloon from the Commission on Motor Vehicles for Hire, with the board “looking for someone to fill that position.”

Lacoste concluded that the Board of Assessment has an open position, and there is also a vacancy on the Recreation Board.

The Town Council will be meeting next Wednesday, Sept. 16 for continued discussions.