Kern to recommend interim harbormaster

Thu, 01/23/2020 - 6:30pm
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Town Manager Jim Kern will recommend that Kate McConville, currently the Harbors Department’s Administrative assistant, become interim Harbormaster when Steve Land leaves that position in mid-February.

Kern made this initial recommendation at the Town Council’s meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 15.

“The charter calls for there to be a harbormaster at the point that Mr. Land is no longer the harbormaster,” said Kern. Land is leaving the post on Feb. 14. “The person I think should be appointed has been off-island for a couple of weeks. My recommendation is to appoint Kate McConville as the interim harbormaster at the point Mr. Land leaves the position.”

The specific recommendation to name McConville as Land’s successor was not on the agenda, so First Warden Ken Lacoste asked if Kern wanted this placed on the agenda for the next meeting. Kern said he did.

Councilor Chris Willi recommended that the job be “posted internally and externally” — meaning to both town employees and the general population. Kern said doing both “defeats the purpose of having the internal notice” only, but said he would check with the town employee’s union about the whether the job could be posted for both audiences.

Councilor Sven Risom said “I agree very much with your recommendation,” and that work to fill the position should “move ahead as quickly as possible.”

Acting on the recommendation of the Deer Task Force, the council approved hunting at Beane Point for a total of 25 days in January and February. The days hunting will be allowed are Jan. 27 – Jan. 31; and Feb. 3 – 7, Feb. 10 – 14, Feb. 18 – 21.

Hunting rules for the property include: hunters checking in at the Police Station before they hunt and when they are done for the day; no carcasses or entrails left on the premises; all state hunting rules be adhered to; all hunters have a letter of permission from the town, as the landowner (forms are available at the Town Clerk’s office); and all hunters must wear 500 square inches of orange during shotgun season.

Resident Dora Burak, representing the DTF, said opening up the lot “is in keeping with the rest of the hunting season on the island. It’s in keeping with the idea of reducing the herd.”

“Do we have enough hunters?” asked Councilor Martha Ball.

When she hesitated, Lacoste said “It’s okay to say no.”

“Probably not,” said Burak.

The council also supported a recommendation from the Motor Vehicle For Hire Commission to send a letter to the state legislature that the town is not in need of a jitney service in order to reduce vehicle traffic during the summer. A jitney service would make specific runs for multiple fares, such as going from Old Harbor to New Harbor.

Cab owner and driver Judy Clark said that the jitney service would not reduce vehicular traffic, but rather add to it. Her recommendation was to allow cab owners to take more than one fare at a time if they were going to the same destination.

“Are you not allowed to do that now?” asked Second Warden André Boudreau.

Deputy Town Clerk Millie McGinnes said that she did not think there was anything in the town’s ordinances that prevented a cab from picking up multiple fares.

Another recommendation from the MVFH was that cabs should be on the road for roughly six out of seven days each week, which prompted resident David Lewis to ask, “What is the enforcement mechanism for that?”

Clark explained that an incident must be reported in a written complaint and submitted to the MVFH Commission. The complaint must also include witnesses to the incident.

Block Island Chamber of Commerce President Cindy Lasser said to the council, “We had a really good summer this year with the taxis. We have had some complaints in the past, but this year we didn’t have one.” (The Council approved sending a resolution to the state Legislature opposing ride share services.)

The council also reduced the number of members to the Harbors Committee, which has had some difficulty in reaching a quorum.

“Should we reduce the size of the Harbors Committee from seven to five?” asked Lacoste.

When Harbors Chair Denny Heinz, who was in attendance, was asked what he recommended, he replied, “I think I would reduce it.”

Councilor Ball said she felt the entire Committee should come back with a recommendation, but Willi suggested that the reduction be made immediately.

The vote to reduce the number of members on the Harbors Committee was approved 3-2, with Risom and Ball casting nay votes.