With laughter and tears, Pike resigns

Fri, 11/17/2017 - 9:15am

Saying it was a “very difficult decision,” New Shoreham Second Warden Norris Pike has resigned from his seat on the Town Council. An emotional Pike told the Council at its meeting Wednesday night that it was what “was best for Block Island.”

After reading a tribute honoring Pike, the Town Council voted unanimously to accept the Second Warden’s resignation, which was for health reasons. Pike quipped that he was abstaining from the vote. His resignation is effective Dec. 1. (Councilor Chris Willi was not present.)

Interim Town Manager Shirlyne Gobern began the Council’s tribute, noting that Pike is a “proud descendant of Block Island’s early settlers,” who spent his early years on the island. Gobern said Pike “attended Wentworth Institute in Boston,” where he honed his “skills in design and craftsmanship,” and after graduating, returned to Block Island to start his own construction business.

Councilor André Boudreau said Pike is the “son of a fisherman, and father of two children, raised on the island;” one became a doctor; the other a lawyer. Boudreau said Pike has dedicated his “adult life for the betterment of the community through service on boards and committees; too many to enumerate.”

“And when the seas become rough with tension and discord, Norris has the ability to break the wind – (I mean) stop the wind,” quipped Boudreau, before correcting himself. The comment elicited laughter from the crowd. “And calm the seas with a few well-chosen words of tempering humor.”

Councilor Martha Ball said that Pike fought for the town, served on the Planning Board, and was instrumental in the “infamous moped wars of the 1980s.” Ball said, “Councilor Norris Pike proposed that secession (from the State of Rhode Island) be given consideration when you’re unable to achieve statutory recourse; a remark which catapulted” Block Island into the international spotlight.

Ball also said that Pike was influential in the Block Island Power Company being converted into a utility district, “in concert with construction of the first offshore wind farm in the United States – looking always to the future of this community.”

First Warden Ken Lacoste called Pike a “joiner of wood,” who “brought to the chambers of governance the same understated precision that is needed to make a house able to stand strong and tall against the gale.” Lacoste said Pike served the Town Council by “working through volumes of paperwork with sharp intelligence, dogged determination, occasional bouts of pigheadedness, but always with an abiding love for this place he’s always called home.”

Lacoste ended the tribute with: “Now therefore be it resolved, that we offer thanks to our neighbor, our colleague and our friend, for all he has done.”

“Thank you all,” said Pike.

The Town Council members shared handshakes and hugs with Pike, as the crowd gave him a standing ovation.

The next Town Council meeting is Dec. 4 at 7 p.m.