Police Chief Moynihan stuns with sudden resignation
Block Island was a bit stunned to learn that Police Chief Matthew Moynihan resigned on Tuesday, May 24. Some who work at Town Hall told The Times they only started hearing “rumors” about it that same day, and Town Manager Maryanne Crawford said she received his resignation at 12:30 p.m. and had not had any prior conversations with him about it.
Moynihan will become chief of police in South Kingstown, replacing Joel Ewing-Chow who retired in April. He was hired by James Manni who recently stepped down as head of the Rhode Island State Police to become town manager in South Kingstown.
Moynihan will start his new job on June 26, and his last day as chief on Block Island will be June 24.
Crawford told The Times the process of finding a new chief of police will entail advertising for the position, getting resumes and conducting interviews, and that according to the town charter, the chief of polices “shall be employed by the Town Manager with the advice and consent of the Town Council.”
Some news outlets tied Moynihan’s decision to the fact that the New Shoreham Town Council declined to fund a state police detail for summer weekends this year.
The council’s decision came on Wednesday, May 18 with a four-to-one vote to not fund the $45,000 needed to pay for the state troopers. Block Island has never had to pay before and four town council members stuck to their guns, insisting that since Block Island is a Rhode Island municipality with state roads, coverage should come at no cost to the town, as occurs throughout most of the rest of Rhode Island. They also pointed out that given the huge state budget surplus of almost $900 million, there should be plenty of money in state coffers.
Resident David Lewis did point out to the council though that only the state police know their own budget constraints, just as the town council knows its own.
First Warden Andre Boudreau was the holdout, willing to allocate the money in the name of safety.
Dr. Warcup calls in on covid surge
Block Island Health Services Medical Director Dr. Thomas Warcup called into the meeting on May 18 during the public comment portion to warn the council of the most recent outbreak of covid cases. The State of Rhode Island has seen a dramatic increase and “as of today, we’ve quadrupled in the past six weeks,” said Warcup.
As for Block Island, he said they had had “eight positives in the past 48 hours, plus a number of cases reported at the school.”
He recommended that the word bespread and that large gatherings be held outdoors and people wear face masks in indoor public spaces. He also reminded people that if they test positive for the virus, they should quarantine for 10 days.
“I haven’t felt this way over the past six weeks, but this week it feels like there has been a big surge,” added Warcup.
Members of the council urged Warcup to reach out to the community to spread the message, and he agreed.
“I know this is not the message that we wanted to hear at this point,” said Warcup.
DEM fixing stairs at Mohegan Bluffs
The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management announced in a press release on May 19 that the parking lot and stairs at Mohegan Bluffs would be closed for “critical repairs” as of Monday May 23.
Cranston-based Sole Source Construction was tapped to perform the work, which appears to involve replacing or repairing worn rails and treads as opposed to structural work.
Crawford told The Times that the stairs would be open for Memorial Day weekend, with work resuming on Tuesday, May 31 if it had not been completed by Friday, May 27.
The new boardwalk at Andy’s Way should be complete by Memorial Day weekend. As of Sunday, contractors estimated they had “a week to go.” The new boardwalk will make for a safer walking experience as the area is prone to erosion and rutting. The width was designed with the transport of small watercraft (kayaks and small sailboats) in mind.