Protective guardrails for ELC approved

Fri, 08/31/2018 - 10:00am

The owner of the damaged Early Learning Center building has been granted approvals to install a wooden guardrail that will allow the facility to open on time for the new school year.

A single-car accident in late July closed the facility for safety reasons. Building Official Marc Tillson said he would not authorize the re-opening of the building until the protective guardrails had been installed. There was no such protection installed when the building was approved for construction back in 2002.

The owner of the building, Block Island Economic Development, scrambled over the past few weeks to get approvals for installing the guardrail so the school could open on time.

On Monday, the Historic District Commission voted unanimously (5-0), with Claire McQueeny absent, to approve the application for installing the guardrail on the east and north elevations of the property. The Planning Board followed suit on Tuesday, voting unanimously (6-0) to approve the guardrail. Board member John Spier made the motion that was seconded by Sam Bird. 

“The reason why we want it is for protectability, and also to protect children who are walking on the sidewalk,” said BIED Board President Gerry Pierce at the special Planning Board meeting on Tuesday. Pierce told the board that the HDC approved the guardrail and the plan at its meeting the previous evening.

“We believe it’s necessary,” said Pierce. “As you know we had an accident where a car plowed into the building. This (guardrail) would prevent that. It would stop a car from going into the building.” 

Planning Board member Dennis Heinz said the board approved the project “years ago,” to which Chair Margie Comings said, “No, we didn’t. It was dropped. No vote was taken.”

Heinz was referring to an application for a guardrail for the facility that was submitted by former BIED member Peter Saxon in 2016.

“We sent it to Jim Geremia to make sure that it was acceptable for use,” said Comings. “And nobody from the Early Learning Center ever followed up with it again.” Geremia is the Town Engineer for the Town of New Shoreham.

After some discussion, the Planning Board agreed that BIED’s application would be a minor change to its plan development. Land Use Administrator Jenn Brady told the board that Geremia would conduct an inspection of the work once it is completed.

Board member John Spier stated in his motion that “the application is approved with the determination that it is a minor change with no ramifications requiring further review. Approval is also necessary due to the unique circumstances concerning the health and safety of the building’s occupants.”

The next, and final step for BIED in the process is acquiring a building permit before proceeding with the installation of the guardrail.

Plastic reduction plan

The Planning Board unanimously approved (6-0) its Block Island marine debris and single-use plastics reduction plan policy on Tuesday. The plan will now be sent to the Town Council for review and approval.

The plan’s goals include protecting the island’s scenic coastline, wildlife and marine life from plastic waste and hazardous litter; to lessen public health and environmental impacts associated with single-use plastics; reduce the amount of refuse transported to the mainland and the landfill and their associated costs; increase public awareness around these issues; and be a leader in ending plastic pollution.

The reduction plan policies are noted as supporting a policy of plastic reduction, identifying solutions to reduce waste and a shift toward reusables, and increase recycling rates; curb plastic waste and litter through enactment and enforcement of local regulations; and minimize hardships on local businesses by providing enough lead time between ordinance enactment and enforcement, and ensure appropriate products and feasible solutions are available.