Town Council cuts the number of mopeds

Entertainment licenses to be reinstated
Thu, 08/20/2020 - 2:00pm

After about an hour and a half of a discussion on a wide range of options about how to modify moped rentals, the Town Council approved a motion by Second Warden André Boudreau to reduce the amount of mopeds rented by each moped operator from “34 down to 25 mopeds, effective immediately.” In other action, the council reinstated outdoor entertainment licenses.

The vote was 3-1, with First Warden Ken Lacoste, Boudreau and Councilor Martha Ball supporting the motion. Councilor Sven Risom voted against the motion. Councilor Chris Willi recused himself because he is a tenant of moped operator Mike Finnimore.

There are five moped operators on Block Island. With each operator allowed 34 moped rentals each day, the motion reduces the number of mopeds on the road each day by 45.

Risom, who had been pushing for a reduction in the hours of operation of moped rentals throughout the meeting, then made a second motion “to reduce the hours of return time for mopeds from 8 p.m. to 5 p.m.” for same day rentals. The motion was passed 4-0, with Willi recused on this motion as well.

After Risom made an earlier effort to reduce the hours, Boudreau pushed back,, stating he felt the council “can do a lot more.”

First Warden Ken Lacoste proceeded to read a letter listing offers sent from moped operator John Leone to the council. The letter shared his ideas in targeting adjustments in moped operations and regulating public safety including: the offer of funding a private ambulance, moped operation to cease operation at 7 p.m., moped operators to continue to fund security guards to stop mopeds from going up High Street, for moped operations to institute a wristband to authorized drivers, to eliminate the 4 to 6 p.m. special pricing, to work with the town to reinstitute the Moped and Bike Safety Commission, and for the town to enact an ordinance for all riders to wear helmets for bikes and mopeds.

Boudreau announced a separate letter had been submitted to the council from island resident Sarah Bacon, who created the coalition #RespectBI. She is also leading an upcoming community dialogue surrounding moped operations on Thursday, Aug. 20.

The letter from Bacon listed measures including raising the minimum renter age to 25, pull operator licenses for violating the town’s agreement with moped operators by using two properties to rent, moped drivers to wear bracelets and cannot be served alcohol, enforce the rule that all rental mopeds to display stickers on a dirt road ban fine and excessive beeping fine, and per two suggestions from Leone in requiring helmets for all private moped owners, and to cancel moped rate specials from 4 to 6 p.m. immediately.

Rescue Squad Capt. Tracy Fredericks also wanted to include “reducing the number of people on a moped to one person.”

Dr. Tom Warcup of the Medical Center informed the council that there have been a total of 55 moped accidents on Block Island since the beginning of the summer, with 11 of those cases flown off to trauma centers due to the extent of their injuries.

Warcup also noted that he asks many of the accident victims on how their training went with the moped operations.

“Today was a legal professional and he basically said it wasn’t much of a training, and maybe there’s some exploration on what are the safety guidelines that are being trained on to see if we can improve that” and possibly any other mechanisms, said Warcup.

“That says to me – untrained people out on the roads,” said Boudreau.

Councilor Martha Ball stressed the fact that individuals should not be riding a moped if they do not have experience prior.

“We should not be talking about training. People should not be trained to run a moped. If you can ride a moped, they should be able to rent. You cannot train someone to ride a moped on unfamiliar roads and land,” said Ball.

Boudreau concluded the conversation surrounding the moped operations, stating the motions made tonight were for “the safety of my community.”

“I want everyone to know these decisions are not made with malice… I’m just looking out for the safety of my community,” said Boudreau.

Outdoor entertainment licenses to be reinstated

When the council returned back to open session, Lacoste made an announcement that a “vote was made in closed session with 4-0, and the vote was made to direct the Town Solicitor to accept the settlement proposal that outdoor entertainment licenses be reinstated with limitations that the outdoor entertainment can only start at 5 p.m. and run to 9 p.m., and be limited to two performers for the venue.” Willi was recused from the motion because he holds an entertainment license.

A restraining order had been filed by four island business owners challenging the recent vote by the Town Council to pull all outdoor entertainment licenses, which a Superior Court judge later denied.