Town Council tackles a variety of issues

Thu, 05/28/2020 - 6:30pm
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For every action there is a reaction.

The COVID-19 lockdown put the West Side Road sidewalk project on hold, given that construction crews were severely limited in the number of people who could work at a single job site.

The discontinuation of that project will impact when the Farmer’s Market, which is held once a week at Legion Park during the summer, can re-open for business. There are Jersey barriers stacked along the edge of Legion Way, and on West Side Road barrels and tape have cordoned off the unfinished work site.

Farmer’s Market Coordinator Meg Vitacco spoke on behalf of the Farmer’s Market and the plans for the coming season at the Council meeting on May 20.

“My main question was when the West Side Road construction would be complete – that would have a bearing on our start date. I was hoping on the final Saturday in June, June 27, and I just wanted to know if the sidewalk construction would be complete by then,” asked Vitacco. The sidewalk will extend from the corner of West Side Road and Ocean Avenue all the way to Champlin’s Marina.

“The latest I heard from [Facilities Manager] Sam Bird was that the Cardi Corporation were not going to remobilize until the beginning of June. I don’t anticipate it being completed by June 27. I guess officially it wouldn’t be reasonable to assume they are finished and out of there,” said Interim Town Manager Jim Kern.

“As far as construction goes, will that road be blocked off completely? Would it be feasible to start at all before the construction is complete?” asked Vitacco.

“I don’t know the layout and how people come in. My anticipation of a sidewalk job is that it would be closed off where they are working,” said Kern.

Vitacco suggested the market could temporarily move its Saturday location. “We could look at having it in a different location for the first markets until it’s complete,” she said.

First Warden Ken Lacoste noted the council was limited in what kind of action it could make on the Farmer’s Market reopening. “All is controlled by the state,” Lacoste said. “If you want any specific actions, we would have to come back with this as an actionable agenda item.”

“Farmer markets were listed under critical retail back in March. Basically, critical retail means food. I got the impression that no artists could be involved, it could only be for serving food,” said Second Warden André Boudreau.

Vitacco said two-thirds of the vendors at the market are arts and crafts related, and one-third is food and produce.

“A large portion [of the vendors] are not food or produce related. That’s my struggle to have to say no to people that sell art,” said Vitacco.

Vitacco was asked to get clarification from the Department of Business Regulation for further information on markets during COVID-19, and to consider alternate locations for the market.

Sea Level Rise Committee established

Councilor Sven Risom introduced the idea of creating a sea level rise committee to look at the potential impacts that eventuality will have on the island. There have been some studies — such as one undertaken for Corn Neck Road — and discussions on the topic, but there has not yet been a town-created committee to look into it.

“Basically it’s to have a group that is dedicated towards sea level rise, understand the community’s vulnerabilities, and the potential mitigations that they would need to bring forward,” said Risom.

“What is the action you are requesting?” asked Boudreau.

“The Town Council formulates a committee to address sea level rise,” said Risom.

Risom suggested the committee have nine members, but councilor Martha Ball thought that number was too unwieldy, calling it, “non-functional.”

The creation of the Sea Level Rise Committee was approved, with the number of members pared back to seven.

“We haven’t reached out to the community at large… I think it would be a productive group. The [Sea Level Rise] committee will come back to the Town Council once a committee has been formed,” said Risom.

Horseback rides approved for some town roads

Lacoste approved a request from Rustic Rides, which offers family-based horseback rides, to use town roads for trail rides.

Rustic Rides asked “to use Old Mill Road, Gracie’s Cove Road, Dorrie’s Cove Road, and Champlin Road for the summer months, and for use of all other town roads from October to May.” Owner of Rustic Rides Tim McCabe would cooperate with highway supervisor Mike Shea and follow Center for Diseases Control and R.I. Department of Health guidelines for the summer.

Appointment to Senior Advisory Committee

The council also made an appointment to Senior Advisory Committee. A motion was made to appoint Bob Agricola of Corn Neck Road as an alternate, which was approved.