Town departments prepare for winter, capital budget

Tue, 12/28/2021 - 7:45am
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Maryanne Crawford submitted her town manager's report at the December 15 meeting of the New Shoreham Town Council, and the report listed several actions taken by the town in preparation for winter.

There has been some difficulty in procuring road salt, but Crawford’s report said the town was working with the Rhode Island Department of Transportation and road salt would be purchased and picked up on time. The added cost of the ferry has stymied state delivery to New Shoreham, and has forced the town to work out picking the salt up from the mainland and bringing it over itself.
The Highway Department is completing work on cutting back and trimming vegetation away from the roadways, including removing several dead tree limbs on Ocean Avenue. The town hopes the removal of the dead trees by the landowner will eliminate the trees “continually coming down onto Ocean Avenue.” The Highway Department has also serviced and stored mowing equipment for the winter.
The report also said that part of Beacon Hill Road had been graded, with some of the reclaimed asphalt from the High Street paving project installed, or “ground-in-to” the dirt roadway. The hope is that this added material will help with the runoff problem after rainstorms, according to the report.
Crawford’s report also mentioned that the Harbors Department had hauled out and winterized the marine patrol boat. The boat “can be easily deployed in a major emergency if necessary.” Harbormaster Kate McConville explained to the Harbors Committee on December 9 that Ken Lacoste has also volunteered one of his boats for her to use if need be.
Crawford’s report also explained that the capital budget process was underway, with Crawford, Finance Director Amy Land, Director of Public Works Matt Moynihan, and Facilities Manager Tom Risom meeting with staff members regarding their capital budgets. The meetings are slated to continue in the coming weeks as the capital budget takes shape. The council voted to delay action on revamping the capital budget process until January when the entire council could be present. Member Martha Ball and Second Warden Sven Risom were unable to attend on December 15.

Crawford also brought before the council a recommendation that the town’s broadband network, BroadbandBI, become a Dig Safe member. According to the recommendation: “Dig Safe is a not-for-profit clearinghouse that notifies participating utility companies of an individual or contractor’s plans to dig. In turn, these utilities respond [by marking] out the location of their underground facilities. Dig Safe is a free service to the excavator, funded entirely by its member utility companies.”

Currently, the Block Island Power Company, New Shoreham Water and Sewer districts, and Verizon are all Dig Safe members.

Ex-Officio Member of the New Shoreham Broadband Committee, Amy Land, told the council that this was the beginning of a “slight shift” in the way people dig on Block Island. Currently, people call when they “think” there might be a utility there, but Land told the council that with the
broadband installation the town will have a lot of “underground assets” to protect. Highlighting that there is no cost to the excavator or contractor, Land emphasized that it will be important over time for people to shift their practices to include calling Dig Safe to have their utilities marked prior
to digging.