Town manager to monitor cable project

Thu, 02/27/2020 - 7:00pm
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Town Manager Jim Kern will remain actively involved in the project that will re-bury the two undersea transmission cables that come ashore at Crescent Beach, and said a major concern still remains about the cable being out of service for perhaps weeks, which means high speed internet provided to the Block Island School, the Medical Center, and other town facilities, will also be shut down during that time. Kern updated the council at its meeting on Feb. 19. He also noted the tight timeframe for the project: October 2020 through May 2021, which is right up against the summer season.

Although the fiber optic cables won’t be “active for three weeks, there will be backup systems” for electricity, said Kern. “The second largest concern is making sure and having a comprehensive conversation on how to prevent the [construction] schedule from leaking into the summer,” adding “I will be involved in the rest of the process.”

Kern said he will be in communication with both Ørsted and National Grid, the two companies that own the cables. The process of re-burying the cables will involve re-drilling under the beach to bury both cables to a lower depth, and to also splice new sections of cable into the existing lines to accommodate those lower depths.

National Grid has stated that Block Island and mainland ratepayers will share in the cost of the reinstallation of the cable from the mainland — mainland ratepayers will pay a greater share, as they did for the cable itself — and Ørsted has said it will pay for the reburial of the cable from the wind farm to the island. (Contractors for Deepwater Wind did the original installation.)

West Side Road Sidewalk Project

Kern then asked for approval to move ahead with the West Side Road Sidewalk Project. The sidewalk will extend from the corner of West Side Road and Ocean Avenue all the way to Champlin’s Marina.

A memo sent by Town Engineer Jim Geremia to Kern stated, “At this time, the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) has indicated that they are authorizing the Town to award the West Side Sidewalk contract to Cardi Corporation in the amount of $712,817... The award should indicate that the Interim Town Manager be authorized to sign all related contract documents with Cardi Corporation on behalf of the Town of New Shoreham.”

First Warden Ken Lacoste made a motion to award the project, which was approved.

Hearing on motorized cycles

Lacoste began the discussion on proposed amendments to the New Shoreham General Ordinances for Motorized Cycle Rental — bicycles, tricycles, and scooters. The amendment would change the license renewal process in certain sections of the document.

Lacoste noted there were two major changes to the ordinance, one to ensure that the owners of the rental shops are operating out of the location indicated on their licenses, and the other impacting the license renewal process.

Councilor Sven Risom shared his thoughts on motorized operators following through with safety regulations.

“When we have the meeting with the police chief, which I hope to have soon...we need to make sure all the operators are following normal safety rules. I think it’s about compliance and enforcement.”

Lacoste made a motion to close the public hearing, and made a motion to approve the two proposed amendments, which passed.

Maximum number of mobile food permits set

There were two applications before the council for new mobile food establishments. The council approved setting the maximum number of mobile food licenses at five.

Town Clerk Molly Fitzpatrick said that Aldo’s Bakery had an application to operate its long-running pastry boat on the Great Salt Pond, and Kelly Walsh had applied for a license to operate at the 1661 Farm off Spring Street. “Those are the two tentative, potential food trucks we might issue” licenses for, said Fitzpatrick.

Lacoste made the motions to approve the two applications for mobile food establishments and to set the cap for such licenses at five. Both motions were approved.

The next Town Council meeting is set for Monday, March 2 at 7 p.m.