Town Manager provides detailed updates for ongoing projects

Thu, 09/24/2020 - 6:15pm

After just about a month on the job, Town Manager Maryanne Crawford provided the Town Council with a full laundry list of projects and activities that will be ongoing into the end of the year and beyond, while also giving a recap of the summer.

Crawford first noted that she will start conversations with the Police Department on safety and traffic issues.

“I thought it was best to provide information dating back to January to try to add perspective. With that said, I have not as of yet had the time to discuss the raw data with Chief Vin Carlone and his staff, but expect to in the coming weeks. The Chief has asked the State Police to provide him with citations and issues during the weekends they were assisting in patrolling the island,” said Crawford.

She also highlighted that Wastewater Treatment Plant Supt. Dylan Chase reported that as of Aug. 31, Covid-19 had not been detected in test results going back to August.

Crawford gave a summary from the Recreation Department’s summer, including the challenges the department faced with opening the Pavilion at Fred Benson Town Beach and keeping local kids active at Camp Mohegan. Various sports programs were cancelled for the season.

“Covid-19 presented many challenges and continues to present challenges to the Recreation Department. They did manage to provide a plethora of programs and services to our visitors and community,” Crawford said. “Thank you to the Recreation Department for the dedication and hard work this past summer managing families’ concerns and equipment challenges.”

Crawford also had discussion with School Superintendent Mike Convery on the costs associated with the reopening of schools. 

“I received a memo from Supt. Michael Convery regarding costs associated with the reopening of school. The school’s added expenses are estimated at $87,000, subject to some change in the coming weeks, with the majority encompassing funding for extra custodial personnel is dedicated to ongoing cleaning during the day. The school will receive approximately $27,000 in federal funds to offset these costs. “We will work with the schools to source other funding if available,” said Crawford.

“Finally, although my tenure with the town has only been a few weeks, I am appreciative for all who had a hand in providing services during our busy summer season, complicated by a constantly changing and challenging Covid-19. It was very stressful on every person, family, and business. Difficult, no doubt, and we are not done with it. We must all remain very vigilant to declare real victory in the coming months in celebration with our seniors and health challenged islanders,” said Crawford. “Our volunteer rescue, fire, community service officers, those who volunteered to give out masks, all town employees, utilities employees, Rhode Island State Troopers, Dr. Warcup and his staff, and anyone else I have failed to mention. No matter how small or trivial, every single person has had a truly significant part and let’s keep on top of it so that we can celebrate a remarkable accomplishment, hopefully in the not too distant future.”

“I want to thank Maryanne for diving in, and having met with all of us and embracing the island. We are very excited… nice to have you on board,” said Councilor Sven Risom.

Second Warden André Boudreau asked Crawford how long Chase will be testing for Covid-19 into the season.

“I think he intends to continue doing it,” said Crawford.

Updates from Medical Center

Block Island Medical Center Director Dr. Tom Warcup joined the virtual talk, and provided updates on plans to renovate and expand the Block Island Medical Center, with a capital campaign currently underway to fund the project. 

“This has been an ongoing project that we have been planning for two years,” said Warcup. “[Board Member] Susan Stover is reinvigorating the planning, and we will have renderings for the town and potential donors to review,” said Warcup.

Warcup added that the medical and rescue services had a “blip over the weekend,” with four additional moped accidents in late September. The Medical Center has seen a reduction in injuries, and is now receiving more primary care visits, Warcup said.

“We are getting back to more PCP care rather than traumatic injuries. We had reductions [in injuries] once the police came out… It has much improved in the last several weeks. There has been a total of 62 moped accidents, but we are gathering the data, and we reinvigorated the three-year study on moped-related studies,” said Warcup.

Some council members asked when certain buildings, such as the Island Free Library and Town Hall, would reopen to the public.

“Any advice going into the fall?” asked Boudreau to Warcup, adding the island should not let its “guard down.”

“I think we are starting off in a good place. The community continues to be safe. We did have a tenth Covid-19 case several weeks ago, but it was quickly mitigated. We communicated with the Department of Health and the patient was off island within a day, and had no contacts to be concerned with,” said Warcup. “I do think, as we open up, there may be an opportunity to think about a station where someone can get infrared temperature [checks] or health and wellness [checks]… this might be something the Town Hall might want to consider. We have a great relationship with the school, and we have already started to work out Covid-19 plans if any student or teacher gets sick — it’s something we can extend to the Town Hall and employees,” said Warcup.

Last week’s scheduled Town Council meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 16 had been pushed to Monday, Sept. 21 due to technical difficulties.