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  • Greg Mancini

Happy Ending: 7/19 TC Mtg. Notes

The July 19, 2021 Town Council meeting was yet another productive evening for the citizens of North Kingstown.

At the outset the Council held a moment of silence for two citizens who passed away: North Kingstown teacher Holly Champlin Mather, and longtime resident Margaret Gibbons.

The Council later publicly recognized town resident Allie Reilly, who will be representing Team USA in the upcoming Summer Paralympics.

The 3 most prominent agenda items were presentations on:

• The results of an independent risk and resiliency assessment of the Water Department and review of its emergency response plan;

• Summary of how the town may allocate the American Rescue Plan allocated funds;

• The current status of our public safety complex.

The Independent Risk and Resiliency Assessment of the Water Department

An independent report conducted by the MRB Group “found that the Town of North Kingstown and the Water Department Staff have a very good record of Risk and resilience Management.” The Council thereafter thanked Water Department Director Tim Cranston for his superb leadership.

Allocation of American Rescue Funds

The Town of North Kingstown should be getting $2,755,190 in “county” government funds, another $5,112,934 for municipal government, and $1,775,065 for the school department. These funds can be used for “revenue replacement”, infrastructure, water, sewer, and broadband expansions. Town Manager Ralph Mollis indicated that we should only use the dollars for one-time expenses; otherwise, it will create a structural deficit for our town.

When the Town Manager asked for ideas, I (Greg Mancini) suggested we allocate funds to improve the walking and biking connectivity of our community. I suggested possible bike lanes and also either having the private sector or the town place rows of bikes in strategic locations that can be used by our citizens for a modest fee. The Town Manager said he will discuss this and other possible uses at upcoming meetings.

The current status of our Public Safety Complex

Before getting into his presentation, in response to the Council’s inquiry, Fire Chief Scott Kettle informed the Council that the 3 firefighters recently injured in a house fire were all doing well.

The Fire Chief informed the Council that the existing public safety complex does not have enough capacity, its configuration does not allow either police or fire to operate efficiently, the HVAC systems are a constant source of costly maintenance challenges, there is insufficient parking with lack of proper security, the building does not comply with existing ADA requirements, there are no female changing rooms for police or fire, some of the new apparatus is too long to fit into existing bays, jail cells do not meet modern standards for accreditation, constant and unhealthy mold exists in many areas of the building along with limited ventilation, and that in conclusion, the building has generally exceeded its useful life.

In other news, the Council had public hearings and approved expanded outdoor seating of Gregg’s Restaurant, and a stop sign at the intersection of Morningside Drive. and Seawynds Drive.

It also approved expenditures for public works infrastructure and police portable radios; ratified the Town Manager’s approval of his co-operative agreed-upon price for unleaded fuel; approved a substantial sewer abatement to Quonset Auto Body that was the subject of substantial litigation; recognized Chelsey Dumas-Gibbs and Becky Lamond for their work in securing a $88,000 grant from DEM to improve Ryan Park; approved the town’s proposed emergency operation plan; authorized the Town Manager to enter into a payment in lieu of tax agreement with Quonset Dev. Corp. and New England Water Systems that will bring substantial new revenue to the community; and agreed to advertise for a possible new Class C liquor license.

Lastly, but certainly very importantly, the Town Finance Director informed the Council that as of now he expects the town to end up with a $3.3 million surplus.


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