NEW ARRIVAL! + ongoing business, 1/24 Town Council Mtg.
Updated: Jan 27, 2022
Congratulations to Katie Anderson on the birth of her son!
The new resident of North Kingstown was born a few hours before our Monday evening, 1/24 meeting, so his arrival meant Katie was not available for the meeting.
The two items that generated the most discussion at the January 24th meeting were the proposed amendment to the Parks & Recreational Areas, and how the Town will spend the APRA (American Rescue Plan Act of 2021) money.
The first discussion concerned the 2nd reading of the amendments to Parks and Recreations. Director Chelsea Dumas has wanted to update the town ordinances for the recreation areas, but it took a few years to codify the ordinance for the council. Her proposed changes which caused the most discussion were in the recreation area where children play; Dumas proposed prohibitions on pistols, rifles, knives over three inches; and no dogs. No one complained about the recreation area ban of alcohol, people hawking goods, boats, trucks, fires, or golf; just the guns and knives. Attorney Matt Callaghan stated the ordinance amendments followed the state park laws and the policies of the RI Department of Environmental Management. Mary Brimer stated if the ordinance passed, there would be people who sued the Town because they believed it violated the second amendment. Brimer and Kerry McKay cautioned against the proposed changes and motioned to reject the ordinance, but the rejection failed 2-2 (Brimer & McKay to reject, Mancini & Page not to reject). McKay asked Chelsea Dumas if the Leisure Services Advisory Committee could review the proposed ordinance. While this committee does not usually meet in the winter months, Dumas stated she would convene a meeting in February in order to discuss the ordinance. She would like the ordinance to be amended before the parks open in the warmer weather which usually begins at the end of March.
During citizens' comments there were people who advocated for strict measures on wellhead protection and groundwater. This meeting was the first read of amendments to the definitions, groundwater and wellhead protections, and best practices. The first read of a proposed ordinance does not usually generate a lot of discussion among the council, and this recommendation followed the same route. This will be back on the agenda at the next Town Council meeting on February 7th . Tim Cranston, Director of Water Supply, will speak to the NKDTC on Thursday, January 27th at 6:30pm, to discuss water issues and how the proposed ordinance changes will protect North Kingstown’s water supply.
During public comment many people gave suggestions on how to use the $7,868,125 in ARPA funds that North Kingstown will receive. The funds must be obligated by December 31, 2024, and they must be spent by December 31, 2026. We received 50% of our funds last July and will receive the other 50% in July 2022. The suggestions from the public ranged from support of town businesses, sidewalks in Wickford/Post Road, public transportation, groundwater protection, a recreation center, the Blue Bus Foundation, Post Road improvements, and climate change measures. The Town Manager's recommendations were as follows:
Small Business Tax Relief $ 700,000
Public Safety Complex $ 200,000
Recreation Center/Emergency Shelter $3,693,125
Municipal Office Building Improvements $ 400,000
Community Improvements/Health Safety $ 750,000
West Main Street & Post Road Sidewalks $1,000,000
OPEB* Contribution $ 600,000
Summer Recreation Program $ 225,000
Administrative Costs $ 300,000
TOTAL $ 7,868,125
*other post-employment benefits
There was no vote on these proposals; this will be on future agendas for more discussion.
Kim Page, Town Councillor