NKTC Meeting Highlights: October 30, 2023
The last meeting in October saw the Town Council had differences and not everything was approved unanimously. However, there were only slight differences in opinion.
There were public questions about the Salt Box Sea farm adding new beds to its new oyster farm. The application did not have any substantive objections by the Harbor Management Commission however the issue was that the nearby residents did not know about the additional beds until a flyer was put on their door. While the Town Council approved the proposed aquafarming beds as they did not increase the size of the existing area, we discussed that as less people read and receive the newspaper, the public notices may be inadequate. There was a suggestion of discussing notification requirements with our state legislature. The Council followed the law in all notifications, but the public did not seem to be aware of matters before the Council.
The Police requested using municipal court funds to purchase an Automatic License Plate Recognition System. This was discussed at a previous Council meeting. Acting Chief John Urban presented the benefits of the system for Amber Alerts (finding children), and Silver Alerts (finding senior citizens), as well as trailing shoplifters. The police emphasized the system will not be used to monitor drivers or for facial recognition, and all data is purged after 30 days. There were many questions from the Council and concerns about civil liberty issues. Acting Chief Urban stated the system would have been useful in Lewistown, Maine, if they had the software, in order to track the license plate and record where the active shooter drove. A one-year contract was approved and the Council will have the option of weighing the utility of the system in 12 months.
The Wickford Arts Festival requested an exhibit license for to hold the annual art festival on July 13-14 at Wilson Park. The Council listened to the head of the Wickford Merchant’s Association state that since the Arts Festival moved to Wilson Park during the pandemic, the businesses in Wickford lost revenue during the Arts Festival weekend. However, the head of the Merchant’s Association also stated that Wickford businesses are doing very well and there are more restaurants and foot traffic in Wickford overall.
The Director of the Art Festival stated the event was very successful and after polling of the artists, 70% wanted to remain in Wilson Park rather than return to the streets of Wickford. There was disagreement between Council members on whether to approve the exhibition license or to have the Wickford Arts Council discuss the placement of the festival further with the Merchant’s Association. After voting, 4-1, the Council asked the Arts Festival to discuss the concerns of location of the 2024 festival with the Merchant’s Association.
Our next meeting is Monday, November 20th. Don’t forget to vote for the two bond issues on November 7th!
Respectfully Submitted, Kim Page