North Kingstown Town Council Meeting Recap -- Nov 20, 2023
As always, these notes reflect my own opinions and interpretations of highlights from the recent Town Council meeting. Others may of course have different takeaways.
The Nov 20 Town Council meeting was robust. There were some dozen speakers voicing opinions on the location of next year's Art Festival, police responses to emergencies, the recent bond referendum, and the Groundwater Committee. Additionally Council had an extensive agenda.
Following are some of the highlights:
Council discussed next steps on the items rejected in the recent bond referendum votes: a new middle school, public safety complex and indoor rec center. We decided to ask our state legislators to seek to extend the deadline for additional state reimbursements to December 31 of next year, which would be six months later than currently authorized. We also reached consensus that any further bond requests for the middle school and the public safety complex be de-linked, and that we will not proceed with a bond request for an indoor rec center/emergency shelter. We agreed on the need for additional public input regarding the middle school issue, and noted that our December meeting will be a joint meeting with the School Committee.
We voted 3-0, with two abstentions, to grant a permit to the Art Association to hold next year's Art Festival at the Wilson Park site. I was one of the abstainers, and I felt that while it is not the best site for the event, ultimately it is the Art Association's decision to make and not the Council's. For that reason while I could not support the decision, I would not vote against it.
We discussed the status of the Ground Water Committee and Conservation Commission. We agreed in principle on re-forming the Groundwater Committee as a sub-committee of the Commission, as many of their issues are intertwined. We expect to receive a proposal for that to occur at an upcoming meeting. While I believe there is no resource more important than our groundwater, I also respect the Town Manager's point that we don't have a board overseeing the Police or Fire departments, and shouldn''t expect to have one overseeing the Water Department. There is a fine line between input and oversight, and we will attempt to balance those interests in coming up with the new structure.
Finally, the Town Manager noted the upcoming Tree Lighting Ceremony on November 30 at 6:00 at Updike Park, and the December 7 Pearl Harbor Day remembrance ceremony, while also pointing out the new stoplights on Boston Neck Rd, approval by the state of a crosswalk for accessing the Town Hall, and the completion of the Tidal Gage in the town parking lot. There was lots more; as always the meeting can be viewed on the Town's website.
Many thanks to all who came to the meeting, and especially to those who spoke. We are all better when we have the benefit of more public involvement. And speaking of public involvement, we continue to seek members of the Assessment Board of Review, the Audit Committee, the Economic Development Advisory Board, the Parades Committee, and the Wickford Advisory Committee. Please contact the Clerk's Office if interested in joining any of these, or feel free to reach out to me.