The North Kingstown August Town Council meeting started with approximately one hours’ worth of public comments.
The first speaker advocated for the Council to appoint former school committee member Robert “Bob” Jones to fill the vacancy as Jake Mather resigned from the committee last week. Mr. Jones served on the school committee from 2012-2020 and received the lowest number of votes in 2020. Two other citizens requested Mr. Jones' appointment, and we had several emails in the same vein. Two other speakers did not advocate a specific person but referred to characteristics they hoped for in a committee appointment.
The procedure for filling vacancies to Town Council and School Committee are stated in the Town Charter which authorizes a replacement be filled by the top candidate who lost the last election. In 2020, Hannah Zangari was the third highest vote getter for the two open seats and Mr. Jones was fourth. Ms. Zangari no longer lives in North Kingstown, so she is not eligible for the school committee seat. The Town Charter does not address a seat going to subsequent losing candidates.
At the end of the night, the Council decided the school committee position will be advertised and people who are interested may submit their names and qualifications to the Council by September 9 and at a special meeting on Wednesday, September 14, the Council will choose a person to fill Jake Mather’s term for the next two years.
Those interested in the school committee appointment should send a letter of interest to the NK Town Clerk at 100 Fairway Drive, North Kingstown or email email@example.com by 4pm on Friday, September 9.
Later in the evening, Katie Anderson requested the Council discuss sending a follow-up letter to the School Committee regarding their lack of response to the recommendations in Judge McGuirl’s report. The Council unanimously approved such a reminder be sent to the School Committee.
Cows on Fletcher Road
Another genre of citizens' comments were speakers who disagreed with a recent Zoning Board decision to allow two cows to live on less than two acres of land off Fletcher Road. Five people complained about the Zoning Board’s process and criteria used to permit property owners to own and house two cows.
The Town Solicitor explained that the Town Council appoints citizens to the Boards and Commissions, but they are independent bodies, and the Town Council has no authority to revoke or override decisions. The Solicitor outlined a means to have the citizens voice their complaint of a Zoning Board ruling, but stated it was unusual and not mandated for the Board to reopen citizen’s comments for a matter already heard.
The consent agenda was perfunctory with approvals of:
The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Oktoberfest on October 1 at Town Beach
The purchase of 10 Motorola radios for the Police
Acceptance of a grant for 88 Motorola radios for the Fire Department
A Black Lives Matter rally was approved at Town Beach on August 26; Mary Brimer specifically exempted this matter from the consent agenda to discuss free speech with the organizer and ask if a police detail would be needed.
The Town Manager reported that despite the dry weather, the town did not need to upgrade water restrictions. He stated that our groundwater is doing fine and is monitored daily should we fall below normal. He explained that Wilson Park has an independent well that does not mix with drinking water so citizens should not be alarmed when they see sprinklers running at the park to keep the grass green on the half million-dollar renovation.
Refurbished Town Hall
The Town Manager announced that the refurbished Town Hall, at 80 Boston Neck Road, will celebrate reopening on Monday, September 19 at 5:30pm.
The departments that will occupy the repaired Town Hall will be Recreation, Town Council meetings and some senior services, but the rest of Town Hall will remain at Fairway Drive.
Senior Center's 50th
The Senior Center will celebrate 50 years of operations with a luncheon on September 16.
The end of this meeting filled two vacancies for boards and committees, but the positions for which there were no candidates were: the Economic Development Advisory, Information Technology Advisory, Wickford Advisory, and Wickford Village Design Guidelines. If you feel you would like to serve the town, consider joining an advisory committee.
Respectfully Submitted by Kim Page