2007-05-31 / Front Page

No backup water sources Keiser reports to town council

By Tom Shevlin

Jamestown's emergency water needs could not be met by surrounding communities for either a short-term or long-term basis under current agreements, according to correspondence received by Town Administrator Bruce Keiser.

During his town administrator's report at Tuesday's council meeting, Keiser reported that he had received responses from North Kingstown and Newport regarding the availability of alternative sources of water for the town on both a short-term emergency and an on-going basis. The inquiry, which is part of the sole source aquifer petition required by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), revealed that neither Newport nor North Kingstown would be able to meet Jamestown's needs in the event of a climatic or environmental emergency.

According to North Kingstown Town Manager Michael Embury, based on past agreements, even in the short term North Kingstown would be unable to meet the demands of a peak flow day. Similarly, Newport City Manager Edward F. Lavallee indicated that Newport would only be able to assist the town on an emergency basis by providing residents with filling stations on Aquidneck Island, while in the long term an emergency-use interconnection between the two towns should be examined but would likely not be able to meet peak flows or be able to effectively annex Jamestown into the city's service area on a permanent basis.

The response from Newport and North Kingstown should contribute to the debate over the town's consideration to seek a sole source aquifer designation. Keiser said that a public hearing would be scheduled in the coming weeks to discuss this and other matters surrounding the issue.

In environmental news, Paul C. Dolan, urban and community forestry program coordinator for the Department of Environmental Management (DEM), presented the council with the island's fifth year Tree City USA designation. Jamestown is one of only eleven cities and towns in the state to receive such a designation and one of only a handful to reach the fifth year mark.

The Tree City USA program, which is sponsored by the National Arbor Day Foundation in cooperation with the USDA Forest Service and the National Association of State Foresters, requires that a town meet several requirements including maintaining a tree care ordinance, recognizing Arbor Day, and spending $2 per capita on tree care and management.

Also at the council meeting, Town Solicitor Peter Ruggeiro reported the town's three-year-old case over work involving upgrades to the town's sewer system by Seigmund & Associates has been "resolved and closed." Ruggeiro also reported that the town's on-going case involving public access on High Street had been appealed to Newport Superior Court. Council President David Long said he was under the impression that the matter had been resolved and urged Ruggeiro to see it through. Ruggeiro suggested that in the interest of expediency, former solicitor Lauriston Parks, who had been overseeing the case prior to his replacement by Ruggeiro continue to handle the proceedings.

In the open forum, State Representative Bruce Long reported that the state budget debate is progressing "slowly…with tough decisions being made," while the town's arts district legislation is in the process of being introduced to the General Assembly.

In other business, the council approved a new fire department incentive program and awarded the town's Best Land Use bid contract to construct safe bike paths to island schools to low-bidder Gates Leighton & Associates for a fee not to exceed $30,480. The project, which is being financed by the fund-raising efforts of the group Rolling Agenda seeks to promote biking to Jamestown schools by providing safer riding conditions for students.

According to Carol Nelson-Lee, chairwoman of Rolling Agenda, the group has raised approximately two-thirds of the total $30,480 needed for the project. Councilman William Kelly suggested that the Department of Public Works explore the possibility of donating appropriate services to reduce some of the additional costs.

Additionally, the council approved an application from the Jamestown Fireworks Committee to hold their annual fireworks display at Mackerel Cove on Wednesday, July 4; and while sitting as the Alcohol Beverage Licensing Board, they also approved an application from Conanicut Marine Services for permission to serve alcoholic beverages on the ferries Jamestown and MV Katherine while dockside for thirty minutes prior to departures.

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