2007-08-30 / Front Page

Council approves Taylor Point land purchase

By Tom Shevlin

In a 3-1 vote on Monday night, town councilors voted to approve the purchase of a parcel on Upper Taylor Point needed in order to site the town's proposed highway barn.

The vote came after Town Administrator Bruce Keiser reported that he and Town Solicitor Peter Ruggiero had met successfully with bridge authority (RITBA) Chairman David Darlington last week in order to finalize the sale terms.

Questions had surrounded a number of issues in the final sale terms, including concerns over the liability of subcontractors hired by RITBA officials to conduct bridge maintenance, as well as potentially costly additional engineering and legal obligations.

Darlington requested to see samples of the actual proposed facility construction materials. However, Keiser emphasized that RITBA was not looking for final project design approval.

"The authority is not looking for final sign off," Keiser reiterated.

The town, however, did agree to be responsible for up to $25,000 in additional engineering costs incurred by the bridge authority. That would bring the town's total potential purchase price to $122,500, or in line with the bridge authority's original sale offer.

Though the plan has Darlington's endorsement, according to Keiser, the bridge authority had not formally signed off on the project.

Bridge authority spokesperson Chuck Newton was confident that the sale agreement would be approved by the board should voters elect to move forward with the project. According to Newton, the authority's July 20 unanimous board vote which approved the sale of the property pending a final agreement being reached, stands to illustrate the board's willingness to work with the town to meet its goal.

"It was a timing issue more than anything else," Newton said in regard to why the board had not met to officially sanction the agreement.

Councilman William Kelly, who voted against locating the proposed barn facility at Upper Taylor Point, was the lone dissenting vote in the four-member quorum. Councilor Michael Schnack, who also favored Lot 47, was not in attendance at Monday's meeting.

New tree warden appointed

Jamestown has a new Tree Warden. Steven Saracino was unanimously appointed Tree Warden after a glowing recommendation by Town Administrator Keiser.

Saracino, a professional landscape designer, is currently undergoing training to become a licensed arborist in order to meet state qualification guidelines.

According to Keiser, town offi- cials were impressed by Saracino's experience working with boards, commissions, and volunteer organizations. His appointment, which will be up for renewal Jan. 1, will be subject to completion of licensing requirements.

JEMS parking spaces

Keiser responded to a letter to the editor published in the Press from Bill Sprague in regard to the decision to allocate several longterm parking spaces east of the town ambulance barn for Jamestown Emergency Management Service (JEMS) volunteers.

According to Keiser, JEMS officials had requested that several parking spaces be reserved for volunteers due to the growing concern that volunteers could not find parking spaces in town when responding to calls.

Keiser said that he exercised his discretionary authority granted to him under the town charter to reserve eight spaces for JEMS volunteers on a trial basis. The challenge, according to Keiser is coming up with the best long-term solution to balance the needs of Jamestown's emergency responders with those of patrons to the busy downtown area.

"We need to use the real estate as efficiently as possible," Keiser said.

Rep. Long legislative update

In the open forum, Rep. Bruce Long (R-Jamestown, Middletown) provided a brief legislative update on several items of interest to island residents.

According to Long, the General Assembly, which is out of session until the fall, was successful in passing a cesspool replacement bill, which establishes mandates for the proper maintenance and replacement of cesspools. Long noted that it has been determined that cesspool discharge was a significant contributor to high levels of nitrogen in the bay and added that Jamestown has been a model community in its cesspool ordinances.

Also on the environmental front, Long reported that the General Assembly had placed stricter penalties for corporate polluters. Until recently, corporate polluters had been fined $1,000 per day for non-compliance. Long said that number was not a significant motivator for the large corporations the bill targets.

In other business:

• Keiser reported that the town's internal investigation into the rapid deterioration of the new Harbormaster boat is proceeding with URI Professor Gregory scheduled to conduct tests at East Ferry on Thursday in order to determine whether high levels of electrolysis were in fact to blame for the vessel's inoperability.

• A special town council meeting is planned for this afternoon (Thursday) at 4:30 p.m. in order to discuss plans for the town's upcoming special Financial Town Meeting (FTM) set for Sept. 18.

• A joint work session between the Town Council and Harbor Commission to discuss an array of items including improvements to the town's woodpile pier at East Ferry is slated for Sept. 6, at 6:30 p.m.

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