2008-09-11 / Front Page

Dutch Harbor Boat Yard lease renewed

By Sam Bari

The Town Council voted unanimously at Monday night's meeting to approve the proposed lease from the new owner of the Dutch Island Boat Yard.

"I've visited the boat yard and Mr. Eichler, the new president, has taken steps to make marked improvements and resolve the parking situation," Town Administrator Bruce Keiser said. "He appears to be serious about fulfilling his promises and turn the facility around."

Councilman Robert Sutton asked if any part of the property was being used for anything other than marina use. Keiser said, "No. The entire facility is being used for marina business."

Councilman William Kelly agreed with Keiser about Eichler's good intentions and made a motion to approve the new lease as proposed. The seven-year lease begins Sept. 1, 2008 and ends Aug. 31, 2015. It includes an option for an additional five years according to terms and a rent schedule that is agreeable to both parties.

The base rent is $13,000 for the first year with an increase of an additional $500 for each suc- cessive year. The lessee is also required to pay the town one-half of the fees derived from the operation of the West Ferry outhauls.

Animal Shelter

Keiser, in his town administrator's report, said that he attended a meeting with Police Chief Thomas Tighe, Councilwoman Barbara Szepatowski and North Kingstown Town Manager Michael Embury to discuss an agreement for cooperative use of the North Kingstown animal shelter. Embury indicated that he supports the concept and will develop a memorandum of agreement to outline terms and conditions for joint use of the facility.

Szepatowski said she was pleased with the arrangements because a veterinarian would be on call even on weekends in case they were needed. She said the facility was more than adequate to handle the animals from both towns.

Town/School cost-saving review

Town Finance Director Tina Collins met with Keiser, School Superintendent Marcia Lukon and financial management staff to review respective business offi ce functions, Keiser said. At the meeting, it was established that the School Department will reduce its business office staffing by the equivalent of half a full-time position following the retirement of the school business manager in December.

Keiser said the department is also tasked with implementing new financial management software and reporting systems this year. The introduction of the new systems will require additional effort on existing staff. Due to the impending staff changes and startup demands, the town does not believe that excess staff capacity exists to shift functions between offices in the current fiscal year.

The Town Administrator said he has contacted the RI Public Expenditure Council (RIPEC) to discuss their interest in performing a management and organizational study in Jamestown. RIPEC executive director John Simmons indicated that his staff was completing a study of Aquidneck Island school consolidations and is able to provide consulting services to Jamestown thereafter.

Keiser suggested that the Council and School Committee meet to discuss a scope of services for the management study. He said the staff will provide a draft proposal for their review and consideration.

Sutton said that the Council should agree on everything that is going to be discussed before the meeting so there is no confusion of what they are trying to accomplish. The other commissioners agreed.

Fort Wetherill Re-use

Keiser said that he enclosed a 2004 report on re-use proposals for the Fort Wetherill highway garage. He recommended that the Council hold a workshop to revisit this report and identify a preferred alternative for re-use or disposition of this property.

Sutton said that the Jamestown Historical Society is interested in the buildings and that other nonprofi t groups have also shown interest. Resolving the septic issue with the buildings would be necessary before they could be used by anyone, Keiser said, and suggested establishing a line of communication between the Town and the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) on the matter.

Selling the buildings was also an option, Sutton said, adding that he hoped the town was not considering that too seriously because he felt the facility was an asset.

Councilman Kelly opposed that way of thinking because "the town has a terrible track record for putting money into the infrastructure to make profitable use of its facilities," Kelly said. "What makes you think they're going to put money into the buildings now when they are not being used when they didn't maintain them when they were in use?" He said that he thought selling the property was a viable choice because there were plenty of areas where the money could be put to good use.

Sutton also asked about the buildings at 44 Southwest Ave. He wanted to know if the town could get a current estimate on the value of the property. Keiser said he would look into the matter.

Charter review commission

Keiser reported that the Town Clerk is advertising for interested applicants for appointment to charter review commission. He said the mission statement for the commission can range from conducting comprehensive review of the entire charter to a more limited scope focused on specific provisions of interest to the Council. He asked that the item be placed on the next agenda for Council discussion.

Administration of harbor projects

Keiser said that he will review the proposed Harbor Ordinance amendments with Town Engineer Michael Gray and determine if any language changes should be incorporated to fine tune the duties of the Harbor Management Commission relative to capital infrastructure planning and implementation.

Sutton emphasized that all projects, not just those of the harbor commission, should be overseen by town personnel. "People who are experienced at managing construction projects should be managing these things," he said.

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