Town awarded $30,000 wind energy grant
The Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation has awarded Jamestown the first municipal grant from the state's Renewable Energy Fund.
A symbolic giant-size check for $30,000 was presented to Town Council President Julio DiGiando and members of the Wind Energy Committee, as well as to former state representative Bruce Long who was responsible for securing the funds.
Fred Hashway, director of Government Affairs, told the Town Council that the town was awarded the grant to conduct a wind power feasibility study to determine the feasibility of erecting and operating wind turbines in Jamestown.
Hashway said that the town will also match the grant with an investment of $25,000.
Following the award ceremony, Don Wineberg, chairman of the Wind Energy Committee gave a committee progress report.
Wineberg reported that the committee developed a goals and objectives list consistent with the charge from the town council. He said the committee also identified the top 10 potential sites for wind turbines and developed RFQs for select consultants to prepare the feasibility study.
He said that the progress report will be posted on the Jamestown website so it will be available for anyone who is interested.
"The first draft of the feasibility study will be completed by late January or early February," Wineberg said. He also said that the WEC has already identified the top 10 locations considered for turbines and narrowed the selection down to three.
The locations are Taylor Point, Ft. Getty, and Beavertail. Wineberg said that a small .8 net metered turbine designed to reduce to the town electric bill to zero was chosen for Taylor Point. He added that Ft. Getty would host one turbine and Beavertail is being considered for three.
Wineberg gave a detailed explanation of federal regulations concerning the sale of wind generated power and how the town and residents can benefit from an intelligently designed program.
In other business, the council members signed a resolution to introduce legislation to the state General Assembly to give the town the authority to create a juvenile hearing board.
Council member Barbara Szepatowski explained that a juvenile hearing board would handle local cases concerning crimes committed by juveniles as opposed to having them referred to family court.
She said that teens requesting their cases be heard by the board have an opportunity for their record to be expunged if they plead guilty and follow a program determined by the board. She said there are rules that determine the types of cases that can be heard. The council approved the resolution with a 4 to 0 vote.
After the meeting, Substance Abuse Prevention Task Force Coordinator Laura Hosley said, "I am happy to see this happen. The juvenile hearing board will strengthen the network of systems we have in place to help keep children, teens and families safe."
Town Administrator Bruce Keiser reported that as of Jan. 15, the Department of Public Works had incurred 367.5 hours of overtime at a payroll cost of $12,271 because of the need for snow removal.
He said that the 2009 budget for snow removal is $22,000, leaving a balance of $9,729. Due to a doubling of the cost per ton of salt, expenditures for sand and salt already exceed the budget by $8,000 with $35,041 spent to date, his report said.
The council approved the scheduling of a preliminary budget work session for Monday, Feb. 2, at 5:30 p.m., before the regular town council meeting. The council also approved a joint budget meeting with the School Committee for Tuesday, March 3, at 6:30 p.m.
Keiser also reported that the town received a draft of the GZA 100 percent landfill Closure Design Report. He said that town engineer Michael Gray would complete his review of the report this week and absent any changes, the report would be submitted to the Department of Environmental Management Waste Management Office for approval.
The council approved the Fort Wetherill Boat Owners Association lease by a vote of 3 to 1, Szepatowski casting the dissenting vote. "I don't think the rates are high enough," she said.
The terms for the seven-year lease at Ft. Wetherill for 42 slips are: $22,000 for the first year, $25,000 for the second, and a $500 annual increase for years three to seven. Use of slips require membership in the FWBOA.
The council approved the Jamestown Fire Department Incentive Program with a 4 to 0 vote.
A resolution requesting the Rhode Island Department of Transportation to fund the Downtown Improvement Project with added language to bury utility wires was approved by the council with a 4-0 vote.
The council, without a vote, defeated a resolution supporting state legislative bills regarding the elimination of General Revenue Sharing, pension reform, and health co-pay amendments to collective bargaining statutes, with minimum manning by municipal workers, such as police staff.
When the agenda item was tabled, Szepatowski asked that the council be polled to see if there was any support for the resolution. There was none.
Several Jamestown police offi cers attended the meeting to speak in support of the town pension plan for its municipal workers. Council members, several of whom receive state and federal pensions, spoke against the proposed state legislation.
The council considered a request from the Conanicut Yacht Club for the use of Fort Getty for the Club 420 Association "2009 National Championships" Regatta. The town will recoup $1,000 in rental fees for this event, Keiser said. The vote was 4 to 0 for approval.
A request from Town Tax Assessor Ken Gray to award a bid for the 2009 statistical update to Vision Appraisal for an amount not to exceed $64,000 was approved by the council with a 4 to 0 vote. The statistical update, which is mandated by the state every three years, determines town property values.