Council hopes for high turnout at FTM
The Town Council reported at Monday night's meeting that the annual Financial Town Meeting will take place Monday, June 1, at the Lawn Avenue School at 7 p.m. Residents will have an opportunity to discuss this year's recommended budget of $18 million with a chance to look at the school and town operating budgets separately.
Jamestown's proposed tax levy increase of 0.98 percent is the lowest of all municipalities in the state, allowing for a 0 percent tax increase to most residents.
Councilors agreed the vocal vote format for the meeting is intimidating, but they urged residents to participate and share their views. Last year's meeting turnout was just slightly over 100 people.
"I think the Little League game on the ball field out front had a better turnout last year," said Councilman Bill Kelly.
Councilman Robert Sutton said he believes the town currently stands in good financial condition and commended the town administrator's efforts to keep budget increases to a minimum. He warned that next year the town will probably have harder decisions when concerning the budget. "We can't reproduce this success every year and we do have to start looking at how we're going to be doing things differently."
Keiser said there is a little wiggle room remaining but added the tools utilized for reductions this year will not be available in the future.
Because of $250,000 in funding from the R.I. Local Equity Aid Program, a few of the towns roads will be resurfaced. After repaving projects in 2008, 33 percent of the island's roadways are in still in such poor shape they require total overlay or reconstruction.
Portions of Seaside Drive, Hull Street, Garboard Street, Frigate Street, Friendship Street and Luther Street will be repaved and if any money remains, the town will move to complete projects on portions of North Main Road and more of Seaside Drive.
The Public Works Department established a pavement management program in 2006 with the charge of monitoring and appropriately maintaining pavement surface conditions. Of the town's 42.4 miles of paved roads, just over 14 percent are in poor or failed condition, 7 percent in fair condition and a little over 21 percent are considered in good condition.
Repairs to all town-owned roads will cost about $4 million over the next five years, leaving just 5 percent of roadways in poor condition. Maintenance and improvement projects will be selected and completed on a priority based schedule.
The council unanimously approved a recommendation by Councilwoman Barbara Szepatowski to work to create a nonprofi t organization benefitting the Jamestown Teen Center.
She explained this step was essential in securing state and federal grants to sustain the center's operation. Although the town has continued support for the Teen Center, seeking outside funding would be mutually beneficial to both budgets.
The Jamestown Arts Center officially withdrew its bid on the property at 44 Southwest Ave. because conservation restrictions on the historic property will not allow for the necessary space needed by the organization to create a sustainable business.
The council asked Keiser to draw up a proposal and resume efforts on the sale of the property.
Shores area residents might see some action on town-owned properties on the north end. Szepatowski and Kelly expressed interest in putting town-owned lots up for sale to the private sector to generate income. The issue will be discussed as an agenda item in June or July.
Shores Association President Charlotte Zarlengo said she was upset the town would consider selling lots in the area because they are a valuable water resource and recharge zones and were originally bought to protect against further degradation.
"We all know what happens when pieces of properties which we all though were unbuildable
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . suddenly become buildable," said Zarlengo. "What will happen, as has happened in the past, will happen in the future. If those lots do not stay as town property they will be built upon. They (private owners) will find a way."
New water restriction rules
Monday marked the end of an era in water bans for Jamestowners with the opening of a $12 million water treatment facility that will assist in the town's water conservation efforts.
Although lawn irrigation bans between June 1 and Aug. 31 will remain in effect, this year islanders hooked up to the town's water supply will be able to wash their cars, boats and houses during the historically dry summer months.
"If the reservoir (North Pond) stays above the 42-inch mark, cars, boats and house washing will be permitted," said Denise Jennings, water and sewer clerk. "And it probably won't fall below that."
Kelly said the new treatment facility is a major improvement of water resources and improves the backwash system by over 134,000 gallons per week.
In other news, Public Works Director Stephen Goslee was honored for an award of recognition he recently received from the Atlantic States Rural Water and Wastewater Association.
Licenses and Permits Rosemary and Ashley Tutsch were approved for an expansion of a hair salon at 32 Pemberton Ave. for two sinks and three hairdresser's stations by the water and sewer board.
The council approved two exhibition licenses for island church affairs. The Central Baptist Church will hold their annual June Festival Saturday, June 20, from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Central Baptist and in the town hall parking lot. St. Matthew's Church will have their annual festival Saturday, July 18, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at St. Matthew's.
A single day entertainment license was approved to Jon Mistowski for a keyboardist and vocalist to play Sept.13 from noon to 4 p.m. at the Jamestown Golf Course.
The Portuguese American Citizens Club and Jamestown Mobil were granted licenses to operate on Memorial Day.
Gregg Charest of the Rocket 'Hogs was approved for a one-day peddler's license to sell T-shirts in front of the Fire Station Museum during the parade on Memorial Day.