2010-01-14 / News

Town Council reviews past and future goals

By Phil Zahodiakin

Jamestown Administrator Bruce Keiser and other town offi- cials this week presented an overview of previous and future town goals for the edification of the Town Council, which is starting to gauge the scope of the many issues awaiting its decisions.

During the council work session held Jan. 11, town officials identified two “new” goals that would have major fiscal consequences if they were completed at once. The first is the reconstruction of roads in the worst shape; the second is replacing or upgrading water and sewer lines.

Public Works Department Director Steven Goslee and Town Engineer Michael Gray told the council that the town has 14 miles of roads in “poor or failing condition,” and that the town is spending $150,000 annually to repave a mile of road surfaces.

The cost to repave all of the badly deteriorated surfaces is $3.5 million.

Council president Michael Schnack asked if repaving all the roads at once would pay dividends in reduced maintenance costs. When Gray said, “No,” Schnack said, “So, over time, more and more roads will become unsatisfactory. We’re falling behind.”

Gray agreed, adding, “We will have a very tough spring. Many of these roads are just falling apart.”

Keiser said that the number of roads requiring repair amount to a “sleeping giant – and we also have the grunt work of replacing the water and sewer lines.”

Regarding the water and sewer work, Goslee said, “We’ve been doing one line and one street per year. If you look at the totality of what has to be done, it would cost $20 million to make it all new, and you would never get past that number” if the town decided to replace the lines all at once.

Goslee also said that his department has made huge strides. He added that the most cost-effective way to reduce the stress on old pipes is “getting sump pumps out of peoples’ houses. We are addressing that now on a house-tohouse basis.”

Another initiative that could have had budgetary consequences for fiscal year 2010-2011 is the closure of the town landfill, but it looks like that effort – whose estimated cost is $800,000 – will be deferred.

Keiser said GZA Geoenvironmental is preparing a closure plan for Department of Environmental Management approval, and that the final plan should be submitted to DEM this month. However, he added, “Because of cutbacks in their staff, and recognizing the tough budgetary climate, DEM hasn’t been pressuring communities.”

Bonding the landfill closure in Jamestown would add $80,000 a year to the town’s debt service tab, and “this year might not be the best time to add those costs, so I would think about FY 2011-2012 for that funding,” Keiser said.

Council member William Murphy said, “If the economy improves, federal money could become available” for that initiative.

Other town goals discussed included:

Beavertail Lighthouse donation. The previous council committed to a $25,000 donation to the Beavertail Lighthouse Museum Association. “We had hoped to draw the initial $10,000 from the incidentals fund,” Keiser said, “but we have allocated that money to purchase a mower, and we have not identified any alternative funding sources. Our resources are limited, and we will have to discuss [the donation] during the budget conversation.”

Recycling rate increases. Council members indicated that they might sit in on Recycling Committee meetings to become more informed on the options that the panel is evaluating to increase recycling – particularly the “pay as you throw” option, which would require the adoption of an ordinance.

“Greening” town operations. Keiser said the town will hold a Feb. 4 workshop with National Grid to explore energy conservation options in town facilities.

Well sampling. Keiser said the town needs to come up with $10,000 to complete the well sampling at 120 homes in the Shores area, and that DEM has agreed to kick in $5,000 toward the $15,000 project.

Wind turbine. The recommendations of the Wind Energy Committee have been placed on the agenda for the Jan. 19 council meeting.

44 Southwest Ave. The town is proposing to hire an architectural consultant to gauge the presence of Native American artifacts throughout the entirety of the former town property. The artifacts are preventing a sale of the property, and “we want to get rid of all the unknowns,” Keiser said.

Ft. Wetherill. A scheduled Jan. 25 workshop on the proposed sale of town property at Fort Wetherill will be postponed because the director of DEM, which has an interest in all or some of the property, is unable to attend on that date.

Country Club use. A consideration of alternative uses for the main floor of the Jamestown Country Club should be pursued, Murphy said, even though the lease on that building doesn’t expire until 2016.

Community center renovations. A consultant is developing a cost estimate for replacing the heating system at the community center, and the town has just advertised a solicitation for bids to replace the exterior restrooms.

Animal welfare. Keiser said the town of North Kingstown has agreed by formal memorandum to accept Jamestown dogs and cats at its shelter for a fixed rate of $20 per day.

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