2010-11-18 / News

Facilitator needed to run workshop on Fort Getty

By Phil Zahodiakin

The Town Council has launched the process of selecting a facilitator to run a public workshop on the future of Fort Getty. The Council approved the draft solicitation, along with one amendment, during its Nov. 15 meeting.

The highly detailed Request for Qualifications and Proposals (RFQ), which was drafted by Planning Director Lisa Bryer, seeks a facilitator with – among many other attributes – “specific experience in community planning issues and/or park planning.”

Selecting a facilitator with this experience ensures that the workshop will be geared towards producing a variety of proposals, rather than simply gathering and ranking a multitude of suggestions from stakeholders.

The Council approved the RFQ with an amendment offered by Councilor Ellen Winsor, who wanted to ensure that the “basis for selection” includes a request for applicants to list any of their facilitated workshops that were similar in scope to the Fort Getty endeavor. Winsor was also interested in asking applicants to compare actual results (such as income) with the results expected from their previous projects.

Councilor Bob Bowen raised a concern that this sort of analysis would expand the RFQ criteria beyond the expertise of a facilitator – even one with planning experience – but Town Administrator Bruce Keiser noted that a facilitation firm could subcontract financial, or other, projections if they were requested.

The Council also addressed the necessity to set up a meeting with the Narragansett Indians to discuss their concerns with Safe Routes to Schools projects. Bryer told the Council that the state Department of Transportation and Historical Preservation and Heritage Offi ce have placed a $450,000 Safe Routes grant on hold “until we decide how to handle the issue – but I’m not sure they are saying that we have to reach an agreement [with the Narragansetts].”

The Tribal Historic Preservation Office wants a supervisory role in Safe Routes – and possibly other – construction projects to ensure that any unearthed artifacts are handled respectfully. Keiser said that he will try to set up a joint meeting with historicpreservation representatives from the state as well as the tribe for the first week of December.

“We will be looking to find out,” said Council President Mike Schnack, “where the state preservation office stands, and where the Narragansetts stand, and what has to happen” in order for the town to avail itself of the grant money. The meeting will be open to the public.

A meeting with RIDOT on Jamestown’s plans to develop a bike path for the island will have been held by presstime. The Nov. 16 meeting, which will be attended by Keiser, Councilor Mike White, and Bike Path Committee member Bob Sutton, will include a discussion on a proposal to reduce the 40 mph speed limit on the Great Creek stretch of North Road to 25 mph.

In his comments on the speedlimit issue, resident Blake Dickinson said, “I implore you to put this off for another day. People don’t observe speed limits whether they are 40 mph or 25. And, it seems to me that Rhode Island already has a bunch of road-sharing laws intended to accommodate, and provide safety for, cyclists. Punishing motorists for a problem – the lack of road shoulders [along Great Creek] – that will still exist even if you reduce the speed limit seems unfair.”

Keiser stressed that the town would be raising the speed-limit issue with RIDOT, which has purview over North Road, only to learn their position on a possible request. He also said that, should this request proceed, Police Chief Thomas Tighe has “informed me that the State Traffic Commission is ready to perform the necessary studies” in support of the request.

Regarding the search for a police chief to replace the retiring Tighe, Keiser said that he has one response, so far, from a public safety consultancy responding to a Request for Proposals (RFP) issued as the initial phase of the search. The town wants to involve a consultancy in order to inform the search – as well as the applicants brought in for interviews. Keiser said that the respondent to the RFP – the International City Management Association – is well regarded, but added that he is waiting to hear from two other groups.

In a development that was mentioned only in passing, but which signals the end of an 18-year initiative, Bryer said that the reconstruction of downtown sidewalks is on track to start in March.

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