Roof and structural damages to Fort Getty pavilion deliberated
The Jamestown Town Council this week agreed to address serious roof and structural problems plaguing the John C. Rembijas Pavilion at Fort Getty. The work, which could cost upwards of $60,000, was the most decisive step taken during the councilors’ workmanlike meeting on Jan. 18.
Town Building Official Fred Brown has kept Town Engineer and Public Works Director Mike Gray apprised of deteriorating roof-andtruss problems at the pavilion.
“Fred goes [to the pavilion] after every storm to see if it’s still standing,” Gray said.
Recreation Department Director Bill Piva added that there are times when “we have to explain to wedding parties why they were showered on with rain.” To fix the leaks, the roof will have to be totally resheathed and re-shingled at a cost of roughly $40,000, with truss repairs adding another $20,000, said Gray.
The town has enough money for the work, which is warranted, the Council agreed, because pavilion rentals generate significant income. However, Council President Mike Schnack asked, “What if we decide to tear down the pavilion and build a better one” after the upcoming Fort Getty charrette?
The charrette is intended to inform Council decisions on the objectives of, and timeline for, the Fort Getty Master Plan, which has long included a variety of proposals for the pavilion. Nevertheless, the Council gave the recreation department a green light to develop a request for proposals that the Town will use to solicit bids for the pavilion repairs.
The Council held in abeyance, however, any decision on a windturbine moratorium. The proposal, which was offered by Councilor Ellen Winsor on Dec. 6, would temporarily prohibit property owners from building their own wind turbines. During the moratorium, the Jamestown Planning Commission would draft a package of criteria governing the size, noise, and setback distances for privately built turbines.
Town Solicitor Peter Ruggiero has started drafting the language for a moratorium, and Schnack said he didn’t want to enact one until its language had been formally adopted. He also said that the Council needs to find out how much time the planning commission will need to draft a turbine ordinance.
That’s because Rhode Island law sets a six-month time limit on municipal moratoria, with the possibility of three-month extensions, and “we need to know when they will start working” on an ordinance, said Schnack, adding, “I don’t want them to wait until they finish the [Jamestown Community] Comprehensive Plan.”
The Council decided, however, to ask the state for a divestiture of any Hess holdings in its pension funds. Hess, along with its Weavers Cove partner, are seeking federal and state permits to build a liquefied natural gas terminal in Mount Hope Bay.
Winsor offered the proposal for a Jamestown divestiture at the Jan. 3 Council meeting, when she advised councilors that her LNG Working Group had asked other Rhode Island municipalities to express their displeasure with Hess by taking this step. The Council agreed with her proposal, and directed Town Administrator Bruce Keiser to write the state director of retirement funds to request the divestiture.
In other wind-turbine business, Keiser informed the Council that Ruggiero has started working on the contracts for the wind-and-electrical studies that the councilors approved at their previous meeting. Keiser also said that he has scheduled a meeting with both the Quonset Air National Guard and the Rhode Island Airport Corporation, and that he has asked the office of Sen. Jack Reed to help expedite town discussions with the Federal Aviation Administration
In his other updates to the Council,
Keiser said that he has scheduled a Council workshop with the Narragansett Indians’ Tribal Preservation Officer, John Brown, and the Principal Archeologist for the Rhode Island Historic Preservation and Heritage Commission, Paul Robinson, to discuss the impacts of Safe-Routesto Schools projects on Indian artifacts. The workshop will be held in Council chambers on Tuesday, Jan. 25, at 6 pm.
In other business:
• The Council turned down a proposal from Councilor Bob Bowen to set up an Information Technology Committee that would have advised the councilors on the best way to proceed with three projects: live audio and-visual streaming of Council meetings; paperless Council meetings, which would rely on town-issued laptops; and enhancements for the town web site. The other councilors felt that the committee could inhibit, instead of speed up, those projects.
• Keiser said that outgoing Jamestown librarian Judy Bell will be replaced by Donna Fogarty, who is currently the librarian for South Kingstown. Bell steps down on Feb. 25.
• Keiser said that he has selected five people, including himself, for the committee that will start reviewing police chief candidates in early spring. The other four committee members will be former Jamestown Council presidents Julio DiGiando and David Long, East Greenwich Town Manager William Sequino, and Charlestown Police Chief Jack Shippee.
• The Council agreed with Keiser that the Jamestown Public Works Department turned in an exemplary response to last week’s snowstorm, and learned that the overtime bill for the plowing is “just shy of $12,000,” or nearly half of the total budget for public works overtime. Councilor Mike White reminded the Council that homeowners and shopkeepers are responsible for shoveling their sidewalks.