2011-03-24 / Front Page

Town agrees on contractor for Ft. Getty tent

By Phil Zahodiakin

The Jamestown Town Council selected the contractor this week that will replace the demolished John C. Rembijas memorial pavilion at Ft. Getty with a tent for the 2011 season.

The town received two bids for the replacement tent. The town’s Parks and Recreation Department Director Bill Piva recommended the Council select ABC Rent-A-Tent, which will charge $3,500 a month during the four-and-a-half-month rental term, for a total of $15,750.

Referring to rumors that “someone offered to put up a tent for free,” Councilor Bill Murphy asked Town Engineer Mike Gray to note for the record that the rumors were false. Gray replied, “If someone had offered us a free tent, then the [ABC] bid wouldn’t be in front of you.”

Although Jamestown will pay for the rental out of pocket, Gray said it is possible that the town’s insurance provider will pick up the expense as part of its coverage for the pavilion loss.

The Council also adopted a group of resolutions, which could have an impact on the hours and locations for elections. Jamestown is also looking to save money in its expenses for elections. The town adopted a resolution in support of state legislation that would allow municipalities to reduce in number its existing voting districts. If the bill is enacted, Jamestown’s 4,693 registered voters would be grouped into two – instead of three – voting districts.

The councilors also adopted a resolution in support of a bill, which would allow Jamestown to close its polling places by 8 p.m., an hour earlier than its current closing time.

Another resolution – this one expressing opposition to a petition against the wind turbine owned by the town of Portsmouth – sparked much more discussion than the election-related resolutions. That’s because the results of the pending Public Utilities Commission investigation into electricity sales from the Portsmouth turbine could affect Jamestown’s plans to build a turbine of its own.

The petitioner, Newport resident Benjamin Riggs, is alleging that the deal between Portsmouth and National Grid violates the state net-metering law by allowing the town to sell all of its electricity at a retail rate instead of selling just “excess” electricity after supplying one or more municipal facilities with power from the windmill.

Town Solicitor Peter Ruggiero told the councilors, “Portsmouth is really in a pickle,” adding that a utilities commission interpretation upholding the petition “would change the financials of your project.”

But Councilor Bob Bowen pointed out that Jamestown “wouldn’t be that much worse off” because the proposed site for the turbine, Taylor Point, would allow the town to provide turbine power directly to a municipally owned facility – the wastewater treatment plant – thereby satisfying the letter of the net-metering law.

The resolution passed 4-1, with Councilor Ellen Winsor voting against it.

Regarding the Jamestown wind turbine project, Town Administrator Bruce Keiser told the councilors that the town remains engaged in its pursuit of every step necessary to ensure that the project would meet the March 2012 milestone for the release of the $750,000 in federal stimulus money for the turbine.

Keiser said that as a “backup” for that effort, the town will apply for a $500,000 state grant this month in support of the turbine project. The grant is funded by a renewable-energy surcharge on electric bills.

In another development related to the turbine project, Keiser said that state Sen. Teresa Paiva Weed recently informed him that National Grid President Michael Ryan has pledged to expedite the pending Jamestown request for a cost analysis of transmissionline upgrades to accommodate the power from a turbine.

A request for quick completion of the analysis was also submitted, in writing, by state Rep. Deb Ruggiero, who informed Ryan that the results of the cost estimate would have to be available to Jamestown by May 15.

In other pending business, the town has again delayed releasing a solicitation asking vendors to provide quotes for recording and archiving Town Council meetings. This time the hold up involves modifications asking vendors to qualify the “portability” of its services, meaning the ability to record meetings outside Council chambers.

Murphy expressed support for the idea, noting that it would have been worthwhile to record last year’s Financial Town Meeting. However, in a reference to the Jamestown Record web site, Winsor said, “I just want to note that we are getting this service free of charge at the moment.”

Council President Mike Schnack expressed some frustration with the latest tweaks to the request for proposal, directing Keiser to send out the document whenever this latest round of editing is finished and without bringing the final version back to the Council.

“We’ve waited long enough not to see it,” Schnack said.

The Council has also been awaiting the recycling recommendations under development by the town Recycling Committee. Keiser pointed out that during the last fiscal year the town “spent over $10,000 [in penalties] because we didn’t meet the [30 percent] recycling goal” set by the state for all municipalities.

Keiser said that the town plans to hold a workshop on the proposed recommendations, possibly at the Lawn Avenue School, at a date that remains to be determined. The Jamestown Town Council will meet again on April 4 at 7 p.m. at Town Hall.

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