2013-03-07 / News

Council mulls who gets first crack at campsites

Do property owners and renters have equal billing?
BY MARGO SULLIVAN

The Town Council at its Feb. 27 meeting settled confusion over the waiting list for Fort Getty campsites. For 2013, according to Town Administrator Bruce Keiser, Jamestown property owners and legal residents can claim preference on the Fort Getty waitlist.

“An individual must own property or declare Jamestown as their legal residency through voter registration,” Keiser said following the meeting.

Recreation Director Bill Piva had asked the councilors for guidance because he said he was fielding questions from people who hoped to go to the top of the list. He said he was not clear about the criteria.

“There have been a couple of issues,” Piva said. “A property owner and a renter have asked where they fit on the list.”

In one case, Piva said, a camper wanted to know if the rec department would give preferential treatment to former Jamestown residents. In another instance, a camper who recently moved into town and rented a home expected to move up on the waiting list.

Keiser said former residents could not claim local preference.

Town Solicitor Peter Ruggieri said the council would ultimately have to address local preference as a policy issue and decide if property ownership and legal residency would be the criteria.

He suggested the councilors would be “better off to think about policy” for the future.

However, Piva said he needed to know how to proceed now.

“You just need clarification,” Councilor Mary Meagher said.

Piva wanted to know, for example, about someone who just moved to Jamestown and is renting. Should that person move from 85th on the list to sixth, he wondered.

Ruggieri said that type of issue was more a legal question than policy.

“Residency can be easily defined,” he said. According to Ruggieri, a driver’s license and voter registration card would suffice to identify legal residents.

Council President Kristine Trocki suggested Piva might talk to Keiser further.

“Use the legal definition of residency for now,” she said. “We will address it in the future as a global policy issue, but now’s not necessarily the time to do it for Fort Getty.”

In response to embezzlement eight months ago inside the Parks and Recreation Department, Jamestown has decided to hire a consultant to review procedures. Ideally it will help prevent a similar incident in the future, Keiser reported.

At the request of the council, Keiser said the town is hiring an accountant from Bacon & Edge to review and recommend measures the town can take to protect itself. Keiser said the consultant would review the “internal controls” the rec department has implemented over handling cash.

He described the consultant’s service as “an outside review to make doubly sure to prevent such recurrences in the future.” Keiser said the assessment was not an expensive service, and added he anticipated the job would be complete by the end of April.

Jamestown police last May charged Andrea Masterson, a former town employee, with embezzlement over $100 after she allegedly took $290 during a five-day period. Masterson was dismissed from her rec department job, but the case is still pending. It remains under investigation by Jamestown police and the attorney general’s office.

“Following the discovery of the embezzlement, the town implemented a number of policies and procedures to strengthen cash management,” Keiser said.

In a separate action, the council also authorized Keiser to go out to bid for a management-consulting firm to review the recreation programs, management, organization and facilities. Keiser said the advertisement would be published this week.

In other business, the councilors will pursue a plan to require seasonal permits to park on Hamilton Avenue.

Keiser said Police Chief Ed Mello has made some revisions to the parking ordinance and it would be ready for review at the council’s March 18 meeting. The plan is to sell beach stickers, but the state will have to give permission before the town can go forward.

Mello said the state Department of Transportation does not allow parking on Beavertail Road and Hamilton Avenue due to the road width, but a hearing has been set for March 13 to decide if the lane width could be adjusted to accommodate parking on the north side of Hamilton Avenue.

Councilor Eugene Mihaly said that time frame would give the council time to act before the summer.

“We should be in position in April to set policy,” he said.

Finally, the councilors set dates for the budget workshops, starting on Saturday at 9 a.m. at Town Hall. The upcoming Financial Town Meeting is schedule for the first Monday in June.

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