2013-04-04 / News

Police chief proposes new stop signs

Council also appoints harbor commissioner
By Margo Sullivan

At the April Fools’ Day meeting of the Town Council, President Kristine Trocki joked about obtaining a secret list of stop signs that motorists can run without paying a fine. But her remarks were not part of an April Fools’ prank.

According to Police Chief Ed Mello, there have been stop signs installed in Jamestown without being officially approved under the parking ordinance. Because the signs were not specifically mentioned on the books, motorists cited for running them will not have to pay the fines.

The Police Department plans on closing the legal loophole by May 6, Mello told the councilors. He proposed amending the ordinance to add 61 stop signs.

Mello went to the councilors to ask them to hold a public hearing on May 6 on changes he has proposed to the parking ordinance. Previously, the council held off approving Mello’s recommendations pending a consultation with Town Solicitor Peter Ruggiero. At that time, Councilor Thomas Tighe asked Ruggiero to write a draft ordinance to restore the defunct parking committee to deal with parking issues.

Tighe, Jamestown’s former police chief, was not present at Monday night’s council meeting. The other councilors voted to schedule the hearing May 6 at 7 p.m. at Town Hall.

The changes affect “Chapter 42: Parks and Recreation” and “Chapter 70: Traffic and Vehicles” in the Jamestown Code of Ordinances.

The councilors agreed to go ahead with the hearing but plan to discuss the legal definition of a Jamestown resident. The definitions will qualify who can receive a resident parking sticker, Ruggiero said.

At the same time and place, the council agreed to hold a public hearing to change “Chapter 30: Historical and Archaeological Preservation.” The amendments include replacing references to American Indians with Native Americans.

In other business, the council made appointments to fill several vacancies on town boards, but the otherwise routine vote turned into an experience Councilor Mary Meagher dubbed “the hardest thing we’ve ever done.” The councilors were forced to choose among more candidates than there were vacancies.

For the seat Carol Trocki vacated on the Conservation Commission, the councilors appointed Anne Kuhn-Hines. Peter Fay and Shawn Mayers had also applied.

For the Harbor Commission, the nod went to William Harsch. He will fill the three-year term ending Dec. 31, 2014. Fay and Michael Schnack also had applied.

The representative to the Coastal Resources Management Council will be Mayers. Fay had also applied. Councilor Trocki suggested both could serve as corepresentatives, but Ruggiero said two people could not be appointed, according to the ordinance.

Councilor Blake Dickinson spoke up after the councilor passed over Fay for both Conservation Commission and CRMC representative. Although he was not finding fault with anyone, he did have a criticism of the process.

“My criticism is letting this process sort of linger for quite a while,” he said. “If we had done this in a timely fashion, we would not be in this position.”

Dickinson said Fay had been “riding our coattails” and urging the councilors to fill the vacancies. He was the only candidate expressing interest, Dickinson said.

“This is really hard and he’s not here tonight.”

Meagher pointed out the CRMC appointment ends in two months, and there will be more vacancies in December.

“We all feel bad about Peter,” Councilor Eugene Mihaly said. “We have to give some thought to how to harness his commitment to the town and his skills and bring him into the process. I want to signal to him that we care about him, and he has been so patient and almost dogged in pursuing a spot.”

Trocki added, “And he wants to share.”

The remaining decisions came easily to the councilors. They appointed Derek Hanson, Heather Lopes, Jerome Scott and Judith Sutphen to the Affordable Housing Committee. The board had five vacancies and only four candidates applied.

And in a demonstration of party loyalty, the councilors gleefully chose Democrat Ken Newman over Republican Hugh Murphy for Board of Canvassers. Dickinson, the lone Republican on the Town Council, cast the minority vote for Murphy.

In new business, the council had been expected to award the contract for fencing at Fort Getty and Mackerel Cove on Monday night, but Town Engineer Michael Gray decided to withdraw his recommendation and rebid the job.

The councilors did accept letters from several residents concerned that a Dunkin’ Donuts might be opening downtown. However, Town Administrator Bruce Keiser said there are other prospective buyers for the two Narragansett Avenue properties.

Finally, the councilors heard a presentation by Michael Glier, the town’s director of information technology. He indicated the redesign of the town website is going to be delayed due to the recent storms. The plan had been to put out a request for qualifications in April for potential web designers.

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