Councilors learn Fort Getty campground almost at full capacity
The campground at Fort Getty is almost fully reserved for the summer, Recreation Director Bill Piva told the Town Council Monday night.
“We have eight vacant spots,” he told the councilors, but added he expected to rent two spots this week, leaving only six still empty.
Piva would like to fill the vacancies for the whole season, if possible, before opening them up for transient RVs.
“I’d prefer to advertise and see what we get,” he said.
If spots remain, he will open them to passing campers.
The campground preparations are almost ready for the season. Town Administrator Bruce Keiser said a new fence was being installed this week along the road at the campground’s west perimeter.
The council also agreed on a plan to sell a Fort Getty nonresident sticker for $100 for the season. However, the official vote was deferred on advice from Town Solicitor Peter Ruggiero because the resolution was not printed on the May 6 agenda.
In other business, the council deferred voting on an amended parking ordinance. After resident Clayton Carlisle voiced some objections to a new four-way stop at the corner of Watson and Pemberton, Police Chief Ed Mello agreed to review the area. Mello also agreed to make minor changes to remove some inadvertently included state roads from the list of stop signs in the town ordinance. The councilors also postponed a decision about resident-only parking on Hamilton Avenue.
At a separate public hearing, also Monday night, the council passed amendments to its historic preservation ordinance. There was no public comment.
In another matter, the councilors indicated they will support adopting a new historic-district ordinance, but some controversy developed over whether the authority should be with the Planning Commission or with a new district panel.
Planning Commission Chairman Michael Swistak said the planning board, which has reviewed the proposed historic-district ordinance, has reached a consensus that the responsibility for review and approval of “historic-building permit and demolition applications should reside with the Planning Commission.”
However, most of the councilors indicated they are leaning toward creating a new commission, and several Shoreby Hill residents also voiced their support for a separate commission to adjudicate the rules.
Ruggiero said state law would have to be changed to allow the planning board to be the responsible body for the historic district. Jamestown would be the only community in the state with the option of designating the Planning Commission to act as a district panel. He suggested sending the General Assembly a proposed amendment to the state’s general laws to allow Jamestown to exercise the option.
Council President Kristine Trocki said the amendment might be necessary even if the council opted not to allow the planning board to act as the district board because the state law says the council president appoints the district commission members. Jamestown’s charter indicates the council members would have the authority. Ruggiero could not say Monday if the Town Charter and state law are in conflict but agreed to research the question.
In other news, councilors voted to donate $4,000 to the Jamestown Arts Center for a new roof.
Under new business, the councilors backed a plan to ask the General Assembly to create “enabling legislation” for a new local- preference ordinance.
Currently, Rhode Island has one ordinance, which is used statewide. It has never been challenged, Ruggiero said.
Councilor Mary Meagher said the councilors were studying the sample preference ordinance, which Ruggiero provided, but she wanted to see “more of a preference” given to hometown businesses than his model ordinance affords.
“The reality is, the locals can’t compete with outside conglomerates,” Ruggiero said. Nonetheless, current state law requires “certain contracts” to be awarded to the lowest qualified bidder.
Ruggiero said enabling legislation would allow the town to give a job to a company that was local but not the lowest qualified bidder.
Ruggiero said the town could ask state lawmakers to create the enabling legislation. The General Assembly is still in session, he said, and there was a possibility the lawmakers could act within “a couple of months.”
Councilor Eugene Mihaly said he was skeptical the state legislature would act that quickly. Ruggiero said the town could always revisit the issue if the legislation were defeated.
Finally, the councilors asked Keiser to request a facilities plan from the Fire Department, which has been discussing building a new substation.
Councilor Blake Dickinson mentioned a new facility at the north end of Jamestown to improve response time, but there are also other ideas being broached about changes at the existing fire station on Narragansett Avenue. He wanted to see a comprehensive plan that included all the options.