2014-04-03 / News

Town’s water quality improving

By Margo Sullivan

The island’s water is getting better, Town Engineer Michael Gray advised the town councilors at their March 17 meeting. His report was based on the latest data from GZA GeoEnvironmental Inc., a Providence company that has been monitoring the closed landfill.

Gray referred the councilors to the summary that went over samples taken from 11 wells. Since the monitoring started, the same contaminants have continued to show up in the samples, he said, but the trend is favorable and the amounts are decreasing.

“So water quality is improving,” he said.

According to the report, none of the contamination exceeds levels allowed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Historically, Gray said, four volatile organic compounds and nine inorganic compounds have been detected in the groundwater samples. Both have remained “relatively constant” during quarterly testing, the report said, but none exceed federal regulations.

Lead was also detected in samples from four wells, but was safely below the action level, the report stated.

In conclusion, tests identified seven “statistically significant decreasing trends” in groundwater contaminant concentrations, and no significant increasing developments.

In other business, a parade permit for the Memorial Day celebration is in the works and will not be held up over insurance.

Frank Meyer, treasurer of American Legion Arnold-Zweir Post 22, had notified the councilors the parade might be canceled because “for the first time in history, the town of Jamestown has refused to issue a parade permit unless Post 22 buys an insurance policy, which will cost about $600.”

In a memo dated Feb. 19, Meyer reminded the councilors the parade is a “town function” and draws support from the Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, community band and farm, women’s club, fire and police departments, and elected officials.

Besides organizing the parade, he continued, the Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9447 also contribute to Jamestown by organizing blood drives, donating scholarships, decorating veterans’ graves, and raising and lowering flags at East Ferry.

The councilors discussed the memo under correspondence and asked Finance Director Tina Collins to cover the event under the town’s umbrella policy. The municipal government will cover the insurance, the councilors decided.

Under new business, the council supported Police Chief Ed Mello’s plan to conduct a local traffic study of speed limits on three roads: East Shore Road, Tashtassuck Road and the section of North Road north of Route 138.

Mello said there are three different speed limits – 25, 35 and 40 – posted on East Shore Road, depending on the direction of travel. People have complained about the number of changes, he said.

Mello wanted to ask councilors for direction before he took any action, due to the fact East Shore and Tashtassuck roads are state motorways. If the town requested a review of the speed limits, the Rhode Island State Traffic Com- mission would ultimately conduct its own traffic study and institute any changes it deemed necessary, he said. The local community would have little say about the outcome, Mello indicated.

Council President Kristine Trocki said she wanted the traffic regulations to be consistent, fair and clear.

As an alternative, Mello said the local police could do its own study and bring the results to the town’s traffic committee, which could then decide whether to ask the state to take any further action. Otherwise, the town could go directly to the state.

Councilor Mary Meagher, who serves on the town’s traffic board, said she favored starting with a local traffic assessment. The traffic board could advertise a local meeting about speed limits on the three roads “so neighbors could know” when the local police complete their study.

“The state’s going to do what the state’s going to do, but in terms of North Road, it would be great to do a study and have the traffic committee look at it,” Meagher said.

Councilor Blake Dickinson agreed with asking local police to assess North Road and “at least get the neighbors” involved. He said he would hope the speed limit would be standardized at 35 mph.

In other business, Meagher reported the traffic committee asked for a study on Helm Street, with an eye to installing four-way stop signs. Resident Thomas Ginnerty asked for the study. He and other residents have complained about speeding there.

Mello said police have investigated some complaints from Helm Street residents, and drawn the conclusion that speeding does not seem to be a problem. However, he agreed the police department could undertake a formal traffic study and allowed there might be justification to install four-way stop signs.

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