The Block Island Times
http://block-island.villagesoup.com/p/1084622

Chamber eyes island improvements

By Stephanie Turaj | Dec 05, 2013

Subcommittees of the Block Island Chamber of Commerce continue working toward a goal of solving three top issues on the island: electric rates, inadequate internet service, and lack of tourism services.

At the Chamber’s monthly meeting on Thursday, Nov. 21, representatives from the subcommittees updated the progress being made. These groups were formed after a Chamber survey last month that identified concerns and challenges facing island businesses.

Megan Moran, who sits on the Tourism Subcommittee, said the group has been working to find ways to improve services in town, such as lack of trash bins, concerns about the Beach Pavilion, and inadequate restroom facilities.

“We’ve looked at other tourist destinations to see how they have handled these issues,” said Moran. For example, the group has contacted a Massachussets-based company that manufacturers trash bins that electronically notify the owner when the bins are full. Moran said Newport, R.I., uses these trash bins.

A discussion among attendees about how to improve the cleanliness and availability of the trash bins ensued, with many ideas being proposed about how to do so. Ideas included a town ordinance to prevent people from placing commercial trash into town trash bins, lining the trash cans with a bag to make them easier to clean, and having signage to better instruct what can be thrown in the bins.

Mary Lawless, who sits on the Electricity Subcommittee, said the group is working to “help people understand their power bills. A lot of people don’t even know how to read their bills.”

Lawless said the group aims to help business owners understand the effects the power bills have on businesses. For information purposes, the subcommittee is working to gather a range of old power bills from different businesses.

Chamber Executive Director Kathy Szabo said no members of the internet subcommittee were present to update the Chamber, but she reported the group has met and is working on the issue.

Also at the meeting, Moran reported results of a survey sent to island businesses about the Taste of Block Island events held twice each year, in the spring and the fall. She said most feedback was positive, but some businesses felt there could have been more advertisements about the event beforehand. At the Chamber meeting, Virginia Jaeger, owner of the retail store Beachcomber, asked if she or other businesses could sell the buttons for this event. Currently, the buttons sold to Taste of Block Island participants are only available at the Chamber.

Szabo proposed two possible weeks for Restaurant Week next year: June 13-20 or June 16-22. The Chamber debated which dates would be best, and also brainstormed ideas for events during this week.

Ten businesses joined the Block Island Chamber of Commerce recently: Island Free Library, Sarah Daley Events, Block Island Cigar, Michael Benson Photography, Nerium International Independent Brand Partner, Sally Brassard insurance, The Channel Marker, Rebecca’s Dockside, Dan Cahill Housewatch Service, and Nourish Your Needs.

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