The Block Island Times
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Council's Weldon's Way discussion continues

By Stephanie Turaj | Jun 27, 2013

A Town Council discussion last month about safety concerns on Weldon’s Way and test-driving mopeds on this road prompted response from local moped owners.

Weldon’s Way, located behind the Harborside Inn, is where many moped rental companies are located and is also used as a test-drive site for potential moped renters. Earlier this month, town councilors said that this test-driving on a public road is unsafe and could open up the town to potential lawsuits.

“We’ve been doing this for 30 years. Where’s the facts; where’s the lawsuits,” said Old Harbor Bike Shop owner John Leone at the June 19 council meeting.

“I feel like we’re being a little set up,” said Leo Leone, owner of Aldo’s Mopeds. He said that there are other potential safety concerns on Weldon’s Way, such as J-walkers and garbage trucks taking up space while parked.

Councilors agreed that there are other safety concerns on the road. “Our concern is it’s just a very dangerous road. It’s not just mopeds, it’s everything,” said councilor Sean McGarry.

Island resident John “Doc” Willis also commented that the road has “too many cars” on it. He said Weldon’s Way was meant to be a “back alleyway” and not a “shortcut through town.”

However, moped company owners agreed with the council to continue to make changes to help alleviate potential safety concerns on the road. John Leone said that the owners have been trying to keep moped driving demonstrations off the road.

Budgeting

Unspent funds from the 2013 fiscal year budget, which ends this month, have been re-designated into the same areas into the 2013-2014 fiscal year budget, which begins July 1.

Added into next year’s budget are the following: funds for rescue vehicle one ($35,000); for the school facade ($20,000); and for technology equipment ($15,895).

These appropriations passed 4-1, with Town Councilor Sean McGarry opposed because he said he had not been given enough time to review the information — it was given to the council right before the meeting.

After this vote, an additional appropriation was made to the budget to add $5,000 to assist with the Medical Center air conditioning. This passed 3-2, with Chris Warfel and Sean McGarry opposed.

Payne’s Liquor License

The town council also discussed Payne’s Harbor View Inn, which has not picked up its liquor license renewal granted in November. Without possession of the license, Payne’s cannot serve liquor.

The renewal was granted, but it was contingent on meeting zoning requirements; the First Warden Kim Gaffett said Payne’s had not yet done so. The council set a date to hold a hearing to potentially revoke the renewal, after the council hears testimony from the establishment owner.

Liquor license revocations are rare. “I think the last one [revocation] was over 10 years ago,” said Gaffett.

Video Games

An application by Trader Vic's, located at Champlin’s Marina, for two gaming devices was put on hold because councilors were concerned about approving a new application in a residential zone, instead of the commercial zone.

Chris Warfel motioned that the council should receive in writing from an attorney “whether or not this is setting precedent.”

Renewable Energy Grant

Town Solicitor Katherine Merolla updated the council on her work to make sure Block Island is eligible for state renewable energy grants.

It is currently unclear whether or not Block Island is eligible for the grants, which are given by the Rhode Island Economic Development Council, and jointly regulated by the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission.

The council directed Merolla to continue the pursuit, with councilor Warfel recused. Warfel owns a renewable energy company, Entech Engineering, and his company helps customers receive the grants.

Block Island Power Company president Al Casazza stood up and questioned the work the town is doing. “I don’t know why the town should pay for Chris’s company to get grants,” he said.

Merolla noted that the town has taken advantage of the grants in the past, and may want to in the future.

Other Matters

After a discussion, the council suggested changes to be made to the town Hawker’s and Peddler’s license. The license could be granted to island residents only, used at Settler’s Rock near the North Light only, and its primary use would be for food and beverage. The council is still making modifications to the ordinance.

The council voted to request that the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) assist the town in managing Block Island’s deer herd.

Not related to the above matter, Sara McGinnes wrote a letter that she has resigned from her position on the Deer Task Force. There is now an opening on this board.

The council approved a Class F1 (one time event) liquor license for the volunteer fire and rescue steak fry. It also approved two special event license applications: a wedding on Kay McManus’ property on Spring Street, and a fundraiser at St. Ann’s by the Sea Episcopal Church.

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