Department heads prioritize capital budget projectsHarbors, School, Police, Fire/Rescue
Managers of four island departments presented capital improvement proposals at a Tuesday, Nov. 19 Planning Board work session. The Planning Board will use this information to compile a capital budget to be presented to the Town Council for next year’s budget.
Harbormaster Steve Land detailed upgrades needed at the Harbors Department. While he had a list of 10 capital improvements, the Planning Board asked him to prioritize them. The first priority, he said, is buying a new engine for Giles, the harbormaster’s boat. Land estimated this would cost about $20,000.
“Giles is running all the time,” he said. “It is a key element to monitoring the safety of the Great Salt Pond.”
The second priority, he said, is installing a town water line that would run to the Boat Basin dinghy dock. This would cost $5,000, according to Land. The third priority would be installing a ramp bulkhead in New Harbor, at a cost of $10,000. Lastly, he said buying a new engine for the pumpout boat would be the fourth priority.
Also at the Planning Board work session, the Block Island School presented its capital needs in order of priority. School Superintendent Robert Hicks said the first priority would to be to set aside an additional $20,000 toward repairing the school façade. He said the town has been setting aside this amount for several years to reach a total goal of $80,000 for the repairs.
Hicks also said the school would like to install solar panels on its building, a $280,000 cost, although he said some funding could come from grants. He said his third priority would be putting money toward a $74,300 project to upgrade the school roof’s rubber membrane (prevents leakage).
Bryan Wilson, captain of the Rescue Squad, requested $15,000 from the town for an engineering study to build a new fire barn. Wilson has been working on a proposal from the Fire and Rescue Department to build a new $3 million fire barn. He said the actual cost of the barn would come from private funding, and he would not seek town funding to build it. Fire Department member Howell Conant asked for new siding to the current building. Also, Fire Chief Tristan Payne asked for upgrades to one of the rescue vehicles.
Police Chief Vincent Carlone also presented capital improvement projects for the police department. He said his first priority would be to get air conditioning for the police station and cell block, at a cost of $12,000. He said it was important for the “safety of the prisoners, especially those who are here with elevated blood levels of alcohol or drugs.”
Carlone’s other priority is setting aside money for two new police vehicles. He said some of the current vehicles are beginning to show wear and tear. “You don’t want a vehicle breaking down on a serious call,” he said.
The Planning Board will hear from other town department heads at future meetings.