The Block Island Times

New Town Council sworn in

By Judy Tierney | Dec 10, 2012

A new Town Council took New Shoreham’s helm Monday night, December 2, eager to steer the town, perhaps in a new direction. Returning First Warden Kim Gaffett, Second Warden Ken Lacoste, and councilors Sean McGarry, Norris Pike and Chris Warfel were each sworn in by Town Clerk Fiona Fitzpatrick.

After resolutions of appreciation for outgoing Second Warden Ray Torrey and councilors Dick Martin and Dr. Peter Baute, the new members addressed moped and bicycle renewal applications.

The five moped and bicycle operations have agreed to use synthetic oil, and in addition to paying the town $20 per rental bike or moped, they will pay an additional $20 to the Block Island Health Services and $20 to the Fire and Rescue Squad for each vehicle. Gaffett explained that the town wanted to increase fees for the licenses, but could not do so without going to the state, which governs the licensing. Instead, they asked for the contributions to the two organizations which respond to and treat those injured in accidents while riding them.

Pike observed that he often smelled gasoline on Weldon’s Way in the summer. He had questions about how the moped/bicycle businesses store their gasoline and fill their vehicles, and he noted that there are hotels nearby and a fire could be catastrophic. He also thought the council should revisit requiring an alternate testing area. Warfel added that the businesses should conduct driving practice on their own properties. Pike also questioned whether the number of mopeds, which are limited to 34 for each business, are counted accurately and remain at that level all summer.

Police Chief Vin Carlone and Fire Chief Tristan Payne were in the audience. Carlone questioned whether there is a prescribed manner of gasoline storage, to which Payne replied, 10 gallons per business are allowed in OSHA approved metal cans. McGarry jumped into the discussion, saying he didn’t want to target one type of business only on the gasoline when he sees 50 or 60 gallons in the backs of pick up trucks used by other types of businesses, such as landscapers.

A motion was made and passed with all in favor to accept the agreement as presented. Gaffett noted that four of the five owners had signed the agreement and the fifth had indicated he would.

A longstanding problem with a failed septic system brought the town’s Waste Management Inspector Don Thimble to the council meeting. Thimble said he has been trying to gain compliance with the state’s septic requirements since 2003 at Plat 8, lot 109, which is located between Spring Street and Pilot Hill Road. The parcel is owned by J.T. Pinney. “It will be nine years in one week,” Thimble said, recounting that he has sent letters of violation and applications for low interest state loans to replace septic systems to the owner and attended hearings as well, hearings the owner never attended. Thimble has returned frequently to the property to check the tank for leaks and has thus far not detected any.

On July 3, 2012 Thimble sent a letter which listed datelines the owner needed to meet in order to avoid penalties. The owner did have a contractor to design a system but did not meet a Nov. 23 deadline to hire a contractor to build one.

Gaffett told the new council the goal was to gain compliance, but Pike felt he had been given plenty of time. Town Attorney Katherine Merolla said the town could go to Superior court and get an order to enforce it.

Pike moved to proceed to Superior Court and institute the $50 per day fine due from November 23, 2012. The motion passed unanimously.

The October police report submitted by Chief Carlone elicited several questions from the new councilors. Pike wondered about the 1193 acknowledged alarms, but Town Manager Nancy Dodge explained those were the result of quarterly testing, which creates two alarms per test, and also from power outages.

Warfel wondered how many miles the police cars average per day. Carlone said that would be a difficult figure to calculate, since they drive many more miles in summer than winter. Off-season, he told them, they try to park more often than drive around to preserve the cars as much as possible.

Carlone also submitted a month-by-month chart of police activities since 2010, and announced that a new policeman will join the force shortly. Christopher Rich will complete the police academy December 19 and start work one week later.

Looking over the rules of procedure for the Town Council, Warfel commented he would like meetings to end by 11 p.m. instead of 11:30 p.m. He made a motion and it passed unanimously. McGarry requested meeting packets be ready at noon on the Thursday before the meeting instead of Friday, and that passed as well.

The council adjourned to closed session to discuss “Waste Haulers BILLC vs. Block Island Recycling Management, Inc, Transfer Station Litigation.”

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