The Block Island Times

One councilor’s To-Do List

By Chris Warfel | Jan 15, 2014
Photo by: Kari Curtis Beach Pavilion accessibility is on Warfel's agenda.

Several months ago, I promised that I would provide to The Block Island Times what has become known on the Town Council as our Punch List. The need for this list and its management was identified by former Councilman Sean McGarry and me, and adopted somewhat informally by the Town Council.

The Times has noted they had a difficult time assembling the information in the list in a manner that would make sense to their readership. After several months of it residing at the paper, I offered to take a stab at organizing it and submitting it to the paper. This, they agreed to.

The following is the Punch List as I have maintained it. I would much prefer it be maintained by the Town Clerks and posted on the Town’s website, but we are not there yet.

The need for organizing our work seems pretty obvious, as there was no such document or process for working through the issues to my knowledge. Too many times, issues have dropped off the town’s radar simply because our collective memory was imperfect. It should not be incumbent upon the quality of the Town’s memory to organize and complete tasks. I want to stress that the following is my list. Most of the items have been brought to the Town Council’s attention, but some I have added ad hoc. You can see that we have much to do.

I’d appreciate anyone writing to the Town Council and adding issues that they believe are the our responsibility.

Town Council Item List

Each of the following falls under one or more areas of responsibility: Public Works (PW), Administration (ADM), Policy (POL) and Finance (FIN), and will be indicated as such.


1. Old Harbor Town Boat Collision. Report by Town Manager, re: Department of Environmental Management, U.S. Coast Guard Reports. (ADM)

2. Resolution of two town payroll issues that are in violation of State law. (ADM)

3. Ensure the directive for the Town Manager to bid projects per State Law is being followed. Review all projects put out to bid over $5,000. (PW, ADM, POL)

4. Old Harbor Harbormaster Building and Bathroom Drainage problem resolution (PW)

5. Library retaining wall history and options. Why has this project languished with no response to inquiries? (PW)

6. Update on Boat Ramp in New Harbor, bid specification, bid announcement, evaluation, award. (PW)

7. Weldon's Way parking signage, general use of street and how to improve car and pedestrian traffic including parking. (PW)

8. Update on grant process to re-establish wetlands and Sands Pond flow (PW)

9. Update on Beach Pavilion project with regard to specification development and overall scope of project. (PW)

10. Update on Ball O’Brien project with regard to specification development and overall scope of project (PW)

11. Written report by Town Manager analyzing Life Cycle Cost comparison of converting galvanized guardrails to wood. (PW, ADM, FIN)

12. Policy of installing waterless urinals at Town facilities when possible. Include in all current and future specifications. (PW, ADM, POL)

13. Incorporate process to ensure improvements are made/considered on a continuing basis for controlled runoff into waterways (Great Salt Pond, freshwater), roads are widened when possible for parking spaces, more shoulder room for bikes, hedges are cut back to allow shoulders to be developed, walls relocated when possible during road reconstruction to increase shoulders, (PW, ADM, POL)

14. Beach erosion at Transfer Station. Derive schedule for plan to address. (PW, ADM)

15. Update from Town Manager on use of “green” fuel and cleaning products as responded to by department heads. Determine if samples are needed. Need response from Harbors, (others?). Town Manager will ask Superintendent if samples are needed. (PW, ADM, POL)

16. Formation of Infrastructure Committee. May form after Planning Board’s 6-month assessment of current building stock purpose. This committee or a function similar in intent to derive capital budgeting needs. Discuss the possibility of communicating to all budget centers that operating budgets will be reduced by 2 percent to begin as a starting point, and then adjusted. (PW, POL, FIN)

17. Develop RFQ for professional services town likely needs: Energy, Telecommunications, Engineering, Legal, Utility/Regulatory. May share with another town. (ADM, POL)

18. Consider policies that would encourage and result in the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) being available on Block Island. Work with State and Federal agencies, local outreach, and local stores. (POL)

19. Meeting with Chamber of Commerce, Tourism Council. Follow up with budgeting high needs, establishing blue-sky economic development process. (POL)

20. Act upon Tourism and Chamber requests for Pavilion accessibility and improvement, better maintenance of trash receptacles, signage to direct tourists to destinations, addition of foot washing and bathroom facilities. (PW, ADM, POL)

21. Look at the history of the Town’s effort to form Port Authority Exploration Committee and formulate a new effort. (POL)

22. Telecommunications meeting with Verizon. (POL)

23. IT Priorities, Town Hall, Skype, etc. Develop schedule to implement and create time bounded, well defined and budgeted tasks. Including Town website, Town Hall network and computers including display screen for Town Hall, Emergency Management Agency (EMA) contingency, etc. (ADM, POL)

24. Warfel and Police Chief draft of Curfew Ordinance. (POL)

25. Discussion concerning police department efforts for drug interdiction and how it is coordinated with the Town. Discuss better coordination and funding tactics. (POL, FIN)

26. Professional evaluation of cell tower for taxes, value, ownership, etc. Electric Utilities Task Group (EUTG) is to report on their understanding. Taxes are paid to State, not Town. Other methods to transfer value to taxpayers? (ADM, POL, FIN)

27. Education of current Town Council members and public on Town’s history with Deepwater Wind (DWW). (ADM, POL, FIN)

28. Discussion on how monetary value was derived for DWW right of way, with substantiations. (ADM, POL, FIN)

29. Evaluate BIPCo and Estate of Majorie McGinnes for DWW and National Grid contracts/leases to determine if transfer price was accurate. (ADM, POL, FIN)

30. Town Emergency Management Agency plan is boilerplate from the state and is not Block Island-specific. Many concerns over lack of specificity. Plan needs to be updated ASAP. (ADM, POL)

31. Town Manager report on legal opinion she received regarding the use of compensation time regarding Town Employees. (POL, FIN)

32 Review of Town-owned housing stock for use as housing for highly compensated town positions. Work with Planning Board to ascertain most promising sites, and consider need to issue a RFI for non-Town owned housing. (FIN)

Recent (since November)

A. Legal opinion on Town Manager receiving pay increase w/o a contract. Gaffett believes it is legal. Warfel does not. Legal opinion is forthcoming. What was the process that allowed this to happen?

B. Status of Block Island Power Co’s (BIPCo) required Public Utilities Commission filing for street lighting tariff. (POL)

C. Net Metering policy. BIPCo’s proposal versus regulatory compliance. (ADM, POL)

D. Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation programs. Discussion of 175-page document assembled by Warfel and how it can be used to benefit BIPCo and ratepayers. Related to item directly above. (ADM, POL)

E. Weldon’s Way R.I. Department of Transportation project. Integration of Item 13 above. (ADM, POL)

F. Update on process to be used for Performance Appraisals. Several forms were considered. Town Manager’s form submitted was not found to be as well developed as others. (ADM, POL)

G. Discussion of Washington County Regional Planning Legislature Breakfast Meeting. (ADM, POL)

H. Discussion to restrict movement of funds by Town Manager within Town accounts as approved by voters w/o Town Council notification and approval. (POL)

I. Implement greater use of plant fiber netting as sand fencing given success of trial. (PW, POL)

J. Raise Orange flag at Town Hall and Interstate Navigation ferry dock on hunting days. (POL)

K. Review all modifications to proposed agreement with DEM with regard to deer hunting to protect the Town from liability, ensure deer meat is not wasted, work w/ DEM to incorporate use of Block Island hunters so our local economy benefits. (POL)

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