The Block Island Times

Town Manager’s Report

Dec 04, 2013

With the best of intentions, I always think I will submit a column to the paper once a month. My last one was in May, so I may revise my expectations to twice a year going forward. I would say that this is a reminder to me that time moves quickly; but that fact was painfully evident all last week as we relived John Kennedy’s assassination 50 years ago... wasn’t that just yesterday?

It was an interesting summer, but the end result is that I signed another contract this week and I’m here for the next nine months, or so it appears. February 2014 will mark my 14th year as your manager — a long distance travelled from the day Dick Kiley asked me to come and “fill in on an interim basis.” It has been a wonderful ride, from my perspective; a job I love in a place I fell in love with over 60 years ago and, as you may have heard, a job I’m not about to relinquish right now. For everyone who offered support these past few months, my undying thanks. And to all the staff at Town Hall who have weathered the somewhat rough waters this fall by simply continuing to do their jobs well every day, my gratitude.

The upcoming holiday season marks a time of construction activity for the town and it will be noticeable to all. In early December, Ocean Avenue will be torn up as the Sewer Commission begins the replacement of the sewer main as promised at the financial town meeting last May. Once that work is complete, the state will be arriving to repave Ocean Avenue from the Police station to the BIG. You may have noticed that work has begun at the east dock in the Old Harbor where the Army Corps of Engineers contractors are rebuilding the dock damaged in Sandy. And once that work is completed, in early December, Reagan Construction will be here to rebuild the bait dock, also destroyed in Sandy. The town’s submittal for loan funds to repave Weldon’s Way, under a newly created revolving loan fund by the state, was ranked number eight out of 24 and there is a meeting in early December to ultimately determine who gets the funds. We have our hopes up...

On another front, the town has joined forces with the newly created state Office of Digital Excellence. Together, we’ll examine ways to increase our bandwidth on the island through our current microwave technology, and to continue to plan for the interconnection with the fiber optics that the town negotiated to be in the Deepwater cable and leased to the town for a dollar a year. Everyone understands that increased bandwidth is vital, both from an economic standpoint for tourism, but also for the future of electronic medical records and online transactions and classroom offerings at the school. Our IT consultant, state officials, and Verizon and Deepwater continue the discussions and the search for answers that need to come soon.

We are also in the process of having our website completely redesigned and handled by a new entity that will allow for departments of the town to have greater ability to post realtime messages and information; and to potentially have an alert system that is instantaneous. Stay tuned…

We have submitted grant applications for funding to renovate our Beach Pavilion, finally erect bathroom facilities at Ball O’Brien, and build a safe stairway and make other improvements to our new Mary D Park downtown. The school is submitting a grant application to construct solar panels and town managed winter maintenance projects will be ongoing.

We look forward to everyone enjoying a fun Thanksgiving — on island or elsewhere. And with my track record for manager’s reports, I should wish everyone a Merry Christmas now also!

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