Town Manager's Report
The snow has arrived, along with the hype, and we survived with little or no difficulty. Somehow I can’t get used to the idea that we now name common winter nor’easters as well as horrific hurricanes. The prediction was fairly accurate, as the coastal storm was at its strongest during the evening hours. Kudos to Mike Shea and everyone in his department, along with Joe Sprague and his crew, for working so hard to get, and then keep, our roads open in the midst of such blowing snow.
And kudos to the Block Island Power Company for keeping the power on through it all. We do tend to complain a lot in the winter months... days are short, weather is cold, people are cranky. So it’s good to have a reminder now and then that things do work well on this island, and people do work hard generally for everyone’s benefit.
A quick update on activities this month and going forward:
The Recreation Department just concluded a very successful annual trip to Sunday River over Martin Luther King weekend and all the participants had a great time. Rob Closter, our director, has responded to the concerns of the timing of the triathalon last summer and worked with Interstate Navigation to have an early boat on the morning of the triathalon so that the run will be completely finished before noontime. Hopefully this makes it even more appealing for runners and easier on all of us that day.
The Army Corps of Engineers has finished its work on the East Dock and Reagan Construction will be next in to rebuild the bait dock. We have a grant to install water and power outlets on the East Dock now that it is completed. That work should be done by spring. The Army Corps is also planning to bid out the repairs to the East breakwall so that it can be worked on next fall. The light is the responsibility of the Coast Guard and we’re still waiting to hear if the Coast Guard has money for its replacement.
The repaving of sections of our roads dug up for the sewer work has been delayed due to the cold weather and the opening of the asphalt plants on the mainland. Hopefully we can get some temporary patch down before the next big snowstorm. The entire repaving of Ocean Avenue is still on pace to be done in the spring, and not a moment too soon.
The Coastal Resources Management Council has scheduled its hearing on Deepwater’s application for Tuesday, Feb. 4 at the Corliss Auditorium, URI Bay Campus at 4 p.m., and a hearing on Block Island for Feb. 24 at 2 p.m. at the Town Hall.
Remember that the town lands (plat 20, lot 20; plat 1, lot 16) and the BIC property (plat 3, Lot 86-4) are open for hunting through Feb. 28 (with the exception of weekends) with town permission, and the deer culling plan with the Department of Environmental Management is moving forward. More will be written about that in upcoming weeks.
For everyone who follows the continuing Champlin’s Marina lawsuit, Champlin’s has filed its new brief in Superior Court following the second remand hearing in that court. Copies are available at the clerk’s office if you are interested, and Don Packer will be meeting with the Town Council on Wednesday, Feb. 12 at 7 p.m. to update the briefing schedule and the anticipated track of this case.
And finally, the work done by the Sewer Commission on Ocean Avenue in December was largely to replace the asbestos concrete force main at the Ocean Avenue 1 pump station and the force main at Ocean Avenue 2 pump station. The 36-year old force main was replaced with high density polyethylene pipe that has an anticipated life span of 50 years. In addition, it included the installation of piping modifications at each pump station to allow the staff to bypass the station or force main in the event of mechanical or electrical failure. This work is ongoing this month.
These repairs were paid for with a USDA grant/loan and the contribution by the town that was approved at the Financial Town Meeting last May, and represent money well spent that will dramatically decrease the possibility of overflows or spills in the future.
Next time you hear from me we should be well into the budget season. The town budget will be presented to the Town Council on March 5. How time flies!