NARRAGANSETT- With three new members and two incumbents, the Narragansett Town Council kicked off its first meeting on Monday evening. James M. Callaghan, president, Matthew M. Mannix and Douglas E. McLaughlin were the new faces on the dais while Susan Cicilline-Buonanno, president pro tem, and Glenna M. Hagopian continued in their elected roles. Also present were Anne M. Irons, town clerk, Police Chief F. Dean Hoxsie, acting town manager, and Mark A. McSally, town solicitor.
In the open forum, Patrick Brady expressed his frustration with the 3.5 year delay in completing the Canonchet Farm Bike Path plans and stated that he believed Mike Deluca, Community Development Director, had held up the process.
“We will lose 1.2 million dollars set aside if we don't move promptly,” Brady said.
In response, Cicilline-Buonanno asked that a workshop be set up with the Department of Transportation (DOT). Hoxsie said he had sent a letter to the DOT office and would check back.
Also during the public forum, a citizen expressed that he thought Narragansett's system did not show the true cost of Hurricane Sandy's damages that were submitted to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which meant that the town would not be adequately reimbursed. Another citizen thanked the town employees for their service during Hurricane Sandy.
There were 14 motions on the meeting's agenda, including an amendment of Chapter 731 of the Code of Ordinances regarding a specific height limit for inns located in the BA – Limited Business Zones.
One citizen was against the amendment because he thought there should be consistency in the code and the law.
Patrick Doherty called himself “a proponent of the ordinance” and pointed out that there had been an open process in changing the law.
“There has been unanimous support leading up to the vote,” Doherty said.
The motion was approved.
The council voted to approve the installation of fiber optic cable at the Community Center and Parks Garage to be completed by SerTex, LLC, in the amount of $13,412.44.
A citizen questioned the cost of the fiber optic cable, believing that it should be free.
Hoxsie explained that Narragansett owns its own fiber cable network and that this expense covered extending the network through the Galilee area.
“We own the fiber cable network. This allows us to avoid paying fees. It's not cheap, but we own it, it's one time, that's it,” Hoxsie said.
The motion to purchase two new truck bodies for $20,604.00 prompted McLaughlin to express his desire for workshop sessions with the town manager before votes of this kind so that he could obtain a full understanding of the issues surrounding expenses and make informed decisions.
“Then the audience could ask questions and I could answer in an intelligent manner because I'd have the information. That's the problem with these motions coming up very quickly – a lack of definition and understanding,” McLaughlin said.
“We can get information prior to the a meeting and ask relevant questions rather than have workshops,” Hagopian said.
“We do need to look into these in detail. Also it's important to point out that these things have been budgeted,” Mannix said.
“Just because something has been budgeted, it doesn't mean we have to spend the money,” McLaughlin said.
McLaughlin also said he wanted people to understand where their tax dollars were going and how the council does business.
“There is an 'I want' list and an 'I need' list. I'm going to pay a lot more attention to the 'I need' list,” McLaughlin added.
“This will extend the life of a 1999 vehicle, which is a savings to the taxpayer,” Hoxsie said.
The motion to approve the purchase of the two truck bodies was passed.
The council also approved their meeting schedule for 2013, which will be on the first and third Monday of each month.
Since there are three new members, the council voted to set up an executive session with McSally and Hoxsie to bring them up to speed on town issues.
“The executive session could be done publicly,” Cicilline-Buonanno said.
McSally then stated that collective bargaining and litigation can't be discussed publicly.
Several appointments were also made Monday night:
Nancy Devaney was appointed to the Juvenile Hearing Board.
Benedict Ingegneri, Bruce Goodness, Michael Deluca, Michael Stone, Robert Barber, Daniel Holland, and Dennis Lamonte were all appointed to the Pension Board; the council voted against reappointing David Krugman.
Lastly, a work session meeting with the Land Conservancy Trust was approved.