Beach parking lot drainage to be addressed

Fri, 01/28/2022 - 6:45am

Town Manager Maryanne Crawford gave her monthly report to the Town Council on January 19, highlighting ongoing projects and upcoming plans.

Town Engineer Jim Geremia has reported his findings regarding the drainage problems at the southern parking lot of Fred Benson Town Beach. Currently, the parking lot floods during heavy rain. National Grid, whose use of the parking lot during its work on the offshore cable led to the parking lot’s degradation, has agreed to “restore the parking lot to its original conditions.”

According to Crawford’s report, in order to do this, Geremia recommends “removing at least 12 inches of silty, clay-like material” from the surface of the parking lot. He suggests replacing this material, which “prevents proper drainage during times of heavy rain,” with a “pervious gravel mix,” which will allow the rainwater to steadily seep into the ground. Crawford told the council that she is working with Orsted and National Grid on a timeline to get all work completed prior to tourist season. The new cable still needs to be spliced into the system to complete the repair, which should occur prior to fixing the parking lot.
New road signs
Crawford reported that the Highway Department is obtaining new signage for Corn Neck Road. Many of the older signs have lost their reflective coating, are damaged, or are missing, and will be replaced. Crawford’s report said the updates and replacement of signs will be “ongoing in the coming months.”
Passports at Town Hall

Keisha Brown has earned her certification as a Passport Acceptance Agent, and the Clerk’s Office can now accept passport applications again. With her recent appointment to Town Clerk, Millie McGinnes was no longer able to continue as the Passport Acceptance Agent. The clerk’s office had paused passport application for the past few weeks.
DEM visits Block Island
Crawford reported that Terrence Gray, Interim Director of the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RI DEM), will visit Block Island this week. She told the council she planned to discuss the landfill project at the Transfer Station, the projects proposed for the Lighthouse Inn in Narragansett, and the “much-needed improvements at Mohegan Bluffs.”

Council Member Mark Emmanuelle said he would like Crawford to discuss the deer situation with DEM, as well as parking on the mainland. DEM currently rents parking spaces in the lot behind the public bathrooms in Point Judith, across the street from the ferry
Additionally, the Lighthouse Inn and the parking lot behind it are leased by DEM to Procaccianti Companies in partnership with Paolino Properties. DEM has requested land-use proposals for the property, and received three: one from Procaccianti, one from the town of Narragansett, and one from Quonset Area Aqua Development Inc., in conjunction with iCell Aqua, Inc. DEM should reach a decision soon on which of three proposals it will accept.
The town of Narragansett had asked for New Shoreham to write in support of its proposal. Second Warden Sven Risom said that the council could not endorse any particular proposal without at least looking at the other two. Council Member Keith Stover suggested
that the Town Council could write to DEM in support of Narragansett having a “seat at the table” in determining what DEM ultimately
chooses to do.
Stover also suggested asking DEM for guaranteed parking spots for Block Island residents, at least for those over age 65. Currently, Block Islanders can get an annual parking placard for use in the DEM parking lot, but it does not guarantee a spot. The DEM also rents spots on a daily basis, so on busy summer days when islanders return to the parking lot after a day on the mainland, the lot is sometimes full. There are parking lots in Narragansett that offer annual guaranteed spots, but the cost is higher than the DEM lot.
New rescue vehicles

Crawford’s report also contained an exciting announcement for the Fire Department and Rescue Squad. Thanks primarily to a generous donation of $320,000 from the Roosa Fund, two new rescue vehicles have been ordered. The report said the new vehicles are expected to be delivered in 12 to 15 months.