Editorial: A new year, a new council, but lingering issues await

Mon, 01/06/2014 - 3:00pm

The New Shoreham Town Council is now back up to five members. At this week’s meeting, the board added new member Gary Ryan to its ranks. This is a selection that has received universal praise. Ryan is a well-liked and respected member of the Block Island community and is a welcome addition to our political ranks. He was selected from a qualified pool of candidates who deserve acknowledgement for their willingness to volunteer.

Kudos also to the Town Council for a selection process that was open, fair and showed sensitivity and consideration for all involved.

There is much work to be done and we hope that Ryan takes an active role, if not a leading role, in some of the issues facing the island. To date this Council has not been particularly productive. Some of the problem has been the lack of cooperation among members. Too often decisions on urgent issues are deferred, which only serves to limit options when challenges are finally faced. The deer issue is a case in point.

We hope that Ryan can be proactive in keeping the lines of communication open with boards and committees that have been appointed to advise the Council. The council should ask for regular updates from such groups as the Telecommunications Committee as to how it is progressing with increasing bandwidth on the island, an urgent issue. It needs to maintain an open door to the EUTG as it continues to wrestle with fundamental issues that affect our long-term future. It is not encouraging when we see someone like John Cullen resign from the Recreation Board because he feels that the council is unresponsive to hearing from its members.

The council should take an active role in how the town government employs online social media platforms to inform its citizens about important and ongoing island business. It’s a new age. We also know that everyone at Town Hall is busy, but the council needs to somehow find a way to have the information on www.new-shoreham.com updated on a regular basis. Some of the information about meetings and other town business is months out of date. It’s not a crisis, but these things need attending.

So, we welcome Gary Ryan. We know that he will work well with the other four members. But while camaraderie and good will is important, it’s also important to seek solutions to everyday issues here on the island.

There is a lot of work to do and the council needs to take leadership in getting it done.