A new voice in town

Thu, 09/28/2017 - 8:00pm

The unanimous vote, simply recorded as 4-0, with one member of the Town Council absent, doesn’t quite capture the evident enthusiasm the Council has for its choice of Edward Roberge as the new Town Manager.

Few outside the process have met Mr. Roberge, but his brief conversation with The Block Island Times was cordial and engaging, a description that others have had for Roberge, who is currently the City Engineer for Concord, N.H.

We have always felt the new Town Manager, stepping in to what may be a small but complicated place, will not only have to be competent, but tough and fair, and be armed with a healthy sense of humor, which Mr. Roberge seems to possess.

What he will face, as Town Manager, is not just the myriad issues and complications that come with any town with multiple departments. It is something more ephemeral but just as important: how to retain the quaint, old-fashioned character that attracts so many to visit Block Island, while satisfying the needs of a year-round population that includes not only retirees, but working people of all ages.

The question is important because it will shape answers about how much housing we need, what our municipal budget should be, and what our priorities will be in terms of infrastructure, and the like.

Mr. Roberge has an opportunity to not only be the town’s lead administrator, but also an important facilitator of this much-needed, if more philosophical discussion.