Town Council bans parking on Old Town Road
After two hours of listening to the public make their feelings known on Thursday, Aug. 11 about “the incidents that occurred” on August 8, members of the Town Council and remaining audience members were getting a little punchy, but persisted in getting to the bottom of the agenda.
Still to go were the appointment of an interim police chief, and the discussion of whether or not to ban parking on Old Town Road. First Warden André Boudreau turned the floor over to Town Manager Maryanne Crawford who announced the selection of Walter “Chip” Anderson as interim police chief for the Town of New Shoreham, pending the approval of the Town Council.
After the resignation of Matthew Moynihan in the spring, Peter Chabot of the Rhode Island State Police had been serving as an interim chief, but his time was slated to be up as of the end of the weekend.
Anderson has also been a member of the Rhode Island State Police. He retired after 20 years and then subsequently spent 15 years as a seasonal officer on Block Island, so he is a familiar face on the island.
As interim chief, Anderson’s first day on the job was Monday, August 15.
Boudreau said: “Chip, thank you for stepping up.”
Usually making changes is a lengthy and tedious job when it comes to town government, but this week brought one of the speediest actions to take place in a while. Parking has been banned on Old Town Road from the driveway by the Historical Society to the intersection with Connecticut Avenue.
Grass shoulders between the Historical Society and the curve just after Chapel Street had become regular parking spots, even though there were no signs regarding parking in the area. Nearby residents, and others, have been expressing their frustrations at Town Council meetings for the past two or three months during public comment. The parking has made for a dangerous situation as pedestrians are pushed out into the street to compete with cars, mopeds, and bicycles for passage.
At Thursday’s meeting though, the last agenda item was to finally “discuss and act on parking prohibition along Old Town Road.”
After arriving at the where – between the Historical Society and Connecticut Avenue, it came down to the how.
“I would donate the boulders,” said resident Andy Transue, who is a member of the Police Advisory Commission.
Boulders are used in front of a house across from Town Hall to keep people from parking on the grass shoulder. But some people thought boulders weren’t the answer and would make it hard for people with strollers to navigate.
“We’re not using boulders,” said Crawford.
Resident Monica Hull Shea pleaded for parking in front of the Historical Society to be made part of the plan by designating it as two-hour parking only. She said that as a taxi driver, it was nearly impossible to drop people off there because people park there for the entire day.
Facilities Manager Tom Risom asked how banning parking was best done, by ordinance or some other means.
Town Solicitor Nick Solitro said he was reviewing the parking ordinances and that “It would be best practice to have it by ordinance,” adding that a key reason was because ticketing and fines were involved.
But Risom wanted to do something more quickly as ordinance changes take time to go through the process. Town Clerk Millie McGinnes said an ordinance change would be “a month to six weeks out,” with the necessary legal advertising and a public hearing.
Risom asked if it could be done by resolution or as a regulation for the next three weeks and then undergo a more formal change process, as the council wants to consider parking in town in general.
“It’s supposed to come at the request of the police chief, per the ordinance,” said Solitro.
Risom didn’t want to wait though. “I want to put the stick in the ground,” he said.
“I agree,” said Councilman Keith Stover.
From then on it was all hands on deck. The Water Department marked the water lines on Old Town Road and the Highways Department set the posts. The “no parking signs” were up by the following Monday afternoon, as were two-hour parking signs in front of the Historical Society.