City of Newport – Comprehensive Land Use Plan Update Kick-Off Meeting, October 13th

http://cityofnewport.com/departments/planning-development/comprehensive-land-use-plan

WHEN: Tuesday October 13th  6:30-8:30pm

WHERE: Pell School | 35 Dexter St., Newport RI

Comprehensive Land Use Plan

The City of Newport and the Planning Board are in process of updating the Newport Comprehensive Land Use Plan. This update includes only the updating of data and statistics to keep the document that was adopted in 2004 in compliance with current State requirements.

The State of Rhode Island has issued new requirements for municipalities to include in their next Comprehensive Plan. After the data revisions are complete and adopted, Newport will begin the process of reviewing and revising the entire document to bring it in compliance with the new State regulations that go into effect as of June 1st, 2016.

The following links contain the 2004 Comprehensive Land Use Plan as adopted in 2004 by the City Council. This document forms the legal basis for all land use decisions made by the City as well as Zoning Ordinances and Land Development – Subdivision Regulations. All Zoning and Land Development Amendments enacted must be in compliance with the adopted Comprehensive Land Use Plan.

Newport North End and Broadway residents should Apply Now! $15.00 per hour

Resident Consultant Job Description (click to download)   http://newporthealthequity.com/

We are seeking energetic residents from the North End and Broadway neighborhoods in Newport that would love to get involved! Once hired, each applicant will be assigned to one of the six working groups. Applicants will be interviewed in August, 2015. Additionally, there will be one mandatory day of training in early September, 2015

April, 2015 the Women’s Resource Center (WRC) became one of eleven organizations within the state of R.I. to receive a Health Equity Zone (HEZ) grant from the R.I. Department of Health.

The Newport Health Equity Zone project is a place-based initiative focusing on the North End and Broadway neighborhoods. The WRC was awarded $235,000 for year one of this project. Funding could be awarded for up to four years. The goal of this project is to not only mitigate current health disparities present in these communities, but also to empower residents with the skills needed to create community change.
The Newport-HEZ project is focused on six main areas that impact health: transportation, arts and culture, open space, physical and emotional health, education innovation and economic opportunities and food access. The project will have six working groups that will each concentrate on one of the six focus areas. A working group will comprise of one lead organization, numerous support agencies, and two residents from the North End and Broadway neighborhoods.

Duties and Responsibilities
The role of the resident consultant is to:

 Ensure that all Newport-HEZ initiatives contain community input
 Actively participate in all working group conversations
 Assist all members of the HEZ collaborative with organizing community events and soliciting community input
 Assist with the design and implementation of a needs assessment

Qualifications
In order to be considered for this position, all applicants are required to live in either the Broadway or North End communities in Newport. Those who live outside of these communities will not be considered. Other skills that are needed include:

 A strong pulse on the needs, challenges, triumphs and assets present in Broadway and/or North End Communities
 Experience interacting with community residents
 The ability to follow through on immediate tasks and long term projects
 Strong interpersonal skills
 Comfort working with diverse communities
 An intrinsic desire to improve the health of communities
 Enthusiasm!

Compensation
$15.00 per hour for approximately 70 hours over 7 months. Please note that the exact hours spent per month will fluctuate depending on the project’s needs and the resident consultant’s availability. Further information regarding monthly time commitments will be provided during the applicant interview.

If you would like to be a part of this exciting project, please contact Olivia Kachingwe, HEZ Project Coordinator at the Women’s Resource Center at 401-236-8344 or okachingwe@wrcnbc.org

We are seeking energetic residents from the North End and Broadway neighborhoods in Newport that would love to get involved! Once hired, each applicant will be assigned to one of the six working groups. Applicants will be interviewed in August, 2015. Additionally, there will be one mandatory day of training in early September, 2015.

 

Newport Yachting Center withdraws NOISE variance request!

Click here if you can’t see the image.
Dear Valued Guests of the Newport Yachting Center's Summer Concert Series and Music Festivals
November 12, 2013

Dear Newport Yachting Center Guests,

We want to thank all of our concert guests and supporters who sent letters, made phone-calls and cleared their schedules to attend tomorrow night’s City Council meeting in support of the Sunset Music Series. It is gratifying to hear how important the Sunset Music Series is to all of you. It is clear that our unique waterfront venue has become a part of the fabric of Newport over the last 16 years.

However, based on feedback from the City Council, we are making the decision to pull the variance request from tomorrow night’s City Council docket.

The reality is that we need to take a step back and allow the City to hold public workshops, during which we will have an opportunity to explain the facts of the variance request and our plans for noise abatement. There is much misinformation circulating right now and it is important that we be able to present the correct information to the residents of Newport.

We will need your support in the future; we will call on you again when the time is right to bring this matter before the City Council.

We will keep you informed as the political process unfolds and public workshops are scheduled.We look forward to seeing you on the waterfront during the 2014 Sunset Music Series season.  Please feel free to reach out to me with questions at any time. I can be reached atmmaker@newportyachtingcenter.com.

With appreciation for your support,

Michele Maker Palmieri
General Manager
Newport Harbor Corporation

2 Important new websites – Engage Newport + Mind Mixer are live! What does this mean for Newport?

Engage Newport Logo

Engage Newport is an evolving forum for opinions and ideas about our city’s major initiatives. Alongside elected representatives, local media and community organizations, Engage Newport is another channel of communication between city government and the people of Newport.

Opinion Newport is home to an ongoing series of surveys about major city issues and initiatives affecting Newport’s future. Starting with community resilience in the face of rising sea levels, you are invited to join the conversation about what matters to you.

This section shares select information and opinion from a City government perspective. Be sure to visit the city’s home page at www.cityofnewport.com to navigate the full spectrum of city services, city calendars and more.

This series of articles will highlight and explain opportunities for public engagement in shaping the future of our community. Learn more about your elected representatives , boards and commissions , & community organizations

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Engage Newport – SEA Aware-Public Event on Rising Sea Level – Thursday, October 24, 2013 from 5:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m.

Engage Newport - SEA Aware-Public Event on Rising Sea Level

“Save the Date”

Notice for a Public Event through the Engage Newport-SEA Aware initiative.

The event will provide information on projects researching Sea Level Rise and is scheduled for Thursday, October 24, 2013 from  5:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m. at the Gateway Center.

 

 

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FREE Public Forum about City of Newport Commissions October 2nd, 6pm Newport Library

ALN Logo Banner

Alliance for a Livable Newport

September 26, 2013
WHO: All Newport residents

WHAT:  Public Forum about City of Newport Commissions | Bring you questions!

Featuring – Cliff Walk Commission, Easton’s Beach Commission, and Waterfront Commission

WHERE: Newport Public Library – 300 Spring St., Newport, RI (401) 847-8720

WHEN: Wednesday, October 2, 2013

TIME: 6pm until 8pm
COST: FREE!  (Donations Appreciated!) DONATE NOW!

Gray

CATCH UP ON WHAT’S HAPPENING AT CLIFF WALK, EASTON’S BEACH AND NEWPORT’S HARBOR FRONT

The first in a series of Newport Commissions Forums to be held October 2 at 6pm

Newport Public Library Programs Room

In its ongoing efforts to keep citizens aware of and involved with issues affecting the quality of life in Newport, the Alliance of Livable Newport will be holding a series of Public Forums featuring the Chairpersons of various City Commissions and Boards.

“Newporter’s are generally aware of City Council meetings but often are unaware that33 boards and commissions have been ordained to support and report to the city council. Their members provide countless volunteer hours in monitoring, investigating, reviewing, reporting on and recommending actions that affect the daily quality of life in Newport” said John Hirschboeck, Vice President of the Alliance. All commissions meetings are open to the public and their agendas and minutes are posted on the city’s website, along with applications for those who might wish to serve.

The first of the ALN forums will feature reports from the Cliff Walk Commission, Easton’s Beach Commission, and Waterfront Commission and will take place at6pm at the Newport Public Library on Wednesday, October 2, with brief presentations from the commissions and an opportunity for a Q&A afterwards. City Councilwoman Jeanne-Marie Napolitano will introduce the Commissioners. 

“After a busy summer on the water, we felt these 3 commissions in particular would be a great way to launch our series,” said Hirschboeck. “The majority of our tourists have visited the walk, the beach and our waterfront. How these waterfront infrastructures are maintained and supported is critically important to all.”

For a complete list of all the Newport City Commissions, go to www.cityofnewport.com/city-council/boards-commissions/index.cfm.

For more information on the Alliance for a Livable Newport and how you can help make Newport more livable, go to www.NewportAlliance.org

Contact:

John Hirschboeck, Vice President

Alliance for a Livable Newport

info@newportalliance.org

This email was sent to info@newportalliance.org by info@newportalliance.org |
Alliance for a Livable Newport | P.O. Box 2636 | Newport | RI | 02840

POLL: #1 Newport: RI’s Best Communities 2013

Newport Harbor

Surrounded by a sprawling waterfront, Newport was fittingly titled the “Birthplace of the Navy.” Since its establishment as a city, this highly visited community has enjoyed a history of progress and success. In fact, Newport has more standing buildings built before 1830 than any other American community. It offers cruises, excursion boats, city tours, golf, and fishing among other things for visitors making it one of the most desired tourist destinations in the country.

http://www.golocalprov.com/news/1-newport-ris-best-communities-2013/

Newport by the numbers

Established: 1639
Population: 24,672
Median household income: $58,080
Median housing price: $352,500

2013 Best Communities rankings

Overall ranking: 1
Affordability ranking: 38
Education ranking: 35
Economic Condition ranking: 17
Safety ranking: 35
Arts & Culture ranking: 1

Famous residents

Benedict Arnold, (governor) of Rhode Island
William Coddington, governor of Rhode Island
John Clarke, Baptist minister and drafter of the Royal Charter
Nicholas Easton, governor of Rhode Island
George Berkeley, philosopher
Louis Alexandre Berthier, French Army officer, later Marshal of France and Napoleon’s chief of staff
William Ellery, signer of the Declaration of Independence
Robert Feke, portrait painter
Peter Harrison, architect
Samuel Hopkins (clergyman), Congregational minister, Calvinist theologian and pioneer leader for abolition of the slave trade
Aaron Lopez, prominent merchant
Louis-Marie, vicomte de Noailles, French army officer
Jean-Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau, French general
Charles Theodore Pachelbel, first organist of Newport’s Trinity Church and son of Johann Pachelbel
William Selby, organist (Trinity Church) and composer
John Smybert, artist
Ezra Stiles, minister, diarist, and President of Yale
Gilbert Stuart, portrait painter
Isaac Touro, hazzan at Synagogue
Judah Touro, prominent merchant and philanthropist
Vice-Admiral Sir Jahleel Brenton, Royal Navy
William Ellery Channing, one of the foremost Unitarian preachers of the 19th century
George Bancroft, historian, Secretary of the Navy, diplomat, and summer resident
August Belmont, financier
Ambrose Burnside, Army officer stationed at Fort Adams, later a Civil War general, governor, and senator
Julia Ward Howe, author and summer resident
Henry James, author
William James, Harvard professor
John Kensett, artist
Clement C. Moore, summer resident and author of ‘Twas the Night before Christmas
Levi P. Morton, summer resident and donor of Morton Park, later Vice President of the United States
Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, hero of the War of 1812
William Trost Richards, artist
Milton H. Sanford, textile magnate and thoroughbred racehorse owner
Richard Upjohn, architect
Louis Agaziz, scientist and adventurer
Caroline Webster Schermerhorn Astor, socialite
Alva Belmont, socialite and leader of women’s rights movement
Charles D. Barney, socialite, banker, founder of Smith Barney Brokerage
Oliver Hazard Perry Belmont, socialite, builder of Belcourt Castle
James Gordon Bennett, Jr. newspaper publisher and yachtsman
Ogden Codman, designer
Richard Morris Hunt, architect
William Morris Hunt, artist
John LaFarge, artist
Pierre Lorillard, tobacco manufacturer
Rear Admiral Stephen B. Luce, founder, Naval War College
Captain Alfred Thayer Mahan, naval historian and strategist
Ward McAllister, flamboyant raconteur of high society, coined the term ‘the 400’ for the New York social elite
Charles McKim, architect
H.H. Ricardson, architect
Edith B. Price, writer and illustrator
Horace Trumbauer, architect
Alva Vanderbilt Wife of William K. Vanderbilt, early feminist and active in the women’s suffrage movement
Consuelo Vanderbilt, daughter of W.K. and Alva Vanderbilt; Duchess of Marlborough
Cornelius Vanderbilt II heir to Vanderbilt fortune, Chairman of New York Central Railroad
William Kissam Vanderbilt heir to Vanderbilt fortune, noted yachtsman
Edith Wharton, author
Stanford White, architect
Edward Malbone, artist and miniaturist
Caleb Gardner, captain and counsul of the French Empire
Thomas Harper Ince, actor
Ida Lewis, lighthouse keeper credited with saving 18 lives in Newport Harbor throughout the nineteenth century; she received national attention and numerous honors. A United States Coast Guard buoy tender bears her name
Matthew C. Perry, Commodore of the U.S. Navy who forced the opening of Japan to the West with the Convention of Kanagawa in 1854, under the threat of military force
Harry Anderson, actor and comedian
Nadia Bjorlin, soap opera actress (Days of our Lives)
Frank Corridon, who pitched for the Chicago Cubs, Philadelphia Phillies, and St. Louis Cardinals and is known for inventing the now illegal pitch, the spitball
Tanya Donelly, musician, vocalist for Rhode Island-based bands Belly and Throwing Muses, as well as guitarist for the band The Breeders
Leon Wilkeson, bass guitarist
Charlie Fern, White House speechwriter, journalist.
Van Johnson, actor, known best for “all-American” roles in MGM films during World War II.
Mena Suvari, actress, known best for her role as the vampish cheerleader with whom Kevin Spacey’s character is obsessed in the 1999 film American Beauty.
Laura Jane Barney socialite, philanthropist, Smith Barney Brokerage heiress Champ Soleil Mansion on Belleveue Ave
Admiral Jeremy Michael Boorda, 25th Chief of Naval Operations
John Nicholas Brown, socialite, yachtsman and philanthropist
The Cowsills, a popular 1960s pop/flower power band that had a #2 hit with The Rain, The Park, And Other Things in 1967
Doris Duke, tobacco heiress and philanthropist
President Dwight D. Eisenhower, located his summer White House at Newport
Fleet Admiral William F. Halsey, Jr.
Paul L. Gaines, first African-American to be elected mayor of a New England city
Kristin Hersh, musician, vocalist for Rhode Island-based band Throwing Muses, 50 Foot Wave and solo artist.
Fleet Admiral Ernest King, Chief of Naval Operations, 1941–1945
MacGillivray Milne, 27th Governor of American Samoa, 1936–1938
Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz, Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, 1942–1945; Chief of Naval Operations
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, summer resident and First Lady
Claiborne Pell, socialite and U.S. Senator
Admiral William Sims, commander of U.S. Naval Forces in Europe 1917–1919
Admiral Raymond Spruance, the victor of Midway and later President, Naval War College
Harold Vanderbilt, yachtsman and bridge player (inventor of contract bridge)
Paul Gordon – keyboardist and guitarist with Goo Goo Dolls, New Radicals, Lisa Marie Presley and currently The B-52’s
Joanna Going, Actress
Richard Hatch, first winner of the realty television show Survivor
Richard Saul Wurman, architect, graphic designer and founder of the TED Conferences
Sheldon Whitehouse, U.S. Senator

Newport’s civic groups seeking a larger role

http://www.newportri.com/newportdailynews/news/newport-s-civic-groups-seeking-a-larger-role/article_da94f827-1289-5b06-becb-d180e815c354.html

 

Posted: Wednesday, May 8, 2013 12:08 am | Updated: 1:56 pm, Wed May 8, 2013.

 

By Sean Flynn l Newport Daily News | 0 comments

 

Leaders of seven active neighborhood associations in Newport said Tuesday night they feel ignored by city and elected officials and will be seeking acknowledgement that they represent the interests of local residents.

“My big goal is building cooperation and a sense of trust with the city,” said Beth Cullen, president of the Point Association.

Among the changes she would like to see is an “Office of Neighborhoods” in city government, as found in many cities across the country, including Charleston, S.C. Cullen also would like the city’s website to provide links to the web pages of the various neighborhood associations.

Besides the Point Association, representatives of the Off-Broadway, the Historic Hill, the Bellevue Avenue-Ochre Point, the Castle Hill and the Top of the Hill neighborhood associations, as well as the new North End Neighborhood Association, met at the St. John the Evangelist Parish House on Poplar Street.

Representatives of the citywide Alliance for a Livable Newport, which has had more success getting attention from city officials, also were present.

Almost everyone among the two dozen people at the meeting has been active in community affairs in one role or another. When asked who had served on one or more city boards or commissions, they all raised a hand. They said the city administration and the City Council largely ignore the work, reports and recommendations of those boards and commissions.

Lauren Carson, who represents the Point on the Alliance for a Livable Newport’s board of directors, moderated the meeting.

“The city has no mechanism for dealing with us; they don’t know us,” said Jack McVicker, president of the Off-Broadway Neighborhood Association. “They denied us a meeting with the city manager, mayor and police chief.”

The neighborhood west of Broadway is roughly bounded on the south by Marlborough Street, on the west by Farewell Street, on the north by Van Zandt Avenue and Malbone Road, and on the east by Broadway. Within this area have been multiple assaults and a murder within the last year, and public safety and nuisance houses are major concerns of neighbors, McVicker said.

Organized as an association about 10 years ago, the group has been unsuccessful in getting responsive action from the city, he said.

“After 10 years of never having had a victory with the city, we want at least one,” McVicker said.

The association asked the City Council 16 months ago to pass an ordinance regulating how to deal with nuisance houses. But, he said, “nothing has happened. We’d like to change the way the city deals with us.”

Cullen said the Point Association, founded in 1955 and currently with 450 members, is the “grandmother of neighborhood associations.” She asked the city to interact with the neighbors in order to protect and preserve the historic character of the neighborhood.

When the city repaired the Van Zandt Bridge not long ago, it put up Jersey barriers along one side of the bridge, where they remain, she said. Recently, the city ripped up a bluestone and cobblestone crosswalk, likely from the Colonial era, at the top of the Willow Street driftway and replaced it with black asphalt, she said.

“We are not going to take that anymore,” Cullen said. “It’s all about communication. I would love the city to acknowledge neighborhood associations more. If we could realize that goal, Newport would be a healthier, safer and more attractive place.”

Federico Santi, representing the Historic Hill Association, agreed. “Our city fails to understand the importance of historic streetscapes,” he said.

In the past, the city paid Brian Pelletier to maintain the gas lamps on Historic Hill, but he was let go, Santi said.

“Now the gas lamps are deteriorating because of a lack of maintenance,” he said. “They are letting the gaslights fail to justify removing them.”

Santi said the encroachment of bar patrons into the Historic Hill neighborhood still is a major problem for residents, especially when bars in the Thames Street area close at 1 a.m.

Jim Moore, co-chairman of the Bellevue Avenue-Ochre Point Neighborhood Association with Robert Beaver, said his group is different from other associations.

“We arose out of war,” Moore said.

The group organized years ago in response to a plan by Salve Regina University to build an athletic facility “roughly the size of Fenway Park,” Moore said. That plan was successfully blocked, he said.

English: Salve Regina University
English: Salve Regina University (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The association continues to deal with plans by Salve and the Preservation Society of Newport County, he said. Currently, members are concerned about plans by the Preservation Society to construct a welcome center on the grounds of The Breakers, he said, although the board has not taken a formal stand.

Members also are concerned that planned repairs by the state to the Cliff Walk have been held up and will not be undertaken until the fall at the earliest, Moore said. Surfers and environmentalists objected to the original plan to address the damage caused by superstorm Sandy.

“We now will wait for repairs through another hurricane season,” he said.

Glenn Whisler, representing the Castle Hill Association, said his group was formed 38 years ago. Members were concerned two years ago about increasing activities at Brenton Point State Park, but meetings with state Department of Environmental Management officials apparently have resolved that, at least for now, he said. DEM patrols picked up, and last summer was quiet, he said.

John Hirschboeck, representing the Top of Hill Neighborhood Association, said members are concerned about the reduction of Memorial Boulevard westbound from two lanes to one lane from the Middletown line to about Red Cross Avenue in the upcoming summer months.

He said the change so far has been benign, but that could change when there is heavier traffic around Easton’s Beach. Bellevue Avenue and Kay Street roughly bound the Top of the Hill neighborhood on the west and north, Eustis Avenue on the east, and Memorial Boulevard on the south.

Chip Leakas, representing the North End Neighborhood Association, talked about drawing membership from the approximately 2,200 households in the wide area north of Van Zandt Avenue to the Middletown border, from the bay on the west to Kay Street on the east.

McVicker said he is seeking outside help to help kickstart initiatives in Newport. He met recently with staff at the Providence office of the Local Initiatives Support Corp., a national organization founded in 1980 with help from the Ford Foundation and other major sponsors.

“Out of frustration, we’ve asked them to get involved with us,” McVicker said.

Members of the different neighborhood associations said they want their new cooperative effort to continue. They scheduled the next meeting for Tuesday, July 16, beginning at 7 p.m. at Café 200 on Broadway.

 

 

 

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Open House Sheds Light, Reveals Rifts

http://www.newport-now.com/news/open-house-sheds-light%2C-reveals-rifts/

By Tom Shevlin, April 19, 2013 Newport This Week (Newport-Now.com) 

NEWPORT – School lunches, budgets, the search for a new superintendent, what to do about excess elementary schools, a push for a new parking garage, the redevelopment of the North End, a proposal to require Newport residents to pay as they throw, and the seemingly ever present issue of trust between the city’s top two elected bodies.

They were all topics of conversation on Tuesday when the Alliance for a Livable Newport hosted what it called an open house to discuss citywide issues with members of the School Committee and City Council.

The roughly hour-long session, which drew about two dozen members of the public to the downstairs meeting room of the Newport Public Library, began with a series of questions related to the city’s public schools.

Taking primacy were two lines of questioning: the first seeking clarification regarding the search for a new superintendent, and a second addressing the continued struggles of Rogers High School students on the New England Common Assessment Program, or NECAP, test.

Representing the School Committee were Chairman Dr. Charles Shoemaker and Vice Chair Jo Eva Gaines.

According to Gaines, in finding the city’s next superintendent, a search committee made up of 9-11 parents, students, public officials, members of the school support staff, teachers, and administrators will soon be constituted and a total of five focus groups will be convened.

The aim, she said, is to be as inclusive as possible and reach out into the community to gauge their top priorities.

The search is set to begin in earnest next month, and those interested in participating in the process should look for further updates in the weeks to come.

As for the department’s efforts to boost the city’s flailing test scores, Shoemaker acknowledged that there is room for improvement.

Gaines agreed. Especially as it relates to the high school level where under 30 percent of students tested proficient in math skills, she said that there is room for improvement.

“Math is a problem,” Shoemaker said. “There’s no question about it. It’s not just Newport. It’s across the whole state, and it’s true in a number of other public schools across the country. Lots of people have lots of theories about why that’s occurring. Yes, we have a problem with the kids in 11th grade, as does every other school across the state,” he said. “The good news is that if you look at the 8th graders, they’ve really made some significant gains and I anticipate that those kids who are graduating from the 8th grade will have a much better head start than those kids in high school.”

Gaines agreed. “The state, the commissioner, is very much interested in growth,” Gaines said, adding that so long as those students who did not test proficient in math or reading show improvement in their senior year, they will be issued diplomas.

But, she noted, many will still not be proficient. “And that’s sad,” she said.

Also unfortunate is the persistent friction that seems to exist between the School Committee and their counterparts on the City Council.

When asked if they were open to school’s finance department being absorbed by City Hall, both Gaines and Shoemaker were wary.

“If the city can get the federal government and the state government to give figures in a way that we can’t, then I would welcome them taking it over,” said Gaines in explaining why the committee has in recent years failed to provide a concrete number prior to the city adopting its own fiscal year budget. “We don’t get the information from the federal government, therefore we can’t do anything with it.”

Shoemaker reiterated that point, noting that while two months ago, the department was anticipating running a surplus, today, he said, “We think that we’re in a slight deficit situation.”

That seemed to take Newport Mayor Henry F. Winthrop, who was representing the council along with Vice Mayor Naomi Neville, off-guard.

Saying that while he has the “utmost respect” for Gaines and Shoemaker, he added, “I don’t have that same respect for the development of the budget process through your administration.”

According to Winthrop, “Budgets are nothing but a series of forecasts about where you’re going to be either at the beginning or the end of the year. And a good accountant will know, not exactly, what it’s going to take to run that department.”

Still, relying on three sources of funding – state, federal, and local –Shoemaker said that there are simply too many unknowns for the committee to provide the city with an accurate forecast in advance of the city’s annual budget process.

Winthrop, however, persisted.

“The fact of the matter is, from an accounting standpoint, we as a council have a fiduciary responsibility to ensure to the taxpayers that we fund you adequately but that we do not over fund you. Without your budget forecast we have no idea how much to allocate.” As a result, the council has opted to simply level-fund the department – a point of contention which has drawn protest from members of the School Committee in recent years.

Adding that he currently has a proposed budget from Middletown’s School Committee on his desk at City Hall, Winthrop concluded his remarks by suggesting that the city not stop at absorbing the school department’s finance office.

“I don’t think that’s the only thing we should take over,” he said. “I also think that we should take over HR administration and we should also take over the maintenance of the buildings and grounds, and let the School Committee focus on what they were elected to do: and that’s educational excellence.”

He continued, “We have a professional staff. We do it, I think, much better than the School Department and we should be allowed to do that for the whole town. I would estimate – and this is just a Harry Winthrop number – that we could save a half a million dollars or more if we were allowed to take over those functions.”

Gaines responded with a familiar, yet broader concern.

“At the bottom of all of this is the big word of trust,” she said. “There is hardly any trust between the School Committee and the City Council. And I say that with all do respect to the council… But as a body, it’s very hard to trust that they’re going to do what’s right for the kids.”

She added, “If we are taken over by the City Council, what is the priority of education in Newport. Are we going to be…second in consideration if a street has to be paved?”

For the past couple of years, School Committee member Sandra Flowers has attended the monthly meetings of the School Committee-City Council Liaison Subcommittee.

“It seems that the agenda never has to be rewritten,” she said. From combining simple functions such as maintenance and groundskeeping operations to restructuring the finance department, the proposals haven’t changed much.

Especially as it relates to groundskeeping, she noted, “That’s been talked about for a couple of years now.” Why, she wondered, couldn’t the city just “jump in and do it.”

There were no answers readily presented during the meeting except for an acknowledgement that the relationship between the two bodies needs to be improved.

That seemed to be underscored when the topic turned toward the proposed establishment of a new charter school in town.

Winthrop, in voicing his support for the concept, noted that he would not be opposed to spending more if it meant that Newport’s school children received a better education.

Shifting to more concrete matters, both Winthrop and Neville expressed their enthusiasm for efforts underway to redevelop the city’s North End.

Long a source of public interest, improving the area north of the Pell Bridge has been a frequent topic of discussion over the years. But as Winthrop noted, there seems to be some real momentum behind recent efforts.

In the coming weeks, a new North End Redevelopment commission will begin their work to determine how best to bring about change to the area.

“There have been a lot of plans that have been developed,” over the years, Winthrop said. And over the coming months, “many of those will be pulled out, dusted off, and looked over and see if they’re still applicable today.”

Citing a number of factors including the state’s commitment to reconfigure the Pell Bridge interchange as well as the ongoing efforts led by the Aquidneck Island Planning Commission to secure the former Navy Hospital property, Winthrop said that he sees reason for optimism when it comes to the North End.

Meanwhile, Councilwoman Neville noted that movement is also being seen in the city’s efforts to redevelop the former Navy Hospital property through the Aquidneck Island Planning Commission, with a final report on its potential best uses expected back on the property within the next few months.

Also on the city side, attention was briefly paid to the prospect of the council adopting a pay as you throw trash system, which is currently being examined by city staff.

Winthrop was straightforward in his response.

“The proposal before us is really just that today, a proposal,” he said. “Until I can be convinced that it’s a good thing, I am opposed to pay-as-you-throw. I don’t think it fits in Newport, even if economically it works. It doesn’t fit in Newport because of the transient population we have – especially in the summer.”

Neville held a slightly different view.

“At this point, I’d say that I’m more neutral to the idea,” she said, noting that she’s willing to reserve her final assessment until after the various proposals are brought before the council.

Further discussion was also held related to the possibility of constructing a downtown parking garage to help ease the city’s perpetual parking pinch.

While Winthrop didn’t necessarily seem keen on looking at developing a new garage structure in town, he was eager to see plans developed that would relocate the Gateway Center out of the downtown area and in tandem develop a new multi-modal transportation center that would provide parking and public transit for visitors coming to downtown.

As for repurposing the city’s soon-to-be-vacant elementary schools, Gaines said that she’s ready willing and able to do whatever needs to be done to get those schools into the city’s hands and on the market.

But when it comes to what to do with the proceeds from the buildings, a divide was again revealed, as Shoemaker said that he believes the money should go toward maintaining existing school facilities, while Winthrop countered by saying that the funds should be directed to the city’s general fund and allocated to the school department as needed.

The meeting ended with a brief exchange with audience and School Committee member Robert Leary, who suggested that the city be proactive in bargaining with its municipal and school retirees to restructure their post employment benefit plans.

As Leary noted, in recent weeks, both Providence and Cranston have done just that, and achieved significant savings that have helped shore up their long-term finances.

Leary proposed the idea of engaging retirees on the school side last year, but was rebuffed.

Winthrop said that he thinks such a strategy could be a good idea.

Comments (13)

Comment Feed

Response to” Ace”

Obviously as I stated previously, all public school teachers are in the state’s retirement system. The only thing the city or town is responsible for to its teacher retirees is the OPEC, that would be health care, etc. This varies greatly from town to town.Oh , by the way Newport was, to my knowledge,the only one to give Life Blue Cross in 1998 . In fact, I believe, we may be the only one or at least one of the very few cities or towns that gave it’s teachers Life Blue Cross.

When I spoke of Cranston and Providence I spoke mainly of the cities employees. Providence was in over $100,000,000 deficit and the current mayor involved them and did other things to stay afloat. What happened in Central Falls was on the door step. However, you might want to check with them on any OPEC savings from the teachers.

I believe, the Newport City Council and the Newport School Committee should invite the retirees to the table together. Lets involving them in the conversation. Providence and Cranston had success with this.

The Newport School Committee pays almost $4,000,000 for retirees health care. That is almost $1,500,000 more than active employees.

The unfunded liability payment the City of Newport makes varies from year to year. This year they are requesting $1,900,000 for retirees .That is almost a 3% tax raise just for retirees.At some point the city can’t afford this payment and get anything else done then you going have do something. Lets involve the retirees in the solution, lets not wait until to late.

Robert J Leary 8 days ago | reply

Response to Mr. Leary’s comment

It took a while but I finally contacted the leadership of Cranston and Providence retired teachers. Under no circumstances did EITHER group have discussions that led to ANY change in their retirement. How Mr. Leary can state that both communities have had success involving its retirees is obviously incorrect. I challenge Mr. Leary to provide the evidence that would substantiate the fact that the present retired teachers from Providence and/or Cranston gave up anything in their retirement benefits. They both lost their COLA’s—as did Newport and all other participants in the ERSRI—but that was NOT due to talks between the respective committees and the local retirees. Put up—-or shut up!

Ace 10 days ago | reply

response to question posed

Let me answer the questions posed.

What 120 of the 200 teachers means is simply that,120 teachers have Life Blue Cross out of the 200 teachers in Newport.

Providence , Cranston, and other cities have talked to retirees and I would assume there retirees didn’t want changes, but they made them. However, cities can longer afford these benefits as they are constructed.

As far as my pension is concerned , all public school teachers are in the state retirement plan. Oh by the way the state passed major changes to its retirees. RI could no longer afford the way it was structured.

Robert J Leary 18 days ago | reply

ZfHuMJIGnTUrxnJ

I’m out of laeuge here. Too much brain power on display!

Jayne 19 days ago | reply

Your pension

Bob how much of your pension have you donated back to the West Warwick school system ??????

Jack 19 days ago | reply

Response to Mr. Leary’s suggestion

Mr. Leary—-your suggestion that the retired teachers should talk to the School Committee smacks of politics. You were on the School Committee when the last contract with TAN was negotiated. Whether you voted for or against the present 2011-2014 contract is immaterial. I assumed you voted against it—-but you must have read it in order to cast your vote. Page 25, Section K, 4th paragraph reads ” Any medical benefit cost share and above agreed-upon contractual benefits shall not be changed for employees after the date of retirement.” Any retiree who is willing to talk to you or the School Committee about restructuring their post retirement benefits most likely does not represent a vast majority of the retirees——especially if they are aware of the above agreed upon language in their contract. You should forget about the talk—and walk the walk. Deal with the present and upcoming contracts. Accept the past agreed upon contractual language.

Ace 19 days ago | reply

Can someone translate

Mr. Leary’s post? The word salad is nearly incomprehensible. For example: “The teachers only 120 of its 200 members have it.”

Is this how the school committee organizes its thoughts? In an obfuscating stream of consciousness?

Concerned Taxpayer 20 days ago | reply

Real numbers

I do not like to give numbers out without being on target.

You can check the unfunded liability, and the money they are recommending to put in this in fy 2014 budget numbers on the city’s web site. The $675,000 is close to the target for a 1% tax raise.

As far as Life Blue Cross in the school department, you can verify my numbers and who continues to have Life Blue Cross through the school department or on the schools web site under contracts.

Robert J Leary 21 days ago | reply

Questions

Bobby are any of these numbers real numbers? I have seen you on video making numbers up, changing data points right during a meeting, can we be sure you are not doing so right now?

Are you willing to vote to support the idea of putting thanks to the citizens of Newport on Jack’s plaque?

Newporter 21 days ago | reply

Bargaining with retirees

The Newport School Committee as well as the Newport City Council should talk to the retirees. Newport’s unfunded liability payment this year is $1,900,000 considering that around $675,000 is a 1% tax increase. That is almost a 3% tax increase. Providence and recently Cranston have had success with involving its retirees.
Newport School Committee has made great strides with reducing its unfunded liability . In the last contract the school department retiree benefits has decreased from $73,200,000 to $48,900,000.You can’t ignore that!
What happened to the money? The money is in a trust fund The total dollar amount is less $3,500,000 As you can see that will not cover the districts cost for post employment retirement benefits.
As I was told by a former school committee member they acted on what information was given to them. Life Blue Cross was given when the administration told the school committee they would save $1,000,000 by switching from Classic Blue Cross to Coast to Coast Blue Cross. It saved $50,000 !
Since around 2005 there isn’t any Life Blue Cross for our new employees none of them..The last contract with Council 94 members 75% of its membership gave up its Life Blue Cross. All of our administration has given it up. The teachers only 120 of its 200 members have it. That needs to be reduced with each contract.

Robert J. Leary 22 days ago | reply

Vanity

I’d say it is all about who gets their name on the Pell building. How do we ask the committee to thank the citizens on that plaque we all know jack wants his name on?

Newporter 22 days ago | reply

Yes, it is all about trust Ms. Gaines

“Gaines responded with a familiar, yet broader concern.

“At the bottom of all of this is the big word of trust,” she said. “There is hardly any trust between the School Committee and the City Council. And I say that with all do respect to the council… But as a body, it’s very hard to trust that they’re going to do what’s right for the kids.””

If there’s anyone we should trust less than the City Council to “…do what’s right for the kids,” it’s the School Committee.

Just sayin’.

Concerned Taxpayer 22 days ago | reply

Bargaining with retirees

Why would any fair person be in favor of Mr. Leary’s idea of restructuring retiree(s) post employment benefit plans? Everyone knows that restructuring means giving up some thing(s) that the retiree(s) earned as part of their retirement package. If Mr. Leary or anyone else is unhappy with the present terms that future retiree(s) will earn upon their retirement then the school committee should negotiate with the present teachers about their future retirement package. Changing terms of retirement AFTER individuals have already retired is unfair and most likely illegal. What happened to the monies that retirees paid to fund their future retiree costs? Where is that 3% monies that was supposed to go into an escrow account to help defray future costs? Former school committee members were responsible for the present retiree(s) benefit package. Years ago during negotiations with the teachers the school committee broached the subject of life time benefits in exchange for a 0% increase in salaries. Both parties agreed to the terms. Is the school committee going to offer to said retiree teachers compensation for the 0% they agreed to as part of the restructuring of their post employment plan? One would assume at least a 3% salary increase compounded over the many years that the retiree(s) were no longer employed—-PLUS—-the 3% escrow payments that somehow no one wants to remember. Sounds like a real mess!!

Ace 22 days ago | reply

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MARCH 23 9:30 AM – 11: 00 AM Free Forum – League of Women Voters

THE LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS®
OF NEWPORT COUNTY, RHODE ISLAND

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS SPONSORING NEWPORT COUNTY LEGISLATORS FORUM

MARCH 23 from 9:30 AM – 11: 00 AM

For the first time since the Assembly began its 2013 session, Newport County’s
State House delegation will meet as a group with the citizens of Newport
County.

The meeting, sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Newport
County, will take place Saturday, March 23 from 9:30 – 11:00 am at the Potter
League for Animals, 87 Oliphant Lane in Middletown.

To date legislators attending are: Sen. Louis DiPalma, Sen. Christopher Ottiano,
Sen. Teresa Paiva Weed,Rep. Marvin Abney, Rep.Canario, Rep. John Edwards,
Rep. Linda Finn and Rep. Peter Martin.

League member Patty MacLeish will moderate the forum. Legislators will open
the program with a brief statement about their priorities for this legislative
session. There will be questions prepared by the League on issues such as ethics,
education, gun control, as well as questions from the audience. In the past, these
events have offered lively conversation and a valuable exchange of ideas
between legislators and their constituents.

This event is free and open to the public. 

For more information contact Susan Wells, 846-9537.

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