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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NEWPORT’S CLEAN CITY PROGRAM ANNOUNCES EARTH DAY CLEANUP EVENTS

City of Newport – Clean City Program – Department of Public Services

NEWPORT’S CLEAN CITY PROGRAM ANNOUNCES EARTH DAY CLEANUP EVENTS

Newport, RI (April 2, 2012) –  Newport Mayor Stephen Waluk and the Newport Public Services Department’s Clean City Program would like to invite Newport area residents to volunteer for one of the 12 litter cleanup events happening for Newport’s 2012 Earth Day celebration, which is also part of Keep America Beautiful’s Great American Cleanup.

The Clean City Program will be providing gloves, bags, as well as picking up the bags of litter for the cleanups in Newport. T-shirts will also be provided by sponsorship of Waste Management Newport and the Clean City Program. Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation is waiving all disposal fees associated with litter collected during Earth Day cleanups and Waste Management Newport will assist in disposing of the litter.

“We are fortunate that Newport has such dedicated volunteers,” said Mayor Stephen Waluk. “The City of Newport is appreciative of any assistance you can provide in keeping our city clean.”

Earth Day is Sunday, April 22. A majority of the City of Newport’s Earth Day events will take place on Saturday, April 14 and, with such, invites all residents to participate in any of the scheduled cleanups when they might be available to do so.  All April 14 cleanups have a rain date of April 21. Interested volunteers may contact the event coordinator directly or the Clean City Program at 845-5613. The Clean City Program is also available to provide assistance to those individuals who may want to start their own neighborhood cleanup as part of Earth Day activities.  Become an active part of your community by volunteering at one of the following events:

  • Wednesday, April 11 – Katherine Field and Associates along with Ms. Carrellas’ and Ms. Magruder’s 6th graders from St. Michael’s Country Day School invite you to clean up the southern end of Miantonomi Park from 9:45am-12:30pm. Volunteers should meet at the Best Western Inn parking lot, 151 Admiral Kalbfus Rd. Wear long pants, long sleeves, closed toe shoes and bug spray. To volunteer, contact Petra Napolitano at 848-2750 or at pnapolitano@katherinefield.com.
  • Thursday, April 12 – The Aquidneck Land Trust and the East Bay Met School invite you to join them from 10am to 12:30pm at Miantonomi Memorial Park and Sunset Hill. Wear long pants, long sleeve shirts, closed toe shoes and bug spray. Contact Sophia DeMaio at 401-849-2799 x 14 or SDeMaio@ailt.org, or Taylor Rock at taylor.rock@metmail.org and 846 -5806.
  • Saturday, April 14 – Save The Bay & Pruitt Chiropractic invite you to help clean up Easton’s Beach, 175 Memorial Blvd. from 10am-12pm. To volunteer, you must contact Stephany Hessler in advance at shessler@savebay.org or 272-3540 x130. Volunteers should dress for the weather and bring their own work gloves. Please bring your own water bottle, sun, and bug protection. Sturdy closed-toed shoes are required at Save The Bay Cleanups!
  • Saturday, April 14 – The Off Broadway Neighborhood Association invites you to join their annual Earth Day festivities. Meet at Equality Park at 9am with tools to mulch Equality Park, or pick up bags & gloves to clean your street. Contact Jack McVicker at 829-1601.
  • Saturday, April 14 – The Point Association will meet at both Battery and Storer Parks at 9am. Once gathered, work groups will blanket the Point, cleaning parks, driftways, beach areas, Hunter Park/railroad track area, and east to Arnold Park at the corner of Cross, Bridge, and Upper Thames. Contact Sue Beckers at 849-1814 or suebeckers@cox.net.
  • Saturday, April 14 – Friends of the Waterfront  invites volunteers to join them in the annual Earth Day Cleanup at King Park  from 9am-12pm.  Volunteers should meet at the pavilion on King Park at 9am. Contact Jim Perrier at markdatum@verizon.net.
  • Saturday, April 14 – Old Colony & Newport Railway and Boy Scout Troop 3 will lead a group of volunteers along the railway where they run scenic, narrated train trips. To volunteer, please contact Chuck Flippo ahead of time at 871-0828.
  • Saturday, April 14 – The Newport Run & Chug Club will be cleaning up the downtown area. Volunteers should meet at Panera Bread in Brick Market Place at 9am. To volunteer, contact Jeff Heimiller at 970-391-2761 or at newrunclub@yahoo.com.
  • Saturday, April 14 – Clean Ocean Access will be cleaning the shoreline areas from Baileys Beach to Ledge Rd. from 12 noon to 2 p.m. This shoreline area includes sandy beach and rocky shores, so please wear sturdy shoes. Meet at the end of Bellevue Ave. at the turnaround. No advance registration is required. Contact Marty Casey at MARTY4599@aol.com.
  • Thursday, April 19 – The Naval Health Clinic will be cleaning up Brenton Point State Park. Volunteers should meet at the Naval Health Clinic New England 1 Riggs Road, Newport at 11:45am. To volunteer, contact Bennie, Command Volunteer Coordinator at Naval Station Newport at 401-841-6840 bennie.mitchell@med.navy.mil.
  • Saturday, April 21 – The Newport County Saltwater Fishing Club will be cleaning up shoreline fishing access points in Newport & Middletown from 9am-11am. Bring gloves & tick repellent. Volunteers should meet at Salt Water Edge, 47 Valley Rd., Middletown at 9 a.m. Contact Dennis Zambrotta at 849-6121.
  • Saturday, April 21 – Friends of Ballard Park will be holding an Earth Day cleanup at 9am, following by a free guided tour of the park at 11am. Volunteers should meet at the quarry meadow off Hazard Rd. at 9am. To volunteer or RSVP for a tour, contact Jessica Lade at 619-3377 or Jessica@ballardpark.org. Volunteers should wear sturdy footwear, as park trails can be muddy.

“Spring is a great time for cleaning and pitching in with the City of Newport’s Earth Day Celebration during Keep America Beautiful’s Great American Cleanup, the nation’s largest cleanup, beautification and community improvement program,” said Kristin Littlefield, Newport’s Clean City Coordinator. “Everyone is invited to join in with our estimated 300 volunteers and help make Newport a more beautiful place to live.”

More than 2.3 million volunteers this year in more than 15,000 communities throughout the U.S. are rallying to participate in cleanup, beautification and community improvement activities.  The activities range from removing litter, beautifying a park, renovating/building a playground, collecting clothes for reuse, organizing a recycling or graffiti removal program, joining a river, lake or seashore cleanup, etc.

For more information about the City of Newport’s Earth Day celebration, or an updated list of participating groups, contact the Clean City Program at 845-5613 or visit www.cityofnewport.com/cleancity.

America’s leading companies and brands support the campaign. The National Sponsors of the 2012 Great American Cleanup to date are:  The Dow Chemical Company; The Glad Products Company; LG Electronics U.S.A., Inc.; Nestlé® Pure Life® Purified Water; PepsiCo’s Pepsi-Cola and Gatorade companies; Solo Cup Company; Troy-Bilt® Lawn and Garden Equipment; Waste Management; and Wrigley. Promotional Partner is: The Miss America Organization. Educational Partners are: Rubber Manufacturers Association and WM Recycle America.

Kristin Littlefield

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