ALN Hosts First Annual ‘State of the City’ Forum Addresses Governance, Safety in 2018

Watch the VIDEO HERE 
CREDITS: By Joseph T. O’Connor | 2018-03-01 / Front Page | Newport This Week


In an effort to reflect on the year that was and to look ahead at the year to come, Alliance for a Livable Newport (ALN) held its first “State of the City” forum on Feb. 27, providing a chance for open dialogue between citizens and the city’s top officials.

More than 100 Newporters turned out at Pell Elementary School to hear Mayor Harry Winthrop, City Council Vice-Chair Lynn Ceglie and City Manager Joseph J. Nicholson, Jr. present the city’s accomplishments and the challenges it faces, and to discuss what they say will be a promising 2018.

City leaders took questions submitted by citizens and read by ALN moderators John Hirschboeck, co-president of ALN, and Tom Hockaday, who sits on ALN’s executive committee. The nonprofit had solicited questions based on topics that citizens identified as issues they wanted addressed: the armory, schools, traffic and parking, other city properties, communications and governing processes, hotels and other issues.

“Hopefully [this] was an audience that appreciates our openness,” Nicholson said in an interview following the forum. “I want to work with people. I want people calling me. I want them to understand what’s going on with the city.”

The forum began with the city officials commenting on Newport’s accomplishments, its investments, and developments, as well as the challenges facing the City by the Sea.

Winthrop cited more than $190 million in citywide public investments, including the water and wastewater treatment plants, the Pell Bridge Ramp Realignment Project, Freebody Park, Broadway, the Gateway Center and Sheffield School, among others.

In addition, he noted the benefits that $350 million in private investment has had on local properties, among them the Breakers and Mrs. Astor’s Beechwood mansions, Gurney’s, the Marriott, Sail Newport and the Opera House.

“One thing that shows confidence in the city and the city government, I believe, is what type of personal investment people are willing to make in their community,” Winthrop said.

Along with upcoming hotel development, infrastructure investments and North End redevelopment, as well as major Newport events that attract more than 3 million visitors per year to the area, including the Volvo Ocean Race stopover in May, and the Newport Jazz and Folk festivals, the city is seeing major accomplishments, Winthrop said.

But Winthrop, Ceglie, and Nicholson also identified significant challenges for Newport, among them a $2 million-plus investment into repairs on Bellevue Avenue, a declining population, the relocation of the Newport Grand Casino that displaced 225 workers, and $2 million in needed repairs to the Edward King House. One issue, in particular, is the sea-level rise in low-lying areas of the city.

“Sea-level rise … has been a topic for quite a while now, and things need to be done,” Winthrop said. “But of all of the challenges, that to me is the one at the top of the list.”

Ceglie said the city is making strides in infrastructure through $425,000 in grants to stem the rising tide by helping to commission a study and preliminary design, and beginning a pilot program that looks at tide gates, which could allow water to flow out of storm drains but not back in. “We’re working on this challenge but there’s certainly more to go,” she said.

Another challenge city leaders identified is the potential repair or replacement of Rogers High School that Winthrop said could cost $50 million. But, he added, change will take time, and he urged Newporters to be patient as city and school officials navigate complex options.

“There’s going to be a lot of time and a lot of effort [invested in] building a high school that will hopefully be here for another 50 years,” he said.

Question and Answer Period

The first topic addressed was the Armory building and its potential sale to the National Sailing Hall of Fame, currently located in Annapolis, Maryland. The city officials reiterated that the council has maintained its position since talks of a sale began.

“There’s no change to policy,” Winthrop said. “The city took title to [the Armory] in 2010 because the redevelopment agency could not afford the repairs. We reluctantly took it on and immediately attempted to sell it. This is not something new.”

In the shadow of a renewed national debate over guns and safety in American schools, city officials were asked what steps were being taken to develop and implement a comprehensive safety plan for schools.

Nicholson said he has been discussing the issue with Newport Schools Superintendent Colleen Jermain and Police Chief Gary Silva.

“As it stands today, we have a police presence in all three schools, but it’s an ongoing discussion,” Nicholson said. “In past years, my first reaction would be it’s about the money. But it’s no longer about the money. It’s the new normal.”

Ceglie said Newport has two “very safe schools” in Pell and Thompson and that, in addition to staffing police at all three schools, city officials are allocating money to the 50-year-old Rogers High School for locks and cameras, among other safety features.

“I’ve said over and over again, my number one priority in the city of Newport is public safety,” Winthrop said. “Without public safety, none of this other stuff we’re talking about really matters.”

In an interview at the conclusion of the forum, Hockaday said, “They may see their own councilperson at a neighborhood meeting, but you rarely get the two top elected officials… and the city manager together at one time to collectively participate in answering those questions.”

Hirschboeck said some people might be upset that their questions weren’t answered, but he added that all questions had been submitted electronically to the Newport City Council for councilors’ input and reference.

“We have a great relationship with [ALN’s] board,” Nicholson said. “It was a nice turnout, and I thought it was a great exchange. A good way to get things off your chest.”

Read moreALN Hosts First Annual ‘State of the City’ Forum Addresses Governance, Safety in 2018

Cover Story – NEWPORT – City officials “State of Our City”

The Newport Daily News | Page A01Wednesday, 28 February 2018
The Newport Daily News | Page A01Wednesday, 28 February 2018
The Newport Daily News | Page A01 Wednesday, 28 February 2018

 

Purchase of Navy hospital, sale of Armory and longevity of cell tower at high school are the other major changes discussed at a forum Tuesday.

CREDIT : By Sean Flynn Staff writer  The Newport Daily News | Page A01Wednesday, 28 February 2018

NEWPORT – City officials chose a “State of Our City” forum Tuesday night to make some major announcements on school security, the city’s planned purchase of the abandoned Navy Hospital on Third Street, the proposed sale of the Armory on Thames Street and the likely longevity of the cell tower on the Rogers High School campus.

City Manager Joseph J. Nicholson, who is also the city’s director of public safety, said beginning this week there are now full-time police officers stationed at the high school, Thompson Middle School and Pell Elementary School. In the past, there have been budgetary concerns and grants were sought to pay for police presence at the schools.

“It’s no longer about the money,” Nicholson said. “This is the new normal.”

“Our number one priority is public safety,” Mayor Harry Winthrop said. “Who gives a damn about a pothole on Bellevue Avenue if we are not safe?”

More than 100 people gathered in the Pell cafeteria for the forum that was sponsored by Alliance for a Livable Newport, the major neighborhood advocacy group in the city. Audience members submitted written questions that were consolidated and asked by ALN officers Tom Hockaday and John Hirschbeck. Besides Nicholson and Winthrop, Council Vice Chairwoman Lynn Underwood Ceglie responded to the wide-ranging questions.

Such events are not usually the arena in which new initiatives and developments are revealed to the public, but that’s what happened.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency recently informed the Navy that it could not sell the hospital property to the city until it cleaned up the lead contamination on the site, Nicholson said. That could be a two- to three-year process, he was initially told.

That caught the audience by surprise because the city believed the Navy’s final environmental impact statement was completed and hired an appraisal firm last year to set a value on the hospital property.

Navy leaders came to Middletown on Jan. 30 to complete the sale of the 3-acre former Navy Lodge property at the corner of Coddington Highway and West Main Road to the town for $1.3 million. The deal was the first for the 165 acres of federal land on Aquidneck Island that is part of the ongoing Base Realignment and Closure process.

Newport thought it was next in the pipeline for a property purchase, but “the BRAC people told me they were avoiding me,” Nicholson said. That is when they dropped the EPA ruling on him.

Nicholson said the city initially was given the choice of waiting for the Navy to clean up the property, or buying the land and taking on the full liability for the lead clean-up, “which we were not going to do.” The property must be cleaned to “residential standards,” he said. The city has hired a Boston attorney familiar with the BRAC process to explore whether there could be a “fast transfer” of the land to the city under the condition that the Navy returns to the property and conducts the cleanup, Nicholson told the audience.

“That is our path forward,” Nicholson said. “I don’t want to wait anymore.”

Since the Navy declared the hospital site surplus property in February 2010, the city has eyed the parcel for economic development purposes, but it looks like the wait will continue.

The proposed sale of the Armory to the National Sailing Hall of Fame was given a new twist during the forum.

Members of the public have been concerned about the fate of the city-owned Newport Maritime Center, located in the basement of the Armory, which the city opened in 2012, as well as the beach at the back of the building and the adjoining Ann Street Pier.

Nicholson said earlier this month the Sailing Hall of Fame would own the whole building, but lease the basement to the city for a nominal fee under a 99-year lease. He explored the model of dividing the building into condominiums, with the city retaining ownership of the basement maritime center condominium that fronts the beach, but attorneys had advised him against that, he said at the time.

“I changed my mind,” Nicholson said at the forum.

He now favors dividing the building into two condominiums, with the Sailing Hall of Fame owning the main assembly hall on the first floor level with Thames Street and the second floor. The city would retain clear ownership of the basement level, the beach, and the pier.

“That would answer the public’s concerns about protecting public access,” he said.

Does that delay action on the proposed sale of the Armory? Nicholson was asked.

“Everything is delayed,” he responded.

Winthrop told the audience that the Rogers High School cell tower is likely to be redesigned so that is “amenable” to the neighbors, but it is likely to remain where it is.

AT& T, Verizon, and T-Mobile currently use the cell tower, but Verizon’s contract expired June 18, 2017, AT& T’s contract expired Oct. 23, and the T-Mobile contract expired Dec. 28. The companies continue transmitting though. The school department receives a total of about $90,000 annually for the lease of the tower, an amount the companies continue to pay.

The School Committee voted in December 2015 not to renew the telecommunications contracts once they expire. This action was taken because of ongoing neighbors’ complaints about the tower.

“It was a misinformed decision of the School Committee,” Winthrop said at the forum.

He said the companies have explored with city officials whether a new tower could be built near the high school auditorium, or whether a new tower could be constructed across Old Fort Road at the Fire Department’s Station 5. Both towers would be too large and obtrusive, he said.

The three telecommunications companies hired a consultant firm to complete a comprehensive report on the impact of removing the existing Rogers High School tower. The firm determined large areas around Ocean Avenue, Brenton Road and Gooseberry and Hazard beaches would be left without cell coverage.

“We cannot lose cell coverage in the south end of the city,” Winthrop said.

Time was spent at the forum discussing the realignment of the Pell Bridge ramps, which could free up about 60 acres for economic development, both Winthrop and Nicholson said.

The state Department of Transportation, which is now designing new approach ramps, will hold a public workshop on the project on Thursday, beginning at 6 p.m., in the council chamber of City Hall.

The state has committed $40 million to this project, Winthrop said. It was one of a long list of public investment and private investment projects that were either completed in the recent past, are now taking place, or are pending that city official presented.

Leading the public investment list was the $120 million that the city has been investing in its two water treatment plants and the wastewater treatment plant.

Flynn@NewportRI.com

Replacement for Resigning City Councilor John Florez

John Florez has submitted a letter of resignation from the Newport City Council to be effective January 9, 2018.

The Newport City Charter specifies that when a Council seat becomes vacant mid-term for any reason, the Council will solicit applications from Newport residents to fill that seat for the remainder of the term (in this case from January 9, 2018, to December 1, 2018).  An applicant would need to secure the votes of at least four of the remaining Council Members to be selected. The Charter calls for the Council to make a selection within thirty days of its learning of the vacancy.

The Mayor has issued a call for applications and interested residents of Newport are asked to submit a letter of interest detailing why they would like to serve for the remainder of the current Council term.  The letter should be submitted by Friday, December 15, 2017.  The letter, together with a resume, should be sent by mail or hand-delivered to Newport City Hall addressed to:  Office of the Mayor, City Hall, 43 Broadway, Newport, RI 02840; or be sent via email to the Mayor at hwinthrop@cityofnewport.com with a copy to the Council’s Administrative Assistant, Patricia Cofield, at pcofield@cityofnewport.com.

We urge all interested residents to submit an application.  Or, if you know someone whom you would like to have as a Council Member, please contact them and urge them to apply.  Many important matters will come before the Newport City Council between now and the end of the current term of office, and it is vitally important that a highly qualified individual be selected to represent the interests of Newport’s residents and businesses.

Free Public Forum – The Working Future of Newport – Oct. 5th 6-8pm @ Pell School

DATE: Thursday, October 5

TIME: 6-8pm

LOCATION: Claiborne Pell Elementary School | 35 Dexter Street, Newport, RI.*Ample parking directly across the street from the school.

What Will Be the Jobs in Newport’s Future and Who Will be Qualified to Fill Them?  “The Working Future of Newport”


A Public Forum Presented by The Alliance for a Livable Newport

If economic initiatives planned by the City of Newport are successful they will create new opportunities for people trained in 21st-century job skills. What can be done to make sure our residents will be able to meet this challenge?

Here’s an opportunity to learn about The North Side Innovation Hub; Newport’s successful application for the “Working Cities” Grant; Career Tech Programs at Rogers High School, and the OneNewport Outreach to the Newport Community.

Panelists:

Sarah Atkins, Newport Department of Economic Development and Civic Investment

Robert Young, Director, Pathways in Technology Early College High School (PTECH) and Newport Area Career and Technical Center (NACTC)

Kerry Clarke, College and Career Readiness Coordinator, Rogers High School

Colleen Jermain, Superintendent, Newport Public Schools

Joe Tomchak, Assistant Executive Director, Boys and Girls Club of Newport County

Moderator – Lauren Carson, Newport’s State Representative for District 75

Interconnectivity between Newport and Salve Regina University to be explored by The Alliance for a Livable Newport

How does our local University enhance Newport’s quality of life? Does it detract?

The Alliance for A Livable Newport has invited a leadership team from Salve Regina University to highlight the economic, educational, aesthetic and charitable contributions made to the city and the challenges an urban University faces as a member of our community.

DATE: Monday, September 18
TIME: 6-7:30 pm, followed by a tour of the new O’Hare Academic Center
LOCATION: O’Hare Academic Center: Ochre Pt. Ave. and Shephard Ave.
(Bazarsky Auditorium.) Free parking for Forum across Ochre Pt. Ave.

“During the many years ALN has addressed issues affecting the quality of life in Newport, we’ve overlooked one of our most significant assets, that of Salve Regina University,” said John Hirschboeck, co-president of the Alliance. “Here is an opportunity for Newport residents and businesses to learn what is — and will be — taking place at our local University and its impact on our city.

“We appreciate the opportunity afforded by the Alliance of a Livable Newport to inform our community about what our University offers and to learn from the community about issues and concerns it may have regarding our institution and student body,” said Sister Jane Gerety, President of Salve Regina.” “We have been a proud member of the Newport community for 70 years. Our positioning statement, “Learn Lead Make a Difference,” I believe, also applies to the responsibility we feel towards Newport.”

Panelists:
• Jane Gerety, RSM, President of Salve Regina University
• Dr. Laura O’Toole, Senior Faculty Fellow for Community Engagement
• Kristine Hendrickson, Associate VP for University Relations/Chief Communications Officer
• Kelly Powers, Director of Community Service
• Stacey Carter, Center for Business Outreach
• Linda Sawyer, President of the Bellevue Ochre Court Neighborhood Association

 

City of Newport – All residents – City Website Update – Please Provide Suggestions

The City of Newport invites you to provide your suggestions for the City’s new website https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CYCNV77

Post Date: 03/11/2017 7:17 AM

The City of Newport is planning to update its website to provide more information online and add tools to better serve its residents and guests. We invite you to provide your suggestions for the new website by completing this quick, ten-part survey. We are using the Survey Monkey tool for this purpose. If you would like to help us by participating in the survey, please click here. Our thanks to you!

ALN Public Forum – Newport Utilities Department – Monday, February 27, at 5:30 Edward King House

DATE: Monday, February 27
TIME: 5:30pm 
LOCATION: Edward King House, Ballroom – 35 King St, Newport, RI 02840

The Alliance for a Livable Newport (ALN) will be holding its first Public Forum of the year featuring Julia Forgue, Director of the Newport Utilities Department, and her staff will talk about their department’s responsibilities and operations.

The Department of Utilities is comprised of two divisions, the Water Division and the Water Pollution Control Divisionhttp://www.cityofnewport.com/departments/utilities

The Water Division operates and manages the source water reservoirs, treatment plants, storage tanks and distribution system. The City’s water distribution system also services the Town of Middletown and a small portion of the Town of Portsmouth. We also sell water wholesale to the Portsmouth Water and Fire District and Naval Station Newport.

The Water Division is responsible for providing drinking water that meets standards established by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH). The Water Division is licensed by the RIDOH as a Public Water Supplier, License # 1592010. The Water Division is also required to report to the Rhode Island Water Resources Board.

The Water Pollution Control Division is responsible for providing wastewater treatment for the residents of Newport. In addition we provide wastewater treatment on a wholesale basis to the Town of Middletown and Naval Station Newport. The Water Pollution Control Division also manages the storm drainage system within the City.

ALN Public Forum – Newport Utilities Department – Monday, February 27, at 5:30 Edward King House

DATE: Monday, February 27
TIME: 5:30pm 
LOCATION: Edward King House, Ballroom – 35 King St, Newport, RI 02840

The Alliance for a Livable Newport (ALN) will be holding its first Public Forum of the year featuring Julia Forgue, Director of the Newport Utilities Department, and her staff will talk about their department’s responsibilities and operations.

The Department of Utilities is comprised of two divisions, the Water Division and the Water Pollution Control Divisionhttp://www.cityofnewport.com/departments/utilities

The Water Division operates and manages the source water reservoirs, treatment plants, storage tanks and distribution system. The City’s water distribution system also services the Town of Middletown and a small portion of the Town of Portsmouth. We also sell water wholesale to the Portsmouth Water and Fire District and Naval Station Newport.

The Water Division is responsible for providing drinking water that meets standards established by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH). The Water Division is licensed by the RIDOH as a Public Water Supplier, License # 1592010. The Water Division is also required to report to the Rhode Island Water Resources Board.

The Water Pollution Control Division is responsible for providing wastewater treatment for the residents of Newport. In addition we provide wastewater treatment on a wholesale basis to the Town of Middletown and Naval Station Newport. The Water Pollution Control Division also manages the storm drainage system within the City.

All ALN Forums are videotaped and appear on the ALN website athttp://newportalliance.org/videos/ and on COX TV, Channel 17.

June 2016 City of Newport Rhode Island planning initiative updates

PLANNING UNDERWAY IN NEWPORT As of 6/20/16

The City of Newport, Rhode Island has numerous concurrent planning initiatives underway which are compiled in the list below. Click each link to “learn more”.

Newport’s Strategic Plan:

This document will look at how to allocate Newport’s personnel and resources for the next five years. Officials hope the plan will be ready later this year.

http://engagenewport.com/projects/strategic-planning

10 Year Comprehensive Land Use Plan:

This document involves land use and the city’s long-term physical development. The original finish date was set for June 1, 2016. That has been delayed to the fall.

http://newportchartingourcourse.com/

Broadway Streetscape:

Target date for finishing major work on sidewalks and parking areas is now July 4, 2016. Finishing touches will take a little longer.

Broadway Project

Lower Thames/Spring Streetscape:

After a third public workshop in late May, Newport’s consultant, Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, is developing a long-term vision for Thames and Spring. The target date for completion of that work and laying out the project’s next steps is this fall. These are preliminary planning stages, with funding yet to be secured.

Thames & Spring Streetscape Improvements Project

Open Space Master Plan:

The plan, concerning trees, parks and open spaces, is to be finished by consultants Sasaki Associates by midsummer. The committee overseeing the effort will then seek the City Council’s approval. Costs so far have been borne by private foundation grants but the city may include $25,000 in the new budget to finish the work. After that, the next step will be to determine how to accomplish the plan’s identified long-term projects.

http://www.newportopenspace.org/

Newport’s Original Spring Restoration:

This is a private effort now on hold awaiting completion of the Open Space Master Plan.

http://www.historicnewportspring.org/about.html

North End Innovation Hub/Pell Bridge Realignment:

This project will be ongoing for the foreseeable future as an InfraLinx Capital consortium provides the city with strategic advice on development possibilities. The city has provided $500,000 in seed money for this endeavor.

Newport Innovation Hub

Technology Business Incubator and Accelerator:

A new, exciting business hub is being created in Newport, RI. It’s called the InnovateNewport. It entails the re-purposing and redevelopment of the Sheffield School, an idle City-owned public school property, as an innovative technology accelerator and flex space. It’s a model of public/private sector collaboration and visionary community economic development.

http://engagenewport.com/projects/newport-techworks

The Newport Health Equity Zone Project:

The Newport Health Equity Zone project is a place-based initiative focusing on the North End and Broadway neighborhoods. The Newport-HEZ project is focused on 6 main areas that impact health: transportation, arts and culture, open space, physical and emotional health, education innovation and economic opportunities and food access. By focusing on these 6 areas, we hope to ensure that our efforts take a holistic approach to decreasing health disparities by addressing numerous social determinants of health.

http://engagenewport.com/projects/the-newport-health-equity-zone-project

City of Newport seeks public input on capital improvement program planning document.

http://opinionnewport.mindmixer.com/category/five-year-capital-improvement-program

Five-Year Capital Improvement Program

Five-Year Capital Improvement Program

The City has a rolling five-year plan for capital improvements. Capital improvements include facilities, infrastructure (road, water, sewer and bridge), major equipment replacement, land purchase or large asset acquisition.This initiative is in the planning phase. Any documents that are included within this project are planning documents only, not financial documents.

For more information about how your input will be used, please click here.

 

 

 

 

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