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

Mayor, City Manager to participate in the ‘State of the City’ forum

*Questions may be submitted in writing at the event, or via email to info@newportalliance.org/

You do not have to be present at the forum to have your question chosen.

“The State of the City, Newport, Rhode Island”

A Public Forum Presented by The Alliance for a Livable Newport

  • How are we doing in our “City by the Sea?”
  • What has been accomplished over the past months?
  • As a function of the city’s Strategic Plan, what are the successes?
  • Where did the city fall short?
  • What can the residents and taxpayers look forward to?
  • Any warning signals to look for?

Here’s an opportunity to get the perspectives of Newport’s elected officials and of the City Manager about the issues they have been addressing over the past year and expect to be facing in the current year, and to challenge them with your questions* about the future of Newport.

Panelists:

  • Mayor Harry Winthrop
  • City Council Vice-Chair Lynn Ceglie
  • City Manager Joe Nicholson

DATE: Tuesday, February 27

TIME: 6-7:30 PM

LOCATION: Claiborne Pell Elementary School

35 Dexter Street, Newport, RI.

Ample free parking directly across the street from the school

CONTACT            For Immediate Release: 02/12/2018

Isabel Griffith, Co-President

Alliance for a Livable Newport

Igriffith38@verizon.net

401.849-6444

 

 

 

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

 

Please join us for The Alliance for a Livable Newport 2017 Annual meeting

 

Friendly REMINDER!
Please JOIN US – Save the date!

DATE: Monday, April 3rd
TIME: 6:00 – 7:30 PM
LOCATION: Salvation Cafe – “Post and Beam Room” 140 Broadway, Newport, RI 02840
WHAT:  2017 Annual Meeting

Please join us for The Alliance for a Livable Newport 2017 Annual meeting open to all members and those that would like to learn more.  (tell a neighbor, bring a friend!)

6pm

  • Complimentary hors d’oeuvres and cash bar
  • Alliance for Livable Newport Ballots for Election of At Large Directors will be handed out (to paid members only)
  • Would you like to pay your dues “on line”? (Click Here) http://newportalliance.org//join/membership-options/

6:30

  • Welcome: John Hirschboeck, Co President
  • 2016 Forums Re-cap
  • 2017 Forums in consideration:
    • One Newport; Newport Schools 5 Year Strategy
    • Innovation Hub Status Report
    • Salve Regina: focus on our community
    • Senate District Candidate forum

Introductions of Guest Speakers:

  • Susan D. Taylor, First Ward-
  • Jamie Bova, Councilor at large

“Early Impressions of Newport’s City Council and Future Priorities”
– Q&A from the Audience
– 2017 At Large Director Voting Results
– Conclusion/social time 

Please support ALN today!

Go to http://newportalliance.org//join/ or mail to: ALN, PO Box 2636, Newport, RI  a 501(c3) non-profit organization.

 

Public Workshop: Protecting Newport Historic and Cultural Assets from Flooding Caused by Sea Level Rise

The public is invited to participate in a community workshop on flood protection for historic and culturally valuable properties on Newport’s coast. The workshop is scheduled for THURSDAY, JULY 14, 2016, 3-7 P.M., at Emmanuel Church, 42 Dearborn St., Newport, RI 02840.

NOTE: The public is welcome for the whole event; a general overview of the project will be given at 5 p.m. to ensure attendees arriving later in the day have ample opportunity to gain information. RSVP if attending by July 11 to ensure adequate refreshments.

The workshop follows the April 2016 Keeping History Above Water Conference in Newport, which explored historic preservation efforts regarding flooding from sea level rise a key impact of climate change. Newport hosts a broad array of historical and cultural assets, including registered historic buildings, and rising water and increased storminess is expected to threaten these over time. The University of Rhode Island (URI) Coastal Resources Center (CRC) and Rhode Island Sea Grant are facilitating the meeting for several community groups interested in continuing the conference dialogue. The event is also possible due to generous support from the Prince Charitable Trusts.

Science indicates that Rhode Island is more likely than many other coastal states to experience flooding over time from sea level rise, said Dawn Kotowicz, a coastal manager for CRC and extension agent for Rhode Island Sea Grant. Coastal development, including the historic properties and cultural assets that Newport values, is at risk, so collaborating on practical solutions is critical.

CRC and Rhode Island Sea Grant, at the URI Graduate School of Oceanography, provide Rhode Island and beyond with a variety of community-based coastal management and outreach services and programs.

For more information about the workshop, please contact Dawn Kotowicz at (401) 874-6152. Please RSVP. For media inquiries, contact Sue Kennedy at (401) 874-6107 orskennedy@crc.uri.edu.

http://www.crc.uri.edu/2016/07/public-workshop-protecting-newport-historic-and-cultural-assets-from-flooding-caused-by-sea-level-rise/

 

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.

 

 

 

 

NEWPORT’S 375TH – City to celebrate with dancing, music, parade

Newport 375th Anniversary Celebration Committee co-chairman Steve Waluk answers a question during a meeting sponsored by the Alliance for a Livable Newport on Thursday at the Newport Public Library. Committee members Lynn Ceglie, left, and Jennifer Hanson also fielded questions and suggestions.   http://www.newport375.com

Newport Daily News – Friday January 24, 2014 Page 1. – Dave Hansen | Staff photographer  – By Sean Flynn  – Staff writer

The Island Moving Co. dance troupe will perform to the locally composed “Newport Colonial Suite” at Rogers High School on March 5 and at the Rosecliff mansion on March 7, two of many events planned this year in celebration of the 375th anniversary of Newport’s founding.

“Island Moving Co. has made this bigger than I ever expected,” Lynn Ceglie, a member of the city’s 375th Anniversary Celebration Committee, said. “The performances are going to be amazing and the music is absolutely beautiful.”

Ceglie spoke during a forum Thursday night that unveiled planned activities for the coming year. The Alliance for a Livable Newport, a neighborhood advocacy group, sponsored the forum at the Newport Public Library.

Members of the audience suggested even more events, such as one celebrating Newport’s maritime trading history, or another with Navy involvement, or yet another on the founding of the Old Colony & Newport Railroad in the city 150 years ago this year.

“We haven’t been a boring town for the past 375 years; we have almost too many options,” said former Mayor Stephen C. Waluk, who co-chairs the anniversary committee with former Mayor John J. Trifero.

Plans that have started out as seeds in past committee meetings have blossomed quickly, though, such as the contemporary ballet performance of the “Newport Colonial Suite,” which was composed by Alan Bernstein, supervisor of the arts in Newport’s public schools.

Through the choice of instruments, Bernstein evokes different settings in Newport in three different movements. In one, the piece reminds the listener of the wind, the sound of sails and the busyness of a vibrant Newport Harbor. In another, he represents the sounds of the White Horse Tavern with a violin reel. A plot of land called “God’s Little Acre” in the Common Burying Ground inspires the third movement. 

The Newport Public Education Foundation donated money to make the performances by Island Moving Co., under the leadership of artistic director Miki Ohlsen, possible, Ceglie said. The performance at the high school will be free to the public, while the event at Rosecliff will have an admission price. While the performance days have been finalized, the times have not been set yet, Ceglie said.

The official opening ceremony commemorating the city’s actual anniversary is planned for May 24 at 6 p.m. in front of the Colony House on Washington Square. The Rogers High School band and orchestra has been asked to provide music and the Artillery Company of Newport will be asked to fire its cannons.It was on May 16, 1639, that a group of dissidents from Portsmouth, including William Coddington and Nicholas Easton, agreed “the plantation now begun at the southwest end of the island shall be called Newport.”Jennifer Hanson, a committee member who also spoke at the forum, is arranging a family scavenger hunt to take place the next day, May 25, in the historic downtown area and on Bellevue Avenue.When the city celebrated its 350th anniversary in 1989, Waluk said he was a student at the Thompson Middle School. He still remembers the long parade that came down Broadway.

A re-enactment of that large community parade is being planned for June 21, beginning at One Mile Corner at 11 a.m. and heading south on Broadway to Marlborough Street and the Great Friends Meeting House, where a large community photo will be taken at 2 p.m. That will be followed by a community cookout on the Meeting House field.

Before the fireworks show on July 4, concerts are being planned for different locations in the city, perhaps at King Park, Perrotti Park and Storer Park.

“At first, we wanted to bring the Boston Pops here for the Fourth of July, but we’d have to sell the library to do it,” Waluk said.

A public clambake at Ballard Park or Fort Adams will take place on Aug. 24 at 4 p.m.

“Newport Inside Out — A Culinary Celebration” will take place on sidewalks along Broadway between Washington Square and Equality Park on Sept. 19. Local restaurants are being asked to participate.

A lecture series examining various aspects of Newport’s history is being planned. Jim Garman, a local historian who taught for many years at Portsmouth Abbey School, has agreed to hold several lectures. (Garman also provided a series of lectures for Portsmouth’s 375th anniversary celebration last year.) Ceglie said three lectures have been confirmed for the Saturdays of March 22, Sept. 13, and Nov. 1, each beginning at 2 p.m. at the Newport Art Museum. The topics, in order, will be: the first settlements on Aquidneck Island; the hurricanes of 1938 and 1954, with photos of the destruction caused on the island; and the history of the Navy in Newport, from the Civil War to the present.

A 375th anniversary gala dinner and dance at Rosecliff will close out the year’s events on Dec. 31.

Currently, the 375th Anniversary Celebration Committee is holding a poster contest for Newport elementary, middle and high school students ages 5 to 19. Entries are due Feb. 14 in the mayor’s office in City Hall, 43 Broadway. Entries should be submitted on 11-by-17-inch paper and commemorate Newport or promote its anniversary.

For more information about the contest and upcoming events, go to www.newport375. com.

Flynn@NewportRI.com

◆ The Newport Daily News is the official print media partner of Newport’s 375th anniversary celebration. In addition to coverage in the paper and online, The Daily News will publish a special commemorative section in June.

◆ To watch video of Thursday’s forum, go to www.NewportRI. com and click on the 375th anniversary logo.

Isabel Griffith featured on the front page of The Newport Daily News 11/25/2013

ISLAND PEOPLE – A wealth of experience 

 ISABEL GRIFFITH
ISABEL GRIFFITH

Newport Charter review chairwoman comes with a wide-ranging resume

By Sean Flynn – Staff writer http://newportdailynews.com 

NEWPORT — Isabel Griffith likes going to Newport City Council meetings, which are a far cry from some of the other settings in her life.

Take for example the Foxcroft School in Middleburg, Va., where she was associate head of school and academic dean for several years. The town was also the home of the Middleburg Hounds, who kept up the tradition of fox-hunting with their Middleburg Hunt.

“The girls would sometimes fox hunt, usually two or three of our best riders who were very brave,” Griffith said about her former students. “When they missed classes because of a fox hunt, it would drive the faculty nuts. But sometimes I would be with the girls.”

Griffith, 75, has found enjoyment in many endeavors in her life, but she has a soft spot for private boarding schools for girls at the highschool level, where she has lived and worked.

“Schools with female faculty and staff made a difference in my life,” she said. “Some of the things I did, I never would have thought of doing if I didn’t have that experience. Single- sex education is empowering for women when all the leadership roles are filled by women.”

Since moving to Newport 16 years ago, Griffith has drawn from her leadership experience to fill some key roles in the community. Recently, she took on the chairmanship of the city’s Charter Review Commission, which will be considering potential changes to city government that are sure to be controversial. Recent sessions — in which the possibilities of having a popularly elected mayor or doing away with city wards were discussed — already are generating comment in the community.

As a former president of the Point Association and the Alliance for a Livable Newport, in which she is still an officer, Griffith is familiar with controversy. She was at the helm of the association when the state Department of Transportation’s plan to run a downtown access road along the train tracks next to the Point caused a firestorm in the neighborhood and led to many meetings.

Griffith was born and bred in Dallas, where New England “Yankees” are considered a foreign and enemy tribe.

“I was not a happy Texan, but I never thought I’d move to New England,” she said. “In Texas, living with Yankees is unthinkable.”

For her, that outlook has flipped. Isabel Griffith, former president of the Alliance for a Livable Newport

“I’ve been a very happy New Englander, much happier than I was as a Texan,” Griffith said. “It’s been a great life for me here. I can’t imagine anyone moving from New England to Texas and liking it.”

Griffith graduated from Southern Methodist University in Dallas with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and taught small children for a year afterward.

“I was terrible at it,” she said. “My timing was all wrong.”

Returning to SMU, she earned a master of science degree in biology and taught high school biology, chemistry and physics, but mostly biology. She married a lawyer in 1965 and moved to a small farm in Middleburg, where he practiced law and she taught full time.

“He enjoyed going to race tracks and one day he brought home a horse,” Griffith said. “I began looking after the horse and that’s how it all started — a period of raising and racing horses.”

They moved to a larger farm and eventually had nine horses, six dogs and “about the same number of cats.” There was a constant turnover with the horses.

“I ran the farm and researched the horses,” Griffith said. “We bought one to three yearlings a year and raised them to the age of 2 with a trainer at the farm.”

The horses then were sent to racing school in Maryland. Griffith and her husband raced the horses in New York, Pennsylvania and Delaware, besides Maryland.

“We actually made money in the racing business,” she said.

During that time, Griffith taught at the Madeira School, a girls boarding school in McLean, Va., and began working on her doctorate degree at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., where she also taught.

After 15 years of marriage, she and her husband separated and she moved onto the Foxcroft School campus where she had been teaching most recently.

“I thoroughly enjoyed being married, and my husband and I remained friends afterwards,” she said. “I would recommend the experience to anyone.”

But she had places to go.

Griffith moved in 1983 to Chicago, where she was principal of the Latin School of Chicago, a large independent co-educational school.

“It seems I never stayed at one job too long,” she said. “If I looked at my resume as an employer, I would say, ‘It doesn’t look like she develops much loyalty.’ After three years in Chicago, I got itchy feet.”

The next stop was Princeton, N.J., where she worked as an educational consultant for 11 years for Independent Educational Services Inc., placing school administrators and teachers.

“It was a long-term assignment for me,” Griffith said. “I lived right across from the university where I’d spend time at concerts, lectures and other events. I thoroughly enjoyed it there, a small walkable town with an easy connection to New York City.” Changes came though, and she moved to Washington, D.C., for a year. The move to Newport took place after she was hired by Educational Directions Inc., in Portsmouth, where she was a an educational hiring consultant for private schools. She helped find academic deans, administrators and principals for lower and middle schools.

“It involved a lot of travel,” she said. “I’ve been lost in all the major cities of the U.S. For me, trips were measured by the number of plane rides. A five-plane trip was really pushing it. Travel became just awful for me.”

Her home, a 1728 Colonial house on Walnut Street, became her refuge.

“I love my garden, although it gets very jungle- y,” she said. “It’s not a tidy New England garden.”

She retired six years ago. Not owning a TV or a cell phone, she now finds enjoyment in reading and attending City Council, planning and zoning board and neighborhood meetings.

“The people are bright and dedicated; they think about stuff,” Griffith said with a smile. “I find it so interesting to be a part of things that are important, at least at some level.”

Flynn@NewportRI.com

ALN public forum – Newport Daily News article Oct. 31, page 1

Neighbors air concerns over plan for marina

By Sean Flynn  Staff writer Newport Daily News  http://www.newportdailynews.com/

newport_daily_newsNEWPORT — A new 25-slip marina the Hyatt Regency Newport hotel is proposing to build northeast of Goat Island would have floating docks 100 to 150 feet offshore so as not to interfere with the eelgrass beds along the shoreline, according to the marina’s designer.  SEE the FORUM VIDEO HERE

Gus Kreuzkamp, owner and master engineer of Harbor Engineering LLC of Barrington, presented the marina plans to more than two dozen people who gathered at the Newport Public Library Wednesday night for a forum sponsored by the Alliance for a Livable Newport. Most of those who attended are residents of the Point, the neighborhood just opposite the proposed marina site. Bart Dunbar, who lives on Bridge Street, brought up the eelgrass buffer zone because he believes the marina would “stick out egregiously into public waters.”

The state Coastal Resources Management Council “could allow the marina closer to shore above the eelgrass,” Dunbar said. It depends on how many people on the council are “eelgrass supporters,” he said.

Kreuzkamp disagreed. The project requires both federal and state approval, he said. In his discussions with a representative of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, it was clear “there is no way to get floats over an eelgrass area,” he said. “It’s a non-starter to do anything over or near eelgrass. The National Marine and Fisheries Service is very protective of these fields.”

Eelgrass beds serve as nurseries for many species of economically important fish and shellfish.

Kreuzkamp and Bob Lacasse, the Hyatt’s general manager, heard neighborhood concerns and fielded questions for close to two hours at the forum. They met privately two weeks ago with residents of the Point to make sure they knew the hotel will not permit Jet Skis, cigar boats, parasailing or loud parties at the marina because they would disturb hotel guests as well as nearby residents. 

Lacasse emphasized that point during the forum.

“Our clients want to get out of New York and enjoy the tranquility of Newport,” he said. “They do not want to run into cigar boats here.”

The marina would provide potential clients with docking space for their yachts, he said.

“All we are looking for is an on opportunity to increase our business,” he said.

The marina plans were presented this month to the city’s Waterfront Commission and the Planning Board. The City Council plans to hold a public hearing on the plans at its regularly scheduled meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 13, beginning at 6:30 p.m.

Isabel Griffith, president of the Alliance for a Livable Newport, said the Planning Board has recommended the number of slips be reduced from 25 to 15 and that there be a public dinghy dock at the marina.

“The two boards approved the plan with reservations, limitations and recommendations,” she said. Councilman Justin S. McLaughlin said the council would receive the reports of the Waterfront Commission and the Planning Board, and make its own recommendations on what requirements and conditions should be imposed on the proposed marina.

“It is unlikely the council would vote against the proposal,” he said. Ward 1 Councilman Marco T. Camacho, who represents the area that would be impacted by the marina, also was present at the forum and responded to residents’ concerns. While the Coastal Resources Management Council will take the city’s recommendations into consideration, it is CRMC that will make the final decision, the council members said.

The council and City Manager Jane Howington will be requesting that CRMC hold a public hearing on the proposal in Newport, McLaughlin said.

The earliest the marina would be open for business would be the boating season of 2015, Kreuzkamp said.

Some residents of the Point were concerned about the size of the boats that would be docked at the marina. The Hyatt’s plan showed the outline of two 100-foot-long boats at the outer dock. The Planning Board is recommending boat lengths be limited to 50 feet, Griffith said.

The city maintains a mooring field offshore of Goat Island, and four of the moorings will be relocated, as agreed to by Newport Harbor master Tim Mills, Kreuzkamp said, so there is at least a 150-foot channel between the docked boats and the mooring field. From the edge of the easternmost dock to the mooring field would be 194 feet. Boats would be tied parallel to the dock so they would not interfere with the channel, he said.

Some residents were concerned about fueling operations at the marina. Lacasse said no fueling would be allowed.

Others were concerned about possible sewage spills from the boats, since people swim, kayak and paddleboard from the piers along the Point shoreline. Kreuzkamp said there would be an efficient pump-out station at the marina and modern boats are designed to avoid such spills.

Not all Point residents present were opposed to the marina plan.

John Shea, president of the Driftwood Condominium Association, said “most of the condo owners are in favor of the marina.” The condominiums are on the waterfront near the Elm Street Pier and face the Hyatt.

“We’d love to see the company make that shoreline more appealing,” he said.

Lauren Carson, a resident of the Point and a member of the city’s Energy and Environment Commission, said the marina should be a “green.”

“I’d love to see this become a sustainable marina,” she said.

Lacasse and Kreuzkamp said that is their goal as well.

“Absolutely,” Kreuzkamp said.

Flynn@NewportRI.com

 

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Social Widgets powered by AB-WebLog.com.