The Town Council bid farewell Tuesday to former Principal Planner Raymond Nickerson — for now.
“I was always amazed at how people complained about going to work on Mondays,” Nickerson said as he addressed the council. “For the most part, it wasn’t the particular tasks, it was the people they worked with. In all those 19 years, I never could add to the conversation. You couldn’t find a better group of people that work here at the town hall.”
Nickerson was honored with a council proclamation, and he thanked cuoncil members for their support. Nickerson began his tenure as a member of the Conservation Commission in 1983. After resigning from the town’s Planning Board in 1989, he returned to town hall as principal planner in 1992.
The town will retain Nickerson to weigh in on several ongoing projects — including the hazard mitigation strategy in Matunuck — before he completely retires from his town hall office, according to Town Manager Stephen Alfred.
The council also honored outgoing Conservation Commission member George Loomis, who is departing the group after 24 years of service.
“It’s been a pleasure and an honor to serve my community,” Loomis said as he thanked the council for the recognition. “The many commissions and members, they are dedicated members. Being on the commission is advisory and people don’t have to buy into your opinions. I think some of the things that we’ve advised have been taken to heart some not, but there is always room for improvement.”
Loomis mentioned the many projects still to come for the town’s volunteer boards and commissions. “You have great people on the commission, very qualified people, dedicated people. They’re there because they believe in protecting the environment and public health in the community.”
The council voted unanimously to adopt an amended resolution, originally drafted by the Westerly Council, requesting the General Assembly to adopt legislation requiring the state Department of Environmental Management to approve the use of more cost-effective residential septic systems. DEM regulations place restrictions on the use of particular septic systems within the Salt Pond Region of the town’s Special Area Management Plan (SAMP).
Residents looking to make improvements to their homes, have complained that DEM regulations are hamstringing their efforts by requiring them to make costly repairs to their septic systems, according to Council Vice President Carol Hagan McEntee.
“This shouldn’t happen without the local community's [involvement] especially the ones with water bodies surrounding our town,” said Councilman James O’Neill. “I wish we could somehow or another work closer with DEM and CRMC. Frankly, South Kingstown has been a leader in the past in stormwater and wastewater ordinances. We’ve been ahead of the curve for the past couple decades. We should have a stronger voice at the table.”
Town Approves Increase In Contract Price For Matunuck Engineering Work
The Town Council unanimously authorizing amending a the contract with St. Jean Engineering, LLC, of 1145 Middle Road in East Greenwich, which consulted on Matunuck shoreline protection designs. The original contract was not to exceed $47,400, and Tuesday night’s vote increased the award amount to $81,900 with a $5,000 contingency to accommodate for additional studies.
During the proceedings, Town Manager Stephen Alfred said the town has submitted plans to build a sheet steel pile wall along 202 feet of beachfront west of 895 Matunuck Beach Road, and is in the midst of preparing an application to CRMC to re-classify the Matunuck Headlands, currently labeled Type1 Coastal Shoreline. For a more in-depth look at this project, stay tuned for a report from Tracey O’Neill later today.
Council Hears From Westerly Innovation Network's TGIF Program
The Town council heard a rousing presentation from members of the Westerly Innovation Program, comprised mostly of students from the Westerly public school system, who are looking to expand their Turn Grease Into Fuel project to include a residential collection area at the Rose Hill Transfer Station.
TGIF, in partnership with Newport Biodeisel, currently produces more than 120,000 liters of biodiesel each year and is looking to double the amount of restaurants working with them in the next three years by expanding into towns like South Kingstown, Narragansett and others. For more on this story, stay tuned for a special report from Patch writer Brooke White next week.
EMS Fee Schedule Revised
The Town Council voted unanimously to approve a change in the EMS fee schedule, effective Jan. 1, allowing the town to deal with insurance companies to be reimbursed for rescue runs.
“With this new rate structure we may see, based on past service uses, a 5 to 10 percent increase in our revenue stream,” said Alfred. “Obviously that will be determined based on services rendered. I can’t guarantee what we’ll see.”
Actual reimbursement rates typically vary, according to Alfred. Medicare and private insurance companies typically pay out at different rates. Fees are forgiven for those without insurance. "Just like a hospital our responsibility is to provide care regardless of cost, regardless what type or lack of insurance they have," Alfred said.
The new fee schedule has been attached to this article as a PDF.