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Council Roundup: New Generator In The Works

A resident asks the council to “contain this beast” of a generator.

Responding to the comments of a resident and concerns after Hurricane Irene, Narragansett Town Manager Grady Miller said the town had begun researching the cost of a new generator.

A resident prompted the discussion during open forum, at the start of the council’s meeting Tuesday night.

Camilla Wiener, a resident of Central Street, thanked town employees “working all last week under adverse conditions” but wanted something done about the noise from the current generator.

“It far exceeded the noise level that the town founders found acceptable,” she said. “Every Thursday at 1 p.m., this generator roars to life … I suggest that if you combine my tax money, and my neighbor’s tax money, we could find some way to contain this beast.”

Miller said that the town was now looking at new generators.

“We never anticipated that a generator would go for five or six days as it did [following the storm],” he said. “It’s at the end of its lifespan, at about 20 years.”

A new generator would cost about $50,000, according to Miller, which he saw as a preferably solution instead of spending $5,000 on an enclosure for the current generator.

“We really need to have this building energized to the point that we can have everyone fully functioning,” Miller said, noting that certain departments were not open the past week. “Any of the newer units out there, in combination with buying a newer unit, are quieter than what we have now.”

The matter was not on the agenda, so no formal vote was made. However, several members of the council encouraged Miller to pursue a new generator.

Party Patrols to Increase; New Booklet for Students

According to Narragansett Police Chief Dean Hoxsie, his force has ramped up its enforcement action in neighborhoods, thanks to new personnel and refined laws.

Hoxsie said that an additional swing staff of three officers will be patrolling from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. during traditional heavy volume nights during the school year – Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

“We started our party patrol, as we call it, Monday night,” Hoxsie said, noting that because it was a holiday and classes hadn’t started, they expected a heavy volume of incidents.

“One of the complaints we’ve received is that it’s not just Thursday, Friday, Saturday nights for the first two weeks, for the move-in days. It’s every day.”

Hoxsie said police would use new municipal laws to their advantage, specifically citing open container and social host regulations. The University of Rhode Island is notified of each arrest, he said.

“We are continuing our follow-up efforts with the university this year. Every report we have dealing with students goes to the university and their disciplinary committee.”

However, the university did reject the overtures of one organization. According to Nancy Devaney, the coordinator of the Narragansett Prevention Partnership, URI did not help to develop a new booklet aimed at educating students about the dangers of drinking.

“URI pulled their support for this booklet,” Devaney said.

As a result, the partnership paid for 1,500 copies, helped by $3,770 in contingency funds from the council. Devaney said the new booklet was an upgrade on the previous one.

Be A Good Neighbor was really unreadable for the kids these days,” she said. “It was about 40 pages and in 8-point font.”

The new booklet is about a dozen pages, and completely in color.

Hoxsie added that there would be “significant staffing” this upcoming weekend. Miller said it was important to establish a presence early in the school year.

“We really have a low tolerance for non-conformance,” he said. “We really want to set the tone for the whole school year early on.”

Narragansett resident Carol Stuart said that she appreciated the effort police are making.

“There was ticketing the very first night, and that was very much appreciated,” she said.

More Funds Approved for Tower Renovations

Also at Tuesday night’s meeting, the council approved $67,111 for additional renovations to . When asked if this would be the last of them for now, Miller said it was most likely an issue for perpetuity.

“The Towers, as you know, is more than a hundred years old,” he said. “It has to be treated with tender love and care.”

Council Vice President David Crook joked with Miller about the upkeep.

“Can we blame this on the hurricane and get some money from the federal government?”

Asked about the funding for the renovations, Miller said that about 25 to 50 percent of the funds from events by the Friends of the Towers committee went back to the town for repairs.

Miller added that by his estimates, if the town had just fixed existing problems several years back instead of phasing it out, the lump sum would have been around $1 million. Instead, councilor Christopher Wilkens estimated that they had spent about $2.5 million.

We'll have a roundup of other, smaller items discussed at last night's council meeting later today. To get notified by e-mail when it publishes, click the follow-up link below.

I'm Tired of the Games September 07, 2011 at 08:17 PM
Mr. Miller is correct in his assessment of the emergency generator needing to be upgraded. Certainly the load factors today are much greater than 20 years ago, never mind the noise factor. That said, National Grid kept the PR campaign going of how they were prioritizing public safety, hosptials,etc. The Town Hall is the Emergency Operations Center for Narragansett and was left without power for close to a week! An "emergency generator" is just that, designed for short term emgencies until the utilities can be restored. Obviously, National Grid didn't care about getting the EOC back online. The results were less than ideal with the generator having periodic failures over the week. Mrs. Weiner is correct in praising the town employees who labored under these adverse conditions to do their jobs, especially since much of the heartbeat of town hall operations is below ground level including finance, personnel, courts, town clerk with little natural lighting. A new generator should be in next years capital budget for upgrade or take it out of arbitration fees in this years budget. I'd rather have a cool new generator than Dan Kinder's expensive hot air.

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