Newport City Council candidate lays out plans
The city of Newport has many challenges but also many opportunities in the months and years ahead. To list just a few of these issues encompassing both challenges and opportunities: The Pell Bridge realignment and attendant North End project. The Naval Hospital land and what to do with it when donated to the city. The closing of Newport Grand and subsequent purchase by the Carpionato Group. The overcrowding at Pell School and the derelict Rogers High School. What to do with the Visitor’s Center? Ongoing parking problems. The AirBnB rental explosion. Potential sea rise….the list goes on. I am running for City Council-at-Large because I believe that with judgment and leadership these issues are all, although challenges, great opportunities to move our beloved city in the right direction.
Many people talk to me about quality of life issues. Things like traffic, an overcrowded downtown, noise and party houses, potholes and poor streets in general, no parking for residents, etc…and believe me these are issues that resonate with me too! However, the major issues I have listed above are also quality of life issues, writ large, and if one looks more closely, they are all interconnected. Let me explain.
In the updated Comprehensive Land Use Plan, co-authored by myself and the eight other Planning Board members I served with, and published in 2017, the introduction asks the reader to imagine Newport in 2036. What will it look like? Well, it will have 25 percent fewer full-time residents, and it will be graying. If correct, this view has major implications for us all, and not all positive. Although I am myself in that aging cohort, and strongly believe that we need to make our city more livable for seniors (homestead plan, rehab city streets, among other things), I believe we need to develop ways to attract more young people and families to Newport. This creates and maintains a vital, vibrant community.
There are three basic things that will ensure this: great schools, affordable middle income housing, including rentals, and great jobs. So, Rogers High School must be addressed. Either renovated or replaced. The Pell School too needs to be addressed, but perhaps on a more temporary basis given the long term demographic trends. We should be looking at middle income, market-based housing for some of the North End. We should be engaging the Carpionatos on our plan. I’m sure they will want to know and be part of what we’re doing there.
The Innovation District and Sheffield incubator are intrinsic to this as well, hopefully creating good paying, sustainable jobs, acting as a magnet for further growth. These ideas are just the beginning. The point is that we need people on the City Council that can take these many disparate issues, construct an overarching vision with consistent and constant input from city residents, understand how they are all inextricably intertwined, and come up with a common sense, integrated plan to achieve this vision. With my experience on the Planning Board, co-author of the Comprehensive Plan, and currently serving on the Zoning Board, I hope you, the voters, will give me that chance.
Wick Rudd, Newport
The writer is a candidate for Newport City Council at-large.
You can vote early
Recently, I met voters who may not be able to vote on Nov. 6 and did not know they can vote earlier, on a day that’s more convenient for them.
I'm writing to let people know that it is possible for registered Rhode Island voters to vote Oct. 17 through Nov. 5. All you have to do is go to your canvassing authority's office at Town Hall with a valid ID, during regular business hours, and ask for an “emergency ballot.” No actual emergency is required — you just have to check a box on a form that says you may not be able to vote on Nov. 6. You don't have to say why.
In local elections, candidates have won or lost by just one vote. That's why I urge everyone to vote on Nov. 6 or vote early. Your vote matters!
J. Mark Ryan, Portsmouth Town Council Member
Re-elect Sen. Seveney
I am writing to express my strong support for a true friend of Prudence Island in the coming election. Sen. James Seveney has been helping the Prudence Island community contend with their unique challenges for many years. When serving on the Portsmouth Town Council, he was one of the leaders who worked with islanders to develop a flexible and innovative funding solution to keep the Prudence Island School open, continuously providing quality education to our children. This has been a godsend for parents reluctant to ferry their elementary school age children to schools in Portsmouth.
To this day Jim continues to support the school. He has been a strong supporter of the Prudence Island Volunteer Fire Department. He has helped us deal with our drinking water challenges. He assisted with grant monies for land conservation, and procurement of water cisterns for improved fire-fighting capability.
While serving as Town Council president, he led the efforts to assist us in preserving safe and reliable ferry service for the island. As our senator, he has taken an active role in our community. Perhaps most important to me is his presence on the island. He participates in our community events not as a politician popping in for a photo-op, but as a friend and member of the community. He’s never missed our annual meetings with the Town Council. He engaged DEM when issues arose with hunting season on the island.
Seveney understands the challenges we face, and he tries to help. We are his constituents, and he cares about us. That’s why he has my vote on Nov. 6.
Bob Marshall, Prudence Island