JOINT WORK SESSION
APRIL 19, 2021
At a JOINT WORK SESSION of the Town Council of the Town of South Kingstown, County of Washington, in the State of Rhode Island and Representatives of the University of Rhode Island held via video- and tele-conference, in and for said Town on the 19th day of April 2021 at 6:08 PM.
PRESENT: TOWN COUNCIL
Abel G. Collins, President
Rory H. McEntee, Vice President
Deborah D. Bergner
Deborah J. Kelso
Jessica L. Rose
David M. Dooley, President
Abigail Rider, Vice President for Administration and Finance
Kathy M. Collins, Vice President for Student Affairs
Kelly K. Mahoney, Ex. Dir., External Relations and Communications
Ellen Reynolds, Asst. Vice President Student Health & Wellness, Director, Health Services
Stephen N. Baker, Director of Public Safety, Chief of Police
Daniel Graney, Dean of Students, Vice President for Student Affairs
Dino Autiello, URI Foundation and Alumni Engagement
Also present: Robert Zarnetske, Town Manager; Jon Schock, Director of Public Services; Joel Ewing-Chow, Chief of Police; James Rabbitt, Director of Planning; Laurel Clark, Director of Library Services; Theresa Murphy, Director of Leisure Services; Craig Stanley, Director of Emergency Medical Services; Senator V. Susan Sosnowski; Representative Kathleen A. Fogarty; and Representative Teresa A. Tanzi.
Council Vice President McEntee opens the meeting and welcomes the University representatives.
Dr. David M. Dooley, President, URI thanks the Town Manager and Police Chief for their cooperation over the past year. President Dooley discusses his impending retirement and announces that Marc Parlange, a native Rhode Islander has been chosen as the incoming President. Dr. Dooley advises that URI will hold an in person commencement this year in accordance with health and safety guidelines. They will utilize Mead Stadium on May 21st through May 23rd with commencement ceremonies held outdoors at 10 AM, 3 PM and 6 PM.
Kathy Collins, Vice President for Student Affairs provides an update on the University’s response to COVID-19. Most summer classes will be held remotely, some labs will be held in person. Camps and conferences will be held as day events. There are small, one-day student orientations planned for June and July. Campus will return to somewhat normal in the Fall. An earlier move-in to the residence halls is planned for first-year students. Fall athletic teams will begin on August 1st. Discussions are being held regarding a COVID vaccination requirement for enrollment, with a decision expected by June 1st. On campus students dropped from about 6,000 to 3,000 last year, and are expected to be about 5,000 in the coming year.
Representative Teresa Tanzi questions whether the RI Department of Health is providing a supply of COVID vaccine to URI.
Ms. Collins responds that vaccinations are currently being done at the former Schneider facility in West Kingston.
Ellen Reynolds, Asst. Vice President, Student Health & Wellness advises that the University has asked for a Fall allocation of vaccine.
Abigail Rider, Vice President for Administration and Finance announces the retirement of Stephen Baker, URI Chief of Police, in June. A search committee to choose a successor is already in place.
Chief Baker discusses public safety issues encountered over the past year. Chief Baker notes the introduction of Senate Bill No. 717 by Senator Sosnowski that would authorize higher education institution departments to enter into an agreement with any city/town to provide police assistance in non-emergency situations.
Representative Kathleen Fogarty and Senator V. Susan Sosnowski will follow up on the status of that legislation.
Ms. Rider comments on the Route 138 reconstruction project. University infrastructure projects are dependent on RI Department of Transportation (RIDOT) timing.
Rob Zarnetske, Town Manager discusses the Route 138 reconstruction project, noting that signalized intersections may be proposed rather than roundabouts. Mr. Zarnetske expresses the need to accelerate the project, and Dr. Dooley responds that the University will assist in that endeavor.
Ms. Rider discusses new URI building construction for utility infrastructure projects. They are modernizing systems, and hope to complete in 2023. Plans include reconstructing Upper College Road and resurfacing Ranger Road. A RI Public Transit Authority proposal for transportation on campus would not be a park and ride. It would connect URI with more routes around South County. At the Bay Campus, construction of a dock and pier for their new research vessel and the ocean engineering building are planned. COVID has changed the design for the new Health and Counseling Center. Renovation of the Memorial Union has been delayed a year but will start up this year with design; completion in 2026 is projected.
Laurel Clark, Director of Library Services discusses how the reconstruction of Upper College Road will affect the Kingston Free Library, particularly with parking issues.
Ms. Rider notes that parking will still be available along the east side of Upper College Road. Property north of the library is being looked at for possible donation or purchase for Town parking for the Library.
The Town Manager notes that the Route 138 reconstruction project is intended to increase pedestrian safety but may cause additional problems. The Town will look for parking on the same side of the street to avoid library patrons having to cross the road.
Council Vice President McEntee inquires about the hotel construction plans discussed at last year’s Town Gown meeting.
Dr. Dooley notes that the analysis of demand for a hotel is still good.
Council President Collins arrives.
Councilwoman Kelso inquires about the results of the Tootell pool survey.
Ms. Rider responds that there is broad community support for and use of the pool facility. Major repairs are needed, and it will eventually need to be replaced. State or federal money may be needed to fund the project.
Council President Collins discusses fostering more cooperation between the South Kingstown School Department and the URI Education Department, and providing mentors for kids with learning differences.
Jon Schock, Director of Public Services notes that RIDOT Contract #1 encompasses Route 138 reconstruction from Route 108 to the Amtrak Bridge, and Contract #2 extends west to Route 2.
Adjourn at 7:13 PM.
Susan M. Flynn, CMC