FEBRUARY 1, 2021
At a WORK SESSION of the Town Council of the Town of South Kingstown, County of Washington, in the State of Rhode Island, held via video- and tele-conference, in and for said Town on the 1st day of February 2021 at 7:05 PM.
PRESENT: Abel G. Collins, President
Rory H. McEntee, Vice President
Deborah D. Bergner
Deborah J. Kelso
Jessica L. Rose
Robert Zarnetske, Town Manager opens the review of the Town Council’s Goals and Objectives, noting that the Goals have 12 priority areas, with the suggestion to break one into 2 for a total of 13. The revised list includes Taxes, Budget and Fiscal Management; Core Services and Facilities; Civic Engagement/Public Participation; Education and Training; Land Use; Housing; Sustainability and Natural Resources; Cultural Priorities; Economic Structure; Transportation and Traffic Safety; Supporting Vulnerable Residents; University of Rhode Island; and South County Hospital. Objectives are the way to get to your goals. Once you describe your long term goals, then you can devise short- and mid-term strategic objectives. The Town Council’s Goals are their list of priorities to be achieved through their spending plan.
Council President Collins opens the floor for discussion and suggestions regarding their goals and objectives.
Councilwoman Rose suggests to look at what policing looks like in South Kingstown.
Council President Collins agrees that Public Safety is a priority, especially public health and safety during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Councilwoman Kelso states that Emergency Medical Services should be included.
The Town Manager notes those would be included under Core Services.
Councilwoman Kelso suggests diversity and inclusion, reaching under-served populations.
Councilwoman Rose states that Town employment should reflect the diversity of the Town.
Councilwoman Kelso adds also on Town boards and commissions.
Councilwoman Bergner suggests cultural diversity, Indian heritage, our history of indigenous people. Look through a lens of inclusion.
Council President Collins suggests working with non-profits as a diversity and inclusion goal.
Council Vice President McEntee suggests improving and revitalizing our villages.
Councilwoman Kelso suggests many of these goals are intertwined, Town departments and boards could review and recommend objectives.
Councilwoman Bergner comments on addition of a bus stop and public transportation for Champagne Heights.
The Town Manager recommends defining goals in each category.
Discussion ensues relative to Policing and Public Safety. Suggestions include increased training in mental health, creating a public safety team that all residents feel protected by, including EMS for the elderly. It is noted that efforts are being made to diversify the police force with the recent hiring of new officers.
Discussion ensues relative to goals for Fire Service. Suggestions include a better resolution with regard to the Jerusalem area of Narragansett that is serviced by South Kingstown’s fire company, supporting our volunteer fire service with recruitment and finance, inclusion in the radio program, and coordination of entities between fire, EMS, and police including the URI force. They are committed to economizing by sharing resources.
Discussion ensues relative to Diversity and Inclusion goals. Suggestions include recognizing the whole history of this area, encouraging diversity in recruitment on all levels, coordinating with the schools to rectify outcomes of students, work toward not having to have a goal of anti-racism, and ways to celebrate diversity and inclusion.
Discussion ensues relative to Taxes, Budget and Fiscal Management. Councilwoman Kelso comments that the current goals are very inclusive.
Discussion ensues relative to Core Services and Facilities. It is noted that there is a need for school-age child care, before- and after-school programs, expansion of Adult Day Care, local agricultural suppliers, and to encourage small business and retail. Discussion ensues relative to the goal of Core Services that municipal government be accessible and convenient to the public.
Discussion ensues relative to Civic Engagement and Public Participation. Suggestions include leveraging technology to support public participation, bringing town boards and community groups together, the Town’s upcoming 300 year anniversary will be a good opportunity for civic engagement.
Discussion ensues relative to Education and Training. Suggestions include adult education programs like Education Exchange provides, funding programs through existing facilities such as the Neighborhood Guild for life-long learning, training for the Town work force to ensure they have the ability to achieve.
Discussion ensues relative to Land Use. The Comprehensive Community Plan is a roadmap for the Council’s goals. Suggestions include evaluating land use and preservation to make room for affordable housing, preserving and expanding coastal access where possible for recreation, aquaculture and fishing, clean water and air, equitable open space. Discussion ensues relative to adopting the Comprehensive Community Plan. It is directed that the plan be readied for submission to the Town Council in three weeks.
Discussion ensues relative to Sustainability and Natural Resources. These are climate and resilience goals.
Discussion ensues relative to Cultural Priorities. Suggestions include recognizing the history of the land before it was colonized. Discussion ensues relative to the historic buildings and properties that were given to the Town with restrictions.
Discussion ensues relative to Economic Structure. South Kingstown is a beach town, a University town, a bedroom community. Suggestions include encouraging incubator businesses, research and development, economic opportunities to keep URI graduates here, preserving our existing beach quality, mixed retail and essential services with arts and cultural businesses. Discussion ensues relative to the development potential near URI to support their students and families.
Discussion ensues relative to Transportation and Traffic Safety. Suggestions include the planned URI transit hub and increasing public transportation in town. Discussion ensues relative to the logistical issues with busing. The goal for traffic safety is to ensure traffic that is safe for vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians.
Discussion ensues relative to Supporting Vulnerable and Underserved Residents. Discussion ensues relative to services provided by the Senior Center, possible expansion of the elderly tax abatement program to other groups, differential tax rates for residents and non-residents.
Discussion ensues relative to the University of Rhode Island. Suggestions include collaborating to provide adult education, a mentorship program with local schools. Discussion ensues relative to possible zoning changes to the surrounding areas.
Discussion ensues relative to South County Hospital. Town Farm Park land swap is still an objective. The Town can facilitate their growth.
The Town Manager will prepare a draft of the Town Council Goals and Objectives for review prior to the next regular meeting on February 22, 2021.
Discussion ensues relative to the Town Council’s Rules of Conduct. Discussion ensues relative to expanding Rule 10 to allow comments by the public during New Business, but there is no consensus on that point. Discussion ensues relative to the 5 minute time limit for comments. It is consensus to continue to interview board and commission members relative to their reappointment when terms are expiring.
The Town Manager notes that the Council’s Rules of Conduct are rules of decorum for members and for the public.
Adjourn at 10:27 PM.
Susan M. Flynn, CMC