In an effort to meet the town’s volunteers and open the line of communication, I have been attending the open meetings of Boards/Commissions/Committees in town. It’s great to see so many dedicated people working positively for Richmond! Having been a member of two Commissions/Committees prior to the election, I know how hard our volunteers work. It’s also an extremely rewarding experience and a fantastic way to be involved in changes in town. Volunteers are needed and appreciated. If you’re interested in joining a board or commission, please apply or start by attending a meeting to introduce yourself and learn more.
Planning Board Reappointment
I am disappointed that the reappointment of one of our long-term Planning Board Members has been delayed. Many people, including our town planner and active community members, spoke highly of Ms. Hess during the 12/20 meeting. I met her over the summer during the site walk on Punchbowl Trail. I found her to be thorough and knowledgeable. Her experience and institutional knowledge speak for themselves. It is my hope that in January we can reappoint Ms. Hess.
I fully support the request to move public forum closer to the beginning of the agenda. Residents should not have to wait hours to voice new concerns. I requested a rule stating items on the agenda shouldn’t be discussed to avoid the OMA concerns the solicitor warned us about. I also suggested and pushed for a time limit for each speaker, and we agreed upon three minutes. This is to ensure we have the time to hear from every resident who has concerns and to respect the time of the Town employees in attendance at these meetings. In addition to public forums, you can email or call any or all councilors. Our contact information can be found HERE.
On December 7th, the Town Administrator requested we spend a portion of the ARPA funds for chlorination of the water line. The water line holds about 300 accounts which includes residential and business properties. Although this is a small amount of our population, I support this request. It is concerning that the water line does not have a reserve to pull from for emergencies or routine maintenance. It was suggested we take a bond out to cover the chlorination system. However, if we take a bond out, those residential and business property owners will be responsible for payment of this bond, with interest. They will see an increase in their water bill. In 5/10/20 years they will be exactly where they are now; in need of maintenance and without funds. If we use APRA to take care of the chlorination required, we can then plan for the water line users to build a reserve. There will still be an increase to those on the line, however, we need to help set them up for the future. We agreed to allocate $150k of ARPA funds to this project. We are waiting for information regarding bond options before we decide on the remaining $150k.
Wellness Committee/Human Services Director
The Wellness Committee was formed under the prior council to “make a written recommendation to the Town Council concerning wellness services and the availability of a facility appropriate for such services”. (Resolution from the 10/5/2021 meeting) They came to council to review their findings earlier in 2022, in which they recommended that the town employ a Human Services Director. This PowerPoint and the written recommendation can be found on clerksbase in the Apr. 19, 2022 and May 31, 2022 Minutes.
A Human Services Director would help guide residences with wellness related concerns, bring services into town and secure grants for further resources for the town. Although we have neighbors who need this help, Richmond has been described as a desert for public assistance. Members of the Committee revisited this at the request of a new council member at our 12/20 meeting. It is clear from their reports there is a need in Richmond for a Human Services Director. The prior council allocated ARPA funds to get this position started as a three-year trial to see if the benefit to the town is there. I am hopeful we will find a qualified candidate. I want to thank all Wellness Committee Members for their dedication to this!
Town’s Aquifer Protection Overlay District
The Town Council and the Planning Board have a joint meeting/workshop scheduled for January 17th at 5pm. I know the PB dedicated a lot of their time throughout 2022 to this and I’m really excited to learn more from them about the importance of the Aquifer Protection Overlay District. Our regularly scheduled meeting will take place after this at 6pm.
I hope you all had a happy holiday season and have a Happy New Year! See you on January 3rd, the next town council meeting.
You can find agendas and minutes and sign up for alerts when agendas are posted here: https://opengov.sos.ri.gov/openmeetings