NORTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. — North Kingstown Town Council Member Kerry P. McKay said that he supports the petition to recall School Committee Member Jen Lima while stating his opposition to Critical Race Theory during the town council meeting on Monday October 4.
“I find the most divisive thing that’s happened to our society is Critical Race Theory,” McKay said. “I am against it 110%... I have been accused of many things up here, but one of the things I won’t be accused of is being a racist. I think right now the division is happening because of Jen Lima, because of Critical Race Theory and because of the school department.”
Town Council President Gregory A. Mancini responded to the comments by saying that he appreciated McKay’s passion but he had not seen any evidence of the CRT in the curriculum but that it was the concern of the school committee. Mancini also asked that the town council focus on municipal and town business while making it clear that as elected officials he supported the council member’s rights to make sure their thoughts were heard.
In other business Town Recreations Director Chelsey Dumas-Gibbs made a presentation on the recreation department’s planning and proposal of an indoor recreational facility to support expanded programs and growing population. Dumas-Gibbs said that the department had been forced to cut back on programming due to lack of space and that a dedicated indoor recreational facility would allow the town the ability to expand its programs as well as provide better facilities in the winter months.
“What we’re looking at more so is to put the money into the building and not the acquisition of land,” Dumas-Gibbs said. “We’re looking at other facilities as well but we really wanted to start with the town owned land.”
Among the recreation departments most feasible locations were Signal Rock, Wilson Park, Quidnessett Elementary and the west side of Ryan Park. Dumas-Gibbs said that more research will have to be done on the Ryan Park location due to federal regulations affecting the area.
Dumas-Gibbs told the council that the recreation department had visited other recreational facilities in the state to research how they were handled, what was done best and what could be improved upon. She also said that locker and shower facilities were something that they were planning to implement as a result of this research.
The town council unanimously approved its consent agenda. The agenda included the approval of minutes from the council’s July 19 and Aug. 16 meetings, a resolution appropriating housing aid to the school department in the amount of $5,483, a letter of resignation from Barbara Doherty of the Wickford Advisory Committee and a new Bingo license for the Blue Bus Foundation to hold Bingo on Oct. 28 at St. Francis de Sales Parish Hall.
In new business the council unanimously approved a request for a modification of Wickford Junction Water Main Extension for a property located on Ten Rod Road. The council also voted unanimously to appoint new or alternate members to the Arts Council, the Conservation Commission, the Historic District Commission, the Information Technology Advisory Committee, the Library Board of Trustees and the Wickford Village Design Guidelines Committee.
Despite the unanimous approval of these members the council was split on the appointment of a second alternate for the Zoning Board of Review. The council voted three in favor of and two against the appointment of Edwin Andrews as the second alternate. Council Members McKay and Mary Brimer voted against Andrews appointment while supporting Richard Welch.
“Richard Welch has served this community very well, and he has done it honorably for a number of years,” Mancini said. “Having said that, I think that it’s great to get other people involved and for that reason I will be supporting Mr. Andrews.
Town Manager A. Ralph Mollis said that the Wilson Park playground will reopen Friday after having been closed for a few days for maintenance. He also said that public works is putting together a plan to work on both the Wickford and Town Beach public restrooms.
“We have experienced a significant amount of vandalism in the Wickford public restrooms,” Mollis said. “We’re addressing this with Adam White’s leadership through some security measures, but in the meantime I wanted to make mention of this. I do ask the public to reach out to the North Kingstown Police Department if you notice any activity at the public restroom which would require their attention. This is important to us. It’s heavily used and we’re going to be dedicating a lot of money to this and this vandalism is very regretful.”