Given the fact that there is so much going on in our world, our country, our state, and community I thought I would write to the citizens of North Kingstown to let them know what is being done by their town government on their behalf and what you can expect from your town council in the coming year.
You may know that on March 16, 2020, the town council authorized a state of emergency to appropriately deal with COVID-19 that is still in effect. The state of emergency allowed our town manager to implement a number of initiatives to keep our community safe and assist local businesses to the extent possible. This state of emergency will remain in effect until at least April 26, if not longer.
Last week the state allocated 130 doses of COVID vaccines to NK for citizens over the age of 75. Unfortunately, however, this allocation will only serve 4% of this population. It is woefully short. Regardless, the town promptly set up a portal @ www.northkingstown.org for these eligible citizens to register. This round of vaccinations is in the process of being administered by appointment only at a state designated regional hub located at the South Road Elementary School, 1157 South Road, South Kingstown.
We will continue to aggressively advocate for as many vaccinations. If and when we receive additional supplies, I assure you that our town administration is in a position to promptly register eligible residents that want the vaccination so that they will get vaccinated as soon as possible. We will keep you posted as these developments occur.
In addition to the foregoing, the council has been active on a number or important fronts. We moved forward with the town hall renovation project at 80 Boston Neck Road. Bids are due on February 18, 2021; with improvements to the town beach that will result in three new playground structures; and ,improvements at Wilson Park that will include a new surface, new equipment, new landscaping, and a splash pad.
We also recently collaborated with local residents and businesses, our public safety officials, and the state Department of Transportation to unanimously endorse a recommendation of the DOT for the Boston Neck Road/Brown St/Philips St intersection. In the midst of all his other regular and COVID related duties and responsibilities, our town manager set up a task force to study the feasibility of a new recreation center and public safety complex.
At our last meeting we expanded our commercial tax base with an amendment to our PILOT agreement with General Dynamics. We also applied for a grant to the state Department of Environmental Management for trail improvements at Ryan Park, as well as a climate change initiative through the RI Infrastructure Bank that allows the town to plan for climate- and natural-related hazards and puts our community in position for future funding from the state.
But we have much more to do. First, we have to continue to do our part to keep you safe. Second, there are a number of initiatives and actions to take. These include moving forward with a sense of urgency on the development of the Wickford Elementary School project; develop a strategy to ensure that the Wickford Junction station becomes a more relevant part of our community; and, several post COVID workshops. These include a second workshop on what we can do to improve Post Road; one dealing with growth within our town; and one on what to do with the old towne house. We will also be moving ahead with the Main Street streetscape project; renovate our public bathrooms in the spring; and, pave certain roads in the spring.
We will do all of the foregoing while trying to deal with our town/school budget. Given the state of our federal and state governments this will be particularly challenging. Nevertheless, we will need to work collaboratively with the school committee to ensure that we develop an affordable budget to the taxpayers that provides a quality education to our town’s children.
In these difficult and challenging times, it is my hope that this correspondence provides the citizens of our community with some information regarding what their town government and town council is and will be doing on their behalf. It is also my hope that, at least for now, our accomplishments, goals, and objectives meets your expectations of what we should be doing to service our community.
In closing, similar to the state, our recreation department set up a NK Take it Outside campaign where NK citizens will have the opportunity to go to 38 designated NK outdoor recreational sites that were initially put together by the town Leisure Services Committee with the ReDiscoverNK initiative. For more information go to go to http://www.northkingstown.org/746/Rediscover-NK and take it outside, post your pictures at https://www.facebook.com/RediscoverNK/ or on Instagram at redisccovernkfestival. Those that visit the list of 38 will be entered into a drawing for gift cards to local businesses.
This initiative is a great program that will not only allow us to see or rediscover our community, but it will also be good for our collective well-being. So, I encourage the citizens of our community to ReDiscover NK. In fact, I challenge North Kingstown to complete all 38 site before me if you can. Go North!