2013-09-19 / Front Page

Town Receives Google Award

By Jonathan Clancy

At its regular meeting on Monday Sept. 16, the Middletown Town Council received a citation from Representative Deborah Ruggiero in recognition of receiving the Google eCity Award for Rhode Island in 2013. Town Administrator Shawn Brown and Middletown IT Director Matt Wainwright also received citations.

“I wanted to personally recognize the town of Middletown for the efforts in receiving Google’s eCity 2013 City of the Year, here in Rhode Island,” Ruggiero said. “It’s a great effort and we wanted to thank the municipal employees.”

The award recognized the town’s infrastructure and website, as well as the on-line activity coming from the business community, which enhances the town’s economic development.

Council President Christopher Semonelli said that it was an honor to accept the award on behalf of the businesses of Middletown. “The Internet plays a critical role in growing our local business and local economies, and with 97 percent of American Internet users looking online for local goods and services, these businesses that use the web are growing twice as fast and creating many jobs,” Semonelli said. “We must continue to invest in the digital roadway, and make Middletown an attractive home for businesses in our corporate park, and the ever-increasing home based businesses that require high speed digital access.”

Brown noted the work of Middletown businessman Ron Corriveau of COS System in Newport for his help in the efforts. “Ron has been very helpful to Matt and me, and others involved in this project in Middletown and Newport,” Brown said. “He has a real passion for what Newport and Middletown have been talking about regarding developing broadband infrastructure, and to help us build a platform for our economy as we move forward.” Brown also recognized Portsmouth Town Councilor Molly Magee, Newport City Manager Jane Howington, Newport Economic Development Director Paul Carroll, and Newport City Councilor Naomi Neville for their efforts. Said Brown, “This is economic development. This is where the rubber hits the road.”

Wainwright spoke briefly about the Aquidneck Island Broadband Project and of the importance of unity on Aquidneck Island. “I really think there are some very positive steps that could happen with bringing the three towns together, [forming] a group, and trying to develop economically on the Island,” he said. “I look forward to pursuing and pushing ahead to create not only an exciting project, but an exciting opportunity for Aquidneck Island.”

The council awarded a contract for the Easton’s Point Sewer Cured in Place Pipe project to the National Watermain Cleaning Company out of Canton, Mass. in the amount of $650,295. The project was approved in the Capitol Improvements Program and will be financed by the Sewer Fund. Councilor Robert Sylvia commended Brown for his hard work with the bidders on the project, which resulted in a savings of $86,101.

Also at the meeting, the Council discussed a proposed project in partnership with the Department of Transportation (DOT) to create a vegetative gravel wetland at the Kempenaar Valley property. The wetland would be used to filter bacteria from untreated storm water before it reaches Bailey Brook, one of Aquidneck Island’s main drinking water sources.

Some Middletown residents have expressed concern over the size of the project, as plans show that the gravel wetlands could span 400 feet long by 200 feet wide. They also wondered why it needed to be done, since there are existing treatment ponds already in what does this mean place, which are managed by the City of Newport.

Town officials said that the current ponds only filter phosphorous and draw from just over three acres of land. The town’s outfall manages runoff from 68 acres of land around the Two Mile Corner area and surrounding neighborhoods. Runoff from these areas would be diverted to the wetlands for natural gravel filtration to remove bacteria from the town’s drinking water before it is exposed to Bailey Brook.

“The bottom line is we want them to come down to give a presentation and answer questions, and to make sure that the aesthetics of it are what the council desires to see on the property,” Brown said.

Councilor Paul Rodrigues questioned the gravel system, asking if it has been proven in other areas.

Town officials responded saying that the system has been used in other states, including Massachusetts for quite a while, and that engineers from the state have come down to share their experiences with the gravel wetlands.

Town officials also said that the system has been endorsed by the DOT, the Department of Environmental Management, and the Coastal Resource Management Council.

Brown also noted, “The state has told us they are paying for the entire project.”

The town will wait to hear back from the DOT regarding when a public Q&A session will to be held.

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