2014-01-17 / Opinion


State of the City

I t has been my privilege to serve as Mayor of the City of Newport throughout 2013. I have enjoyed working with so many of you to keep our city strong and a great place to live, work and play.

I would like to acknowledge the involvement and hard work of those who helped make 2013 a great year for the city.

Thanks to the City Council members who tackled multiple issues with dedication. Thanks to our School Committee members for their support of quality education. Thanks to our citizens who contribute to the quality of life through membership on many boards and commissions. I also especially thank our City Manager and the City’s outstanding staff for their efforts. It has also been very gratifying to see the many residents and business owners engaging with city government throughout the year.

The City Council has appointed several new groups over the past 12 months which will help to make the city stronger. One of these is the Finance Review Committee, which is comprised of seven Newport residents who are presenting recommendations on short- and long- term fiscal goals.

During 2013 the Charter Review Commission was empaneled. This group of nine citizens holds open public forums and will make recommendations to the City Council for proposed changes to the charter.

The IT Working Group has been reviewing the municipality’s current capabilities and will make recommendations to improve Newport’s technology through fiber broadband access. Broadband access and other capacities are good for business, good for education, and provide better experiences for residents and visitors. A strong digital infrastructure attracts clean business, creates more year-round jobs, and leads Newport into the future.

The North End Planning Advisory Committee is comprised of residents and business owners. It is making progress on plans for extensive redevelopment for the area. The work is being led by the city’s Director of Civic Investment Paul Carroll, who joined us in 2013. This is an exciting project and will have a significant impact on the city’s economic future.

Newport was proud to be selected in 2013 as a stopover city for the Volvo Ocean Race 2014-2015 World Challenge. This event will once again showcase our City by the Sea on an international stage.

The year 2013 also saw several projects come to completion. We realized the vision of combining four aging schools into one state-ofthe art facility with the opening of the Pell School in September. The beautiful Queen Anne Square was dedicated and reopened in June. Newport was recognized in October by the League of American Bicyclists with a bronze award for our role in creating a bicycle-friendly America. We completed the first phase of our new water treatment plant, now on target for completion by the end of 2014, ensuring the supply and quality of our water.

This past spring the renewal of the Ann Street pier began and it will be an important asset, along with the Maritime Center. In July the Easton Pond berm walkway re-opened, providing another natural walkway in our city.

Each of these accomplishments, and others too numerous to mention, contributes to the beauty, economic vitality, and social opportunity that Newport offers. It has taken many of us working together, formally and informally, to achieve them. For this I am truly grateful.

I am excited to bring this spirit of working together into both new and continuing projects for 2014. This year we celebrate the 375th anniversary of our city’s founding, which may be the best time to reflect on our heritage and our future. I look forward to sharing this experience with all of you. Even as we celebrate this momentous anniversary, we continue to work on projects necessary to Newport’s good health: Phase Two of the Broadway streetscape; construction of the Cliff Walk bathrooms; conducting a new Citizen Satisfaction Survey; continued planning and design work on Lower Thames Street; redevelopment and marketing of excess school buildings; and the City Council’s Strategic Plan update.

In closing, I would like to thank all of you for your assistance and guidance in 2013, and I look forward to working with you in 2014. Henry F. Winthrop

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