2015-09-03 / Opinion

As the World Turns

Believe it or not, Newport is still looking for a new city manager; Broadway is a dusty construction site from end to end; and the city’s Gateway Center may soon get an unexpected $6 million from the federal government.

The most recent permanent Newport city manager, Jane Howington, took off for a similar job in Ohio in 2014, resigning her job here in the City by the Sea on June 27 of last year. That was more than 14 months ago.

And here we are, in the first week of September, 2015, as the City Council begins an entirely new search for Howington’s elusive successor. In the process, the council has also decided to part ways with Randi Frank Consulting LLC, the Wallingford, Conn., consulting firm that was hired last January for the princely sum of $25,250 in an unsuccessful effort to uncover just the right person to succeed the departed Howington.

Perhaps someone in City Hall should call town leadership in nearby Portsmouth, who needed just six months to find and hire a new town administrator. What do you suppose they know in Portsmouth that we don’t know here?

Amid this churning, work grinds on to transform Broadway into a picturesque “streetscape” worthy of its central artery status. We love the renderings of what Broadway will look like when the work is done late next year. Truth is, though, we were a little taken aback when the original process called for 600-foot “segments” to minimize disruptions to businesses was seemingly scrapped and the dusty work pressed from one end of the project to another.

On America’s Cup Avenue, folks at the Gateway Center can, it seems, look forward to needed renovations thanks to the City Council’s decision on Aug. 26 to come up with about $600,000. That’s the city’s 10 percent share of the work. Hopefully, the federal government will pay 90 percent of the tab, or about $6 million, to address drainage, lighting, new roofing for the bus shelter, and aesthetic concerns.

But with the council's meeting agenda only indicating a "presentation" by transportation officials, it may have been a surprise to some that a financial commitment was made.

We like the sound of investing 10 percent of the project’s cost to get 90 percent from the federal government, and we fervently hope that the process goes well with the quest for federal dollars.

With the developments during the past week, it makes us wonder whether we know how to follow a process towards a set goal.

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