2016-10-06 / Around Town

Surprise Gift for City of Newport

By Barry Bridges


A recent pledge to the city will help defray the cost of a vessel to replace Newport's current rescue boat (right), which is 16 years old. (Photo by Lynne Tungett) A recent pledge to the city will help defray the cost of a vessel to replace Newport's current rescue boat (right), which is 16 years old. (Photo by Lynne Tungett) As Newport continues to vet the options for a fire and rescue boat that could be purchased with the aid of a federal grant, the city administration can proceed with the knowledge that significant additional funds are available.

At the council meeting on Sept. 28, Peter D. Kiernan, a Newport philanthropist and retired investment banker, advised councilors that his family is willing to commit $200,000 to help pay for a boat.

The city’s current rescue vessel, for which Kiernan also provided funding, is now almost 16 years old and needs replacing.

“About 16 years ago, there was an incident off Ledge Road, and shortly after that a couple of firefighters in town came to see me about a problem, because they had to row out to rescue the people involved. And I felt like there was a need for a more modern approach than rowing,” Kiernan said.

He also recalled that when the Newport Police Department later needed a mobile command vehicle, his family stepped up again “because we believe in safety and believe in the community.”

More recently, Kiernan has been following community discussion on a new fire and rescue boat for the city.

“I’ve been talking to Kate Leonard about this since last summer, and while it was highly inflamed I thought it was the wrong time to come forward. But now that things seem calm, and while it hasn’t been fully resolved, there seems to be a very adequate planning effort in place,” Kiernan continued. “And so we would like to help out again.”

“On this calm, clear day, on this fall evening in Newport, my family and I would like to stand behind you and pledge $200,000 to help.”

After Kiernan’s brief comments, Mayor Jeanne-Marie Napolitano said, “[We are] aware of your past donations to the city, and they were truly appreciated. And we thank you for this donation, too.”

Vetting the most appropriate boat is ongoing, as well as an examination of any requirements that could be associated with accepting federal money. The cost of a fire and rescue vessel being initially discussed was pegged at approximately $964,500. Seventy-five percent of that figure would be paid through a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency; the city would be responsible for 25 percent, or $241,125, to which Kiernan’s pledge could be applied.

Nicholson previously advised councilors that the city has until mid-December to finish its research and make a final decision on a boat and whether to accept the grant.

Return to top