2017-10-26 / Opinion


Keeping Our Eye on the Ball

Since we’re in the midst of baseball’s World Series playoffs, it seemed an appropriate time to use a common phrase from baseball nomenclature: to “keep your eye on the ball” is to remain focused and to connect.

Over the past few weeks, many substantial issues have arisen and are facing our municipal leaders. We implore them to keep their collective eye on the ball, on the issues both big and small.

The Pell Bridge repairs have resumed, and all seems much smoother than in the initial stage this summer. But we need to be vigilant to keep the state and the DOT on deadline.

The Newport council voted 7-0 to leave the list unaltered during the first annual update of the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) at the June 26 meeting. It’s been a while since the big ramp realignment was mentioned, or the big design ideas.

On a smaller scale, in the bridge neighborhood, has the “First Mile” bicycle path indeed turned into the “longest mile?” In May, Newport This Week reported that although the city initially thought it would not qualify for a portion of the $35 million bond because it didn’t have a designed project ready, Gov. Gina Raimondo’s office, along with the state’s Department of Environmental Management and regional bike advocacy groups decided it was time to get started. For the initial 1.7-mile portion, the city has received $1 million.

And the months it’s taken for Cranston Street to be completely resurfaced is incredulous.

In Middletown, at a major island crossroads, many are wondering when the Two-Mile Corner digging and diverting will be done.

Another big issue is when the governor’s office recently dropped a bombshell about the condition of our schools, in particular Newport and Middletown schools. They are far from meeting the standards of Priorities 1 and 2, or “warm, safe, and dry,” according to a recently released Rhode Island Department of Education study. Newport schools will require an estimated $25.1 million to reach acceptable conditions, and Middletown is close behind needing $15.4 million according to the study.

Development, progress some may say, has plagued both of the southern communities of Aquidneck Island. Middletowners lament about what is happening to the farmland, that there is too much development. Newporters are crying about what is happening to the waterfront, that there is too much development. (Let’s not forget about the possibility of the National Sailing Hall of Fame moving to the Armory and the 84-room hotel). But it is a changing world, and our island is changing too, for better or for worse.

It takes a sharp team to win the World Series, and we all need to keep our eye on the ball. If we don’t walk up to the plate, attend a council meeting or a school committee meeting to voice our opinion, we may find ourselves in deeper foul territory.

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