2018-01-18 / Opinion

Guest Editorial

2018 Initiatives

Editor’s Note: Last month, NTW offered the Newport City Council and City Hall the opportunity to submit to our editorial pages with a message in their own words as Guest Editorials. In the Dec. 21 edition, Mayor Harry Winthrop shared his “A Year-End Message” and this month, Ward 1 Councilor Susan Taylor is sharing some of the initiatives and projects she is working on.

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’m happy to be writing as your Ward 1 Newport city councilor, and to describe some of what’s on my mind as we embark on 2018 together. The First Ward includes most of the Point section, and those neighborhoods lying north and west of Warner and Broadway. With our ward system in Newport, I believe in being a strong voice for the interests of my constituents, while making decisions with the good of the entire city in mind.

One of my visions for Newport is that our kids will see that the city encourages healthy recreation for them. On Thursday, Jan. 25, I am hosting the fourth in a series of community discussions on recreational opportunities, at 6 p.m. at the Pell School. We will focus on the kids living in the North End of the city, hear what’s available now and what would make their summer better. I sponsored a resolution last fall asking the city to explore a variety of ways to improve recreational offerings in the First Ward. During previous conversations we’ve discussed issues relating to the monitoring of activity at the Pell playground, plans for increased play activity in Miantonomi Park, and the concept of a “bike shed” as realized at Riverside Park in Providence. A number of stakeholders have been involved, including the Boys & Girls Club, Bike Newport and Aquidneck Community Table.

On Jan. 25 we will be asking representatives from the different managed housing groups, Newport Housing Authority, Newport Heights, Bayside Village and Festival Field, to talk to us about what play opportunities they present and what could use improvement. Newport’s residents deserve a concerted effort to make sure that our kids will be looking forward to summer.

An exciting change, representing an opportunity in my view, will be the realignment of the Pell bridge ramps. I won’t discuss that in detail here, as the situation is fluid, with interactions and negotiations among RIDOT, RITBA and the traffic engineers working for Louis Berger, through Paul Carroll’s Office of Civic Investment. I believe the city is in good hands with our representatives. It’s critically important that we get it right, and correct some of the mistakes made nearly 50 years ago with the urban renewal craze then sweeping the country.

The buzz is growing around the Volvo Ocean Race Stopover in Newport, which will be May 8-20. There truly will be something for everyone. Not only amazing boats to check out, but also displays on the current state of our oceans, or I should say “ocean,” as one of the overarching themes of the stopover is “One Ocean.” Newport dazzled the Volvo organizers and racers in 2015 with our focus on creating a sustainable event and our educational displays featuring sustainability. We will build on that success by showcasing the strides Newport has made since then. We’ve effectively retired the previously ubiquitous single-use plastic carry out bags, and we are raising the bar for special events to employ sustainable practices with food waste and recycling. There will be multiple opportunities to become involved and volunteer at any stage along the way. Check out Sail Newport, or for a focus on sustainability, Clean Ocean Access. You can also visit volvooceanracenewport.com.

Another vision I’ve cherished is to see our community appreciating the magic offered by the night sky. Over the years light pollution has crept up on us. I’d like to see what we can do to raise our consciousness of what is lost when we “over-light” our environment. Part of this is thinking intelligently about security, and what type of lighting actually exposes and deters a potential perpetrator. That should be our goal, along with well-lit walkways and streets contributing to our safe passage.

From the inspirational to the more mundane, snow removal does much to improve life. Note that I said snow removal rather than snow plowing. I co-sponsored a resolution in December to review our procedures for dealing with snow, with the goal of creating a streetscape that is friendlier to pedestrians and bicyclists. We know we don’t want pollutants from the streets to end up in our beautiful bay. Still, we need to find a solution that allows for a lane of parked cars and a lane of traffic after the snow has been plowed, without aggravating the homeowner who dutifully takes care of the snow on the sidewalk, only to have the plows deposit it right back in the same place. It’s a problem that has a solution and I am working on it.

Finally, let me thank the good citizens of Newport for all you do to benefit the city, offering your time, your energy and your invaluable expertise. I am always committed to listening to your input, and to working to make government meetings and processes more accessible and user-friendly.

Susan Taylor, Ward 1 Councilor

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