2018-07-05 / Opinion

GUEST VIEW

To the Citizens of Newport

It has been my great honor to serve as Newport’s Mayor and I’m very proud with what we have accomplished as a community. At the end of this term I will have served the City of Newport for 11 years, and with much thought and reflection, I have decided not to seek re-election to a seventh term on the Newport City Council.

Since 2011 we’ve seen the completion of several important and very visible improvements in the city.

We built the new state-of-the-art Pell Elementary School. Partnering with the Newport Restoration Foundation we completed the Mya Lin redesigned Queen Anne Square. We partnered with Salve Regina University for a $2.5 million upgrade to Freebody Park and Toppa Field. We completed the $6 million Broadway Streetscape Project as well as a $6.6 million upgrade to the Gateway Transportation Center and have started the $7 million rehab of the former Sheffield School which will house our small business incubation center.

Working with Gov. Gina Raimondo and former Senate President Teresa Paiva-Weed, we received a $40 million commitment to redesign the Pell Bridge ramps and create over 43 acres of developable land, as well as safety and traffic improvements, which will allow us to reconnect the North End of Newport with the City Center. This project is the most significant undertaking in Newport in the past 50 years.

We’ve seen nearly a half billion dollars invested in our city for the upgrade of existing privately owned property, including the Breakers, the Audrain Building, Hotel Viking, Marriott Hotel, Gurney’s Newport Resort and Marina, the Opera House Theater and the $120 million renovation of Mrs. Astor’s Beechwood. And on top of all this are the ten’s of millions of dollars invested in residents personal property.

We have firmly established Newport’s reputation as the Sailing Capital of the World by hosting the America’s Cup World Series, two Volvo Ocean Races, and we’ve been selected to host the 2019 12 Meter World Championships. This is in addition to the biannual Newport Bermuda and Annapolis to Newport races and many dozens of other world class sailing events.

We purchased a $1 million state-of-the-art fire-rescue boat, received a $1 million state grant for a bike path from Connell Highway to downtown Newport and saw the approval for the construction of two new hotels, with a third going through the regulatory process. These are the first new hotels built in Newport in over 30 years.

The City has invested $40 million in our Waste Water Treatment Plant and another $75 million in our potable water treatment. We have invested millions of dollars in capital improvements for our infrastructure and continue to provide top notch city services, all while having the 32nd lowest tax rate of the 39 cities and towns in the State of Rhode Island.

We are in good faith negotiations to bring the National Sailing Hall of Fame to Newport, making Newport the only city in America with two Halls of Fame, the first being the International Tennis Hall of Fame, and we are also in negotiations with the Navy for the conveyance of the Newport Naval Hospital property to the city.

In closing, I’d like to recognize the members of the Newport City Council for all they do to make Newport the great city it is and to thank City Manager Joe Nicholson and his extremely capable staff for their commitment to the city. I urge the next and all future Newport City Councils to never lose sight of the number one priority in Newport, which is and always should be, public safety.

Finally, I would like to thank you, the citizens of Newport, for placing your trust in me and for all the support and inspiration you’ve given me over these years. Serving you as mayor of Newport was the greatest honor of my life.

Harry Winthrop, Mayor of Newport

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