Newport This Week

Middletown Building Project Updates

Middletown town administrator Shawn Brown provided numerous town building project updates to the Town Council on May 1 including the official purchase of 4.5 acres across from town hall that will be developed into single family homes as part of an affordable housing project. (See more details in the May 4 edition of Newport This Week.)

Brown and town solicitor Peter Regan are meeting with housing consultant Frank Sardella this week “to get the ball rolling,” he said.

*The Green End Avenue traffic roundabout design plan will come before the council shortly. The road contract was awarded last year, and drainage work has started mostly in the Peckham Avenue area, with asphalt laying moving forward;

*On the Second Beach parking lot project, Brown said, “There is a lot of asphalt coming in, the blocks look great there, and the natural colors and the natural timber for the guard rails [look great]. It turned out to be a great project.”;

*Council Chair Paul Rodrigues has met with the president of Salve Regina University about educational programs after school. “They are more than willing to meet and talk about it,” he said;

*The School Building Committee is finalizing the capital improvement program and is planning for a road bond. “It is coming together in the context of what resources we have,” said Brown. The town is looking to fill various vacant positions at public works;

*Brown will issue a memo to the council before the end of the week to explain the consolidation of school/town financial offices to save money and resources;

*Water issues along the Maidford River are on hold. Public works must hire a new deputy of public works to complete the project, Brown said;

“We have restrictions on our waterways because of phosphorus, nitrogen, lead and other things. We need an action plan to figure out all we need to address,” he said.

*Some 382 short-term rentals are currently registered. “The statute adopted by the state has helped to identify them, as they have to pay taxes on them,” said Brown. “Middletown is number two in the state behind Narragansett [in short-term rentals].”;

*The Planning Board is conducting a survey as to when they will have a workshop on marijuana legislation;

*The town audit went out to bid twice, with no response. “We are trying to get the budget to you. A performance audit will be addressed somewhat when [school and town] finance offices are combined,” Brown said. “A whole new organization will be on board to do the town’s financing and auditing.”

Councilor Dennis Turano said it is important to conduct the audit. “Where did we spend the money? Maybe it’ll come out in this year’s budget. There are going to be a lot of things that are underfunded. People are asking, ‘Where did the money go?’” he said.

The original and amended budget will provide the answer, said Brown. He said the town was “hard-pressed” to find an audit firm to do the audit. He cited a lack of accountants in the industry as a partial cause.

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