Patricia Silvia wheeled herself unimpeded into Newport City Hall last week. This was a welcome change to her usual navigation along Broadway.
Silvia, who suffered a stroke, told the City Council that people won’t let her pass in her motorized chair along Newport’s busy street, especially those waiting in line to eat outside at the Corner Café.
“They won’t budge,” she said. “It is a constant chore to get through the crowds in front of the restaurants due to patrons lined up outside.
“The access up and down Broadway in my wheelchair has been hard. They will look at me, and then turn away and start talking again,” she told the council during the opening minute of the meeting’s public forum, where citizens may speak on any meaningful subject involving city business. “People don’t understand that I can’t move the way [they] want me to.”
She said the area outside the Corner Café is particularly difficult. “That is the hardest corner to get around and we should not have to go through that. If you can help, that would be awesome,” she said.
Silvia has asked the restaurant’s management for help, she said, and although they attempt to keep the customer line as close to the building as possible, she added, “It’s not enough.”
She suggested beepers for customers to alert them when their table is ready and said restaurants should be “responsible for an open path when their permits are renewed.”
“That problem will be addressed,” Mayor Jeanne-Marie Napolitano said. “There are going to be regulations in place, not just for yourself, but others that walk along Broadway.”
In other news:
– The council voted to give a victualling and an entertainment license with expansion of space to the new restaurant, Cabana, located in the former home of Salvation Café at 140 Broadway.
At a public hearing, the council also allowed owners to put four tables and 10 seats in an expanded 250-square-foot sidewalk area in conjunction with the liquor license. Entertainment will be allowed from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Originally, the owners wanted music allowed until 11 p.m.
Neighbor Kevin Callaghan, who said his residence has a “direct line of sight” to the eatery, said that music to 11 p.m. seemed excessive, as did Gerard Campbell of Middletown, who owns nearby apartments.
Attorney David Martland, representing the owners, Bull Shot, LLC, told the council that windows will be closed for amplified music indoors and city ordinance decibel levels will be enforced. He consented to the earlier end of music. “I think that would be a reasonable condition,” he said.
Speaking of the expanded sidewalk dining and the push for outdoor seating during the pandemic, Councilor Kate Leonard said, “We know that October comes and the [outdoor dining] licenses expire. I hope, next year, we have a new look on Broadway, [rather] than the hodgepodge we have now.”
– The council passed a budget amendment to appropriate $525,000 to a waste management fund.
“There is a lot of trash, and the city should consider trash barrels, where you carry in and carry out,” Leonard said. “It’s been very difficult this summer, so much intense trash everywhere. It is a problem . . . and maybe we should have a discussion about it.”
City manager Joe Nicholson, Jr. said the city removed the barrels because of a large build-up of trash. “It’s something to think about, at least,” he said. “You might not even be aware that along the wall at Easton’s Beach people were just dumping everything there. Carry in, carry out is something to think about.”
– The council issued a special events license for the Food Truck and Craft Beer Festival on Oct. 15 at Fort Adams, but Leonard wanted a larger police presence for traffic, especially at the entrance. She said there were ties ups for “two to three hours,” last October. She spoke to the Rhode Island Department of Transportation, who suggested the sponsors pay for additional police detail.
A festival representative said the company plans to hire extra traffic patrols, as it did for its last festival held in May. The representative acknowledged the trouble last October and vowed better efforts, improved communication, and additional police.