2018-05-17 / Around Town

Mental Health Month Declared, Grant Omits Courts

By Leif Walcutt

Mayor Harry Winthrop started the May 9 City Council meeting with a tribute of remembrance to the recent passing of Newport resident Donald Boucher. “The thing that really defined Don was the way that he helped people,” he said.

Winthrop then read a proclamation declaring May “Mental Health Month” in Newport. “Mental health is essential to everyone’s health and well-being, and whereas all Americans experience times of difficulty and stress in their lives, prevention is an effective way to reduce the burden of mental health conditions,” he said.

“Businesses, schools, government agencies, health care providers, and citizens all share the burden of mental health problems and have a responsibility to promote mental wellness, support and prevention for mental health first aid efforts,” he said.

Next was a public hearing for a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Application 2017, which passed, 7-0. CDBG grants are a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development program that fund local community development initiatives, including affordable housing and infrastructure improvement.

While there was no public discourse on the topic, Councilor Kate Leonard asked for clarification from Newport Director of Civic Investment Paul Carroll on what the local CDBG grant will provide to Newport.

Although Leonard said she was pleased to see money in the application included for the housing hotline, Harbor House and Florence Gray Center, she added, “It does stick in my craw that we removed two basketball courts and didn’t put them back.”

The council passed the measure to approve the application unanimously, 7-0.

A communication from Melissa Pattavina, Chair of the Newport Planning Board, recommended that a public forum or workshop be held to review and revise City of Newport Guest House regulations. The correspondence, received on April 30, reiterated that the current ordinance for short-term rentals “does not adequately address the issue.”

Councilor Susan D. Taylor said on the issue, “It’s my belief that with the rapidly developing market in short-term rentals, it’s been a while since the city has held a public hearing on this issue,” adding, “It would be a good idea for the city to hold such a hearing and I move to receive.” The council unanimously passed the measure. In other matters

. The recommendation from the Planning Board regarding a proposed zoning ordinance amendment for short-term rentals was approved. (See “Growth of Short-Term Rentals Remains Concern,” on page one)

. A resolution to provide clarification with regard to the city’s tax rates for the upcoming budget year was approved. The city’s legislative delegation will amend Rhode Island General Law Section 44-5-76.2. Tax rates will not change as a result of the council passing the action item.

. A Department of Utilities recommendation to award bids for the hauling of catch basin material and survey of St. Mary’s and Sisson Ponds, as well as a Department of Utilities recommendation to award a contract to perform Engineering Services for the Water Supply System Management Plan Update was approved.

. Implementation of 24-hour residential sticker parking at Dennison Street was approved.

. All items on the consent calendar were approved.

. Discussion of a communication from Albert Bouchard from Bouchard Restaurant & Inn, was continued to the May 25 meeting.

. Sidewalk license renewals for Ben’s Chili Dogs, Jimmy’s Saloon and Picnic were unanimously passed.

. Victualing licenses for Gooseberry Concession & Grill, Coffee Guy, The Preservation Society of Newport County and La Petite Creperie were approved.

. A daily entertainment license for Gurney’s Newport Resort & Marina, with the entertainment being limited to the cafe next to the pool area known as The Pineapple Club, was approved.

. A liquor license, Class F-1, for the Newport Art Museum’s “Summer Gala” was approved.

. Kathleen A. Jackson’s appointment to the Newport Hospitality Commission was approved.

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