2018-07-05 / Opinion


Newport’s Character in Jeopardy

To the Editor:

I am part of a group of neighborhood residents who are in opposition to the proposed hotel on Broadway. This hotel was required by zoning ordinance to provide 60 parking spaces for the 40 room hotel plus the Fifth Element bar/ restaurant. They were short by 17 parking spaces in a neighborhood that already has palpable and ongoing parking problems.

I have attended numerous zoning board meetings over the last nine months in which no fewer than three hotels have been granted approval. The first two they said had no abutters who were in objection but this one on Broadway had an organized opposition throughout the neighborhood, which included over 80 petitions, a letter-writing campaign and was also represented by an attorney. It should be noted that the petitioners also had many who were in favor of this project.

However, despite this vocal and sustained opposition the zoning board defied its own ordinances and approved the hotel with just one member, Christopher Kirwin, who gave a dissenting opinion. To add insult to injury the uncouth attorney representing the petitioners suggested that we should all move to Little Compton where there was plenty of parking. This was typical of the odious and suspect arguments that were used against us.

This zoning board is changing the character of Newport in an alarming and nefarious way. Having endured three years of construction on Broadway streetscape, we now have another couple of years of noise and dirt to look forward to in the name of progress. This not only impacts our quality of life, but it will adversely affect our property values as well as take away our privacy.

Three new hotels approved in a matter of months means to me that in a few short years we will look more like Ocean City, New Jersey than the beautiful colonial city that I have grown to love. Shame on you Newport zoning board!

Michael Healy

Thanks for Your Support

To the Editor:

The Newport Public Education Foundation hosted its annual Evening for Education celebrating the community and Newport’s public schools on June 1 at the Edward King House. The evening exceeded expectations and the NPEF board and officers, along with the Evening for Education host committee, would like to offer sincere thanks to everyone who contributed to the event’s success.

Among the evening’s highlights were the presentation of the 2018 Noreen Stonor Drexel awards, which recognize community partners that have provided outstanding service and dedication to the Newport Public Schools. Peter and Melinda Gerard received the Friends of Education award, Sail Newport received the Partner in Education award, and Jennifer and Mitchell Jackson received the Unsung Hero award.

Our grants showcase highlighted the 2017-2018 enrichment grants awarded to Newport educators. The grants spanned all grades and all grants supported an aspect of the recently adopted Newport Public Schools strategic plan. A very special thank you to Dave Connell and the students in the Newport Area Career and Technical Center’s advertising design and new media program, who created the grant showcase posters, event programs and NPEF welcome sign.

Hugo DeAscentis delighted guests upon their arrival with his piano playing and Rogers High School students Mathilde Tash and Daniel O’ Donnell entertained guests with ukulele-accompanied songs.

Many thanks to Chef Steven Kalble, director of the culinary arts program at the Newport Area Career and Technical Center, and the Colonial Dining Room staff for the delicious hors d’oeuvres that were served. Also, beautiful flower arrangements were provided by Newport in Bloom.

Many thanks to our event sponsors: Donna McCarthy and Ted Wrobel, Mary Moniz, Corrigan Financial and Mary Ellen Atkins. We would also like to thank the NPEF board and officers for their support and generosity.

Lisa Harrison and her fearless crew at Only in Rhode Island designed and packaged our beautiful raffle baskets. Many thanks also to the nearly four dozen other businesses and organizations who helped us with the event.

Kate Borgueta, Jennifer Hanson,
and Kristen Ramsey
Event co-chairs.

A Show of Pride

To the Editor:

On the weekend of June 22-24, we celebrated Newport’s inaugural Pride Weekend here in town, acknowledging LGBTQ+ identities and history and celebrating LGBTQ+ community along with allies.

For anyone raising an inquisitive eyebrow at all these letters and terms, this was a pride celebration, inclusive of all gender identities and sexual orientations. We kicked off with a yoga class on the beach, had a 2-mile bike ride through town, took a sail on Sightsailing’s Aquidneck, had a fun night out at Salvation Café and the Tavern on Broadway, hosted Newport’s first ever drag brunch, had a festival in Equality Park, and closed out the weekend with two LGBTQ+ bands at the Parlor Bar & Restaurant.

Whew! It was a whirlwind, and we’re so glad it happened.

The RI Pride celebration happened in Providence on June 16, but we had felt that Newport really needed its own celebration. As locals well know, we all tend to be a bit isolated on the island. Taking a weekend to acknowledge and come together as an LGBTQ+ community along with our allies felt like a much-needed jolt of energy to have everyone who participated stop and reflect on the specialness of our community and the beauty of coming together.

So really, this is a love letter to Newport and the surrounding region. It’s a love letter to everyone who participated, who offered their enthusiasm and kind, supportive words.

Thanks also go to more than three dozen people, institutions, and businesses for their support.

As you can see, we had an abundance of support for this event and were touched to know that it came from heartfelt desire to truly celebrate and acknowledge our LGBTQ+ community.

A meeting will be held later this summer to plan for next year. Follow NewportOUT on Facebook for details, or write info@newportout.com to join our mailing list.

Sean O’Connor

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