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Jan. 23, 2023 Town Council Meeting Report

This was our second Town Council meeting this month, with some important topics that we previewed here.

This article summarizes what happened in the meeting. The agenda packet for the meeting is here.

The council chambers, though not having room for many people, was quite full for this meeting.

Ninigret Park Master Plan

Stephen Stokes proposed directing the Parks & Recreation Department to update the 2008 Ninigret Park Master Plan (complete wording too lengthy to type here during the meeting). Ms. Cooper suggesting simply designating this the 2023 Ninigret Park Master Plan. Ms. Carney suggesting emphasizing enhancement of the ball fields and a dedicated concert/festival area with, possibly, including electricity.

There was a lot of good discussion with support for the idea of an update and questions about specific things mentioned in Mr. Stokes proposal.

After the discussion, Mr. Stokes made his motion to initiate the master plan update with participation by the various stakeholders and considering changes in the park since the 2008 master plan. His motion can be heard at about 1 hour and 45 minutes into the video here. The motion passed unanimously.

Ninigret Park Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)

Mr. Stokes reviewed a letter from former Wildlife Refuge manager Charlie Vendemoer that was received by the town far after the events noted and clearly contains inaccuracies. Mr. Stokes made a motion to begin the 30 day notification period for revising the MOU and the start the revision process.

Ms. Klinger suggested that entering an MOU revision process is more drastic than needed and, lacking specific changes we want made, we may be better served by asking for corrections to the letter.

After discussion Mr. Stokes simply asked the interim refuge manager to send corrections to the prior letter to the town. The interim refuge manager agreed to that. No motion came to vote.

Zoning for Cannabis sales

The briefings on this topic from The Building Official and Town Planner can be read in the agenda packet here.

The Council unanimously passed a motion asking the ad hoc ordinance review committee to draft a template ordinance for discussion with legal counsel. There was discussion that policy decisions need to be made as input to this process and the Council felt that could work because the ad hoc committee has not been formed yet.

Town Administrator

The Council went into executive session around 10 pm. Upon return Council President Carney explained that the Council unanimously approved the resignation of the Town Administrator, Mark Stankiewicz.

President Carney explained the terms of the resignation: affective February 13, 2023 with his last day in the office January 23, 2023. Comments from the audience were permitted and can be heard in the video recording starting around the 3 hour, 5 minute mark.

UPDATE: The Westerly Sun reported on Mr. Stankiewicz's resignation in this article.

The entire meeting can be watched here.

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