January 21, 2020

News Briefs

Posted

City Council Assessing Wastewater Contract Options
At its December 17th meeting, the city council listened to three options available regarding wastewater treatment services for the city. East Providence currently contracts with the Suez Water Corporation to operate the sewage plant and services. A contract was awarded to Suez in 2009 to operate and maintain the city wastewater system. That contract is set to expire in April of 2020. The goals of the wastewater system beyond operation and maintenance include providing cost effective services to rate payers, maintaining a level of service, developing a long-term approach to preserving infrastructure.

In June of 2019 the Arcadis Consulting firm was hired to evaluate the existing contract and advise on all options. This is done in conjunction with the RI Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM).

East Providence averages 6.7 million gallons a day (MGD) with a peak daily flow of 14.2 MGD. There are 27 sewer pump stations and 133 miles of sewer with 3,216 sewer manholes. The 2019 city wastewater budget was $14 million. The council was told that the RIDEM heavily regulates requirements for staffing, pump stations, permits and collection systems, etc.

There are three basic options facing this city council: Renegotiate the existing contract for a renewal term; Procure a new contract through an RFP process (proposal request) or to re-assume local control and operations of the wastewater system.

Part of the city system includes a contract with the Narragansett Bay Commission for 43 miles of sewer with 1.084 sewer manholes, mostly in the northern part of East Providence. The current Suez contracts allows for the complete system operation, sludge hauling and disposal and all other regulatory mandates. The Arcadis consultants are completing analysis of all options.

The agreement with the Town of Barrington has often been questioned by city residents. The consultants told the council that the agreement which dates to a 1973 sewage plant expansion, is a good one. "Barrington fees include a 10% administrative fee, an agreement to pay proportionate share of treatment operation and management and other plant services. It meets or exceeds the industry standard," said the consultants. Barrington pays East Providence about $1.7M annually. This includes debt service and operation and management (O&M). It is based on their town flow.

Cost savings are unknown at this time if the city were to revert back to local O&M. If the city goes out for new bids without renewing, the consultants predict a potential for 20% to 30% higher costs. The availability of hiring new qualified staff is a risk as are cost fluctuations with supplies, chemicals, etc. The city would assume responsibility for all backups and customer complaints, 24 hours per day.

Should the city resume total operation, the transition would be complete by October 1, 2020. The analysis is ongoing and the council will continue to consider all options with public input available.

City Council/Mayor Exploring Grassy Plains Park Renovation
The council and Mayor have approved initial capital expenditures for the renovation of the long ignored Grassy Plains Playground area in Riverside. The large tract of open space is in the area of Rounds Avenue, Grassy Plains, Estelle Drive and Tanglewood to mention some of the abutting streets. The Mayor has proposed a matching RI Department of Environmental Management grant to provide for recreational expansion for the Grassy Plains site. Soccer fields and other projects would be provided. A projected cost would be $300,000 with the city and RIDEM splitting the cost. Some of the immediate land abutters spoke in opposition at the December 17th meeting yet others in the neighborhood have voiced support for the revitalization of the long neglected open space. Ward Four (Riverside) councilman Ricardo Mourato said he would set up meetings in the neighborhood for more discussion. City at-large councilman Bob Rodericks said he would prefer a public workshop at a council meeting in which "all council members can attend and be involved." The open meetings laws prevents more than two council members attending a non-advertised (legally) meeting. "I still will have a neighborhood meeting so people can speak," said Mourato. "Yes, all except us (council)," said Rodericks in reply. To date nothing has been scheduled either way.

City Lottery Rents Home to Riverside Woman
Runner-up Takes Keys to new Home
Julia Dempsey, a 1986 East Providence High graduate, was given the keys to a newly refurbished home on Payette Street in the city. The former Providence Country Day caretaker home on the grounds of the Robert Rock Senior Center was rented at below market rent. Dempsey who is from East Providence came up number two in a lottery drawing for the house in December. The original lottery winner was veteran Harold Alexieff who eventually declined to accept the prize. Alexieff attended the ceremony in which Dempsey was given keys to the house and congratulated her.

East Providence Mayor Bob DaSilva, together with the city’s Community Development Office, had launched a lottery for the single-family home at below market rent. It was their hope to give preference to one deserving veteran or veteran family. The lottery drawing was held on December 17, 2019 during the City Council meeting. Mr. Alexieff's name was pulled at random at that time. David DosReis, Rhode Island Office of Veteran Affairs Case Worker and city Community Development Director David Bachrach were present at the drawing. A runner-up name was selected in case the first winner declined the home which was the case.

"I'm so filled with happiness, I am so grateful, I am very appreciative that veteran Harold Alexiett was present to offer congratulations," said Dempsey in a public statement of thanks. Harold deserves my thanks first for his veteran service and for the great opportunity he gave me to have this home," she added. "It's amazing to see that strangers offer well wishes, and congratulation for me. I am so amazingly happy that I can't begin to ever explain the feeling," said Dempsey.

"Today with the help of Kasim Yarn Director of Veterans Affairs for Rhode Island, the City handed the keys to Julia Dempsey to her new rental home. Julia was the runner up in the Veteran’s preference lottery. We are happy for her," said Mayor Bob DaSilva.

The newly renovated, one-bedroom home has an open-space feel and features newly installed hardwood floors, windows and lighting fixtures. The home also boasts new kitchen
appliances and bathroom fixtures. The home is centrally located near the high school, senior center and shops and restaurants. There is also off-street parking available. The project was funded through the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department through their Community Development Block Grant Program according to David Bachrach.

EPHS Hall of Fame Seeks Nominations
Last Call for 2020 Inductees
The East Providence High School Hall of Fame Committee announces last call for nominations for 2020 inductees. Nominations will be accepted through February 1, 2020. The East Providence High School Hall of Fame was established in conjunction with the East Providence High School 1984 Centennial year. Created by former Superintendent of Schools Myron J. Francis, Class of 1947, and others, in an effort to promote Pride in city schools, the purpose of the Hall of Fame is to recognize Townie graduates who have brought honor to themselves and to the high school.

During the course of the school’s existence, many EPHS graduates have distinguished themselves in high school, and in all walks of life following graduation. Consequently, the selection process is difficult. Nevertheless, a nomination procedure was adopted, criteria for selection were established, and a broadly-based selection committee makes the final decisions.

Selection is based upon achievements which shall include a meritorious record in at least one - and preferably more - of the following areas:

•Job-related achievements; one who excels in their chosen field after graduation.
•Professional honors and awards, professional affiliations, publications.
•Civic or community involvement.
•Extraordinary contribution to society.
•Positive impact on the East Providence community.
•Exceptional and documented individual athletic accomplishment(s) during one’s high school, college, or beyond.
•Exceptional dedication as a staff member to the students of East Providence High School for a minimum of 10 years with a significant and direct impact on students and the community.
•Other appropriate qualifications which the committee believes merit consideration.

New Hall of Fame Chair Announced:
Gregory Dias, a 1975 EPHS graduate, has been elected as the next chairperson of the East Providence High School Hall of Fame committee. Dias will replace Bob Rodericks, EPHS Class of 1972. Rodericks told the committee that he would step aside as committee chairman after 10 years in that position. "My schedule is pretty full with City Council responsibilities and many other commitments," Rodericks told the HOF committee at its recent meeting. "I have enjoyed chairing this group for the past ten years and it's time to let someone else lead us. I was pleased to help keep the Townie HOF mission going, just as envisioned by former Superintendent of Schools Myron Francis planned," added Rodericks.

"Bob will stay on as an active committee member and we have asked him to continue as our HOF induction Master of Ceremonies," said Chairman Dias. "I am thankful for the opportunity to chair a very active and wonderful group of committee volunteers," Dias added. "We continue to urge the community to submit nominations of worthy high school graduates," said Dias.

Dias has become one of Rhode Island's prominent attorneys and is an active volunteer in many East Providence and Rhode Island charities. He is on the Board of Directors for the East Bay Community action program, the Non-Profit Coastline Employee Assistance Program, the R.I. Student Assistance Program, the TAP-In and K-Rob Foundations and the Friends of Townie Athletics fundraising group. He is a member of the Rhode Island Bar since 1982 and the Federal Bar since 1983.

Hall of Fame Nomination forms are available and can be picked up in the high school main office. You can also receive a form by email from: bobrodericks@gmail.com. Completed nomination forms can be mailed to: EPHS Hall of Fame Committee, PO BOX 16571, Rumford, RI 02916.

Holiday for Heroes - 4th Year Volunteer Effort
Once again Tracy Adams Capobianco, a former city councilwoman and patriotic volunteer organized a "Holiday for Heroes" effort to bring gifts and holiday cheer during the holiday season. December 2019 was the 4th consecutive year Capobianco and volunteers have done this. "We started in 2016 and every year since it has grown," said Capobianco. "We were hoping this would evolve into an annual tradition and so far the interest has grown each year. Originally my Dad suggested the children at the Little Red School House Day Care & School in Riverside, RI make cards, which of course we agreed to do immediately. But then my staff and I thought it would be wonderful to get as many other people involved as possible. Our hope was that people would buy cards and sign them as a family. Others would donate money and we bought cards and gifts to present and it has taken off from there," she said.

Capobianco asked people to drum up support from within their families, neighborhoods, schools and workplaces. They have a list of about 185 veterans living at the Bristol Veteran's Home which they try to accommodate. "The effort includes sending children’s Christmas cards to full blown gift bags with life’s necessities and some fun stuff," added Capobianco.

Helping Capobianco with this effort is Rick Lawson, himself a veteran and local volunteer on many fronts in East Providence. Lawson who has been active with recognizing local veterans, especially looked forward to "having conversations with kids about our all volunteer military and what they do for America and the whole world, as we make Christmas cards together."

The group gets together at the school on Sprague Ave. in Riverside, R.I. each year. They gather and collect donations and package all the gifts. “I really am only able to do this because I'm lucky enough to know so many great helpers,” Capobianco said. “This is how you build a community. Projects like this are always easier with my little helpers (students) and the residents who volunteer donations. I am proud of the kids. They would rather help with this Veterans project than play with any toys when we organize the gifts. To us, helping others is the best lesson we can teach,” added Capobianco.

Family plays a big part in the "Holiday for Heroes" effort. Both Capobianco's father and mother and entire family are instrumental in helping her out. "My daughter won’t be happy that this story mentions her a lot but she deserves a lot of credit, as do her friends,” said her dad Alan “Chubby” Adams. “We're all excited to team up and bring some cheer to the Veterans home."

Ordinance Creates Kennel License; Stricter Laws to Protect Animals
The East Providence City Council has passed an ordinance that not only updates definitions to align with state laws, but also creates a kennel license and stricter rules on the tethering of dogs.

An initiative to update the ordinance first began with talks between Council President Robert Britto, Mayor Bob DaSilva and City Solicitor Michael Marcello last spring. With significant input from East Providence Animal Control Officer William Muggle and input from the City Council, the two-part ordinance received final passage on Dec. 3, 2019 and Dec. 17, 2019, respectively.

Council President Britto believed it was imperative that the Council take action to not only align the city’s ordinance with state laws, but to do what it could to thwart animal cruelty and to ensure dogs receive adequate veterinary care, food and water.

“With everything going on with animal cruelty throughout the state it was something we needed to bring forward and educate the community,” Britto said. “We needed to take a proactive approach.”

Under the amended ordinance, a dog owner cannot tether a dog with a choke-type collar, head collar or prong-type collar. An owner must not confine or tether a dog when the temperature is beyond the Tufts Animal Care and Condition Weather Safety Scale (TACC) weather safety scale.

The ordinance also states that no dog should be kept on a permanent tether that restricts the dog’s movement to an area less than 6 foot radius or 113 square feet. In addition, it states that a dog owner cannot keep a dog tethered for more than 10 hours during a 24-hour period, cannot tether a dog between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. (except for 15 minutes), and cannot keep any dog confined in an area or enclosure for more than14 hours during a 24-hour period.

In addition, the amended ordinance also includes the creation of a kennel license. The license, which is granted by the Council and expires annually on December 1, applies to any place that temporarily houses animals not owned by the proprietor. Under the amended ordinance, the Animal Control Officer will conduct yearly inspections within three months of the expiration date of the kennel license or upon receiving a complaint.

To report suspected animal abuse, neglect or cruelty, please contact East Providence Animal Control at 401-435-7675 or email wmuggle@cityofeastprov.com. If you are unable to contact the Animal Control Officer, please contact the RISPA’s law enforcement agent at 401-438-8150 Ext. 2 or by emailing cruelty@rispca.com.

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