At their meeting on Monday night, the city council heard from Director of Elections Nick Lima who detailed laws regarding the special election of a new member of the council to replace Councilman …
At their meeting on Monday night, the city council heard from Director of Elections Nick Lima who detailed laws regarding the special election of a new member of the council to replace Councilman Matthew Reilly following his arrest for narcotics possession and his subsequent resignation.
Lima said that there are several pieces of legislation moving through the state that could alter the way special elections are timed. The most important is about whether or not a special election and a special primary can be held in back to back months.
“We are advocating for that legislation to pass,” Lima said. “It is actually moving in the house but has not advanced in the senate. Under current law a primary special election has to be held 30 days prior to the special election that follows it. The bill would make that the Tuesday after the first Monday that follows it. So, an election could be held, in theory, 28 or 29 days following a special primary.”
Lima said that he would have a meeting of the Cranston Board of Canvassers scheduled to be held on Friday, May 26, at 3 p.m. to discuss the special election prospective dates and deliver those dates to the State Board of Elections. Lima said that the state’s board only meets monthly and that they have to get the information to them as quickly so that the process for the special election can be moved forward as expeditiously as possible.
While the details of the special election are worked out, the council still had to handle business as usual. This included an ordinance to transfer $350,000 from ARPA for engineering design development costs for construction of a Budlong Pool and another for the ratification of the International Brotherhood of Police Officers (IBPO) contract. When it came to the ordinance that would approve funds for the Budlong Pool project the people of Cranston were at the meeting to make their voices heard.
“26 years ago I took my three-year-old daughter to Budlong to teacher her water confidence and how to swim,” Cranston Resident Susan Blake. “As she grew we progressed to the deeper water and refined her swimming skills. By the time she turned 10 I was teaching her diving at the deeper end.”
Blake said that she has noticed the trend of making pools shallower, and she does not approve. That however, was not all she disapproved of. Saccoccio & Associates Architects, the firm recommended by the Mayor in his proposal for the renovation of the pool, is not the right firm for the project in Blake’s eyes.
“I did a thorough review of their website, including their portfolio and their news releases,” Blake went on. “Clearly their niche is designing fire departments and the new bathrooms at the airport. Their only recreational facility photo was an indoor ice rink. Explain to me how they were ever selected as being remotely familiar with an outdoor municipal pool adjacent to a sensitive aquatic area requiring all kinds of surveying and wetlands permits.”
Blake wasn’t the only voice to speak against the project, as anyone familiar with the ongoing debate would expect. At the Spring Street Festival, hosted on Sunday by the Cranston Police Department, a group of concerned citizens had signs and a petition to retain the original design of the pool.
“We got 250 signatures of persons who support the idea of maintaining the current pool size,” said Joseph Levine. “The idea of a multi-use Budlong Pool with amenities was not important. Many said they could walk their dogs on the sidewalk or park. Others said they could have barbeques in their backyard or have their own splash pads in the backyard as well.”
Despite not being able to attend the meeting in person, Councilwoman Nicole Renzulli chose to join on zoom and speak as a member of the public on the issue.
“I am in support of the mayor’s ordinance to use up to $350,000 of American Rescue Plan funds for the engineering and design cost for the construction of a Budlong Pool and a bathhouse,” Renzulli said. “I hope this passes tonight so that this process can be expedited and we can get a pool open as soon as possible.”
Despite the opposing opinions, the ordinance that would allow the use of ARPA funds to begin the planning process became unnecessary.
“In the context of time this particular ordinance may not be needed,” said Finance Director Thomas Zidelis. “The proposed ordinance was recommended to the council prior to the introduction and adoption of the capital plan. With the capital plan, as you may recall, there was a line item in the amount of $4 million for Budlong pool. Actions of the council substituted the funding of the pool from what was proposed as capital funding alone to funding by ARPA funds which we have already received and have in house.”
Due to the movement of funds in the capital budget, the $350,000 that would be given to the budget for the Budlong Pool project has already been accounted for. As a result, the administration recommended that the ordinance be removed from the docket. As a result of this new understanding no vote was taken on the ordinance.
While this does not mean the debate is over, it does mean that funds are now available for preliminary plans regarding the design of the Budlong facilities. The council’s next meeting will be held on June 26 at 7 p.m.
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