October 25, 2014
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Council still seeking to cap former landfill owned by RIAC

Three items that were held at previous council meetings will be up for discussion at tomorrow night’s meeting, including one that’s been in the works for nearly five months: a resolution requesting the state cap the former “Truk-Away” Landfill, as it poses a threat to the surrounding area, including Buckeye Brook.

The other items are more recent business, such as an ordinance relating to ward representation on Warwick boards and commissions, as well as an ordinance regarding the posting and publication of invitation to bids.

In terms of the landfill, which is owned by the Rhode Island Airport Corporation (RIAC), Ward 3 Councilwoman Camille Vella-Wilkinson, who is co-sponsoring the ordinance with Ward 9 Councilman Steven Merolla, said it’s not necessarily a bad thing that it’s been on hold since the late summer. Rather than have a quick fix, they want to make sure it’s done properly.

“Initially, when the situation came to my attention, it was connected to some of the work the airport litigation committee had done with regards to airport properties and expansion,” said Vella-Wilkinson. “In my research, and in the meetings I participated in, I’ve found that it’s a much more complicated situation than what I initially believed.”

The delay, said Vella-Wilkinson, is that the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) has not been adhering to the prescribed procedure set by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). She believes the General Assembly should take action and direct DEM to follow EPA standards.

“This is a superfund site, and if I have to take a watchdog stance so the application procedures are followed, then that’s what I’m prepared to do,” she said.

In 2008, DEM issued a study of the site that found medical waste, heavy metal and electronic waste. As a result, the earth was stained orange and DEM placed a temporary cap of interim soil atop the landfill.

But that was almost five years ago. Vella-Wilkinson wonders if storms, such as the Floods of 2011, have washed away the soil, leaving the debris uncovered and posing a potential risk to nearby land, as well as Buckeye Brook.

“I don’t know at this point, after looking at some of the info, that even just a straight clean fill would be appropriate,” said Vella-Wilkinson.

Either way, she wants to get things moving.

“We need to get this going because it’s been far too long,” she said.

Another ordinance she is sponsoring looks to amend an ordinance related to ward representation on Warwick boards and commissions. She intends to achieve citywide representation, as she feels there have been boards and commissions in the past that have been dominated by certain sections of the city.

If approved, any board or commission that has nine or more members shall have at least one member from each ward; and any boards or commissions that have less than nine members shall not have more than one appointee from a single ward.

“My goal is not to change everything,” she said. “I’m saying that as these folks are coming in, the appointments committee [be equipped with] a list [of appointees] in advance so we are aware of where they come from.”

Also, she believes that it’s important to have the various locations of the city represented in these voluntary assignments not only for the benefit of the city, but also for citizens. She said many residents express to her that they feel as if they don’t have the opportunity to participate in local government.

“We don’t have a lot of avenues for our residents to use their talents for their community,” she said. “Why should somebody not have the opportunity to throw their hat in the ring? There’s enough work to go around. And it’s not to belittle the people that are coming forward. I still believe that it’s important that we have the various locations of the city rep in these voluntary assignments.”

As for the ordinance regarding posting and publication of invitation to bid, Ward 1 Councilman Steve Colantuono is sponsoring it on behalf of Mayor Scott Avedisian.

The ordinance seeks to amend an existing bid-related ordinance, adding language that would require anyone who is going to be a vendor or a potential vendor as part of the bid package to disclose a person/s who they have on their payroll that also works for the city.

“In the hope of more transparency in government, I think all people and/or companies looking to do business with the City have to disclose anyone who works for the City that is on their payroll,” Avedisian said in an email.

Colantuono agreed. He said it’s to avoid any potential conflicts of interest during the purchasing of bids from an outside vender.

“In some situations, at least in the past, there have been some folks who worked for the city, and were as well as an outside vender,” said Colantuono. “They may be the lowest bidder, but we need to know that it’s not a conflict of interest or that there’s an appearance that it’s improper.”

In other business, Vella-Wilkinson said she is working with the Warwick Veterans Council to start planning for the Veterans Day Parade. She is inviting the community to attend a planning meeting Thursday night at 6 at Shields Post at 662 Warwick Avenue.

“I’m very interested in reaching out to the community at large that are interested in planning the parade,” Vella-Wilkinson said.


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