East Providence City Council defeats two ordinances, considers hires

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EAST PROVIDENCE — At its meeting Tuesday night, Dec. 18, in the City Hall chamber, the East Providence City Council defeated two ordinances and considered the hiring of two departmental positions among other issues discussed.

The council, by a unanimous 4-0 vote, opted not to amend an ordinance, which would remove language from an existing article pertaining to the city’s responsibility for broken, clogged or cracked sewer pipes on residential property.

As written, the ordinance reads “The city will assume responsibility for repair of a broken or cracked sewer lateral between the curb line and the sewer main or for any blockage caused by a city tree.” The last part of the sentence was the bone of contention.

The councilors agreed with public sentiment that if a city-owned tree caused the damage, the property owner should still have the right to seek compensation for its repair.

A second ordinance, which considered changing Alice Street from a one-way to a two-way road was also defeated. The street, which connects to Taunton Avenue and James Street, is heavily trafficked due to the presence of the Bank of America branch parking lot/drive-up ATM as well as the Free Masons temple.

Public Works Director Steve Coutu supported the change, however, residents of Alice Street voiced their objections, which the council considered in declining to adopt the amendment.

Ward 2 Councilman Helder Cunha was absent from Tuesday’s meeting, creating the off 4-0 vote of the five-member body.

Also of note from the meeting, the council, by a 2-2 split, for the moment defeated a request from Ward 4 Councilman Chrissy Rossi to pursue through the budget commission of the hiring of a replacement for Alba Curti, who recently retired as Parks & Recreation director. In the interim, City Manager Peter Graczykowski said Public Works will envelop the parks portion of the department while Rec Center Director Diane Sullivan will oversee that side of department affairs.

The council did approve going forward with filling the vacant position of Highway Department superintendent by a 3-1 vote. As he did in regards to the Parks & Rec position, Ward 1’s James Briden, the council president/mayor, voted in the negative due to lack of knowledge on the subject. Ward 3’s Thomas Rose, who voted with Mr. Briden against the Parks & Rec request, joined Mrs. Rossi and At-Large Councilor Tracy Capobianco in supporting the measure. Mr. Rose cited his knowledge of the need for oversight and leadership in the department.

The continued dispute over whether the city or the commission in its name is responsible for repairs of the Looff Carousel in Riverside was a topic of discussion.

The East Providence Budget Commission, at its meeting Dec. 13, tabled a request for bid submitted by the Planning Department for carpentry work on the structure, specifically aimed at fixing the Carousel’s worn windows. The council and the Carousel Commission are seeking to find a fast remedy to the matter, considering any inclement weather during the window could cause damage beyond what already needs to be repaired.

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