WESTERLY — The Town Council, during a meeting scheduled for Monday, will consider scheduling a referendum in May to ask voters to approve borrowing $9 million for road, infrastructure and water line improvements, and $2 million for school improvement projects, including a new roof at Dunn's Corners Elementary School.
The council will get underway at 5:30 p.m. for a workshop meeting followed by a regular meeting that is scheduled for 6. Both meetings will be conducted virtually. Viewers wishing to comment during public-participation portions of the meetings can do so by joining the meeting at https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83432622056 or by calling 929-205-6099 or 877-853-5257 (toll free).
Recent councils have supported borrowing through bond initiatives as a means to help address road work that some say was deferred for many years. What remains of the $15 million road bond approved by voters in 2018 has already been assigned to projects to be undertaken later this year.
Town officials propose resurfacing 43 roads (11.6 miles) and repairing or replacing the drainage system of 14 of those roads. Water mains would be replaced on 17 of the roads.
John Pagano, the school district's facilities manager, has proposed a project list that includes roofing work at Dunn's Corners Elementary and Springbrook Elementary schools, heating, ventilation and air conditioning work at Dunn's Corners Elementary School and Westerly High School, and plumbing work at Westerly High.
Town Manager J. Mark Rooney proposed the school bond in conjunction with refinancing bonds issued in 2011 for construction of Westerly Middle School. Savings garnered through the refinance could be used to pay for the proposed bond, Rooney and other town officials have said.
The Town Council originally hoped to add the school bond question to a March 2 referendum on state bonding initiatives, but those plans were scuttled when a deadline to get the local question on the ballot was missed. The March 2 referendum will ask voters throughout the state to approve initiatives totaling $400 million for projects ranging from higher education, state beaches, recreational facilities, transportation and early childhood care to industrial infrastructure.
The council on Monday will also consider authorizing Rooney to sign a contract for $155,920 with Pare Corporation of Lincoln for engineering services for work to improve drainage deficiencies on Breen Road and Pasadena Avenue in Avondale.
A resolution under consideration by the council would also authorize Rooney to spend up to $32,725 for a company to repair, clean and line the sewer pipe that runs from Town Hall to the sewer main serving the building. The line was found to have collapsed on Jan. 26, rendering bathrooms in the building unusable.
The council will also consider appointing a municipal court judge. Incumbent candidate Peter L. Lewiss, who has presided over the court for 12 years, and Tia M. Priolo, who is also seeking the position, were interviewed by the council during public and private sessions. Priolo held the position from 2007-2009.