As our new President’s term heads into a second week, and as we head into our second (and final) week of preparing for the Super Bowl, today’s letter discusses three community meetings and the use of Providence water by other cities and towns.
We are only one week into the Trump administration, and it is no small task to keep up with the torrent of actions, announcements and controversies. Senator Whitehouse, who was quite busy, has invited the general public to discuss these issues at Nathan Bishop Middle School today (Sunday) from 5:00-7:00 p.m. A pasta dinner will be served. Certainly there will be plenty to discuss.
On Wednesday, February 1 at Nathan Bishop Middle School, from 6:00-7:30 p.m., there will be an informational meeting and tour for parents of students in the 5th grade who would like to learn more about the school.
On Thursday, February 2 at 5:30-7:30 p.m. at 444 Westminster Street, Mayor Elorza will hold a Citywide Conversation on public education as part of the administration’s “moonshot summit” initiative. While my own information about this effort is not complete, I have been told it is designed to increase public participation and collaboration in supporting the public schools. The meeting time conflicts with the City Council’s meeting, but I plan to learn more about this project as information becomes available.
At its February 2 meeting, the City Council will discuss the proposed Invenergy power plant at Burrillville. At last Wednesday’s meeting, the Special Committee on Municipal Operations and Oversight recommended the Council approve a resolution opposing the plant and exploring ways to prevent the sale of Providence water to Johnston, which plans to resell the water to the plant for its operations. At a meeting last week, however, the Water Supply Board’s attorney stated that he did not read the enabling act, Chapter 84 of the 1986 Public Laws, to specifically restrict Johnston’s use of water purchased from Providence. One can argue that a different interpretation is possible, by looking at the first page of the enabling act (or the second page of the attached pdf). At the bottom of the page, the enabling act confers upon a group of cities and towns (including Johnston and Burrillville) “the right to take and receive water from said storage reservoir or reservoirs for use for domestic, fire and other ordinary municipal water supply purposes . . . in any part or parts such territory or territories of such other town, city or water or fire district . . .” One can read this passage to allow each town to use the water for certain purposes within its own municipal boundaries or, alternatively, that each town can use the water for purposes within the boundaries of all of the towns on the list. The Water Supply Board’s attorney took the broader interpretation, which also can be supported. With that in mind, I have introduced a Resolution for the City Council to consider which would support the passage of new legislation to clarify this issue, and restrict purchases by other municipalities of Providence water to uses that are located within the purchasing municipality.