WARWICK, RI — The Warwick City Council unanimously approved making harbor masters city employees, and letting Mayor Frank Picozzi settle Warwick’s $574,000 lawsuit against a Pawtucket sprinkler service for a 2018 City Hall leak at the June 17 meeting.
Compensation for the harbormasters, previously handled as stipends, will now be handled similarly to other city employees, out of the budget of the Parks and Recreation Department, the local regulatory body for the waters of the city under the city’s ordinances, “Sec. 24-5. Administration and enforcement; harbor management commission”.
The vote also updated the city bylaw sub-section under “Sec. 24-6. – Regulated activities” governing pump-out facilities. Previously, the bylaw instructed, “No person shall operate a marine toilet at any time so as to 6 cause or permit to pass or to be discharged any sewage into the waters of the city, excluding Greenwich Bay, Narragansett Bay and the Providence River.”
The new passage prohibits permitting any sewage into the waters, “enclosed by the City of Warwick Harbor boundary.”
The Council took the following additional actions during the meeting:
- Jane Austen re-appointed to land trust – passed unanimously
- Consent calendar passed – passed unanimously (2:27:00)
- PCR 80-23, abatements, amended to $14,080.80 – passed unanimously
- Bid 2023-443, now PCR 81-23: held till August meeting
- Bid 2024-107, now PCR 82-23: passed unanimously
- PCR 83-23, $600 – passed with Councilman Jeremy Rix abstaining
- PCR 84-23 – $830.40 – passed unanimously
- PC0 15-23 – Amending Zoning at 989 Centerville Road – passed unanimously
- PCO 17-23 – Amending Section 20-132 Fire & Police 1 Employee Pension to create new funding strategy for Other Post-Employment Benefits (OPEB) – Passed 6-2, with Coucilmen Ed Ladouceur and Jeremy Rix voting against.
- PCO 24-23 – Repairs to Engine 13, amended amounts to $15,046.94 and $34,200.86, passed 7-1, with Ladouceur voting against.
“I will be voting no on this. We have not received any documentation whatsoever to show these numbers, what the parts were for, etcetera. So, I’m not voting for something that I can’t see,” Ladouceur said before the vote on the amendment, which passed 7-1 with his lone vote. Prior to the amended bid, Ladouceur said, “This entire item has just been poorly presented. It has been poorly documented. There has been no communication justifying many of the things,” he said, adding that required reports and processes for the changes had not been presented to the council. Ladouceur also noted that a crash report from the driver of the engine was required by state law, contrary to what he had heard when asked for the report.
“When we first received this claim there was nothing to substantiate the damage. There was no reports, there was no anything. There was just an assumption that this City Council was going to go ahead and approve the expenditure of these taxpayer dollars.
- PCR 74-23 Extending Tax Relief Commission – passed 8-1
- PCR 75-23 – Authorizing stop sign on Ingman Avenue intersecting at Parkway Drive – passed unanimously.
- PCR 77-23 – Requesting proposals for American Rescue Plan Act projects – passed 8-1
- PCR 78-23 – Replacing signs to 25 mph on Inman Avenue – passed unanimously
Executive session, 2018 Council Chambers Sprinkler Suit
The Council entered into executive session to discuss litigation, City of Warwick vs. Johnson Control Fire Protection Ltd. Partnership Case #1:22-CV-00312. The case, filed Aug. 25, 2022 involved Warwick suing Johnson Control Fire Protection Ltd. Partnership, alleging the company, locally operating at 670 Narragansett Park Drive, Pawtucket, RI, failed to properly inspect the sprinkler system installed at Warwick City Hall in Council Chambers in 2018, failing to prevent a leak in the hall Oct. 22, 2018, resulting in $574,373.28 in damages to the room, according to court documents.
The damage required extensive repairs to Council Chambers in City Hall, as reported by Warwick Post in 2019. The damage left the City Council meeting in the WPD Community Room until the spring of 2019.
The company denied the city’s claims in the lawsuit.
The Council began the session about 9:51 p.m. and remained in executive session for about eight minutes before returning. About a minute after their return, the Council’s Solicitor Bill Walsh announced the votes taken during the session.
- A unanimous vote to authorize Mayor Frank Picozzi to enter into a settlement
- A unanimous vote to reconvene into an open session of the City Council
The Council then unanimously voted to seal the executive session minutes, then convened. According to court records, the suit was dismissed by both parties, with prejudice, on July 17, the day of the Council Meeting.
The Warwick City Council will next meet on Aug. 21.
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