WARWICK, RI — The Warwick City Council asked the DPW to explore expanding the Norwood neighborhood’s gazebo park to encompass part of Kay Street and delayed consideration of an ordinance regulating some citizens’ wildlife feeding habits till Feb. 25.
The meeting was held at Warwick Police Headquarters, 99 Veterans Memorial Drive. The Council’s meeting venue will remain there for the next few months while water damage is repaired in City Hall, Council President Merolla noted.
The former resolution received support during public comment before the Council’s Intergovernmental Committee meeting. One resident, Joseph Stevens, of 324 Pawtuxet St., pointed out that that the local post office already doesn’t recognize his Kay Street address, which causes him problems with his professional license. He said that while he agreed with the expansion, and the intended safety improvements from prohibiting access to the street as a cut-through, an abandonment of the street may cause him additional land use problems.
Councilman Jeremy Rix, who sponsored the resolution, pledged to work with Stevens and the City to iron out any problems with Stevens’ property. He also noted that he had amended the resolution to avoid language about abandoning the street, instead focusing on expanding the park. Stevens was also concerned about a legal divider between his property and the park, which Rix assured him he would also work to resolve. After the committee meeting ended, Stevens, Rix and William DePasquale, Mayoral chief of staff, discussed the issue.
Public comment on the wildlife feeding regulation, also proposed by Rix, drew opposition from people who said they preferred Rix solve the issue through education rather than a law.
Barbara Walsh suggested that Warwick Police use their interpersonal skills to explain the issue to residents, rather than make the practice of feeding wildlife a crime. She said violations of such laws had consequences for people’s livelihoods and their ability to qualify as foster parents, for instance.
“You don’t need to create a new level of intervention in government,” Walsh said.
Rix pointed out that he had already spent $1,000 on flyers and spent many hours educating residents in his district door-to-door, to no avail.
One issue Rix had attempted to impress upon residents, he said, was that food intended for birds, including peanuts, attracts and is eaten by rats, a persistent problem in the Norwood Neighborhood.
“But we still have people who perform activities that draw rats,” Rix said. He also noted that the ordinance set the penalty for a first offense as a warning, which he said is proof its main intent is not punitive.
The Ordinance Committee recommended holding the issue till the Council’s Feb. 25 meeting.
During the regular Council meeting, the study of the gazebo park expansion was approved, and the wildlife feeding ordinance was delayed till Feb. 25 as recommended.
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