Westerly City Council accepts US bailout funds to renovate skate park | West

WESTWARD – The municipal skateboard park near White Rock Road will be expanded by approximately 12,000 square feet and new lights will be installed following a recent City Council decision.

The council voted 7-0 on Monday to authorize spending of up to $ 344,000 from the city’s allocation of federal bailout funds to the popular facility.

“This is a great opportunity for recreation and for all of the children and families in this city,” said Ed Haik, Chairman of the Recreation Board.

Haik, who lives near the park, said the facility attracts snowboarders at all times of the year, regardless of the season. It is one of the few recreation facilities that has remained open, uninterrupted, during the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.

“I can hear the kids using it everyday,” Haik said. “It’s fantastic.”

The lights will contribute to safety, and by expanding the facility, it will become more visible. The park, which is accessed by the Gingerella sports complex, is currently hidden behind a large rock and not visible from the roadway.

Volunteers maintain the skatepark and paint graffiti if necessary, Haik said.

Councilor Philip Overton, a long-time and steadfast advocate for the park, praised his fellow council members for approving the spending.

“Thanks for voting at the skate park. It’s a big vote for the young people in this community. They’ve worked on a low budget for many years,” Overton said.

Council President Sharon Ahern said she recently visited the park.

“I can see it’s really impressive, but I can see it might need some repairs,” Ahern said.

The council also voted to approve spending up to $ 750,000 in US bailout funds to replace the city hall’s heating and air conditioning system and up to $ 400,000 to replace windows in the city hall. building.

Acting city manager Shawn Lacey said the failing HVAC system was last upgraded in the 1970s.

“Every year it’s a challenge to get it up and running,” Lacey said.

Some of the building’s more than 100 windows are not functioning properly and pose a potential security risk, Lacey said. The majority of the existing windows were installed during the original construction of the Town Hall in 1911, officials said. The new windows will be selected to match the historic character of the building, he said.

The council also unanimously approved spending of up to $ 25,000 in US bailout funds for the purchase and installation of a washing machine, dryer and washer. commercial grade tableware for the municipal animal shelter. The equipment, which is used in the daily operations of the shelter, will replace aging and failing elements of the shelter, Lacey said. The funds will also be used to install gutters on the shelter building.

The council had previously approved projects worth around $ 1.26 million to be paid for with US bailout funds. The federal program provides $ 65.1 billion in direct relief to municipalities across the country. The city is expected to receive a total of $ 6.6 million from the federal program over two years.

In other matters, the board voted 7-0 to approve the school committee’s request to transfer $ 423,256 to previously approved capital project funds. The funds will now be used to pay for a new lighting system at Augeri Field at Westerly High School. The lights have been out of use for several months, forcing officials to rent a portable lighting system.

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