Recreation Director Dave Sniffen is in full swing preparing for the summer season, while maintaining recreational activities throughout the spring. He reported to the Recreation Commission on March 15 that hiring for summer positions is going well, especially with rising salaries. He is able to offer $20 per hour for the head lifeguard, $16.50 per hour for other lifeguards and $15 per hour for camp counselors at Camp Mohegan. Sniffen said he has seven of eleven positions already filled, with more interviews scheduled for lifeguard and camp counselor.
In addition to Camp Mohegan, the recreation department will offer basketball camps and a drama camp. Sniffen told the board that he’s still looking for someone to host a baseball camp, but he’s had no luck so far. Board members suggested lacrosse, flag football, soccer or tennis as other alternatives. As usual, it’s all about housing, or lack thereof, but Sniffen remains hopeful.
Flip Porter will be offering a karate program this spring, and Sniffen said he might also be open to doing a summer camp. The karate program will be a six-week offering beginning in mid-April and continuing through the end of the school year. There will be two age groups for the children: five to eight years old and nine to 13 years old. There will also be a program for teenagers and adults.
Sniffen also plans to start Little League baseball in April and is looking for more coaches. Groupings will be made by level, with kindergarten and first
years together, second and third years together, and fourth and fifth years together.
The island’s free library may soon offer free phone charging outside the building. Director Kristin Baumann told the library board
Trustees last week that an offer had been made to provide the library with a solar-powered phone charging station for the yard. Island artists Aymar Ccopacatty and Sue Brown Black will work with Wade Ortel and the Solar Initiative to create an artwork that incorporates solar panels and charging ports for public use. Baumann said several other organizations will support the effort through grants, and artists will contribute concepts and designs to a future meeting.
Captain Kate McConville delivered her report to the Ports Committee on March 17 and described things as “still calm”. She has already hired the majority of her staff for the summer, but is still looking for Seashell Keepers for the season. McConville said she would put the department’s boat back in the water in mid-April.
The Coast Guard station’s floating dock was badly damaged over the winter, with McConville reporting that it was inoperable. She said the funds for the wharf were in the capital budget and she anticipates the item will go through the budget process. In the meantime, she said the department would use an emergency mooring for her boat, or perhaps a slip at the boat basin.
The Ports Department will also offer a boating safety course for students on the island aged 12 and over, starting in June. The Bristol Harbor Master will come to Block Island to teach the course. The course will be free for island students.
Motor vehicles for rent
The MVFH requested and obtained a rate increase for the 2022 season from the Town Hall. One dollar will be added to the base fare, bringing it to $11, and $1 will be added for each additional passenger, bringing this charge to $2 per person. At the March 16 commission meeting, taxi drivers complained that the pricing system was getting complicated. Chairman Brad Marthens told drivers that “the easiest way is to have meters, but nobody wants that.”
The rate increase had to be approved by city council, and Marthens told council on March 16 that rates had not increased in several years. He said the MVFH wanted to include the tax in the new rates, but City Manager Maryanne Crawford informed the council that she could not approve rate increases that included the Rhode Island State tax because the council does not have the power to raise and lower taxes.
Second manager Sven Risom said the fare increase had an “interesting curve” because the more passengers you have, the bigger the price increase. A group of six people will see an increase of around 30%, with the price rising from $16 to $21. A group of ten will see a 45% increase when the price moves from $20 to $29. In contrast, a group of two only sees a 15% increase from $13 to $14.
Marthens said by today’s standards, the increase wasn’t too big.
A few taxi drivers disagreed with Marthen’s assessment, pointing out that increases were greatest for large numbers of passengers, which seemed to favor larger taxis.
The council approved the new fares at three to zero, with council members Martha Ball and Mark Emmanuelle being recused because they are both involved in the taxi industry.
The Block Island School Board is seeking feedback on next year’s school calendar to accommodate the June 16 holiday. The committee would like to hear suggestions from parents and families on how to improve the calendar to better meet the needs of families. One suggestion mentioned at the March 21 committee meeting was to make changes to breaks in February or April to better accommodate family schedules, but committee chair Jessica Willi said there could be have any other great suggestions, and any input would be appreciated. the
A draft schedule can be found on the Block Island School website under School Committee Agendas. Please send your suggestions and comments by April 4 to Superintendent Bob Gerardi at firstname.lastname@example.org.