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Town Council Meeting May 18th Update: Council denies permit
for holiday light show


By Cynthia Drummond for BRVCA


RICHMOND — There will not be a holiday light show at the Wawaloam campground this year. Members of the Town Council voted unanimously at the May 18 meeting to deny a permit for the event because the owner of the campground property does not want to host it.

Appearing on behalf of the show’s producer, BOLD Media of Holtsville, N.Y., Daniel Dwyer said his company proposed to stage a drive-through holiday light display at the campground, as it did in 2020.

However, the owner of the campground at 510 Gardiner Road has said that because of traffic problems and safety concerns last year, Wawaloam would not be willing to host the show for a second year.

Nicole Smith, general manager of the campground, said the property owners had attempted to rectify the traffic and safety concerns, without success.

“We knew that there was a problem, so much so that we ourselves got out and actually helped out,” she said. “Many times, I said ‘you need to come. We need more help. We need more help.’ And I was always left with a little bit of resistance there, saying ‘you should be able to run this with two people.’…I just want the community to know that we did our best. There was nothing we could do, basically, with our hands tied.”

Council President Nell Carpenter said the property owner’s refusal to host the event was the principal factor in denying the permit.

“We have documentation from a representative of the property owner stating that they are not giving permission for this event, and we have to respect that,” she said.


Council approves budget


The council voted in a public hearing to approve the proposed 2021-22 budget.

Finance Director Laura Kenyon presented highlights of the spending plan, which will include a property tax increase of 1.2%, or $20.62 per $1,000 valuation.

“If a $300,000 home had a tax this year of $6,114, next year, it will be $6,186, which is $72 for the year,” she said.

Residents, none of whom commented at the hearing, will be asked to approve the budget at the Financial Town Meeting, which will be conducted on the Zoom remote platform on June 9 at 7 p.m.


Staff hiring


The council agreed to hire Morgan Cusumano, a longtime summer camp employee, as acting Recreation Director, replacing Sally Lambert, who has resigned.

Councilors engaged in a protracted discussion at the May 4 meeting regarding the need for hiring transparency, with several members suggesting that in the interest of fairness, the town should advertise for open positions.


Town Solicitor Karen Ellsworth told the council that she had researched hiring practices in other cities and towns, and none had a requirement that open positions be advertised.

“Most cities and large towns do not have any provision in their code of ordinances at all for the method by which employees are solicited,” she said. “In fact, most of them seem to use a placement exam and interview procedure. They give examinations, they rank candidates, and they maintain a list of qualified individuals for different positions.”

Town Administrator Karen Pinch said she currently advertises open positions on the town’s website and Facebook page as well as the website of the Rhode Island League of Cities and towns.

Council members asked Ellsworth to research the matter further and revisit the issue at a future meeting.


Cynthia Drummond


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