Tourism

Tourist Board funds several community projects, tables at the request of the Visitor Center

Due to last year’s tourism boom, the Block Island Tourism Board was able to be generous this year in meeting funding requests from various groups on the island. Anticipating a downturn in tourism at the start of the Covid pandemic, the Tourism Board has adjusted its revenue expectations and therefore its spending accordingly.
But, as the summer of 2020 went almost as usual with the number of tourists, and 2021 was incredible, the Council had a lot of money.
The Tourist Board regularly sponsors certain events, such as the Glass Float Project (see related article on page 14). They also regularly feature in events such as Blues on the Beach, Soundwaves (free movies on the beach) and the Barbershop Quartet Festival which will be hosted by Mike Lofaro and is dedicated to the late Peter Greenman who organized the event for decades. Grant amounts can range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand. This year they have funded four Block Island School Alumni Scholarships.
Over the past few months, the Tourist Board has also helped the Southeast Lighthouse Foundation contribute to repairing the cliff edge fence.
The council also contacted the city to see if there was anything they could do to help. One of the problems they noticed was the lack of sufficient garbage, or more specifically, garbage collection. Tourist director Jessica Willy contacted traffic chief Mike Shea about litter in the city. One problem area is the interstate parking lot, but she said Shea pointed out to her that it didn’t belong to the city.
There are two big problems with garbage collection. Firstly, this must be done early in the morning so that city trucks do not interfere with traffic and pedestrians, and secondly, there is no money in the budget for overtime. Shea starts very early in the morning, hitting the beaches and city properties that stretch from the Mohegan Bluffs parking lot to the Northern Lights to keep an eye on the trash. His team arrives around 7:30 am.
The extra money Shi is asking for will go towards paying overtime for one worker to start picking up trash at 5:30 a.m. Jobs will be rotated between employees, so everyone will have a chance to earn some extra money. At its June 14 meeting, the Tourism Board approved “up to” $5,300 for additional trash pickup.
The council also worked with the police department, asking Chief Matthew Moynihan if there were any needs they could help with. Moynihan had made several proposals at the previous meeting. One of the areas he identified was the control room at the station, which needs upgrading and does not have air conditioning.
Tourist Board member Julie Keely asked who would run the plan when the retired chief left, and expressed concern that if they just gave the money it could be used for something else.
“We could say we want to fund a mini-split…

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