The East Providence City Council holds a special meeting tonight, Feb. 11, to focus on two issues the mayor wants to bring before the Budget Commission on Thursday.
James Briden, who serves as an East Providence representative on the budget board, is seeking approvals for funding for the historic Crescent Park Carousel and live streaming of City Council and School Committee meetings.
Briden sees both issues as high priority items. The special meeting starts at 6 pm.
The Looff Carousel needs about $100,000 worth of windows, painting and other repairs. Briden wants a request for proposal (RFP) put together by the Carousel Commission to be distributed as soon as possible.
“We need to expedite repairs,” he said. “This is very important to the city. It is a historic site that is extremely important to East Providence residents.”
The carousel could reopen in the spring without the repairs and windows, he said.
“But we need to get the work done, and I want to get it done as soon as possible,” Briden said. “I want the City Council to send a recommendation to the Budget Commission."
Briden also wants the City Council to back his request to restore live streaming of the City Council and School Committee meetings. Live streaming of the meetings was eliminated from the City Clerk’s budget soon after the Budget Commission arrived and asked every department head to cut 30 percent from their budgets.
“I know it is a budget expense,” said Briden. “But it makes us a better city.”
Cost of the live streaming is estimated at between $3,000 and $6,000, according to City Clerk Kim Casci.
City Council meetings can still be viewed on cable TV on the two days after the Tuesday meetings at noon and 9 pm. But those times are not convenient for many people in East Providence, he said.
“I was surprised when I was campaigning how much interaction there is with local government and how many people said they followed meetings through live streaming,” he said.
Now that interaction is hampered significantly, Briden said.
"It's as a significant part of getting people involved in the future," he said, and perhaps, it can help to convince people to run for elective office or serve on city boards and commissions.
“I think it can be a catalyst to get people to serve,” he said.