"We control our own destiny. The current problems are OUR problems. We the people must shape the future of our Town and welcome a #NewCoventry"
- Jonathan Pascua
LIST OF ISSUES
Election of a Mayor
Currently, the Town of Coventry hires a "Town Manager" from an external candidate pool. Typically, the Town Council will place an ad and receive resumes from people looking to be "Hired" to run a town, much like a Mayor would. These people are typically not from our town. They are paid employees and are subject to the strict employment laws of the state. It is my goal to offer the citizens an opportunity to make the decision to ELECT a Mayor and absolve the position of "Town Manager".
- Mayor would be someone who lives in Coventry.
- It would be a person who is invested in our town.
- Someone who understands the current issues effecting our citizens.
- Most importantly it would be someone YOU CHOOSE and must answer to you, the voter!
- Mayor adds the essential safe guards of Separation of Powers and Checks and Balances. We currently do not have those in place. If we had a council with ill intentions, there is no way to "Check" the council.
- We currently operate with a "Town Manager". The town is in poor shape in many aspects. We cannot expect change while we continue use the same system.
Hire a Grant Writer
One of my priorities is to hire a grant writer to seek out grant funding for the Town.
Did you know so far this year...
• 18 Cities and towns received $544,653 in grant awards supporting election security. Coventry was NOT one of them.
• City of East Providence was just awarded $150,000 to invest in their small business community.
• Town of North Providence was awarded $344,000 to improve recreational areas.
• City of Woonsocket was awarded $1,150,000 under an EPA Grant.
• A total of 4.8 Million in state grants was awarded in April of 2022 to Cranston, Providence, Warwick, East Providence, Pawtucket, East Greenwich, Woonsocket, North Kingstown, Lincoln, Cumberland, Smithfield, and Warren... Coventry was not on that list.
How do I know grants are important?
⚠️In 2018, Coventry Fire District needed to install a very expensive Direct Capture Exhaust System in the Anthony Station. The budget was being developed with the cost of that expensive system.
- I volunteered to write a Federal FEMA grant to pay for the purchase and installation of that exhaust system. I wanted to relieve the taxpayers from this expensive burden if at all possible.
My efforts paid off! The Grant was awarded for $74,499. This was Fire District's FIRST FEMA grant EVER!
After being awarded, I managed the project with enough precision that I was able to amend the grant and ALSO purchase a secondary set of fire gear for every single firefighter at no cost to the taxpayers.
-- I will be advocating hiring a grant writer for our town for these reasons!
Point of Clarification - The goal is ultimately to use a grant writer for the reasons above. It may be more beneficial to either hire one on staff or use one on a contracted case-by-case basis. That is something that needs to be understood.
Fire Department Issues
I began my public service career as a Volunteer Firefighter and eventually became a career Firefighter/Paramedic here in Coventry. I have watched our town go from 7 fire districts to 4 fire districts. I have seen 2 fire districts almost collapse from fiscal mismanagement. We are currently watching CCFD collapse for the second time in 4 years. We need change.
Develop a committee that will be able to study the costs and ability to change our fire department structure.
This committee would be made up of ...
1 Board Member of Western Coventry Fire District
1 Board Member of Central Coventry Fire District
1 Board Member of Coventry Fire District
1 Board Member of Hopkins Hill Fire District
2 Unaffiliated Tax Payers
2 Sitting Town Council Member
1 Fire Chief
Alternatively to the committee proposal above, I would also consider having an outside company perform an analysis of our Fire Rescue situation and provide the fiscal risks/benefits and legislative paths to different solutions. This method will ensure that there are no internal influences and this fact-finding mission is unbiased.
This committee would study the path and cost of several different Fire Department options to present to the town council and the taxpayers for consideration.
Town Municipal Department
Town-Wide Fire District
Eastern Coventry Fire District/Western Coventry Fire District
Hybrid District/Town Operation (No separate fire tax however still running as a fire district)
We truly do not know the cost and feasibility of all these options. We need a committee that understands the pros and cons of each option. A committee that has the ability to focus on all of the above options for the taxpayers and town council to review so an educated decision can be made. The taxpayers deserve this vital service to be top-notch at a fiscally responsible cost.
I am NOT in favor of any department or district "Taking over" any other district! We must let our taxpayers decide their future. For example, if Western Coventry Fire District taxpayers want to remain as they are, that's THEIR CHOICE. I will stand firm on this. This is the people's decision, I only support a fact-finding mission to give people the information they need and deserve to make an educated decision!
Point of Clarification - You have heard me speak about the elimination of the fire tax. The operation of fire/rescue service is not free. What separates Coventry from other cities and towns, however, is that the cost to operate the fire department is built into your property taxes. I want to give the voters the option to eliminate the fire tax bill by blending it into your property taxes. This eliminates the costs of independent Fire District tax collection. It also allows for this to be paid directly from your mortgage. This does not require the formulation of a municipal department or a consolidated district (which may not be the desire of the Western Coventry Fire District). That is another issue altogether that needs to be understood and analyzed by an outside source so the voters of each district can decide what is best for them. Any competent lawyer/attorney will tell you that, by law district voter approval is needed in order to make changes to a fire district. My "off the cuff" feeling is that a municipal dept, in the beginning, is NOT the way to go. It would require legislation (currently if you have a town dept, the districts can't exist) and it would also require district approval to do this. Two separate East/West (ECFD and WCFD) would be more appropriate however, we need an outside agency to lay out the risk/benefits of all possible solutions. Be leery of anyone who tells you they have a solution. There is no solution outlined. Everything you hear is currently short on facts and long on opinions.
The Town of Coventry has grown significantly over the last three decades. However, what hasn't grown is our Government. Our Town Council is still made up of 5 people with a much larger population. I would to amend our charter to allow for up to 7 Town Council members (or) 5 Town Council members and 2 members at large.
The Johnson's Pond disaster has been going on for almost 3 years now. I have been involved in this situation at the highest of levels since it began. I have been and continue to be closely advised by the well-known and highly respected land use attorney William Landry who is hired to represent JPCA. I consider myself an expert in this situation due to the thousands of hours of legal work performed on this issue and the confidential legal information that is advised to me. I have been present for legal mediation with Soscia Holdings, taking part in Town Council Executive sessions, court hearings, and state legislative meetings including working with Governor McKee directly on this issue.
The very existence of the pond results in a tax break for the entire Town of Coventry due to the values of the homes that exist on it. They essentially pay a much larger portion of our town's budget. Loss of the pond would result in a tax INCREASE town-wide as well as local businesses suffering from the loss of the pond's business. I have worked diligently with Johnson's Pond Civic Association (JPCA) to get legislation passed to protect the water levels on the pond and other bodies of water. There is still work to be done to protect the town from this issue. I will continue to work on this problem to ultimately stop the attempts to fiscally harm the Town of Coventry and its citizens.
I promoted and pushed legislation that was passed and signed into law to protect the pond's water levels.
- Now, RIDEM and State Attorney General are working to begin building the framework to enforce this new law.
The Ultimate Solution
We must gain a strong Appraisal for the dam to understand what the cost is for eminent domain. I am currently working on this with an unnamed out-of-state agency.
The Pond must be taken by the action of Eminent Domain. This can be done, INSTANTLY.
Once we have taken the dam by eminent domain we will form a dam management district. The pond residents as well as the deeded properties that have rights to the pond will fall under this district and will vote on an internal budget and pay a dam district tax that they approve. This will be similar to Echo Lake and Boon Lake. This would protect the rest of the town taxpayers from paying to manage the reservoir.
Point of Clarification - I am the only council candidate running that actually lives on the pond. I am well grounded on this issue to deal with it at the Town Council level. I have a vested interest in solving this issue. It was my dream to own property here and I'm feeling the same pain my neighbors are feeling that live here. If I fail to solve this (I won't fail), I not only do I fail you, I fail myself.
Investigation into Western Coventry Windmill Project
For years, the residents in Western Coventry have been subject to issues that have affected their very way of life. They have spoken out in large quantities about the windmills that have been erected and strongly opposed it. Some have moved, some have lost property value and some live with this because they currently have no other choice. It is my understanding that this project may have happened incorrectly. Due to the large impact this project has, I will be advocating for a full investigation into the permitting process and erection of the wind turbines.
Point of Clarification - It is essential to learn how and why this happened so we don't repeat the same thing in the future. This could also provide some type of relief for this situation depending on what is found.
Commercial Development of " The Avenue "
I was appointed to the Coventry Economic Development Commission (EDC) in 2021. I stepped up to this position because I see many vacant lots in our commercial areas that are an eyesore and have great potential. I would move to give our EDC more direction and resources to pursue options to fill these vacant lots with taxpaying businesses. Our families have very limited recreational options in our town. Our restaurant buildings change names weekly. We need to focus on improving our commercial development. I will support our small businesses and I will seek to review Town Ordinances that put restrictions on businesses and make appropriate changes. I plan to build better infrastructure to attract businesses and jobs to our town.
One of the downsides to our EDC is that it is advisory only to the Town Council. Unfortunately, the EDC in its current form is not very effective in our town. I would seek to change the abilities and structure of the EDC to be stronger and more effective than it's current form.
Conservation of Western Coventry
One of the crown jewels of Coventry is our Rural Western Coventry. Over the years, I have seen issues about windmills, solar farms, subdivisions, and more. People spend their hard-earned money and invest in a rustic rural lifestyle. I will give stern opposition to any major developments in Western Coventry. Western Coventry is Rural and will remain rural.
I will seek to change our town ordinances in the Greene area of Western Coventry to preserve the rural lifestyle people have invested in.
Point of Clarification - The Town's comprehensive plan does not call for commercial or industrial development in Western Coventry. However, for-profit wind-turbines were erected anyway. The majority of growth in Western is residential. During my term on Council, I will seek to repeal "Cluster Developments" which currently allow developers to get around the RR-5 Zoning.
Centre of New England
I plan to seek to work with the receiver of the Centre of New England to find a solution to connecting the Centre of New England Blvd as well as fixing the road. Recently we suffered a major gas leak in Centre of New England. Traffic to and from the stores was an issue as well as access to the Assisted living facilities and residences at the Western end of Centre of New England. I plan to seek a solution to this major safety issue.
Point of Clarification - Fixing these issues is essential to the ultimate goal of further development of the Centre of New England. Development of this area is essential to easing the tax burden on our residents who are largely supporting this town fiscally.