By Matt Sheley, Town of Middletown

The new Middletown Town Council and School  Committee are official. 

On Monday night, the two groups were sworn into office during an online inauguration  through an internet-based video call due to restrictions brought on by the COVID-19  pandemic. 

Robert J. Sylvia was selected again as council president, with Paul M. Rodrigues named vice  president. They were joined by council members Terri Flynn, M. Theresa Santos, Dennis B.  Turano, Barbara A. VonVillas and Thomas P. Welch III. 

U.S. Rep. David N. Cicilline gave the oath of office for both boards. Father James O’Brien of  St. Lucy’s Church gave the invocation and benediction for the ceremony. 

In his opening speech, Sylvia set an ambitious agenda, saying there was much for the  council to pursue over the next couple years. As always, making Middletown the best and  safest place for people to live, work and play topped that list.  

“As a united council we will continue to listen to our residents and business owners, to  your questions, concerns and positive ideas for our town and we will be guided by your  input,” Sylvia said. “We will explore fresh and innovative ways to create a more livable  Middletown and to provide a solid foundation for our children and grandchildren.” 

He went onto add that without unity and a spirit of togetherness pulling in one direction,  accomplishing anything would be difficult for the council. 

“Tonight, we dedicate ourselves to the ideals and values of our founders and to what their mission was,” Sylvia said. “It is time to move forward in a collaborative manner to honor  the sworn oaths that we have taken. Let us take a moment to thank those who have guided  and assisted us on our journey, often impacting our lives in ways they will never know. But  most importantly, let us reflect on the true meaning of Middletown and let us recommit to  our common vision — to be good stewards for the community in order to provide every  resident with a quality of life equal to none.”

Among the goals outlined by Sylvia included:  

• Continuing work to redevelop 18 acres on West Main Road now home to the former  Navy Lodge, West Main Road recreational complex, Middletown Public Library and  former Kennedy School into a mixed commercial development and gateway into  Newport. 

• Striving to obtain 25 acres of Navy-owned land along Burma Road by Greene Lane  to create a waterfront multi-functional park, the first time the town will have direct  access to the Narragansett Bay since World War II. 

• Finalizing the ongoing senior affordable housing project and work on creating new  affordable housing to help less fortunate seniors while also helping to attract young  families to Middletown. 

• Revising the town’s short-term housing rules to protect the quality of life for full time residents who have been subjected to short-term rental abuse.  

• Establishing a tax plan intended to be beneficial to fulltime residents and help bring  young families to Middletown. 

• Providing every reasonable resource to help keep Middletown and its residents safe  amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

• Further adapting of beach operations to give residents priority access to parking  and helping keep people appropriately distanced. 

• Relying on partnerships with the Aquidneck Land Trust, Clean Water Access and  other like nonprofits to promote environmental and open space concerns. 

Peter B. Regan was re-appointed as town solicitor, with former Police Chief Anthony M.  Pesare named for the first time as assistant town solicitor for prosecution. Adam Thayer,  Mark Thayer and Christopher McNally were named as assistant town solicitors. 

Pesare’s predecessor Francis S. Holbrook II was selected as the judge of Municipal Court  from Robert M. Silva, who will serve as first alternate judge and Kevin Hagan second  alternate judge. 

Michael W. Miller returns as the judge of Probate Court, with Barbara Barrow and Adrien  Ventura first and second alternate respectively. 

On the school board side, newcomer Tami E. Holden and incumbent William R. O’Connell  joined Douglas Arnold, Liana Ferreira Fenton and Theresa Spengler. The School Committee  is expected to appoint its leadership team at a meeting Thursday night at 6 p.m. via Zoom.  To attend that session, visit https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83843076783 online

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