opinion Newport Rhode Island

The next time you’re looking for a sliver of parking near Reject’s or Rough Point, you may be (even more) out of luck.

That’s because the Newport City Council is about to vote on turning a public road into, essentially, a City-subsidized driveway.

If you’re driving east on Rovensky Avenue (past the Resident Sticker Parking signs) and cross Bellevue, you’ll find yourself on Yznaga Avenue; a beautiful, wall-and-tree-lined street smack dab in the middle of two $30 Million estates: Clarendon Court and Miramar.

While the makeshift, rope-and-stanchion fencing may make you feel like you’re trespassing on a private lane, according to City plat maps – and the City services Yznaga receives – you’re very much on a public street.

And, up until now, mere mortals were allowed to legally park along the north side of this extremely regal road.

The long and short of this saga is this: at the very end of Yznaga, there is a more modest mansion – amongst the mega estates – tucked behind the carriage house of Clarendon Court yet setback from the Cliff Walk and the sweeping views of the Atlantic.

According to the City’s tax office, this parcel, by comparison to its neighbors, is assessed at a paltry $5 Million.

The residents that live at the end of the lane have, admittedly, endured hellish levels of construction at Miramar and Clarendon Court.  And, when you factor in the normal summer strain, things have, apparently, devolved into a game of vehicular Tetris.

Pushed to their breaking point, the owners of the house at the end of Yznaga, reached out to their Ward 3 City Councilor, Dave Carlin, for help.

And, on April 12th, he asked the City Administration to review the parking situation on Yznaga and the item moved, rather unremarkably, forward to the next Council meeting.  

At the Council Meeting on April 26th, the City Manager, in coordination with the Interdepartmental Traffic Committee (ITC), returned its recommendation:

The City determined that just the south side of Yznaga Avenue, extending 320 feet, should remain free from parking.

To underscore that public safety for the residents at the end of Yznaga was adequately accounted for, Mayor Khamsyvoravong asked Fire Chief Harp Donnelly to the podium to testify.

Here’s how that unfurled:

Mayor: “With parking on just one side of the street, is there enough access for an emergency vehicle?”

Chief Donnelly: “There is. With parking on just one side of the street, we can get apparatus in.”

Despite this, Councilor Carlin, perhaps in an attempt to not just score points with some well-heeled constituents but deliver a slam dunk, shoved forward an amendment to ban parking on both sides of Yznaga.

Councilors Aramli, Holder, and Napolitano also voted in favor.

And it’s the wrong decision – and precedent to set – for Newport.

Don’t forget, the City Council just recently approved a 320% metered parking rate hike and the extension of the paid parking season at Easton’s beach by two months.

And now some on the Council are proposing to take away more parking while claiming to fight for “quality of life” issues for all Newport residents?

It’s the latest example of “watch what they do… not what they say.”

This revised ordinance –  the one that extends beyond the advice and recommendation of the City’s Interdepartmental Traffic Committee and Chief Donnelly’s assessment – is now before the Council on Wednesday.

I urge you to contact your city councilors and tell them not to turn Yznaga into a City-subsidized driveway.

Tell them the convenience of a few should not come at a cost to the many.

Tell them to keep parking on the north side of the street for Resident Parking just like it’s done on the other side of Bellevue alongside Rovensky Park.

Most importantly, tell them you’ll remember their decision when you’re drenched in sweat, dying for a dip, and can’t find any parking this summer.

Ryan Patrick Kelley

Newport, RI

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