These are the stories of the most impact to the East Greenwich community – while there is some crossover between the most clicked on and the most important, most of these stories were not as widely read. Here’s another opportunity to read them! They are listed in no particular order. (And you can find the clicked-on stories of 2022 HERE.)
The very first noteworthy local event of 2022 was the tragic death of 17-year-old Olivia Passaretti just minutes into the new year. The East Greenwich High School junior was returning home from her sister’s home in Warwick when another car hit hers, causing her death. There were several stories about Olivia and well as about the driver’s ongoing prosecution. You can find the story about the arraignment HERE (all the other stories we featured are listed at the bottom of that post).
Covid was not nearly the story it had been in 2020 and 2021 (thank goodness) but it continued to wreak havoc in various ways, including a shortage of substitute teachers last winter that found even district administrators back in the classroom. That situation has eased, but filling permanent positions (special education teachers and aides, social workers, and psychologists) remains a challenge.
East Greenwich was spared hurricanes in 2022 but we did see the biggest single snowstorm in decades at the end of January. Fortunately, it happened on a Saturday, which kept a lot of people off the roads. A wind and rain storm before Christmas downed trees and resulted in a high tide that swamped Water Street, a reminder that climate change may require the town to make some adjustments.
Last winter, the state redistricting committee almost divided downtown East Greenwich in two House districts but a concerted effort by town officials and the EG Chamber of Commerce persuaded the redistricting commission to keep downtown intact. Instead, the area by Cole Middle School is now a part of Warwick House Dist. 24, with the rest of the town remaining in Dist. 30; meanwhile, all of EG is now part of Senate Dist. 33.
Parking in downtown East Greenwich has long been a challenge so it was interesting that the biggest parking issue of 2022 arose after the transition of a former gift store into the popular Providence Oyster Bar on Post Road. It raised a question familiar to many waterfront and downtown residents: how to accommodate businesses vital to the town’s overall success while safeguarding quality-of-life issues for residents. To the relief of residents, the Town Council is expected to approve revised parking rules for that area early in the new year.
A big issue for East Greenwich in 2022 and going forward is the likelihood of significant school construction and the accompanying cost. Just what does EG need? With important state funding deadlines looming in 2023, this is a topic that will remain in the headlines. Tied to that issue is local development overall, which has been on the uptick in the past decade. A 410-unit residential development proposed for the westernmost part of Division Road is going through the review process and it would represent the largest housing development in East Greenwich history, with a quarter of the units slated to be deed-restricted affordable. While many communities in the state are losing population, East Greenwich continues to grow.
This fall, as an ongoing public service, East Greenwich News and the EG Chamber of Commerce again collaborated in presenting candidate forums at New England Tech for the 2022 election – for School Committee, Town Council, and R.I. House and Senate races. The elections themselves returned incumbents to their offices, with one newcomer elected to the School Committee. For the Town Council, this marks a rare third term for the same five individuals: President Mark Schwager, Vice President Mike Donegan, Caryn Corenthal, Renu Englehart and Michael Zarrella.
Also in the election, East Greenwich voters by a narrow margin did not approve a ballot question to allow retail sale of marijuana in town. All of EG’s neighbors, alternatively, will allow retail cannabis shops. The voters’ decision means the town will not be entitled to any of the taxes collected on sales.
The Town Council began its new term with a number of initiatives already under way, including a waterfront study and a parks master plan, both set to be presented in early 2023, and a long-awaited downtown parking study to take place in summer 2023. They will also be hiring a consultant to begin work on the town’s Comprehensive Plan, the blueprint for the town updated every 10 years.
Somewhat under the radar but a keepsake for the ages was the RI PBS program “Our Town: East Greenwich,” which aired in early 2022 with photo and video contributions from residents. The program told of Main Street, the old East Greenwich Academy, Town Hall and its various incarnations, as well as the town’s remarkable 300th birthday celebration in 1977, among other things. Did it include everything it should have? Nope. But here’s to the effort!