Leaders reflect on first year: Picozzi hasn't let the pace of government slow him down

Posted 1/5/22

In January of 2021 Mayor Frank Picozzi was sworn into office on the front steps of City Hall.  

Aside from his time on the Warwick School Committee  …

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Leaders reflect on first year: Picozzi hasn't let the pace of government slow him down


In January of 2021 Mayor Frank Picozzi was sworn into office on the front steps of City Hall.  

Aside from his time on the Warwick School Committee  close to 20 years ago Picozzi hadn’t spent any time in politics until he decided to run for mayor in 2020. 

For years Picozzi was a vinyl siding contractor. He knew there would be differences between his former career and his new one. 

One of those differences was how quickly things move in the private sector compared to the public sector. 

“What has surprised me the most in my first year as Mayor is how much bureaucracy and red tape is involved in government, which makes accomplishing almost anything extremely slow,” said Picozzi. His introduction to the glacial speed of government where the more than 40 metal blue planters that lined the sides of Post Road in Apponaug.  Costing more than $5,000 each, the boxes were designed to be an aesthetic frosting to the Apponaug circulator project. That’s not the way Picozzi and many of his friends on Facebook saw it. Some of the trees in the planters were dead or dying. In addition, the boxes restricted sidewalk traffic.

Picozzi decided the boxes should go but since federal funds had been used in the circulator project , he didn’t get an answer from the state Department of Transportation. Picozzi didn’t let up and finally when he received approval to use the boxes as security structures in front of schools, he cheered the action as the greatest achievement of his administration up to that point.

Since then he’s added to the list although he finds it difficult to select one as the most outstanding. 

“When I was elected, COVID-19 was at its peak. Mandates were in place, some businesses were forced to shut down and it definitely wasn't your typical first few months in office for a brand new Mayor,” said Picozzi. “One achievement that stands out to me is how quickly and efficiently the city was able to come together to create the first vaccination clinics for our most vulnerable residents.”

Other accomplishments that Picozzi pointed to include a no tax increase budget for FY 2022, and securing a $6.5 million lease/purchase program to start replacing the city's aging vehicles, including police, fire, DPW and sanitation vehicles. As it can take up to two years to get a new truck, Picozzi moved swiftly to buy two relatively new trucks when they became available. Faced with as few as seven operational trucks out of a fleet of 15 and the prospect of daily delays in sanitation and recyclable collections, the council quickly endorsed the plan.

Picozzi cited a 15-year lease with AAA to house city offices in the Historic "Saw Tooth" building in Apponaug, as a major accomplishment.

“Since the closure of the former Annex, city offices have been housed in different buildings across the city which was highly inefficient and very inconvenient for taxpayers,” said Picozzi. 

One of the issues that many residents in Warwick wanted addressed was McDermott Pool. Picozzi wasn’t in office long before he began to make progress towards the reopening of Warwick’s public pool. 

“A huge win for the city, getting the McDermott Pool back open. The pool had been left in disrepair and had been closed for nearly a year and a half. All necessary repairs were made to heating, HVAC, and filtration systems,” said Picozzi. 

While he did not bring it up, a significant achievement has been the resolution to moving ahead with the award of a contract for Bayside sewers, which were first promised more than 20 years ago, and his commitment that assessments would not exceed $16,900 for the 947 property owners affected. As it has turned out, the injection of about $7 million in federal American Rescue Plan funding makes the promise possible.

Picozzi also pointed out that his administration created an Economic Development Department which assists businesses wanting to locate to Warwick.  According to Picozzi there are many proposed developments “going through the process to open in the city.” 

There’s a tinge of the blue box frustration when asked of progress of selling any of the vacant school buildings owned by the city. The sale of those properties has been on his list since taking office, but, as he has discovered just getting them to the point where the city can entertain bids as required appraisals and assessments of the cost of asbestos abatement and removal. He expects the first of the properties to be advertised is the former John Wickes School.

He's learned not to pin it down to a date.

Throughout his campaign Picozzi said that he would have a transparent administration. He feels like he has delivered. 

“One of my biggest accomplishments though is keeping my promise to be completely transparent, informing the residents of Warwick every step of the way,” said Picozzi.

Some of the ways he has been able to accomplish that is through weekly videos highlighting  what is happening in the City, and by posting regularly on Facebook. 

Picozzi said he had none. Has no regret about his first year as mayor.

“Every decision I've made since being elected has truly been in the best interest of our residents,” said Picozzi. 

Unlike his predecessors Picozzi isn’t affiliated with a political party. He ran as an independent and has made administrative appointments including job selections on the basis of qualifications. That hasn’t had an impact on his relationship with the City Council. If anything it has opened communications. Picozzi makes a point of sharing his plans with City Council President Steve McAllister and council members as well as filling them in on day-to-day developments whether they are of a negative or positive nature.

“I'm also surprised by the strong support from the City Council because I am an independent and they are Democrats,” said Picozzi. 

Looking ahead to 2022 Picozzi hopes to continue to have accomplishments as a City.

“My top priority for 2022 is creating a responsible budget and continue to move the city forward as we've been doing since I was elected Mayor,” said Picozzi. 

His proposal for the site of the former City Hall Annex is to be announced shortly.

An unknown Picozzi will face is the impact of the statistical revaluation on which the next round of tax rates will be based. Undoubtedly, the hot real estate market will have driven up values from three years ago. But not all home will increase proportionally, meaning some neighborhoods and types of houses will see greater increases in values and depending on the city budget an increase in taxes.

Other issues looming are plans for renovated or new high schools, the firefighters’ contract and an effort to place an open space bond issue on the ballot.

And the election?

While he hasn’t declared officially, Picozzi will be a candidate for reelection. From the way things are shaping up, it could be an easy ride. So far it appears to be an open field.    

Picozzi, review


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