The Rhode Island House passed legislation, sponsored by President of the Senate M. Teresa Paiva Weed, to rename a portion of Fort Adams Drive in Newport after Newport Mayor Robert J. McKenna, who passed away on Jan. 15.
The Senate bill (2012-S 2817A) – co-sponsored by Senate Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin and Senate Majority Leader Dominick J. Ruggerio – will now be sent to the governor. It renames the portion of Fort Adams Drive that runs from the Fort Adams Visitor’s Center along the north perimeter to the West Gate as “Robert J. McKenna Boulevard.”
“Bob McKenna was a mentor and friend to many. His devotion to serving our community was surpassed only by his devotion to his family,” said President Paiva Weed (D – Dist. 13, Newport, Jamestown). “Renaming the roadway in Bob McKenna’s honor is an appropriate tribute to the many contributions he has made to our community and our state, including his work to benefit FortAdams, where the drive is located.”
The House companion bill (2012-H 7989A), sponsored by Rep. J. Russell Jackson (D – Dist. 73, Newport, Middletown), must still work its way back through the full Senate and House of Representatives before it finds its way to the governor’s desk. Representative Jackson said he was pleased he could sponsor a bill that would honor a man who dedicated a large part of his life to protecting and improving Newport’s most precious assets through public service.
“I think it’s fitting that part of this roadway will be remembered for a man who committed so much of himself to one of Newport’s historic treasures,” he said.
A member of the Fort Adams Trust, McKenna was deeply involved in his hometown community of Newport. He served as the city’s mayor from 1988 to 1994. He was a state representative from 1969 to 1973 and a state senator from 1974 to 1985.
McKenna made significant contributions to higher education as a teacher and administrator at Salve Regina University for 30 years and as a member of numerous boards and associations. He worked for 17 years as president of the Rhode Island Independent Higher Education Association. He also served as a member and chair of the Rhode Island Higher Education Assistance Authority, the Rhode Island Student Loan Authority and the New England Board of Higher Education.