Local residents urge Town Council to extend the historic district…

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Update on Town Hall/WES Issues

Recent letters to the editor in the Northeast Independent provide additional information and differing viewpoints:

  • “TIF-funded project should be rejected”  Click here
  • “TIF financing is not something to fear” Click here
  • “Kinnecom has some explaining to do” Click here
  • “Group questions Wickford El plans” Click here
  • “NK was too quick to abandon Town Hall” Click here

Also of interest are a posting by the Grow and Preserve North Kingstown group about the March 31st Asset Management Meeting.  

Rickey Thompson to North Kingstown Government Fact and Fiction (April 3 at 3:30pm)

Mar 31 Asset Management Committee meeting IMPORTANT POINTS of INTEREST:
At the behest of the NK Asset Management Committee, Preserve RI Executive Director Valerie Talmage and (State Agency) RI Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission Executive Director Ted Sanderson and Historical Architect Virginia Hesse attended this meeting. Being aware of recent NK events, Ms. Talmage, Mr. Sanderson and Ms. Hesse offered much insight about our Historic Town Hall building including “manageable code violations” to potential “negative impacts” once our Town Hall is relocated out of Wickford. Their points and thoughts were interesting and educational.
One can only guess WHY – that during the Town Hall and Annex building issues and discussions, our Town Officials did not solicit assistance from these willing and readily available experts. Even more surprising was the council majority’s resolve that these concerned agencies not be allowed involvement during Town Council discussions and or decisions. They wanted to help!
PLEASE click on the below link to hear Ms. Talmage, Mr. Sanderson and Ms. Hesse concerns.

March 31 Asset Management Commission meeting video link: http://northkingstown.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php…  Note: You may need to open in Windows Media Audio/Video File Player

“Building and Preserving South County”—the 31st Annual Rhode Island Statewide Historic Preservation Conference

Saturday, April 30, 8:15am – 6pm

$40 includes all activities plus morning coffee, lunch, closing reception

This year’s statewide preservation conference considers the distinctive sense of place and culture in South County and looks at the social, economic, and cultural history expressed by the built environment. The event gets underway at Wickford Middle School with a keynote speech on how the institution of slavery indelibly shaped South County. The speech is followed by 12 workshops, 3 walking tours, 3 boat tours, and 7 bus tours of historic places in Exeter and North Kingstown, including farms, factories, houses, wharves, cemeteries, and museums. Presented by the R.I. Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission in cooperation with HistWick and other local partners, the annual conference is a great opportunity to explore the field of historic preservation.

For more information (and to register), visit http://www.preservation.ri.gov/conference/16overview.php or call (401)222-2078. Pre-registration is open until April 20; on-site registration will be available on April 30.

Asset Management Commission fails to place high priority on Town Hall problems

Dianne L. Izzo, Asset Management Commissioner, in a letter to the Town Council, explains “I voted not to approve the Asset Management Commission (hereafter”AMC”) Capital lmprovement Plan (‘CP”) Cover letter in the form presented on February 25,2076 because of errors, omissions, and a tone I found inappropriate. The AMC cover letter also lacks the appropriate emphasis on the Town Hall and Town Hall Annex.

Read the full letter.

Town Council voted to amend the Comprehensive Plan with language that allows the TC to establish a Redevelopment Agency

Grow & Preserve North Kingstown Post – March 15G&PNK LOGO

“Regretfully, last night, the Town Council voted to amend the Comprehensive Plan with language that allows the TC to establish a Redevelopment Agency, a decision driven by the requirement for the $10 million TIF in the option to purchase agreement for Wickford El. The amendment language also identifies the Wickford Elementary School property for consideration for redevelopment under RI Redevelopment Agency law.

Voting “YES”: Jason Albuquerque, Carol Hueston, Kerry McKay,
Voting “NO”: Kevin Maloney, Ellen Waxman

On a positive note, some new voices weighed in with their concerns over the proposed redevelopment plan for Wickford El, and, Councilor Waxman presented a list of concerns she has over the scale and financing of the proposed project.

Stay tuned for information regarding the Town Council’s upcoming hearings to establish North Kingstown’s first Redevelopment Agency. Public input during this process is critical.”

Update on RDA & TIF: Meeting Monday March 14



North Kingstown Redevelopment Agency


North Kingstown, RI – March 6, 2016      Last fall, a group of concerned citizens formed Grow & Preserve North Kingstown (GPNK), with a desire to see the Town and its historic villages grow in a healthy manner that fosters economic vitality along with the cultural arts, recreation and history.

Currently, the Town of North Kingstown is in the process of rewriting its Comprehensive Plan, in order to establish the vision and goals of the community. Despite the ongoing rewrite of the Comprehensive Plan, to be finalized in the near future,  the North Kingstown Town Council is also proposing to amend the existing Comprehensive Plan in order to establish a Redevelopment Agency (RDA).  RDAs are governing organizations that are often dedicated to urban renewal.

California, the state that pioneered RDAs, recently dissolved all its RDAs due to budgeting problems and widespread misuse.  So why is the North Kingstown Town Council anxious to amend its existing Comprehensive Plan to allow for the creation of an RDA, instead of waiting to incorporate an RDA into the revised Comprehensive Plan? It appears the desire to quickly establish an RDA coincides with the needs of a developer, who anticipates $10 million in Tax Increment Financing (TIF) to redevelop the former Wickford Elementary School property.  Rhode Island law requires that TIF bonds cannot be issued without the creation of an RDA.

A backup proposal for the Wickford Elementary School property does not include TIF financing or an RDA.  Why then is the Town seriously considering issuing a $10-million bond for the same property? After all, the proposed developer has yet to present any significant plans regarding the construction details of the project, some of which is in a FEMA-designated flood zone.

The Wickford Plan Committee (WPC), whose members are appointed by the Town Council, sent a strongly worded letter to the Town Council expressing its concern about amending the current Comprehensive Plan.  Their letter detailed the issues surrounding RDAs, and cautioned,

 “…RDAs run the risk of becoming a breeding ground for waste, abuse, and impropriety. Amending the Comprehensive Plan now to facilitate the possible future establishment of an RDA is premature. There will be ample time to consider the need for an RDA after the site plan [for the proposed Wickford El development], components and financial feasibility are further developed.”

 RDAs have been successfully used to redevelop blighted areas and assist with creating needed infrastructure.  At the February 17 Town Council meeting, William Fazioli, Chairman of East Providence’s Waterfront Commission and consultant to North Kingstown, spoke at length about the use of TIF bonds and an RDA to rejuvenate an approximately 300-acre site previously owned by an oil company.  However, the project was largely financed through private monies, and the TIF funding was a significantly smaller percentage of the investment than is currently being proposed for the Wickford El development.

The Grow & Preserve group acknowledges the good intentions of the Town Council, and recognizes the possible benefits of RDAs to assist with urban renewal projects.

Although the former Wickford Elementary School building (vacant for nearly 11-years), requires significant repairs, Wickford is hardly a “blighted” area.  The installation of sewers for Wickford’s commercial area has been approved and will commence shortly, regardless of the status of the proposed Wickford El development.  Buildings are being acquired on Brown Street, housing sales are on the rise, and refurbishing of historic homes is present everywhere.   Major players are waiting in the wings and the economy is improving.

This is hardly the time to succumb to a plan that is primarily structured for one project.  In some circumstances RDAs make sense and perhaps should be considered in the future when Post Road is ready for a face-lift.

Residents concerned about the Town Council making amendments to the Town Comprehensive Plan for the purpose of enabling the establishment of a RDA and TIF funding by the Town, can speak to these issues at the Town Council meeting scheduled for Monday, March 14, or email the entire Town Council at towncouncil@northkingstown.org

Residents are also invited to visit the Grow & Preserve North Kingstown group on Facebook for updates and additional information. 


About Grow & Preserve Rhode Island:
We are a growing group of North Kingstown residents who advocate for site-sensitive, community-minded development, and creative, suitably scaled original or adaptive use of historic North Kingstown properties. We defend efforts to preserve our treasured buildings and open spaces, and fight for an inclusive planning process that adheres to the Town’s Comprehensive Plan in a fiscally responsible manner. We are a voice for citizens, a repository of facts, and a coalition for government transparency in order to grow and preserve the character of North Kingstown for future generations. At this time, our recently established Facebook Group is approaching 350 members. www.facebook.com/groups/204775739871714/
For more information, press contacts: Esther Jackson, (401) 667-0600 ejackson@adsmds.com Tim Wasco, (401) 451-9918 tim.wasco@gmail.com

Premiere of Tim Cranston’s film on Sea Captains’ Homes of Wickford

Noted local historian Tim Cranston’s film on Sea Captains’ Homes of Wickford will have it’s local premiere at 2 pm on Saturday, March 26 at the North Kingstown Free Library.

Congratulations to Tim on another fine project celebrating Wickford and our history.  For an introduction to the film, click here.

Join Tim Cranston for a special screening of his new one hour documentary film “Stories of the Sea Captains’ Homes of Wickford”. Working with RI film maker Edward Brassard and California-based film editor Gloria D’Allesandro, Tim has turned one of his popular walking tours into a film that uses these fine homes to tell the story of how Wickford began and how it flourished across the centuries. Tim will lead a lively question and answer session after the screening and will discuss his many future projects.

Please register with the library.


Why so many are concerned about setting up an RDA: Example of a Failed RDA Project

During the public hearing at the Town Council Meeting on Feb. 17th, many NK residents expressed concern about setting up an RDA.  One of our HistWick members did some research on RDAs and uncovered a nearby example of the risks.

Redevelopment Authority Woes (Monday, February 22, 2010)

The Boston Business Journal reported that “The Attleboro (Massachusetts) Redevelopment Authority knew, or should have known it was heading into deep debt at least two years before its ‘house of cards,’ came coming crashing down in 2008.”  The ARA is insolvent and is in debt to the tune of $4.2 million.  Read more.

This information was shared with the Town Council:

Dear President McKay and Members of the Council,

As far as I can tell from my research, the chief reason for a failed RDA project has been a shortfall in the estimate of how much the project will cost by developers, leaving cities and towns with the obligation to find more cash when the developer cannot, or developers abandoning projects altogether when they are partly finished or not started at all.  Also leaving the towns with gaping, unsightly and dangerous construction sites and further deteriorated existing buildings. Absence of a proper needs analysis and marketing plan leaves even completed developments half empty, deteriorating and leaving towns and cities without the anticipated property taxes.

Simply saying: “This will benefit the whole town” over and over, or listening to people who stand to benefit by the construction does not and will never replace responsible research. Lack of proper vetting of developers and in oversight and transparency of projects is to blame for most project failures.

Our town is small: only 28,000 people. How many actual taxpayers are there? Given all the rentals and homes occupied by more than one person, I estimate 6 – 7000? Give or take a thousand? Who, exactly will foot the bill for mistakes made in chasing grandiose projects without adequate information? Living in our town is already unattractive to people working here in Quonset and even Town employees because of high property taxes.

Please do not present us with half-finished eyesores on top of it.

I implore you to do your homework.

Here is an article about a project close to home, although you can find examples all over the country. My son-in-law told me about this. They live in Attleboro. They are still trying to dig out from under.  http://economicdevelopmentconsultants.blogspot.com/2010/02/redevelopment-authority-woes.html

HistWick Concerns Re Town Hall, Annex, and Wickford El

HistWick Members,

Your Board is increasingly concerned about the issues arising from the use of the Town Hall, Annex, and Wickford Elementary School  buildings, buildings which have been central to the life of our village. We believe it is necessary for our members to take an increasingly active role in planning their future. Towards that end we will be working to keep you informed, posting relevant information on our website, and reaching out to other groups with similar interests. Your proactive assistance is needed and will be appreciated.

80BostonNeck_townhall TOWN HALL AND ANNEX

As previously reported, last week Council President Kerry McKay, and Councilors Carol Hueston and Jason Albuquerque voted to vacate the town hall and annex and move the staff to the former school administration building. Councilman Kevin Maloney voted against the move and Councilwoman Ellen Waxman was out of town. The vote took place in spite of an outpouring of emails in opposition and a meeting room packed with opponents to the move.

Both The Standard Times and The Independent have detailed stories about the meeting. The Independent version is on line at http://www.independentri.com/independents/ind/north_kingstown/article_a89a6836-f7db-5774-b25a-389375975a52.html

The Town Council also voted to charge the Asset Management Commission with exploring preservation options for the buildings.

The Board of HistWick deeply regrets the council’s decision to vacate the buildings without a plan in place for their restoration and/or reuse. (We must emphasize, we did not oppose making whatever repairs were necessary to ensure the safety of the people using the buildings.)

We hereby call upon the Town Council and the Asset Management Commission to move forward quickly to develop plans to refurbish the buildings and return them to their historic roles as public-serving town offices or an equivalent use that is both in keeping with the historic nature of the buildings and the village, and contributes as much or more to the vitality of the village.


Another hot topic of the evening revolved around plans for the Wickford Elementary School site and a proposal to create a redevelopment agency to permit the use of tax increment financing. The Town’s Wickford Plan Committee submitted reports to the council expressing its concerns about the size of the project and the risks of delegating authority to such an agency  http://historicwickford.org/upcoming-event/wickford-plan-committee-expresses-concerns-with-wickford-el-project-and-redevelopent-agency/  This segment was also thoroughly reported in our local papers. Due to the many questions raised, the council deferred any action until its March 14 meeting.

While your HistWick Board recognizes the need to find a productive use for the Wickford El property, it also shares the concerns raised by the WPC reports.





Wickford Plan Committee Expresses Concerns with Wickford El project and Redevelopent Agency

New and old Wickford ElThe Wickford Plan Committee has submitted two reports to the Town Council describing its concerns with the scale of the Wickford El project and the proposal for creation of a Redevelopment Agency.

Letter to Town Council Members

Comments on  99 Phillips St Development aka Wickford Elementary School project

Findings on Redevelopment Agencies

For your reference, the Wickford Plan document is available on the town website: The Wickford Plan .



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