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.

Wickford Elementary SchoolWICKFORD EL  & REDEVELOPMENT AGENCIES (RDA) AND TAX INCREMENT FINANCING (TIF)

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 .

 

 

Feb. 25: Asset Management Meeting to discuss the “Restoration/Disposition of Town Hall & Brown St. Library”



Meeting time: Thursday February 25 at 5:30 PM.

Location: David R Burnham Public Works Facility,

2050 Davisville Road

After voting to vacate the Town Hall and Annex and move the staff to the former School Administration Building, the Council also voted to charge the Asset Management Commission with exploring preservation options for the buildings. The Committee should report back to the Council within 6 months and has been authorized to spend up to $10,000. on its efforts.

The Committee will take up the issue under new business at the meeting described above.

It should be remembered this is the same committee that recommended vacating the buildings and has made it clear it favors building a new, combined administration building to accommodate both the town and school administration staffs.

Any HistWick members and others who continue to be interested in the future use of the North Kingstown Town Hall and Annex should consider attending the meetings of the Asset Management Commission.

 

 

Town Council Votes to Vacate Town Halls



I am very sorry to report that Council President Kerry McKay, and councilors Carol Hueston and Jason Albuquerque voted Wednesday evening to vacate the town hall and annex.

A preliminary write up of the evening can be found at The Independent

http://www.independentri.com/news/north_kingstown/article_1ea8d5c5-0129-5157-bdf0-0982231351e7.html

and the Providence Journal

http://www.providencejournal.com/news/20160218/council-votes-to-vacate-historic-town-hall-in-wickford

I want to thank the 230 people who signed our petition and the large crowd that attended the council meeting. You filled the room with your presence  and the air with eloquent speeches that, unfortunately, fell on deaf ears.

 

Larry Ehrhardt

President, HistWick

 

LAST CHANCE TO SAVE TOWN HALL – Wednesday, February 17 at 7 pm



80BostonNeck_townhall

 UPDATED Saturday, February 13

RECENT DEVELOPMENTS:

  • The RI Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission wrote the Town’s analysis “is not an equal cost comparison”, includes work that may not actually be needed, double counts some work, and omits costs required to preserve Town Hall even if the town offices move out.  RI Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission letter
  • PRESERVE RHODE ISLAND – North Kingstown Town Hall’s Future Uncertain During the past month, PRI has been monitoring with great concern a situation in North Kingstown. After receiving building code violations from the fire department, the town appears on a path to vacate their historic Town Hall located in the heart of Wickford. This is a tremendous overreaction to a situation that can likely be remedied without incurring greater costs than would be created by retrofitting alternative locations.After being alerted by a concerned citizen, PRI has been in communication with community members, colleagues at the RI Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission and town council members. Earlier this week, PRI wrote a letter to the town council objecting to a plan to relocate town offices without further investigation of alternatives.
  • If the town leaves vacant (or sells) the Annex, it will not be protected against significant changes — or worse, demolition — even though it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
  • The Northeast Independent article ‘Town Hall repairs to cost $1.5 million” provides details on the proposal prepared by Director of Public Works Phil Bergeron.  It references the letters above, but not until the end.

WE ENCOURAGE YOU TO EMAIL YOUR COMMENTS TO towncouncil@northkingstown.org 

AS SOON AS POSSIBLE AND TO ATTEND THE MEETING.

 ORIGINAL ARTICLE:

Wickford Village has served as the center of activity in North Kingstown for three centuries. Unfortunately, it has suffered in recent years as changes in retail buying habits and urban sprawl have resulted in too many empty storefronts. While there has been much discussion about how to revitalize the business district, those efforts, and the village itself are seriously threatened by a pending decision by the North Kingstown Town Council to vacate our historical Town Hall and Town Hall Annex. Unfortunately, three council members have made clear from the outset they favor the move, which could be an irreversible step toward building a new administrative edifice at a place and cost that are completely unknown.

Not that long ago voters dramatically rejected, by a margin of 3 to 1, a $3.85 million bond to finance converting Wickford Elementary School into joint offices for the town and School Department. Can you imagine what the reaction would be to a new facility costing many times that amount? In December, more than 200 citizens petitioned the Council to reconsider its headlong rush to vacate the buildings and many showed up at a Council meeting to deliver the message. Unfortunately, a majority of the Council appears unmoved by the voices of the community they serve.

On Feb. 8, the Council is slated to take up the question again at 6:30 the Senior Center. Please plan to attend what may be your last opportunity to show your support for preserving our Town Hall. You also should email your comments to towncouncil@northkingstown.org.

The restored sign at the corner of Brown and Main Streets proudly points out Wickford was platted in 1709. Let’s make sure we don’t have to add a new line “Abandoned in 2016.”

Laurence Ehrhardt

The author is president of Historic Wickford.

The petition can be seen at http://historicwickford.org/past-event/petition-to-preserve-town-hall/

A good write up by Jim Bessette of The Independent is at  http://www.independentri.com/independents/ind/north_kingstown/article_ce619ddf-8035-5fc1-8838-23c8673d87a3.html

 

 

Wickford is featured in Yankee Magazine this month as one of the 15 prettiest towns and villages in New England




Wickford is featured in Yankee Magazine this month as one of the 15 prettiest towns and villages in New England. And they give a link to the HistWick walking tour!

http://www.yankeemagazine.com/best-of-new-england/prettiest-winter-villages-in-new-england#_

 

Town Hall Update (December 18, 2015)



HistWick’s petition calling on the Town Council to preserve the use of town hall received tremendous support from our members. At Monday’s Council meeting we presented the petition, signed by more than 200 North Kingstown residents, and urged a proper study of the building before hastily vacating it. In addition, more than 50 friends and supporters turned out to show their concern about the rush to judgement.

Unfortunately a majority of the Council and the Asset Management Commission seem bound and determined to proceed in the face of a mounting array of evidence their analysis has been incomplete and may suffer a number of serious flaws.

The meeting was well covered in both the The Standard-Times and The Independent newspapers of December 17 – I urge you to find and read a copy.

HistWick members Toby and Amy Sonder have an excellent letter in the papers about what they, and we, value in Wickford. http://www.independentri.com/independents/ind/opinion/letters/article_5e0493c9-0a62-5d3b-8f44-bf8c0b0f7992.html

As a reminder, earlier we shared this information:

STATE SAYS “NO REQUIREMENT TO VACATE TOWN HALL”

In a letter to Kerry McKay, Town Council President, Edward Sanderson, Executive Director of the Rhode Island State Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission explains that there is no requirement by the State Fire Safety Code Board that Town Hall must be vacated.   Click to read the letter.

State says “No Requirement to Vacate Town Hall”



80BostonNeck_townhallIn a letter to Kerry McKay, Town Council President, Edward Sanderson, Executive Director of the Rhode Island State Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission explains that there is no requirement by the State Fire Safety Code Board that Town Hall must be vacated.   Click to read the letter.

2015 Holiday Kitchen Tour!




We hope you had a chance  to view the ten beautiful homes in Wickford!

Here are copies of the Tour Guide and the House Histories.

Petition to Preserve Town Hall



For the past several months we have been hearing discussion about a need to temporarily vacate the offices at Town Hall to deal with some building code violations. It recently came to light that, unfortunately, a majority of the Town Council was prepared to permanently vacate the building in favor of a new location, yet to be determined.

An intense discussion of the proposed move took place at the November 23 Council meeting and was well described in the Independent newspaper http://www.independentri.com/independents/ind/north_kingstown/article_1f7b62ac-67e6-50e7-bf7f-5c698ba6f6bc.html?mode=print.

A copy of the letter from the State Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission is referenced.  This letter points out that not only does the state hold an historical preservation easement on the property but the Fire Marshall and Building Official used the wrong regulations in their evaluation of the building.

The Board of HistWick is very concerned about the threat of losing this historic asset in our community and has authorized the circulation of the following petition. We will be collecting signatures at the Annual Potluck Dinner on Sunday evening for presentation to the Council at their next meeting on December 7th. If you are unable to attend the dinner please seek out any one of your Board members or email your agreement to Larry Ehrhardt at RepLarry@gmail.com

—————————————————————————————-

PETITION TO SAVE NORTH KINGSTOWN’S TOWN HALL

WHEREAS: The North Kingstown Town Hall has served as the center of town government for over 120 years and is a critical element in the vitality and historic character of Wickford Village; and

the State Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission holds a preservation easement on the building and has written:The c.1888 North Kingstown Town Hall is a well-constructed and well-preserved, handsome local landmark which has the capacity to serve the Town for many years. We urge you to consider exploring all means to continue the use of the building for town services with the help of a preservation architect;  and

the State Fire Safety Code Board of Appeal has been told: “the Town has made a decision to abandon this building and relocate to new premises within six (6) to eight (8) months and that the building will remain vacant at that time pending sale of the property.”;  and

the North Kingstown Town Council has also decided to vacate the Town Hall Annex on Brown Street to temporary quarters while exploring appropriate locations and building requirements for a combined Town and School Administration Facility,

THEREFORE the undersigned concerned citizens ask the Town Council to reconsider its position and do everything in its power to preserve the Town Hall and Town Hall Annex in their historic roles as centers of government activity. We specifically urge the council to follow the advice of the State Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission to engage the services of a professional architect who specializes in historic structures to do a thorough code and use analysis (using the appropriate regulations for historic buildings) before proceeding any further with plans to vacate the buildings.

Page 3 of 812345...Last »
© Copyright HistWick - Designed by Pexeto