Warren holds its annual Financial Town Meeting next Monday, May 20, and among the items on the agenda are the proposed sale of two buildings — the Liberty Street School and the old VFW hall on Metacom Avenue. The meeting will mark the second time since last October that voters will be asked whether they want to sell off public buildings for private use. Last fall, more than 400 residents turned out to overwhelmingly approve the sale of the old Main Street School to the “Hope and Main” kitchen incubator group. It was the first time in several years that a quorum of 125 voters was met.
Monday’s meeting isn’t expected to be as crowded, though theatre lovers have been taking to Facebook over the past week to get out the vote.
2nd Story Theatre, the successful company at the corner of Market and Main streets, wants to purchase the 1847 school for use as a set construction and rehearsal space. Artistic director Ed Shea said the company’s current set workshop in the theater’s basement isn’t adequate, forcing set designers to make sets in several pieces and then complete construction in the show space. Moving to Liberty Street, he told the Times earlier this year, would create more room, allow for the construction of better and more inventive sets, and also give actors a place to rehearse in peace.
“It’s a great spot for it,” he said.
2nd Story Theatre’s interest in the old brick building marks at least the fifth plan for the structure entertained by the town in recent years. Earlier plans included turning the building into low to moderate income housing and upscale condos. Town councilors had tentative agreements with several Bristol developers, and one from Tiverton, before they fell apart. Many neighbors opposed earlier plans to convert the school into residences, saying Liberty Street doesn’t have adequate parking. But there has been little, if any, opposition to 2nd Story Theatre’s plans.
Also up for sale Monday is the old Veterans of Foreign Wars post at 308 Metacom Ave. The town advertised for buyers earlier this year, and came up with two offers.
Sigourney LLC, a limited liability corporation formed by Cutler Mills owner Michael Sigourney, submitted the highest of two bids for the old hall, which was built in 1928 and was originally built as a fire house. He said the plan, should it pass voter approval Monday, will be to use it as office space for Cutler Mills, freeing up space there for tenants.
Mr. Sigourney, who has garnered much praise for his restoration and outfitting of the old mill, said he will follow a similar tack at the modest brick building across the street from Perella’s Ristorante.
“It will look like the original fire house it was built for,” he said. “We’ll use it as an extension of the mill for now, and then we’ll see what the future holds for it.”
Note: Financial Town Meeting starts at 7 p.m. Monday, May 20, at the Kickemuit Middle School. A minimum of 125 voters is required for a quorum; town officials will count heads until 7:30 p.m.; if a quorum is not met by that time, the town’s 2013-14 municipal and capital budgets pass as is.