Kitchen incubator plan in voters' hands


Lisa Raiola has two months to spread the word.

The Town of Warren will hold a special town meeting on Monday, Oct. 15, to see if voters will approve the sale of the Main Street School to the Hope and Main kitchen incubator project, founded by Ms. Raiola, for $125,000.

The town council has already signed a sales agreement for the property and is finalizing a memorandum of understanding in which Ms. Raiola will agree to additional profit sharing or PILOT payments to the town, should the sale go through. The kitchen incubator, the first in the state, would provide commercial kitchen equipment, health certifications and training for area entrepreneurs hoping to bring their products to market. So far, more than 150 prospective entrepreneurs have expressed interest in renting space in the old school.

Before then, though, Ms. Raiola admitted that there's work to be done. In order for the sale to be approved, two things must happen: First, at least 125 qualified electors must show up at the town meeting; second, a majority is required for the motion to pass. If not, it fails and there is no other course of action.

Ms. Raiola has had widespread support for her plan from the town council, area restaurants and farmers, and Warren's planning department. But she admitted Tuesday that passage is no lock, as most financial town meetings (this year's was an exception) come and go without a quorum being met.

A year and a half ago she held an open house at the school for prospective renters and partners, and she told the council Tuesday that she plans to hold another, this time for the public.

"It'll be for FAQs, a walk through, things like that," to answer questions and educate them about the project, she said.

A date hasn't yet been set, but Ms. Raiola said it will likely be some time in September.


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