New committee focusing on Monastery property in Barrington

Town planner will serve as Watson Ave. Development Committee Chairman

By Josh Bickford
Posted 9/17/21

The Barrington Town Council has endorsed the creation of a committee which will make recommendations about what to do with the Carmelite Monastery property.

The group, titled the Ad Hoc Watson Avenue …

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New committee focusing on Monastery property in Barrington

Town planner will serve as Watson Ave. Development Committee Chairman

Posted

The Barrington Town Council has endorsed the creation of a committee which will make recommendations about what to do with the Carmelite Monastery property.

The group, titled the Ad Hoc Watson Avenue Development Committee, includes single representatives from the town’s Economic Development Committee, Technical Review Committee, Resilience and Energy Committee, Parks and Recreation Commission, Conservation Commission, and Open Space Committee. 

It also includes two representatives from the Planning Board, two from the Housing Board of Trustees and two from the Senior Services Advisory Board. Barrington Town Planner Phil Hervey will serve as chairman of the group.

Barrington Town Council member Annelise Conway will serve as liaison to the group, which will also include a representative of the surrounding neighborhood. 

According to a memorandum from Barrington Town Manager Jim Cunha, the committee will work with a real estate development consultant who will be hired by the town. Together, the group will follow a collaborative public planning process, eventually making recommendations to the town council about what to do with the seven acres of land purchased by the town on Watson Avenue.

The property had been home to the Carmelite Monastery for decades, but when the Diocese of Providence decided to sell the land, Barrington officials reacted. 

This past spring, the town officials entered into an agreement with diocese to purchase the property for $3.5 million, and residents attending the June financial town meeting voted 176 to 175 in favor of the acquisition. 

At that FTM, town officials said they hoped to use some of the land to build senior housing. Since that time, officials created a virtual suggestion box on the town’s website to collect ideas about what to do with the property.

At the Sept. 13 meeting, Barrington Town Council President Michael Carroll offered a rousing endorsement of Mr. Hervey as the committee chairman and suggested that the town manager had selected the right people to serve on the committee. Ms. Conway said she would like to see two representatives from the Senior Services Advisory Board; initially, the manager had proposed a single person from that committee. Councilor Rob Humm agreed with Ms. Conway’s idea and offered a reminder that this group would be required to follow the rules established by the state’s Open Meetings Act.

Councilor Jacob Brier said the committee should also include a representative from the neighborhood. 

Mr. Cunha said there would be many opportunities for public input during the planning process. 

After a few more comments, the council voted unanimously to endorse the committee.

Committee membership

• Municipal staff representative/chairman — Town Planner Phil Hervey

• Planning board representatives — Roni Phipps and Kate Berard

• Housing board representatives — Tom Peck and Carla DeStefano

• TRC representative — Jordan Durham 

• EDC representative — Matt Amaral (Broadview)

• Resilience and Energy Committee — TBD

• Senior Services Advisory representatives — Erin Paquette and TBD

• Parks and Recreation representative — Fletch Thomson

• Conservation Commission representative — TBD

• Open Space Committee representative — TBD

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