Warren council looks to codify Town Common's uses

Move comes after debate over allowed uses spurred on by acoustic concerts plan

By Ted Hayes
Posted 5/7/21

The Warren Town Council will soon decide the allowed uses of the Warren Town Common, following criticism last month by a local veteran of a plan to hold monthly concerts there.

In early April, the …

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Warren council looks to codify Town Common's uses

Move comes after debate over allowed uses spurred on by acoustic concerts plan

Posted

The Warren Town Council will soon decide the allowed uses of the Warren Town Common, following criticism last month by a local veteran of a plan to hold monthly concerts there.

In early April, the Warren Town Council voted 3-2 to allow The Collaborative arts organization to use the north side of the Common for monthly acoustic concerts this coming summer. Councilors Joseph DePasquale, Keri Cronin and Brandt Heckert voted to approve the concerts, but councilors Steve Calenda and John Hanley voted against. They said they did so after receiving a letter from Dave McCarthy, the chairman of the Warren Veterans's Honor Roll Committee and commander of Warren's American Legion Post, who opposes that use.

"It's a memorial," Mr. Hanley said at the Tuesday, April 13 meeting. "It's supposed to be a solemn place. It's not supposed to be bustling with people singing and dancing and doing things like that."

"I'm just wondering if ... another place in town" would be more appropriate, Mr. Calenda added.

As it turns out, the concerts will not be held despite the council's vote. A day after receiving approval, the Collaborative's executive director wrote a letter to the council to inform members that he was canceling the concerts, saying that his organization hadn't anticipated the backlash the plan received.

"We had no idea it would draw up any resistance whatsoever and, particularly after this week’s Council meeting, we feel what was once a simple plan to bring joy and entertainment to the community is now tainted," Uriah Donnelly wrote.

The council's discussion last month left one issue hanging: What is the intended purpose of the Common, which apart from green space and benches, houses the town's Veterans Honor Roll and firefighter memorial?

The Warren Town Charter includes no official description of what the common's prescribed uses should be, and Warren Town Solicitor Anthony DeSisto said researching the matter would involve going through the town's land evidence records. Ms. Cronin said that's what council members will try to determine from here.

The council is expected Tuesday to start researching the issue with the goal of determining what should be allowed there, and what shouldn't. Ms. Cronin said Friday that the council will "develop, or create, an ordinance that will say what the uses of that spaces are."

As for her position, she said it has not changed since she voted last month to approve the concerts.

"It is a public space," Ms. Cronin said. "It is a place for everybody in the community and those who visit to come and enjoy passive time, recreation, and learn about the history of the town. It's the center of town, and it's for everybody."

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