Portsmouth OKs grant application for community center

No financial commitment from taxpayers at this point

By Jim McGaw
Posted 1/14/20

PORTSMOUTH — The Town Council Monday night voted unanimously to submit a grant application to the Van Buren Charitable Foundation, asking for funds in developing a multi-use, community …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Not a subscriber?


Start a Subscription

Sign up to start a subscription today! Click here to see your options.

Purchase a day pass

Purchase 24 hours of website access for $2. Click here to continue

Day pass subscribers

Are you a day pass subscriber who needs to log in? Click here to continue.


Portsmouth OKs grant application for community center

No financial commitment from taxpayers at this point

Posted

PORTSMOUTH — The Town Council Monday night voted unanimously to submit a grant application to the Van Buren Charitable Foundation, asking for funds in developing a multi-use, community recreation center for the town.

Any funding awarded by the charity would be used to complete site assessments, a feasibility study, a conceptual design and public workshops to support the development of a design for a multi-use community recreation center, according to council member Daniel Abbott, who proposed the grant application. 

“This request will allow us to build upon the results of the Community Needs Assessment conducted in fall 2019 and prepare for the design and construction of a facility that begins to address some of the recreational needs of our community,” stated the letter in support of the grant application.

The deadline for submitting the application was Wednesday, Jan. 15, and grant awards will be doled out in May, Ms. Abbott said.

There is no financial commitment from taxpayers at this point; language in the draft application, which said there would be a municipal funding match, was stricken by the council. However, a bond question for a conceptual building could go on the November ballot.

If that were approved, Ms. Abbott said the town would issue a request for proposals (RFP) on the project.

As for the dollar amount? Ms. Abbott said she wanted to leave that up to Town Administrator Richard Rainer, Jr. and bond counsel. 

“You could build a $2 million community center or your could build a $50 million community center,” she said.

Council President Kevin Aguiar said he was concerned with the cost of the project in light of the school district’s capital improvement needs for its four school buildings. (The School Committee presented its proposed $65 million renovation project earlier in the evening — improvements that may also wind up on the November ballot.) The town may also have some capital projects it wants to add to the ballot, he added.

“We have to understand what our bond capacity will be in the coming weeks. We don’t know at this point that we can afford that,” Mr. Aguiar said, before acknowledging that taxpayers are not being asked for anything at this point. “I guess it doesn’t hurt to ask.” 

Ms. Abbott said the school improvements “are incredibly important,” but the community center is also a top priority since senior citizens could lose their center at some point.

The future of the senior center is unclear, as the town is addressing state fire code violations that have already closed off the building’s second floor. For years, the upper floors had been used only for storage, but those stored items are considered combustible and are being removed.

Town staff members will soon be meeting with a state appeals board to get a better sense of the building’s future.

Fee proposals sought

The town recently posted on its website a request for quotes from qualified project managers and/or architectural firms to prepare a feasibility study for a community center.

The selected firm must analyze existing town-owned sites at the former Aquidneck Island Christian Academy (Coggeshall building), 321 East Main Road; the Portsmouth Multi‐Purpose Senior Center, 110 Bristol Ferry Road; and other potential site options that the town should consider.

The firm would develop a preliminary conceptual program for a new community center, which would be about 30,000 square feet or larger. The request also asks for a conceptual site plan and floor plan, an initial building massing form presented in 3D drawings, and a preliminary, conceptual cost estimate to be used by the town for planning and budgeting purposes.

Fee proposals are due by 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 21, when they will be publicly opened in the second-floor conference room at Town Hall.

2020 by East Bay Newspapers

Barrington · Bristol · East Providence · Little Compton · Portsmouth · Tiverton · Warren · Westport
Meet our staff
Mike Rego

Mike Rego has worked at East Bay Newspapers since 2001, helping the company launch The Westport Shorelines. He soon after became a Sports Editor, spending the next 10-plus years in that role before taking over as editor of The East Providence Post in February of 2012. To contact Mike about The Post or to submit information, suggest story ideas or photo opportunities, etc. in East Providence, email mrego@eastbaymediagroup.com.