Frequently Asked Questions

What is the plan?

Over the course of several months, DBVW Architects studied existing conditions, determined space needs, worked on concepts and developed a proposed budget. The plan includes:

  • The complete renovation of historic Town Hall, including updating windows, new electrical and heating systems, restoration of historic hardware, minor structural improvements;
  • Restoration of the Town Council chambers on the second floor;
  • A two-story brick addition to accommodate all town departments;
  • Site-work and parking.

DBVW presented their plan and feasibility report to the public and Town Council on July 9, 2018. Video of the presentation (starts at 03:14) and the accompanying PowerPoint presentation of the feasibility study are available on the Town’s website.

Why not just build a new town hall?

Redevelopment of our historic 1888 Town Hall is better because:

  • It presents the face of our local government, in a manner befitting North Kingstown’s rich history and culture;
  • This historic site will continue to be a center of activity and a source of community pride;
  • There is no significant cost difference between this proposal and building a new complex;
  • No purchase or lease of land is necessary.

Isn’t this an expensive option?

See the previous question. It bears repeating: renovating the existing Town Hall is the least expensive option going forward for our town. A new office building will cost $20M or more, according to estimates made in 2016. The temporary offices will need replacing soon enough. Imagining that there is a no-cost option for our town offices is unrealistic. We already have a town hall; renovating it will cost less than replacing it.

What is the plan for Veterans Memorial Park?

In consultation with veterans and other stakeholders, a site plan is being developed that will honor our veterans while providing better access and greater visibility to the memorials as well as addressing drainage issues. A portion of the park will be dedicated for parking, which is expected to bring more people to visit these memorials. The planned green spaces, designed with a landscape architect, will bring the elements together in an aesthetically pleasing and welcoming landscape design.

Will it be safe to cross the street to Town Hall after parking in Veterans Memorial Park?

Safety will be assured in the same way that it is accomplished in towns throughout the United States, using proven methods to enhance pedestrian safety. There are numerous ways to do this and the method chosen will be based on site conditions that are specific to that area of road. Note: the plan calls for most parking to be on the Town Hall side of Boston Neck Road.

Didn’t we already approve funding for restoring Town Hall?

Yes, some funding was approved in the local 2018 bond question (overwhelmingly approved by voters). That approval included $5M to be used for the renovation of Town Hall, though the actual extent had not been determined when the bond question was formulated. DBVW Architects’ recommendations, detailed in their July 9, 2018 feasibility report, established a total proposed budget of $12.5M. Approval of the upcoming $7.5M bond question is necessary make up the difference, and to implement the plan to return all town departments to 80 Boston Neck Road. Read more about this on our handy fact sheet.

Why invest in a municipal building in a flood plain?

While it is true that the site, like much of coastal Rhode Island, is in an area designated a flood zone, this plan complies with all federal, state and local regulatory requirements. There are well-established methods of ensuring that buildings, both historic and new construction, are flood resilient. This important issue is addressed by DBVW Architects in its feasibility study. The planned reuse of our historic town hall, adhering to sound flood resiliency practices, is a sound investment.

What is the story behind the Fairway Drive building, the current housing for municipal offices?

The Fairway Drive building is comprised of linked structures placed there for use as temporary classrooms. Later, with ample classrooms available, it became the North Kingstown School Department Administration building. Several years ago, citing the building’s conditions, the School Committee voted to lease office space at 100 Romano Vineyard Way, near Quonset Point. The building(s) were originally built as temporary structures, and will need replacement or upgrades in the near future. They are not a long-term solution to housing our town government.

Would school offices go there, too?

The school department is an independent branch of town government, and their offices are not thought of as part of the town offices.

Why remove the 20th-century one-story additions?

Due to their small size and because they were not part of the original structure, these additions will be replaced with larger structures that are designed for current needs.

What are the economic benefits of being a historic town?

  • Property values in towns with a “historic brand” tend to hold their value and, have lower rates of foreclosure and less downside volatility in recessions.
  • Historic preservation contributes to the “Quality of Life” factor that was rated the most important reason for Millennials choosing where to buy a home. Millennials are the fastest growing demographic group in the US. Local historic districts which house 12% of Rhode Island’s population, account for 56% of the state’s population growth.
  • Historic Sites Bring “heritage tourists” to Wickford throughout the year. And while visiting our historic sites, heritage tourists also shop, eat, buy gas, etc., and overall tend to outspend other tourists by about 33%.
  • In 2018 heritage tourists added nearly $1.4 billion to the state’s economy. This money created about 19,000 jobs.

Sources:

  • Information Clearing House Webinar. “Why Do Old Places Matter”, June 9, 2015, Donovan Rypkema, a nationally recognized expert on the economics of historic preservation and a principal with PlaceEconomics, a Washington, DC based real estate economic development consulting firm.
  • “Historic Preservation: An Overlooked Economic Driver, A Study of the Impacts of Historic Preservation In Rhode Island 2018” – Study done by RI Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
  • Longwoods International – a tourism research firm cited in “Historic Preservation: An Overlooked Economic Driver”, p. 9

Who is funding this web site / campaign?

The campaign to support the referendum is funded by voluntary donations from citizens and organizations in North Kingstown and beyond. The election disclosure laws of Rhode Island require a campaign finance report 7 days before the special election.

[Update, November 2] The first reporting deadline is past, and our campaign finance reports have been filed. Go to the Board of Election web page, and click on “View Independent Expenditures” and you’ll find us.