RIDEM to decide fate of bathroom, concession stand at school athletic fields

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NORTH SMITHFIELD – A plan by Green Development to build a bathroom and concession stand by the athletic fields by North Smithfield High School and Middle School is now in the design phase, but the fate of the project rests on approval of a septic plan by the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management.

The project was conceived as part of the company’s request to build a 38.4 megawatt solar array off of Iron Mine Hill Road, approved earlier this year.

With the hope that developer Mark DePasquale would be able to complete the long hoped-for school improvement at far less cost than a municipal project, a one-time payment of $287,500 was set aside for the work as part of the agreement.

But in order for the plan to move forward, RIDEM will have to approve a tie-in to the existing waste treatment system used by the middle school.

Architects from Robinson, Green, & Beretta have been contracted to create a conceptional plan for the site, and an early rendering envisions a two-story building that includes a press box with sliding windows, and storage below.  The first floor of the new building, situated at the side of the field by the existing bleachers, would be reserved for a concession stand with a roll-up window and grilling area in back, plus men’s and women’s bathrooms.

But Town Administrator Gary Ezovski noted that the entire project is dependent on RIDEM’s go-ahead, as it’s not feasible to install a separate septic system.

“The space just isn’t available,” Ezovski said. “That’s what this whole thing rides on.”

“Without their approval nothing can happen up there,” agreed Town Council Chairman Paul Vadenais, noting that the current system does have enough space for the additional use, but that it has to meet RIDEM’s standards. “There is capacity.”

The idea to include the infrastructure work as part of an agreement with Green Development was first proposed by former Town Council President John Beauregard, who suggested the plan to DePasquale. According to the deal that was ultimately hashed out, the town will keep the full cash payment of $287,500 if the bathrooms and concessions are not built – for any reason.

“I think we’re all optimistic on this one,” said Councilor Paul Zwolenski during discussion this week.

Vadenais noted that RGB was also the architect for the building of the middle school, and the company is familiar with the layout of the area.

Councilor Douglas Osier said that he feels the council needs to look at a comprehensive plan for maintaining the adjoining field as well.

“I think those two things have to go side by side,” said Osier. “The last thing I would like to see is the town build this new concession, or have Green build this new concession and facilities with bathrooms, and we end up with a field that’s unusable.”

Ezovski said more detailed plans will be coming before the council in the next few weeks with the hope to have a shovel in ground in around two months.

But first, the council will have to approve a final plan.

“It will all go through the council,” said Vadenais. “Even though it’s on school property, it’s a town project.”

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