NORTH SMITHFIELD –It’s been four years since the town of North Smithfield purchased a property by Pacheco Park where a historic home had been demolished with the intent of widening the entryway to the facility.

Now, the project is finally expected to move forward, with the funds remaining in a purchase account from the acquisition transferred to general reserve budget this week.

“We have to get moving on this, and this is just the first step,” said Council President John Beauregard of the move.

The initiative to widen the entryway began in 2016, when former owner James Hacinski demolished the house at 27 Main St. with plans to sell the property to the town. Purchase of the .37-acre lot went through in 2018, when the town paid $160,000 for land that once held a house built in 1805.

The project is expected to improve safety of the entryway, with a reconfiguration that will also increase parking. Currently, the park is accessed via a driveway that curves around a tight corner adjacent to another historic building that houses several businesses, including Quik Stop Deli, and is only 12-feet-wide.

The town has twice applied for state recreation grants to fund the redesign project, but applications from 2017 and 2019 were not approved by the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management.

But according to Beauregard, the funding is not an immediate problem.

“This doesn’t have to cost a lot,” he said, noting that the town’s Public Works Department will be able to complete most of the needed work.

At the council’s meeting this week, Public Works Director Raymond Pendergast agreed that the town should move forward.

“This is a great project,” he said, adding of the transfer of funds, “This is the first step.”

Pendergast later said the next step will be working with the Planning Department and the council on the design phase.

“We have some ideas,” Pendergast said, noting that a potential plan could see the entryway moved to the center of the town-owned lot to coincide with the crosswalk on Main Street by the town library. “We want to move away from the building.”

The change would make the entryway more visible to those entering and exiting Pacheco, and Pendergast noted that town officials are hoping to incorporate remaining historic elements from the town-owned land.

“You also have a very beautiful old stone wall in front of that lot,” he said. “We would love to somehow keep that wall in tact and utilize the part that we have to take down.”

Remaining funds for the project, transferred from the recreation land acquisition account totaled $39,460, and Pendergast said that the town may seek out additional funding down the road – but that the money is not needed to get started.

“My guys love to tackle these types of projects,” said Pendergast. “We worked hard to get that lot. Let’s get this done.”

“I’m going to push this,” Beauregard told NRI NOW. “I spoke to Ray Pendergast at length and we’re going to work together to get this done. We have preliminary drawings (or concept drawings) already.”

It’s the type of project Pendergast said becomes much easier when various factions of town government are all on the same page.

“The new administrator is fantastic to work for,” Pendergast said, adding that the work will still take some time.

“You want to make it right. You want to make it look nice,” he said. “It is the premier park of the town. I can’t wait to get it off the ground.”

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