BURRILLVILLE – A structure at the center of a small park in Harrisville will soon be completely refurbished, following a recent vote by the Board of Administration to finance the $15,800 project.
Aid Home Improvement Inc. out of Central Falls will repair the Town Common gazebo following a recent slew of vandalism that’s left the two-decade old structure in disrepair.
“It’s been pretty damage-free for 20 or so years,” said Councilor Raymond Trinque, who serves on the board. “It’s only the last few years that it’s taken major hits from vandals.”
The Burrillville Lions Club spearheaded the effort to bring the gazebo to the village in the late 1990s, working with donors in the community to build the new town common. At the time, the driveway for nearby Levy Elementary School ran through the town-owned lot.
Town officials worked with community volunteers to complete the project, installing benches and landscaping in the highly visible space. A plaque beside the structure dated June 27, 1999 notes the common was, “given to the town of Burrillville by the people of Burrillville,” listing major donors including the June Rockwell Levy Foundation and Ocean State Power.
The park hosted the Burrillville Farmer’s Market before it relocated to the Stillwater Mill Pavilion and now, the site at the village center is often used for holiday events, such as pictures with the Easter Bunny or Santa Claus.
“It’s a town square,” said Trinque. “I think people take a lot of pride in that.”
While the gazebo had seen some minor damages over the years, recent incidents have left it somewhat dilapidated. Vandals have busted off most of the railings and ripped covers off electric boxes, adding a look of neglect to the normal wear and tear.
“We want to update it and get it looking good again,” said Town Council President Don Fox, who serves as president of the BOA. “That’s been a problem in the past year.”
The Board of Administration was established by the late mill owner and philanthropist Austin T. Levy to manage several buildings he donated to the town of Burrillville, including Town Hall, Legion Hall, the Town Annex and the Assembly Theatre. The board makes its money by renting the properties to the town.
The unique arrangement, established through the deed on the properties, dictates that the whoever is the council president lead the quasi-private board, and serve with two additional council representatives, and two members of the public.
“In the spirit of the Levy Trust, we try to get one male and one female from the Harrisville Fire District,” said Fox.
Current members include Councilor Amanda Gingell, Mackenzie Raimond and Richard Polacek.
And while the commons and accompanying gazebo are not technically property under the board’s care and control, the group has historically taken care of the area, with work such as lawn maintenance and tree trimming.
Trinque said that the BoA looked at proposals for less costly repairs, but ultimately decided, “that was really just putting a bandaid on a gushing wound.”
In the coming months, the contractor chosen will install new handrails and shingles on the structure, and power wash and repaint the existing wood. The rebuilt gazebo will use reinforced materials that are harder to damage.
“It’s going to be both nicer, and harder to destroy,” Trinque said.
Fox said that recently, arrests have been made for vandalism in the area.
“The Burrillville Police Department has already been doing a good job of increasing their activity at that location,” Fox said. “They’re doing their job to do what they can to prevent it.”
Board members are also hopeful the public will help.
“We’re hoping that people are going to get together with us on protecting it,” Trinque said. “In general, people just have to have their eyes open and if they see something over there, report it.”
“I think it’s a worthwhile project,” Trinque said.