Concession, bathrooms at NSHS sports fields ready to greet fall athletes

From left, Town Councilor Claire O'Hara, Council President John Beauregard, Green Development's Mark Depasquale and Town Administrator Paul Zwolenski cut the ribbon on the new building.

NORTH SMITHFIELD – A project financed as part of a 2019 tax treaty with a solar developer was completed this week, bringing long-awaited sports facility improvements to this year’s crop of student athletes and their fans.

Town Councilor John Beauregard held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new concession stand and bathrooms at the North Smithfield High School athletic fields, thanking all who made the structure possible, from proponents who spent years pushing for the project, to the developer who constructed it this year.

North Kingstown-based Green Development, Inc. built the facilities as part of a unique tax agreement tied to approval of a massive solar array, which went live on Iron Mine Hill Road last year. Green founder Mark DePasquale agreed to take on the work in place of a $286,000 one-time tax payment to the town, just one element of the PILOT agreement for the 49.3-megawatt array, now the largest in Rhode Island.

Dozens of residents joined town and school officials celebrating completion last week, with Town Administrator Paul Zwolenski noting that costs for the building far exceeded the alternative tax payment. Beauregard told NRI NOW that after delays, DePasquale’s construction expenses came closer to $600,000.

“Mark has spent a tremendous amount of money to provide these facilities for us,” said Zwolenski. “This is monumental for the town of North Smithfield.”

Beauregard wasn’t serving in government when he first brought an idea for the arrangement to the Town Council in 2018, noting that construction would likely be far less costly for a private developer than it would if completed as a municipal project. Previous efforts to build the facilities had failed, in large part due to capacity concerns with a septic system the building now shares with the high school and middle school.

“There should be a bathroom and concession stand at any field you go to,” Beauregard said at the ribbon-cutting on Wednesday, August 3, noting that after earlier attempts at permitting failed in North Smithfield, “at some point we just kind of accepted the fact that we were going to have port-a-johns.”

Two people, Beauregard said, did not accept defeat: North Smithfield Athletic Association members Anthony Guertin and William Nangle, who continued to advocate for the project.

“Tony, to this day, is still very much involved with this project,” he said.

The same septic concerns slowed DePasquale’s efforts, as extensive system testing was required by the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management.

Still, as the building was unveiled last week, the new, ADA-compliant facility included one element that came in addition to the initial vision: a second-story press box.

Beauregard thanked the council and school committee members who unanimously supported his idea, and the two town leaders who helped to see it through: Zwolenski and former Town Administrator Gary Ezovski.

“At the time, is was risky politically, but they went for it,” Beauregard said. “If they didn’t support it, this wouldn’t have happened. We had our naysayers.”

Despite costs, DePasquale said he is also pleased with the final outcome.

“I’m very happy with the way it turned out, and I hope everyone enjoys it,” he said.

DePasquale, left, stands behind the new concession window with Zwolenski and wife Norine Zwolenski, and Beauregard and wife Janice Beauregard.
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  1. Ray M. Pat is 100% correct on the “The Taj Mahal” police station. Just look at the plans. First off the size of the building is over twice the size of Woonsocket and surrounding communities. Then we have 7 police cells, a police chief private bathroom and a parking garage for vehicles. All unnecessary. Then we have the best repair ever is to fix the uneven parking lot because it is a safety hazard. If we look at our roads they are a mess and need more work than the police station parking lot and create a greater safety hazard. Just look at the big hole just in front of the police station or the ski moguls at the corner of Providence street. An lets not forget the rumble strip on pound hill right of the exit and all the streets dug up off of Smithfield road to put in gas pipes. If we had properly maintained the building in the first place we would not be in this place. But we had to waste money of football fields and luxury items instead of focusing on the basics. A new police station will not reduce crime or make police protection and better. Why don’t we give taxpayers the option to pay additional tax for the police station or not. I think you would find most people would opt out even the supporters. If we actually wanted to save money we would regionalize the police force and reduce the cost an increase capabilities.

  2. Come on Pat, North Smithfield isn’t going to get “The Taj Mahal” of police stations. The focus is to put a band aid on the existing station:

    The Breeze reported in May that rising inflation and construction costs had temporarily halted the project, meaning it will be pushed off to the future as the town waits to see if pricing returns to manageable levels.

    The list of items still needing to be addressed to keep the Smithfield Road building functional includes replacement of ceiling tiles, uneven parking lot levels, and roof repair, said officials during a meeting on Tuesday. The discussion centered on tackling liability issues first, such as slip and fall probabilities in the parking lot as a result of water coming from roof downspouts.

    The town is going to do what it does for it’s tax payers. Throw good money after bad to fix a crumbling structure while waiting for the costs to go down. Which they never will, so the town will end up paying MORE over the long run and continue to use a building that is an liability issue. If you have seen the front of the police station and look toward the parapet, the brick is wavy. Because like the report said, the roof is not draining properly because the water is running down behind the bricks. Who knows how long and how damaged the front of the building is. I suspect that it is only a matter of time before a tropical storm, nor’easter, blizzard or hurricane visits and the front of the building crumbles. But hey, the tax payers like you whine and complain, so start saving your pennies for a rainy day. Good luck to you!

    • What you are describing is what our town leaders have been up to for years, “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results”, pure insanity! Then they come up with overspending on the project and then overstate their accomplishments. As I stated below, get ready for the “Taj Mahal” of police stations coming soon to our town. Good luck to all!

  3. As I have said before, this is all smoke and mirrors just to appease the tax base, you really never know what the true cost is until it all washes out. The concession stand and track are just the appetizers. After you all digest them along with your new tax hikes from a bogus re-evaluation the town leaders will serve up the main course. Coming soon will be, the Taj Mahal of police stations. I can’t wait to hear all our so-called political pundits and their supporters explain away that unneeded tax monstrosity. It’s time for a change. Good luck to all!

  4. Someone wants us to believe it costs $600,000 for that building. Also where are all of the appliance’s? How much is that going to costs? Are we using the school surplus to fund the equipment purchase or are we adding that amount to the budget?

    • Spot on Deborah. Mr Beauregard has already stated the town has $100,000 in an assigned fund to buy the “equipment” and like you I can’t see that building costing $600,000.

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