Potential federal grants for No. Smithfield move forward, including $20 million for new police station

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Town Solicitor David Igliozzi, left, with Town Administrator Paul Zwolenski

NORTH SMITHFIELD – Grants totaling more than $22 million for the town of North Smithfield are up for consideration by the federal appropriations committee, including one that could fully fund a new police station, according to Town Administrator Paul Zwolenski.

Zwolenski delivered the promising news – although far from a sure thing – to members of the Town Council at their meeting on Monday, May 15.

“We’ve been notified that four grants are moving forward,” Zwolenski said. “It does not guarantee it will be funded.”

The administrator noted that the town applied for federal money to fund construction of a new station last year, but the proposal was turned down. Councilors have been debating specifics of the long-hoped-for project for months, with a bond question to fund much needed construction – or rehabilitation – of a facility expected to go before voters within the year.

Chief Tim Lafferty completed a new federal grant application for the project this year, and this time around, it seems it has support from the state’s federal delegation, led by Sen. Jack Reed.

Zwolenski said he received news that Reed was moving four projects forward for consideration in a letter last week.

Now, the North Smithfield’s requests will be among the projects amounting to billions in federal dollars looked at by the appropriations committee, in a process that is supposed to be completed by June, but typically takes much longer. In recent years, a more realistic deadline for federal appropriations decisions has been October 1.

“They can champion the town of North Smithfield,” Zwolenski said of the state delegates.

Still, he noted, “Nothing is guaranteed here.”

The station is the largest of the four potential grants.

Also under consideration is a grant of $1.410,000 to help finance a water line extension on St. Paul Street. The town was approved for a $1.2 million grant for that project last year, but more is needed to fully fund water improvements to the area.

“This could not come at a better time,” Zwolenski said. “EPA is going to mandate changing the copper lines.”

Another $1 million grant could help fund improvements to the property that once held Halliwell Elementary School.

And finally, a $30,000 grant now under consideration would provide radio equipment for the North Smithfield Emergency Management Agency.

“It may be scaled back. It may not be approved,” said Zwolenski. “But it’s an honor to have Senator Reed push this forward for consideration.”

Councilors, who have spent months looking for ways to scale back police station plans to make the bond more appealing to voters, reacted with enthusiasm.

“That’s fantastic news,” said Councilor Douglas Osier. “If it does go through, then it’s no tax dollars that are spent.”

Efforts to create a bond question in the meantime, however, will move forward, since the funding is far from guaranteed. Osier questioned if language on the ballot should reflect the potential positive news – and was told it should not.

“Right now, this is a promise to take a look at it,” Zwolenski said. “I don’t want to convolute or confuse the voters.”

“If we get a federally funded new police station, I’m sure they would want to go that route,” Councilor John Beauregard said of voters.

Beauregard noted that is was Lisa Andoscia of Rosewood Consulting who applied for the potential $1.4 million in funding for water lines and the $1 million for Halliwell. Andoscia was hired on a temporary basis for one month in February at a cost of $5,000 in order to meet the deadline for the two grant applications.

Councilors have been somewhat critical of the administration for what they have said was lack of communication on the temporary hiring. Several said learned of the initiative from an article on NRI NOW.

An effort to retain Andoscia on a more permanent basis has since been slowed down, with councilors only recently approving a request for proposals for potential applicants for a grant writer position, rather than accepting the idea for hiring first put forth by Beauregard after hearing of her success.

“I’d say that’s $5,000 well spent,” Beauregard said Monday of the possible $2.4 million.

For now, at least, with a major boost to needed projects possibly on the horizon, it was time for optimism.

“Let’s try to be positive,” Zwolenski said.

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11 COMMENTS

  1. Please don’t twist my argument Mr. Clifford. I am not a fan of “more taxes”, but absolutely am against putting any additional taxpayer dollars into the former Bushee School now masquerading as a police station. It appears your inability to recall other people’s commentary is only exceeded by your bulbous hubris.

    I assisted with the effort to get the NSMS construction bond passed back in 2006, and as well the construction of the Veterans Memorial Stadium concessions and bathrooms. I am very proud of helping to get those projects approved and completed (the only two new municipal construction projects in NS this century). We need another – a new police station is of paramount importance. If any grant funding helps us get there, all the better.

    Your efforts to hold back any progress continue to haunt our town. I implore my fellow NS residents to ignore your constant blathering and support what’s best for NS. We deserve better.

    • I stand by my comment Tony. I don’t recall ever seeing any comment by you advocating conservative spending. Please cut and paste any comment you have ever posted which expresses support for conservative spending or concern about “more taxes”. Maybe I missed some comments you’ve posted.

  2. For the record I am not “Rick Bean” as Tony Guertin would like everyone to believe. I do admit, I think Rick Bean raises good points about the odds of this money being approved. I also wonder what triggered Jack Reed’s staff to show such interest in this application since it failed to meet muster the first time it was summitted.

  3. Tony Guertin all of a sudden you’re worried about “more taxes”, that’s a good one! I don’t recall ever reading any comment you’ve ever posted advocating for conservative spending and now you’re raising a concern about “more taxes” caused by “additional compensation”. LOL

  4. Are you kidding. No grant money will be coming from the federal government because of the following:
    – the debt ceiling issue will come with some cuts to spending.
    – Jack Reed has little to no political influence.
    – Jack Reed is only using North Smithfield as a pawn which he will use when the committee ask him to reduce his request so Jack can get what he really wants. Jack will leave in one of the small request, probably the $35,000, and then say at least you got something.
    – The republicans control the house and will never approve money for a democratic state even if the senate approves the appropriation.

    I am also concerned that Doug Osier does not understand finance or taxes. If North Smithfield does get a federal grant, $20 million in tax dollars are spent not zero tax dollars. I also do not like the comment by John B. “ I’d say that’s $5,000 well spent,” Beauregard said Monday of the possible $2.4 million.” First the town has not gotten the money and why couldn’t someone in Town hall apply for the grant at zero cost. Maybe the town could do Grant Writing every Friday afternoon from 1:00pm to 4:00pm.

    • Hey “Rick Bean” (or is it Mike?) – are you kidding? By your logic we (or any municipality for that matter) should never apply for any grants, since towns do not receive any grant funds until AFTER applying. And “Grant Writing every Friday afternoon from 1:00 to 4:00pm”? How does the town pay for that additional compensation? More taxes?

      • Go look at the valley Breeze comments under the police station article. Looks like Ricky bean and tommy Devito might be the same troll.

        • Speaking of trolls, has anyone else noticed JP1165 and Jimmy Tessier (or is it John or Tony?) only seem to post comments in defense of the Administrator and John Beauregard? “Jimmy” started commenting right after Kim Alves was elected Council President.

  5. Hopefully the grant comes through. It’s about time the powers that be think of the little New England towns …….keeping the ole fingers and toes crossed! And prayer helps too!

  6. Great job by Administrator Zwolenski and his staff, Chief Laferty, Councilman Beauregard, and the grant writer Lisa Andoscia. This could have very easily not happened if they listened to the nay sayers. Keep up the good work.

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