NORTH SMITHFIELD – All five members of the town’s Municipal Building Review Task Force resigned this week, submitting a letter to the Town Council noting that their, “beliefs, expectations, knowledge and recommendations may not be in alignment with the path this council is looking to pursue.”
The resignations follow a special election in which North Smithfield voters decisively rejected a ballot question requesting authority for the town to take out an $18 million bond to finance construction of a new police station. Members of the MBRTF had worked on the project for years, with recommendations on everything from the architect that designed the proposed structure, to the language in the ballot question.
Since new councilors took the helm last year, however, not all of their recommendations have been followed. It was the council that voted in May to include phrasing on the ballot citing renovation of the current station – a former schoolhouse on Smithfield Road – despite testimony from many that the building could not be brought to modern policing standards. Critics of the bond initiative cited the confusing language as a major cause for concern.
And two councilors – President Kimberly Alves and member Paulette Hamilton – called for rejection of the bond in the month leading up to the vote. The referendum was defeated by a vote of 1,715 to 1,071 on Tuesday, Nov. 7.
All five members of the appointed board, including Chairman Paul Vadenais, Paul Nordstrom, Teresa Bartomioli, John Perry and David Chamberland, signed the letter of resignation. Most had served since the MBRTF was first formed in 2016 to take over town projects started by a prior commission – the Public Buildings Improvement Committee. At the time, the council had seen a similar change in direction following an election of new councilors.
The group has since overseen projects including renovation of the former Kendall Dean School at 83 Green St., which now serves as Town Hall.
“Many of those projects became a reality and we worked with the contractors and other professionals to complete the buildings on time and within the budget and constraints,” noted the resignation. “We take pride in these accomplishments.”
“As members we have always worked to achieve the directive from all of the Town Councils and the various administrators we have worked with and to make appropriate recommendations based on the information provided to us from the various professionals we were working with and the conditions surrounding each project,” the letter noted. “We have been fortunate to be able to work together and take our many years of experience in the various fields we work in and blend our knowledge and expertise to provide recommendations, which were intended to move the town forward on the projects planned.”
“We find ourselves 100 percent united in our decision to step away at this time,” the letter states.
“The town is clearly intending to go in a different direction regarding the Police Station. We feel the town may be better served by formulating a new Task Force who has the same beliefs. We wish you luck as you move forward with new views, and direction, and hope that the decisions made benefit the town and all of its population for years to come,” the letter concludes.
Town officials are now seeking new volunteers to fill the roles. Anyone interested in volunteering is asked to contact Joanne Buttie at (401) 767-2200 ext. 326 or firstname.lastname@example.org for an application or go to www.nsmithfieldri.org/boards to download the application and submit it to Town Clerks Office, 83 Greene Street, North Smithfield, RI 02896.