Arts Center can stay if it pays, says mayor

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When Mayor Joseph Solomon learned the news media would be visiting the Warwick Center for the Arts Wednesday to follow up on the story he is considering using the space for municipal offices, he walked over to the Kentish Armory to clarify his position.

“No one is getting tossed out on the street,” Solomon told a handful of WCFA members and two reporters.

Last week, the mayor disclosed his proposal to move personnel and information technology offices into the armory that has been home for the WCFA for the past 42 years. The two departments, along with other municipal offices housed in the City Hall Annex, were relocated to the former Greene School on Draper Avenue more than a year ago. The annex was forced to close because of a burst water pipe and has not reopened since as the city wrangles over the insurance claim.

Meanwhile, Solomon is anxious to get city employees out of Greene and with renovations to the Buttonwoods Community Center, which was closed by former mayor Scott Avedisian, plans to locate the displaced municipal offices there with the exception of personnel and IT.

In a face-to-face discussion with WCFA board chair Stephany Hessler, the first since the center learned of the plan in January, Solomon said his obligation is to the taxpayer and he is prepared to have the center stay provided it pays rent comparable to housing personnel and IT in the area.

He noted with use of the armory the city would occupy space it owns and there would be no added costs to the taxpayers. The WCFA has been paying $1 a year for the armory. That lease expired last June and while the WCFA sought to have it renewed, the administration asked that talks be delayed until after the election.

During talks with the Planning Department this January when the mayor’s plan was discussed, Hessler brought up the possibility of increasing the rent.

In an email to the Beacon Tuesday she writes, “I said I was disappointed there hadn’t been an opportunity for a conversation about what we could contribute to the city [rent, the opportunity for city employees to utilize the space for meetings, the chance for city employees to exhibit their artwork at the center, etc.] to help remain in the space while providing a vibrant space for cultural and art programming for the residents of Warwick and Rhode Island.”

Asked Wednesday what he thought would be a fair rent, Solomon refrained from naming a number saying that should be determined by the area market and what the city would have to pay in rent to have the personnel and IT departments back in Apponaug. Later in the course of discussing the issue he mentioned $36,000, a number that Hessler said she had heard from George Shuster, who has talked with Solomon about keeping the WCFA in the armory and is the author of a letter published in today’s Beacon and co-signed by more than 60 people and organizations.

With an annual budget of $65,000, Hessler said a rent of $36,000 would be untenable.

“The cost of our paid programs helps underwrite the cost of our affordable art programs that we are able to offer to the seniors and communities and organizations in need. The past couple of years we have been spending the very minimal surplus we’ve had on making critical repairs to the center. So again, we welcome a discussion with the mayor and his staff to renegotiate a lease but realize that what they propose could still be out of our reach financially at this time,” she said.

There’s more at stake.

In November the Champlin Foundation announced the arts center is the recipient of a $145,000 grant that would be used to improve the steep entrance to the armory and enhance a small public park between it and the library. Use of the grant is contingent on a five-year lease with the city.

On Wednesday Solomon questioned as the landowner why the city was not privy to the terms of the grant or what the center planned to do with the money.

Hessler explained that the Champlin grant application is an extended process that started when Avedisian was mayor and that the center worked with the Planning Department in defining the grant application. Obviously, she said, if the center fails to meet the lease provision it would be handing the money back to Champlin and the improvements would not be made.

Hessler also pointed out that the center has applied for a Community Development Block Grant of $180,000 to remove the electrical lift now used to make the building handicapped accessible and replace it with a series of ramps. That grant, which is the prerogative of the city administration, is pending.

Comments

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richard corrente

Mayor Solomon is a smart man. He knows that $1.00 is not enough rent. He also knows that MentorRI and other programs pay a lot more in rent. He will find a fair number for the Arts Center to pay, a win-win for everyone, especially the 80,000 taxpayers. Warwick deserved a better rent for years. Fortunately, it will now receive one.

Happy St. Patricks everyone.

Rick Corrente

The Taxpayers Mayor

Thursday, February 21
Cat

You still can't deny that it would have been the perfect relocation for the offices. Very convenient.

Thursday, February 21
Marie Tyler

Did you ever think that maybe the tax payers appreciate the arts and culture and understand the value the center brings to the lives of children, adults, and seniors in the community. Maybe the city should hold a public meeting and hear what the taxpayers actually want.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day? Its not even March ... why don’t you say happy black history month instead? you obviously have no appreciation for culture yourself.

Friday, February 22
wwkvoter

Cat you're right again, although what about parking? Also, let's say parking can be arranged (at the old annex after they knock it down?) The Arts people need a replacement facility. Maybe one of the closed schools if there are any?

Friday, February 22
richard corrente

Dear Marie Tyler,

I think your idea of a public hearing is a great one.

In fact, the City Council has that in every City Council meeting called "The Public Comment" section. You should attend and comment. I believe you're right. I believe that the 80,000 taxpayers that are paying the tab actually want a reduced rent for the Warwick Center for the Arts. I just don't think they believe the rent should be $1.00 per year. I don't think they will believe that either. The market rent for a building of that nature is a whole lot more than the $36,000 Mayor Solomon is asking for. I would recommend that you call a commercial real estate appraiser to compare.

2 more recommendations.

1. I wish you and everyone a "Happy St. Patricks" because that is the next big event. Notice, that I don't say "day" as you claim, and I won't until we arrive at the appropriate day to say it. If you don't like reading those good wishes, I have a simple solution. Please don't read them. See? Problem solved!

2. Please don't accuse me of having "no appreciation for culture" because I elect not to say "Happy Black History Month". That accusation is racist, insulting, slanderous, and viciously wrong. Even my worst critics haven't attacked me for wishing good tidings on people. You're the first. Talk about having no appreciation for culture. Wishing good tidings on the readers IS AN APPRECIATION FOR OUR CULTURE. You should be ashamed of yourself for making such a vile judgement.

But Happy St. Patricks to you anyway.

Happy St. Patricks everyone.

Rick Corrente

The Taxpayers Mayor

Saturday, February 23
wwkvoter

Corrente is NOT the mayor. HOWEVER he speaks the truth about the fact that there's public comment and he knows from experience. Video here:

https://youtu.be/QExsTpKBshQ?t=3724

Saturday, February 23
richard corrente

Dear wwkvoter,

AKA Henry Krinkle of 154 Hopper Ave. Warwick R.I. (according to him)

You're right. I'm NOT the Mayor. I NEVER said I was. Please stop lying about that. Continuously.

Henry. It's time you got exposed for the lying piece of crap you actually are. Did you think I would believe that there actually IS A 154 Hopper Ave? I campaigned (twice) on EVERY street in Warwick. There is no Hopper Ave. There isn't a Henry Krinkle either. You have lied repeatedly about that and even "pretended" to be offended when I called you out on it. Do you actually believe you're him like you say you are? That's sick and perverted.

But here's something you didn't know. "Taxi Driver" is one of my favorite movies. Robert DeNiro plays a deeply depressed, sick-minded, drugged-up cabbie who looses complete touch with reality. When he is at a political rally with six or seven guns hidden on him looking extremely "wired", he is asked by a secret serviceman what his name and address is. He responds "Henry Krinkle of 154 Hopper Ave."

Listen carefully, you lying sick degenerate.

You are no Robert DeNiro, but you are a sick-minded person who has lost complete touch with reality.

Seek help.

Rick Corrente

The Taxpayers Mayor

Monday, February 25
wwkvoter

LOL the reaction of an unstable (and perpetually delusional) election loser who got punked and only just now figured it out. Showing as usual how INCREDIBLY LAZY he is not to do even his basic fact finding. Which explains his bizarrio "statistics" he used to create a historic election slaughter for himself...

Here is a great news report explaining this small minor soon-to-be-forgotten footnote in Warwick local political history:

WJAR NEWS REPORT ON CORRENTE'S "FACTS" OR LACK THEREOF:

https://youtu.be/ZgCpY73J4eg

Happy Fake Mayor's Day Everybody!

Tuesday, February 26
CAT

OMG right over your head this whole time?!? I sincerely can't believe you actually put that in writing. This time silence truly would have been golden. Sarcasm is not your strong suit.

Tuesday, February 26
wwkvoter

Cat just curious, who should have been quiet?

Tuesday, February 26
Hillsgrove Hal

I find it very concerning that Mayor Solomon apparently walked over to "clarify" his proposal for the arts center when the local media was there, instead of being clear from the start.

When I voted for him in September and November, it was because I expected him to be decisive and transparent, as he promised during the campaign.

His plans for the arts center, so far, seem to be poorly thought-out. It should not have taken him several days (and multiple questions from the media) to put a price tag on rent for the armory.

Marie Tyler: I've only been reading this website for a short time, but I've already noticed how richard corrente treats other people who disagree with him -- his reply to you is condescending and arrogant. I don't understand how he can claim to represent anyone, never mind give himself a fake title and call other people names, and still think he is at all credible.

It seems to me that someone claiming to represent others should respond to criticism with more consideration of other peoples' opinions and more self-reflection, instead of these angry outbursts.

And maybe he should heed his own words about not reading what other people write if he doesn't like it.

Wednesday, February 27
wwkvoter

Hal I agree with your Solomon observations, but at least he tried to come clean eventually (several days). This seems to be his pattern, he doesnt like to shoot from the hip. I agree he could be clearer and quicker but it also seems that he doesnt try to hide much (except the FD audit results?). Let's see how he does with these key issues over the medium timeframe...

I mean he really was the logical choice with the other choices being a used car salesman whose wife was charged with welfare fraud, a woman who cross-dressed an employee before the residents intending to deceive them in a bizarre stunt, and a perpetual election loser who cant seem to differentiate between a taxpayer and a nontaxpayer who calls himself a "mayor" anyway, among many other delusions.

Time to count our (Solomon) blessings?

Wednesday, February 27
Hillsgrove Hal

wwkvoter, Mayor Solomon was clearly the best choice among the candidates for mayor last year.

I voted for him because of his experience -- I guess I'm just hoping that he shows some of the wisdom that you'd think 20 years in local government would provide.

Wednesday, February 27
Cat

wwkvoter - RC

Loved this line-

"You are no Robert DeNiro, but you are a sick-minded person who has lost complete touch with reality. "

Or this one-

"Do you actually believe you're him like you say you are? That's sick and perverted."

Literally right over his head for months

Thursday, February 28
wwkvoter

Cat, lol. And I forgot to answer the fake mayor question:

"Did you think I would believe that there actually IS A 154 Hopper Ave?"

Yes you did, for MONTHS. But to be fair, you also believe that Warwick has lost hundreds of businesses (it hasnt), that there are 80,000 taxpayers (there arent) and that your some sort or "mayor", which, ready for it... you're NOT.

Thursday, February 28
richard corrente

Dear wwkvoter,

My stats came from the U.S. Census and the R.I. Secretary of State's office.. I copied them and gave them to The Warwick Beacon during my 2016 campaign. I gave that information several times. You can look it up yourself.

Maybe the Census Bureau people were wrong. Maybe. If you don't believe me, I could not care less.

You are an anonymous coward of a critic who lied about everything from his name to his address.

I stood up for a cause I believed in. You hide in the shadows. You have every right to attack my credibility if you want, but you don't have any credibility at all.

Happy St. Patricks everyone.

Rick Corrente

The Taxpayers Mayor

Monday, March 4
wwkvoter

...and Dr Delusion rises again. moron conflates stats from multiple sources and creates an apples and oranges argument which is actually nonsense. that kind of argument makes only fruitcake. proven many, multiple, dozens of times. again and again. guy doesnt get it, or understand why he lost (zero credibility with voters) . corrente the fruitcake candidate, still calling himself mayor. sad. very sad.

Thursday, March 7