City offices plan could force arts center out of Apponaug

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After 42 years of calling the former Kentish Guards armory in Apponaug home, the Warwick Museum and now the Warwick Center of the Arts may be forced to find new digs.

Last Wednesday, as he joined Rocky Point aficionado Sean McCarthy to highlight the House of Horrors car McCarthy restored and is on display in City Hall, Mayor Joseph Solomon disclosed his proposal to use the armory for municipal offices. He pointed out that use of the armory would be a savings to taxpayers over other possible venues as the administration addresses city employees displaced by the closure of the City Hall Annex more than a year ago.

Offices housed in the annex were relocated to the former Greene School on Draper Avenue. Since assuming the job of mayor last May and continuing after his election in November, Solomon has worked to reopen the Buttonwood Community Center that former Mayor Scott Avedisian closed and planned to sell because of the cost of roof repairs and required upgrades. When renovations are completed sometime in April, Solomon plans to relocate most of the municipal offices to Buttonwoods while keeping a room available for use by senior clubs and the public.

The Buttonwoods offices would be much closer to City Hall and allow for the administration to plan for a new annex. Solomon has called the old annex “toast” and feels it should be demolished. But while few would argue the building should come down, the city and the Interlocal Trust that insures the property are divided over the claim for the damages caused by a second floor burst pipe that extensively flooded the Assessor’s office and cause moisture damage throughout the building.

According to Taylor Terreri, executive director of the Warwick Arts Center, representatives from the City Planning Department met with her about three weeks ago to announce that Solomon was considering use of the armory as offices for the personnel department and information technology. She said it was suggested the center could be relocated to the former Wickes School, where they would have access to an auditorium for performances as well as office, gallery and classroom space. She said there was discussion about a tour of Wickes, but that hasn’t happened yet.

As nothing has been finalized, Terreri has moved ahead with the center’s schedule of exhibitions, including that of McCarthy’s extensive Rocky Point collection slated to open May 22 and run through June 27.

“We haven’t stopped planning anything,” she said.

But the possibility that the city could end the center’s $1 a year lease of the armory could be problematic.

This year the center was awarded a $145,000 Champlin Foundation grant to redesign the front entrance to the building with the replacement of steep stone steps with a landing with an angled side staircase. Part of the work would include further development of the small public area, named after the late Harvey Zimmerman, who did so much for the center. The site is between the armory and the Apponaug Library.

The Champlin grant raises additional questions, as the center has been the beneficiary of other grants for heating and air conditioning and to renovate the gallery space. Would the center be required to refund a portion or all of those grants if it no longer is using the space?

Center board president Stephany Hessler said Sunday that since 2001, and including the most recent Champlin grant, $375,000 from grants will have been invested in the armory. She said that Champlin requires the center to have a minimum of a five-year lease in order to use the $145,000. The funds are to be expended within the next two years.

Hessler said the center has been in limbo since last May when it sought to renew its lease agreement with the city. The center has been dealing with the planning department, and she said she has not talked with Solomon.

She said the center was told last spring that, because of the change in administrations, Solomon wanted to hold off on finalizing a lease. It was the decision of the board to be “very quiet” about the possibility of a move, although that was mentioned to Randall Rosenbalm, director of the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, who Hessler said sent Solomon a letter in support of renewing the armory lease.

Hessler said the center has a full year of exhibits, events and rentals planned that includes the hiring for 30 to 40 artists to conduct classes and what has become a signature exhibit – the community exhibit that draws in people from across the state and beyond. Last year, the center featured Oakland Beach; this year it is Rocky Point. In the last two years, Hessler said the center has seen 10,000 cross its threshold.

“The last thing we want to do is cancel things. That will hurt our brand and our credibility,” she said.

The next major event is the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts fellowship exhibition opening on Feb. 28. Hessler said Solomon has been invited to attend and to welcome guests at the opening of the show.

In addition to its ongoing calendar, Hessler feels the center is playing a critical role in revitalizing Apponaug Village by bringing in people who will frequent local businesses and creating events that put the spotlight on the village, making it attractive to future businesses.

“We really are a player in the community, we want to be a part of that growth,” she said.

Hessler pointed out that the rebranding of the Warwick Museum to the Warwick Center for the Arts was aimed at encompassing all the arts.

“Arts is not just things hanging on the wall, it’s culture,” she said. It is also, she notes, not limited to “artists,” it’s also about providing affordable opportunities for people to discover the arts – whether as an observer or becoming engaged through a class.

“There are neat ways to engage the community. We want to be here,” she said.

Started as the Warwick Museum in 1974 in space at the Pontiac Mills and moved to the armory in 1977, the center not only has a schedule of fine art exhibits but also hosts musical and small stage productions and art classes. It currently has 150 members. Membership is $35 for individuals and $50 for families.

The center gallery is open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and every fourth Thursday from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

According to its mission statement, “The Warwick Center for the Arts’ core commitment is to serve as a center dedicated to uniting the community through the arts. We connect all ages and abilities with a variety of arts and activities through exhibits, educational programs, and cultural experiences. Emerging and established artists will find a unique and inviting space in which to share their creative vision with the community.”

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richard corrente

Mayor Solomon is making repairs to existing City properties instead of selling them off as Avedisian wanted. This makes much more business sense and shows a vast improvement in philosophy from the old Mayor to the new Mayor.

That should save tax dollars for the 80,000 taxpayers that are paying the tab.

Warwick is starting to look better.

Happy St. Patricks everyone.

Rick Corrente

The Taxpayers Mayor

Tuesday, February 19
justanidiot

it is just too bads that we cants count on master mayers steadying hand anymores. just tink where the city would be if he were left in charge and didn't have to go ride into the sunset.

Tuesday, February 19
richard corrente

Dear Justanidiot,

Thanks for the kind words, but I set out on a mission to right the wrong in Warwick. That "wrong" involved Avedisian and others leaving. They did. I had "something" to do with it at a time when no one else dared to try. Opinions vary, but no one can deny I had "something" to do with it. I also had "something" to do with the 2017 budget hearings when, for the first time in 18 years, Avedisian was denied tax increases in the form of 29 amendments. He was UNANIMOUSLY denied all 29 times. My "Cut Taxes - Cut Spending" campaign had "something" to do with that. My critics will comically deny me any credit but you and I know better. It wasn't just a giant coincidence, was it.

You are left to "tink where the City would be" but the City IS BETTER OFF and I am very proud that I had "something" to do with that.

Happy St. Patricks old friend.

Happy St. Patricks everyone.

Rick Corrente

The Taxpayers Mayor

Tuesday, February 19
justanidiot

iffin youse tink i agreed wit youse on anything, you is da bigger idiot

Tuesday, February 19
wwkvoter

Corrente is DELUSIONAL as usual. There WAS NO "29 amendments to raise taxes" and he had NOTHING, repeat NOTHING to do with ANY legislation passing or not in Warwick or anywhere else. Man is a JOKE. How crazy does one have to be to lose an election so badly as to have the News headline say BLOWOUT, and yet still call himself a "mayor". What a nutty situation that is.

Bye Felicia

Tuesday, February 19
richard corrente

Dear wwkvoter,

AKA Henry Krinkle,

Here are the facts:

1. I campaigned for over 700 days in a row to "Cut Taxes - Cut Spending" and spent $40,000+ of my own money on that campaign.

2. I received over 14,000 votes, more than any previous opponent of Mayor Avedisian. (about 13,000 more than people like you predicted.) Not the "blowout" you claimed.

3. Avedisian won. Avedisian also received 239 checks from Political Action Committees. I refused to accept any!

4. My message got through! In the next budget hearings (Spring 2017), Avedisian submitted 29 new tax-increasing amendments, just like he had done for 18 YEARS IN A ROW!

5. He was denied 29 times in a row! And it was by a unanimous vote each time!

6. EVERY member of the City Council gave me "some" credit for causing that. They had heard loud and clear from their constituents to "Cut Taxes - Cut Spending". I caused that rally cry.

7. Shortly after, Avedisian resigned. He didn't even finish his term.

8. And this is the one you're really going to like;

You can think that I had NOTHING to do with that. You can spout off that I had NOTHING to do with it. You can think it that the ONLY times in 18 years that Avedisian was turned town for tax increasing amendments, was in 2017 but my 700 day $40,000 campaign had NOTHING to do with it. You can even call me "delusional" for taking "some" credit for it.

I really don't give a damn. I know better. The 9 members of the City Council know better. And, most importantly, the 80,000 taxpayers that are paying a smaller tab today, ALSO KNOW BETTER. In fact, they tell me EVERY DAY!

So Henry, Happy St. Patricks to you.

Happy St. Patricks to the 80,000 taxpayers as well.

Rick Corrente

The Taxpayers Mayor

Wednesday, February 20
wwkvoter

Please stop using my name.

Despite the childishly simplistic unoriginal slogan "Cut Taxes Cut Spending"

No spending was cut.

We had the largest tax increase allowed by law.

A slew of disproven claims and bizarre "statistics"

Was thrown out of house for nonpayment of taxes.

Corrente (second) election loss described as "Blowout" in newspaper.

The "taxpayers mayor"? No, just delusional.

Wednesday, February 20
richard corrente

Dear wwkvoter,

AKA Henry Krinkle,

1. You don't want me to use your name? Then stop complaining about mine. I have just as much right to call myself "The Taxpayers Mayor", as you do to call yourself "wwkvoter". Maybe more. Did you ever campaign for 700 days in a row? Or ANY days for that matter? No. You didn't. Did you ever spend $40,000 of your own money on behalf of the taxpayers? Or ANY money for that matter? No. You didn't.

2. You call my campaign slogan "unoriginal". Really? Can you name one Warwick candidate that promised to "Cut Taxes" or "Cut Spending" THIS CENTURY besides me? No, you can't.

3. You say "no spending was cut". Fact Henry, 29 "spendings" were cut!

4. We had the largest tax increase allowed by law. True! I didn't cause that increase in real estate taxes, but it's true. Problem is, real estate taxes aren't the only taxes that can be increased. Everyone knows that. Didn't you? Avedisian tried to add 29 tax-increasing amendments to that and, well, you know what happened.

5. I wasn't "thrown out of my house for not paying taxes." I sued my lender AND WON and documented it many times here. They were court-ordered to pay the tax bill that came out in my name and they did. They even paid it late so Warwick received MORE tax dollars. Slander can cost you a fortune Henry. Don't risk it.

Take care what you say Henry Krinkle of 154 Hopper Ave. Warwick, R.I.

Happy St. Patricks Henry.

Happy St. Patricks everyone.

Rick Corrente

The Taxpayers Mayor

Wednesday, February 20
Cat

There is absolutely no proof that the campaign had any affect on the administration and council decisions. Not one of the members has come out publicly to state that they made decisions based on the campaign. Using the councils decision as a basis for the argument that taxes were cut is simply an opinion of the situation. Real evidence is required to back up the opinionated statement. It remains, as it has always been, an unsubstantiated claim with no real proof to back up the statement. Opinions. Everyone has them. Doesn't make them right, just makes them opinionated.

Wednesday, February 20
richard corrente

Dear Cat,

You're right. Opinions aren't always right. They aren't always wrong either. I asked EVERY member of the City Council if their constituents repeated my "Cut Taxes - Cut Spending" campaign slogan. All 9 members said "Yes." I asked if they influenced your decision to vote "No", 29 out of 29 times. EVERY City Council member said "Yes", although in varying degrees. Not ONE told me that it had no effect. Not one.

Maybe it had a big effect. Maybe it had a small one. That is, as you say, a matter of opinion, but no one of the 9 member City Council could say it had no effect. Not one.

So yes, in my opinion, my campaign had an effect. Maybe it didn't though. Maybe it was just some gigantic coincidence that hadn't happened in 18 years! . Yeah right. Maybe.

Have a Happy St. Patricks Cat.

Happy St. Patricks everyone.

Rick Corrente

The Taxpayers Mayor

Wednesday, February 20
richard corrente

Dear Cat,

You're right. Opinions aren't always right. They aren't always wrong either. I asked EVERY member of the City Council if their constituents repeated my "Cut Taxes - Cut Spending" campaign slogan. All 9 members said "Yes." I asked if they influenced your decision to vote "No", 29 out of 29 times. EVERY City Council member said "Yes", although in varying degrees. Not ONE told me that it had no effect. Not one.

Maybe it had a big effect. Maybe it had a small one. That is, as you say, a matter of opinion, but no one of the 9 member City Council could say it had no effect. Not one.

So yes, in my opinion, my campaign had an effect. Maybe it didn't though. Maybe it was just some gigantic coincidence that hadn't happened in 18 years! . Yeah right. Maybe.

Have a Happy St. Patricks Cat.

Happy St. Patricks everyone.

Rick Corrente

The Taxpayers Mayor

Wednesday, February 20
wwkvoter

Dear Readers,

Regarding the last (double) post, it never happened.

Happy Lying Ex-Candidate Day Everybody!

The Truth Believer's Mayor

Thursday, February 21
Cat

So the council voted no because constituents asked them to not raise taxes based on your slogan. Is that the gist of your statement?

It is your choice to believe that your campaign influenced their vote. Far be it from me to try and pluck that particular feather out of your cap.

It is my choice to believe that it was more like happenstance and that you being opportunistic grabbed at it and ran hoping it would buy you votes. You can always try to sell it. I can always refuse to buy it.

Thursday, February 21
Thecaptain

HEY JIMMY

https://www.wpri.com/target-12/mayor-confirms-federal-investigation-underway-at-warwick-city-hall/1791993823

Thursday, February 21
Thecaptain

Dear Mayor Idiot,

You were forcibly removed from 177 Grand View Ave were you squatted for over 2 years while not paying property taxes, water or sewer taxes. Please define " I SUED MY LENDER AND WON!!! If winning is losing your waterfront home to foreclosure and tax sale, then I guess you won. How do you explain this statement:

"I campaigned for over 700 days in a row to "Cut Taxes - Cut Spending" and spent $40,000+ of my own money on that campaign."

So while you were not making tax payments on the property that you lost, not making car tax payments because you were so flat broke that you had to squat, during that same period you just happened to have $40,000 OF YOUR OWN MONEY, to spend on a political campaign, but you could not even pay your water bill? Is that what you are saying because that is exactly what the official city records show.

So you made a cognitive decision to not pay your taxes, lose your house, so you could run for mayor? Wow, that was a brilliant idea. How'd it work out for you? I pity anyone who you sell a mortgage to. How embarrassing, a mortgage broker and banker who loses his house because of entering into a predatory loan. Real smart guy.

Thursday, February 21
richard corrente

Dear Cat,

Since the year 2,000 Mayor Avedisian submitted dozens of tax-increasing amendments year after year and every one was rubber stamped "approved". Then, I came along, spent $40,000+ and campaigned for over 700 days in a row. Fact. Then, at the VERY NEXT BUDGET HEARING (in the spring of 2017), Avedisian was denied 29 times in a row and he was denied UNANIMOUSLY and the ENTIRE 9-member City Council told me I had "something" to do with that. You think that is "happenstance"?? Happenstance???!!!??? One HELUVA happenstance Cat. So IF that is the case what caused the City Council to deny Mayor Avedisian for the first time this century? And the second, third, all the way up to twenty-ninth? There HAS to be a reason! Tell us Cat. What was it?

You're not gonna call that "HAPPENSTANCE" are you Cat?

Happy St. Patricks Cat.

Happy St. Patricks everyone.

Rick Corrente

The Taxpayers Mayor

Thursday, February 21
wwkvoter

Richard Corrente has had NO influence on any policymaking in Warwick. We just had the largest tax increase allowed by law right after tomfool ran on "no tax no spend" nonsense for a nauseating 700 days or whatever.

It's funny, yet very very sad, actually.

Happy Bizarre Soon-To-Be-Obscure Political Footnote Month Everybody

The Truth Seeker's Mayor

Thursday, February 21
Cat

Perhaps it was happenstance but it certainly wasn't because of you and your campaign. I think you have an inflated opinion of your influence over the city. I really don't have a clue where you keep coming up with your "opinions". I already stated: I am not buying it.

One of the reasons why we saw a change was that there were different people elected to council wards in 2016. By my quick check, there was turn over in Wards 1, 2, 3, and 7 from 2014 to 2016. I am more inclined to believe they had more of an affect on the changes than some guy running for office on the cut taxes slogan. Every politicians runs on cutting taxes. It is a promise in just about every campaign speech you hear. You didn't recreate the wheel. That you think you did something original is mind-boggling to most intelligent people.

Do I even care? Not really. You lack of a grasp on reality is now solidly a "YOU" problem and not an "US" problem now that you won't be running anymore.

Thursday, February 21
richard corrente

Dear cat,

You're not the first one to say that I lack a grasp on reality with my "Cut Taxes - Cut Spending" slogan. You did say something that I disagree with though. You said that "every politician runs on cutting taxes. Please show me just one printed statement since 2000. I can't find one piece of campaign literature from ANY Warwick candidate that pledges that. Just me.

You're wrong about another thing. This is a growing, "Us" problem. It has never, ever, been a "Me" problem. Warwick is almost a billion dollars in debt. And growing. Remember Detroit? Remember Coventry? Remember Central Falls?

And as long as I am picking on you, you're wrong about one more comment. You said "Do I care? Not really." Wrong. You do. Maybe not about me but you care. I wish more taxpayers were as "caring" as you. If they were, Warwick would be a better place to live. We would have a lot more people at the City Council meetings and the taxpayers would be much more involved in Warwick politics and issues.

Happy St. Patricks Cat.

Happy St. Patricks everyone.

Rick Corrente

The Taxpayers Mayor

Friday, February 22
Cat

From the guy who likes to be broad in his statements (such as 80,000 tax payers in the city of Warwick) you sure are being mighty specific about your slogan. I am refering to the concept RC, not the wording. The concept isn't new. You didn't come up with some amazing, original idea.

Believe me, your unsteady grasp on reality is certainly a "you" problem. I don't suffer from the same malady.

Friday, February 22