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Council Looks Closer At Wickford Elementary Conversion

The NK Town Council saw a feasibility study regarding the conversion of Wickford Elementary into a joint town and school administration building.

It has sat dormant on Phillips Street since its closure in 2005, but Wickford Elementary School may soon see a resurrection. The North Kingstown Town Council was treated to a feasibility study and possible plans to convert the old elementary school into a joint town-school administration building.

Edward Rowse Architects devised two options to rehabilitate the school, one at $6.9 million and another at $7.4 million. The latter of the two would feature more enhancements and include a larger addition to the third floor.

Both plans would have the town departments (including the town clerk, water department, town manager, and building officials office among others on the first floor and school department on the second floor. According to Jim Partridge of Rowse Architects, the school departments would see a reduction in space size if they were all put on the second floor. Department of Public Works Director Phil Bergeron stressed, however, that some these departments could be moved down to the basement level where the School Committee would holds its meetings and where much of the storage space would be located.

Morphing the building into a handicap accessible facility will also prove costly, as Rowse proposes adding at third story addition to the west side of the building that would contain an elevator, making the third floor handicap accessible. According to Partridge, the roof would also need to be replaced to cut down on leaks and to provide more efficient insulation.

Would expand the parking lot into what is now the basketball courts and part of the fields behind the school, totaling 100 parking spots.

Possible cuts to these options would be opting for repair of the buildings windows rather than full-out replacement.

“They are reparable, but there are costs associated with that,” said Bergeron.

According to Bergeron, these cost-cutting measures are “certainly in the range of $1 million.”

The facilities subcommittee will now review the study and return to the Town Council with its own findings in approximately two weeks.

Though site of Rhode Island’s first public school, the current structure of Wickford Elementary School was built in the 1920s with an addition in the 1950s. The building closed after the 2004-2005 school year following a year of heavy cuts and school reconfiguration.

john boscardin March 17, 2011 at 12:54 AM
I think the Davisville Elementary school is vacant as well. Why no consideration to this location?
Becky Blaine March 18, 2011 at 12:28 AM
John: Have you ever driven around Plantation Park (Davisville)? Davisville Elementary School is situated right smack in the middle of a neighborhood with no side walks. Can you imagine children riding around on bikes, parents walking their infants in strollers, people out walking their dogs having to dodge all the traffice that would be generated by having the Town Hall offices there? I believe it was a mistake to have closed DES. Politics are politics!
john boscardin March 18, 2011 at 02:48 AM
Becky: I just mentioned it as it is another vacant, town-owned building that may not be as expensive to renovate as compared to the ancient Wickford Elementary. I live near the current town hall and the neighborhood families behind and on either side of it do just fine. NIMBY perhaps? Re: closing an elementary school was a necessity due to the steady drop in enrollment. Hopefully you voiced your opinion on DES closing to Dr. Thornton.
Matt Leonard March 18, 2011 at 06:44 PM
Cost of recycling... simple math! $450,000 per year 10,000 homes in NK Pick-up every week (52 weeks year). It cost .86¢ a week to have a truck come to my house for recycling! One of the most cost effective services the town provides! It will cost me more in gas to drive to the transfer station!
Govstench September 13, 2011 at 10:59 AM
Question 2 is way over-priced. I am sure this retro work could be done for far less than what is being quoted here. Who’s pocket is being greased on this one? Municipalities are coming under closer scrutiny with their bonded indebtedness and as you probably already know, certain municipalities are facing serious downgrades due to exposure to pension liabilities. Where is North Kingstown in that regard? Also I don’t remember the Town Manager ever issuing a financial impact statement on each bond proposal and how that will affect the tax rate to the town. Where is he with this?

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