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Wickford El, Other Town Properties Up For Sale

Three vacant town buildings are up for sale starting this month.

 

For sales signs have gone up outside three vacant buildings owned by the Town of North Kingstown. Among them is Wickford Elementary School, site of Rhode Island's first public school, with a selling price of $1.1 million.

The former elementary school closed down in 2005. The North Kingstown Town Council and School Committee attempted to bring the building back to life last year with a proposal to convert the former school into a joint town hall and school administrative office. Last September in a special election, voters shot down a $3.85-million bond to convert the building – but approved a question that would allow the town to sell the building. 

Wickford Elementary School hits the market with two other town-owned buildings – the former IT building on Reynolds Street (behind town hall) and the former town garage on Oak Hill Road.

Below are the asking prices for the properties:

  • Wickford Elementary –  $1.1 million 
  • Reynolds Street – $249,000
  • Oak Hill – $999,999

According to Town Manager Michael Embury, the town intends to use the funds from the sale of these buildings toward its other post employment benefits (OPEB). This trust fund is not a pension plan, Embury stated. 

Allen Gammons of Prudential Gammons Realty in East Greenwich will be marketing the properties. According to Embury, he has already received a number of inquiries. Last September after the bond failed, Embury suggested the town reach out to a professional organization to market these properties for sale.

“We don’t have the staff to keep answering questions or to bring people on tours,” said Embury. “I think a professional organization is the way to go.”

While these three properties go up for sale, another vacant town building may have a different future. Little Red Schoolhouse on School Street is taking a different route for its future as town officials consider turning the building into a new home for the North Kingstown Food Pantry. The school, which used to house a preschool program, closed down last year due to financial hardship.

The town solicitor and others are now drafting up a five-year least between the town and the food pantry to move it to the larger space.

Govstench November 26, 2012 at 03:49 PM
Considering that Wickford El has been closed for over seven years, you have to wonder what the town has been doing with this building, besides watch it rot before your eyes. Granted, the school committee shares some of this blame with their stalling to turn it over, but it is a long time......Imagine if they sold it before the real estate crash!
MeanE November 26, 2012 at 03:52 PM
"According to Town Manager Michael Embury, the town intends to use the funds from the sale of these buildings toward its other post employment benefits (OPEB). This trust fund is not a pension plan, Embury stated." Is this really the best use of these funds? Would voters have approved the selling of the buildings if they knew that the money raised would be used for post employment benefits? I would think that this money could be used to impact the majority of NK residents and not just town employees! In addition, could we not hire a realty company in NK? Seems crazy to me that Embury has the power to use this money however he wants to.
Bowiefan November 26, 2012 at 04:26 PM
Selling WES to a private developer is a disgrace. It's a historic school, one of the oldest in the state. EG's Eldredge is only about 15 yrs younger & used everyday - beautifully cared for w/ adjoining playgrounds. I'd bet some favored developer has been "waiting in the wings" to get their hands on this property since the foolish decision to close it. All part of a grand plan about to come to fruition. The suggestion made to rehab it for town offices, including school adm was sensible. Where else can NK get this amt of space needed once this is sold? The town hall, its annex & school dept adm bldgs are overflowing w/ stuffed boxes of paper, no space for meetings, no place for filing. They're all a crowded mess; fire hazards in themselves. It is totally foolish to sell WMS and an insult to the Cranston family. The land has a lovely playground & abuts NK's library campus. But nay, other agendas are afoot here - let's see who the favored developer will turn out to be.
Bowiefan November 26, 2012 at 04:35 PM
Selling a historic school & a valuable asset that's really needed for town offices to pay for benefits for people who no longer even work for the town is assinine. But this is the fault of a badly worded referenda. When many voted against the bond to rehab it, they didn't realize they were voting to sell it to beef up the town coffers for retirees. Many of the insiders (& developers) were counting on citizens to forget about the "permission to sell WES" part of the referendum. Once it's sold, we can never get it back. Shortsighted & dumb & the money will be gone in a flash.
Politics Sheriff of NK November 26, 2012 at 04:58 PM
I seem to recall Tim Cranston promising legal action since the deed doesnt allow part of the Wickford Elementary property which they donated, to be sold. It would have to revert back to the Cranstons IIRC. Hello Tim, where is your legal challenge?
MeanE November 26, 2012 at 05:19 PM
I don't recall this. Do you have any links to Tim saying this. This would make things very interesting.
Jeff Crawford November 26, 2012 at 07:31 PM
Didn't the Oak Hill Road property have a tank leak years ago? Do your research before buying...
NK Parent November 26, 2012 at 08:18 PM
Maybe they can convert Wickford El into a Dunkin Donuts?
Midlife Momma November 26, 2012 at 10:12 PM
What was the process used to close an outside realtor? Did embury hand pick gammons? The loss if wickford el is yet another horrible legacy from former superintendent Jim Halley....
Govstench November 26, 2012 at 10:25 PM
I do recall the town was doing extensive work on the deeds of both pieces of properties. Perhaps they were able to get a release from Mr. Cranston for this deal to go forward. Perhaps the town offered the building to him but he declined.
Govstench November 26, 2012 at 10:37 PM
People really should consult with the town charter before commenting. DUTIES OF THE MANAGER - TOWN CHARTER OF NK. The manager shall be the chief executive and administrative officer of the town government. He/she shall be responsible to the council for the proper administration of all affairs of the town and to that end shall have power and shall be required: (a) To see that the laws and ordinances are enforced. (b) To be responsible for the conduct and performance of all administrative functions and services which are not imposed by Charter upon some other officer. ( c ) To appoint, and when necessary for the good of the service, remove all officers and employees of the town under his/her jurisdiction, except as he/she may authorize the head of a department or office to appoint and remove subordinates in such department or office. (d) To determine the salaries of all officers and employees under his/her jurisdiction subject to the approval of the council. (e) To prepare and submit to the council, as of the end of the fiscal year, a complete report on the finances and administrative activities of the town for the preceding year, which report shall be printed and made available to the citizens. (f) To keep the council advised of the financial condition and future needs of the town and make such recommendations as may seem to him/her desirable. (g) To perform such other duties as may be prescribed by this Charter or required of him/her by the council.
MeanE November 26, 2012 at 10:48 PM
So what part of these duties include hiring a realtor, selling property and determining that the proceeds should go to OPEB? The building would not even be for sale if the residents of NK didn't approve it. You act as if the Town Manager has Carte Blanche with his actions, I don't see that from what you have posted here.
Midlife Momma November 27, 2012 at 02:22 AM
I'm not sure what part of the above gives Mr. E the right to hand pick Allen Gammons to sell the properties....Gammons filed for bankrupcy in Feb of 2012, BTW.....the elections earlier this month also remove many of the duties outlined in your excerpt of the NK Town Charter....usually agree with much of what you post, Gov, but this time is not one of them.....I agree that Mr. E's office is not a real estate office. But, there should be a process that is fair and looks out for the town's interest in selling these properties. Allowing the Town Manager to hand pick a firm that has filed for bankrupcy in the last year seems foolish.....where's the oversight, TC??!
Politics Sheriff of NK November 27, 2012 at 07:18 AM
Alan Gammons is a highly competent realtor. In any case if you all are implying that the fix is in (as in a buyer in the wings, and a rigged offer) that can be done with any realtor, technically. The voters approved the sale, and the manager has enlisted a high performing well known local realtor to show the buildings to buyers. I'm not sure what the issue there is. As to his bankruptcy, I dont know Gammons personally and have only met him in passing at a few functions. He seems like a nice enough guy and this economy crash has many victims, maybe he is just another one whose balance sheet and business interests couldnt sustain the massive burden of a crashed economy. Like GM, Hostess, and the US Govt for example. (The latter example can buy time by printing money) As to Mr Cranston's pledge to challenge the legality of the property not being a school, I seem to recall that was in the paper (Standard Times IIRC) back during the Halley illegal closure fiasco, or shortly thereafter. I was surprised at the time since he is a town employee and I figured they would easily quiet him right down on the matter which seems to have happened. I think the Halley - DeFedele - NKGOP illegal closure of that popular school and dont forget the "pairing" of grade schools, was a disaster. Muriel Camarra said that he told her he didnt have to pair the schools, and did it 'to show the parents' who didnt approve the extra $$$. Isnt that nice. And the NKGOP STILL controls our council.
MeanE November 27, 2012 at 01:47 PM
I don't care as much about the Realtor as I do where the proceeds of the sale will be used. I find it sad that the Town Manager has to clarify his statement by saying that the trust fund is not a pension plan. Guilty conscience? However, is there another realtor that would sell the properties at less of a commission? If the answer is yes, then why was this not put out to bid? Alan can be the nicest guy in the world, but if for instance he is going to take 7% and another qualified realtor is willing to accept 5%, then there is a $47K problem.
Politics Sheriff of NK November 27, 2012 at 11:30 PM
Once when I sold an investment property, I put the work "out to bid" and asked a realtor if he would discount to 5%. He asked me in reply, "if you were selling a property at 5%, and had lots of 6% properties to also put time into, which would be the priority?" He said he wasnt just talking about himself, he said ALL the other agents and realtors who would be representing properties to their buyers, would also have to abide by the lower percent. due to the less attention, 1% or 2% lower commission can lead to a lower sale price and no real savings for the seller. I signed at 6% and the property quickly sold, at a good price.
mark henricks November 30, 2012 at 03:27 PM
LOL. Proceeds to pay benefits. :)
K Rademacher December 02, 2012 at 10:58 PM
Tim did indeed say this. I can't remember if it was in an op-ed piece or in one of his columns, but it was shortly after Wickford El was closed. The Cranston family deeded the property to the town with the stipulation that it was to be used only for educational purposes.

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