2006-09-21 / Front Page

Interim Town Hall ready for business at the golf course

By Donna K. Drago

Piles of boxes were everywhere at the new temporary Town Hall facility located in the golf course building, but, surprisingly town employees seemed very calm and organized.

The parking lot was an interesting mix of Dumpsters, town workers, and golf carts buzzing around on a sunny day.

"We're functional," said Town Clerk Arlene Petit on Tuesday, the first day the interim Town Hall was open for business.

A moving crew and members of the public works department moved everything out of the old Town Hall on Narragansett Avenue last Thursday and Friday, and into the golf course building on Monday.

"This has been a real team effort," Petit said about her fellow town employees. "We've all banded together to make it all work," she added.

In addition to moving, public works employees have constructed partitions - not yet complete and are working to build a secure vault for the town's most valuable documents.

Where are they now? the Press asked Petit, and she waved an arm to indicate that they were in boxes and piles here, there, and everywhere.

The new digs has the clerk's office, with its own door on the far left of the building, which includes probate court, the canvassing clerk, and all town clerk functions. The door will be marked with a sign in coming days.

The door on the right of the building leads to the building, planning, and tax assessors' offices. Pat Westall, the zoning clerk, is the first face one sees when they walk through the center door.

"We're working," Westall said as she hung calendars and photos on the wall above her desk. "Can you find anything yet?" the Press wanted to know. "Oh, yeah," Westall said, motioning to the back of the building, where all the records are kept.

The employees from the former ramshackle green Planning Office on West Street are ecstatic. Their office now looks over the bright green golf course through panoramic windows at the back of the building. "This is much better," said Cyndee Reppe, the planning clerk.

"Anything's better than where we were," said Town Planner Lisa Bryer, who, with Mike Gray, the town's deputy public works director, planned out how the golf course building would function as Town Hall.

"They did an incredible job organizing all this," said Petit.

The computers were all moved and rewired by Donald Haskell, the town's network expert, she said.

Small boards and groups will still be able to meet at the interim Town Hall, Petit said, noting that with more space, slightly larger groups might be accommodated. She was waiting for a final capacity figure from the fire marshal, she said.

Are there any regrets about moving from the historic Town Hall building? "No," Petit said, because the old Town Hall will be an important part of the new structure that will be constructed over the next year.

"I won't miss it because it will still be there," she said.

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