2007-07-26 / Front Page

Authority, town fine tune Taylor point land purchase

By Tom Shevlin

Town Administrator Bruce Keiser reported on Monday that he had met with Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority (RITBA) members to discuss the town's concerns over language in the authority's sale terms.

Last month, the Town Council voted 3-2 to site the town's highway barn at a property on upper Taylor Point, which would require the town to purchase a parcel of land for $97,500 from RITBA in order to meet critical space requirements for the facility.

However, in a letter dated June 22, 2007, RITBA Executive Director Buddy Croft indicated that RITBA would reserve the right to review and approve the facility's design and how the property will be utilized, as well as a request that the town release the authority for any damages to the facility incurred during the course of bridge and highway maintenance.

That raised concerns among town council members.

At the request of the council, Keiser met with Croft, RITBA Chairman David Darlington, and authority attorney Bernie Jackvony to discuss conditions that Councilman Michael Schnack had described as "totally unacceptable."

Keiser was confident that the town and RIBTA officials had worked through several of the issues raised by the council. According to Keiser, the RITBA delegation indicated that they were not looking for final approval authority, however, indicated that they were interested in the final appearance of the building. Keiser said that he shared their concerns and indicated that the facility would be in keeping with the aesthetic of the island.

Speaking to the town's liability concerns, Keiser said that the authority would seek to extend its subcontractor liability insurance to the new structure and expressed confidence that the town's engineers did not foresee a high risk associated with bridge maintenance. Council President David Long agreed, saying, "We wouldn't have chosen that site had there been concerns" over bridge activity impacting the facility.

With both sides' concerns allayed, Keiser said that Jackvony was in the process of reworking the language of the sale agreement to more accurately reflect the authority's position as well as the town's concerns.

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