2008-11-13 / Front Page

Town buys land at Taylor Point

Additional space for highway barn
By Sam Bari

Work on the new town highway barn halted briefly last week until town officials completed the purchase of additional land adjacent to the Claiborne Pell Bridge.

The Town Council held a meeting Friday, Nov. 7 to sign a resolution to purchase a 6,200 square foot parcel of land from the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority for the new highway barn at Taylor Point.

Immediately after the meeting, Town Solicitor Wyatt Brochu, along with Town Administrator Bruce Keiser and Town Council President Julio DiGiando, met with RITBA Chairman David Darlington, Director Buddy Croft and legal council Rob Kynchalski to close the sale.

Town Clerk Arlene Petit and Town Engineer Michael Gray attended the closing to assure that the necessary documentation was in order.

The town agreed last year to purchase the parcel of land for $97,500 from RITBA in order to meet critical space requirements for the facility.

After deductions for monies paid for soil remediation and expenses for legal and negotiated considerations, Keiser presented Darlington with a check to the Turnpike and Bridge Authority for $80,758.30.

According to Keiser, the closing on the property had been delayed while the parties were continuing to negotiate a payment plan. Last August, the town proposed to waive annual contractual payments from RITBA of approximately $25,000 until the full amount of the purchase was satisfied. RITBA agreed to consider this option. While the parties were continuing to negotiate, the bid for the project was awarded to A. Autiello Construction and the company began work.

With the initial phase of construction underway, RITBA officials expressed concern about liability prior to the transfer of the property. Keiser responded to their concerns by offering to have the town solicitor draft a separate indemnification contract for third parties working on another party's property that was worded to RITBA's satisfaction.

RITBA authorities agreed to the arrangement, Keiser said. However, they did not feel comfortable with work being performed on their portion of the barn site while they were waiting for the contract to be drafted, approved, and signed.

Keiser consulted with Town Finance Director Tina Collins and they determined that it would be in the best interests of the town to close on the property to save additional legal fees and "put the matter behind us," Keiser said. The land purchase will be paid from Highway Barn project funds approved in 1999 and 2005.

Although work could have continued on the larger portion of land owned by the town, Keiser agreed to suspend all activities on the project until legal matters were resolved. Consequently, work was suspended for three days to complete the transaction.

If the town agreed to suspend work until a satisfactory indemnifi cation contract or negotiations for an extended payment agreement were completed, they could risk losing the sub-contractor responsible for the steel work until January because the firm is contracted to start another project in mid-November.

A delay of any length would affect the schedules of all subcontractors and put the projected completion date of the project in jeopardy. "Closing on the property was the best decision," Keiser said. "The matter is behind us, and work can now commence without further delay." The barn will be fully enclosed by late December with an anticipated completion by March 2009.

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