2013-10-10 / News

Clubhouse remains hot-button issue

Council schedules Oct. 30 meeting to look at designs
By Margo Sullivan

Plans to replace the golf course building are moving forward, but the site survey is taking longer than town officials originally anticipated, Interim Town Administrator Tina Collins reported at Monday’s Town Council meeting.

The inventory of golf course equipment is also still underway, she said on Oct. 7. Nonetheless, the information should be in hand in time for a special meeting on Oct. 30 on the new building’s space requirements.

Councilor Mary Meagher asked if the Town Council would have the inventory and survey in time for the special meeting.

“That’s what we’re hoping,” Collins replied.

After deciding to demolish the existing building due to safety concerns, the councilors hired Burgin Lambert Architects of Newport to draw up designs. According to Town Engineer Michael Gray, the firm is currently “working on the survey and the program of what the golf course needs to operate.”

In fairness to taxpayers, Councilor Blake Dickinson said, he would like to see a comparison between “what we provide today” and the future uses with the new building.

Town Planner Lisa Bryer said she could supply the councilors with a side-by-side comparison of “what’s existing and what’s proposed” by the Oct. 30 meeting.

Gray said the presentation by the architects will be the main topic for the Oct. 30 meeting. By that time, he anticipates the council will have an idea of the building footprint, including the square footage for the office space, restaurant and bathrooms.

It won’t be a building design, he said, but more of a “conceptual layout.” However, the councilors would be expected to give the architects some direction after hearing the presentation.

Meagher, who is an architect by profession, agreed there won’t be a plan ready. Instead, the architects will present a schematic diagram, which she described as “the first thing anybody has to do when they make a building.”

Gray said the architects would also present ideas about parking and where different components might be located on the site.

Meagher added there would be “very preliminary ideas about access to the site.”

Jamestown resident Christine Ariel asked if the special meeting will be a workshop for the councilors or an opportunity for public comment. Council President Kristine Trocki said the Oct. 30 meeting would probably be both.

During open forum earlier in the meeting, Ariel had urged the councilors to set the dates as soon as possible for two public hearings so residents could weigh in on the plans for the second floor. The hope, she said, is the second floor would be available for performing arts. Ariel belongs to several local arts associations and those groups want to have a say in the plans.

“We all want to be at these workshops,” she said. “We’re not yet being given an opportunity to say what we have to say about the use of that building for the performing arts.”

Ariel said she hoped to find out specifics at the meeting.

Dickinson urged Trocki to encourage people to attend the Oct. 30 meeting to stay informed about developments.

“Oh, absolutely,” Trocki said. There will be several public meetings, she promised.

“This is not one and done,” Trocki said. “It’s a big investment the town is making.”

In other business, Collins reported she received a draft of the recreation study from the University of Massachusetts consultants Rob Haley and Monica Lamboy.

“It was emailed to the steering committee yesterday,” she said.

Collins said the report is “quite lengthy” at 145 pages. The consultants have asked town officials to review the information for accuracy before they meet with the council on Oct. 21.

Collins said the report was “cumbersome to go through and review.” She suggested a summary would be helpful.

The council also discussed the status of an oyster farm that Antonio Pinheiro, of 161 Beacon Ave., wants to locate near Head’s Beach in Jamestown Shores. Earlier, the councilors voted to notify the Coastal Resources Management Council, which will ultimately approve or deny the application, about their objections to the oyster farm. The council said the aquaculture project would interfere with current recreational uses and be located too close to two eelgrass beds.

Since that time, Pinheiro revised the plan. However, Meagher thinks the revisions do not solve the problems but rather exacerbate them.

Summing up the problems, Bryer said because the oyster farm cannot be accessed by boat, the question remains as to how it would be accessed.

“They don’t own the land it’s adjacent to,” she said, “and the next land is the beach. We certainly wouldn’t want to see at a town beach any loading or offloading of equipment.”

Bryer went on to say that “transfer of product is not allowed” on the beach because of zoning regulations.

Several residents also spoke about their concerns if the oyster farm were to move forward.

Town Solicitor Peter Ruggiero said the councilors should again notify the state coastal council about their objections to the oyster farm. The council voted unanimously to send a new letter.

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