Still no answers for antique Arnold farmhouse

Still no answers for antique Arnold farmhouse

SMITHFIELD - With time running short for a decision, the Town Council is likely on Feb. 4 to discuss the future - if any - of the historical Arnold farmhouse at 130 Whipple Road.

The owner of the unoccupied, circa 1750 structure, developer Paul Ronci, has taken out a demolition permit and recently told The Valley Breeze & Observer that he needs a decision soon on whether the town is interested in making him an offer that would allow preservation of house.

The building, considered a valuable part of the community's heritage by the local Historic Preservation Commission, is on 55 acres that Ronci wants to develop for high-end, single family houses.

Ronci says he wants to begin work on the development by summer and has had offers from people who want to buy the old house, dismantle it, and re-locate it out of state.

He recently said that he would make no decisions on the structure at least until the end of January.

Town Council President Alberto LaGreca Jr. said he hopes the house can be saved but that the town does not have the means to write Ronci a big check.

Ronci has said the house and a surrounding acre could be worth up to $325,000, and that while he would not necessarily ask that much, as a businessman he cannot afford to simply give away a valuable asset.

Town Manager Dennis Finlay said he expects the council to discuss the situation at next Tuesday's session, and that it's possible the talks will be closed.

The state's Open Meetings Law allows closed-door talks for a variety of topics, including potential property acquisition.