Woonsocket Council votes to send 
former Middle School out for RFP

Woonsocket Council votes to send 
former Middle School out for RFP

Mayor says decision is ‘an insult to taxpayers’

WOONSOCKET – The Woonsocket City Council voted 4-3 on Monday to put out a request for proposals for the city’s long vacant former middle school, despite arguments and objections from an administration that had hoped to move forward with an entirely different plan.

The subject has divided those in Woonsocket government in recent weeks, as Mayor Lisa Baldelli-Hunt and others tried mightily to convince councilors to allow the city to sign an exclusive agreement on the property with Illinois-based investors the Hawthorne Group.

“I am deeply disappointed in the outcome of Monday’s meeting and the message that it sends to investors and business owners who are considering Woonsocket as a viable place to do business and grow,” said Baldelli-Hunt in a press release following the vote. “To have an entire year of effort and negotiations erased by a vote that obstructs progress in our community is beyond unfortunate – it is an insult to taxpayers who must now wait and see if redevelopment of the former middle school will move forward.”

Opposing Councilor Daniel Gendron responded, “I am deeply disappointed that the mayor would suggest that conducting an open and transparent process relative to the potential redevelopment of the former Middle School is somehow sending a bad message to investors and business owners interested in doing business in Woonsocket. Open and transparent government is one of the cornerstones of our economic system – it is what businesses depend on. We are not a third-world country where the people’s business is conducted behind closed doors amongst a privileged few.”

The board had given the mayor authority to enter an agreement with Hawthorne last March, but Baldelli-Hunt was met with resistance at the start of August when she tried to execute terms that would have given the multi-million dollar investor exclusive rights on the lot, which has been vacant since city students moved to the new middle school complex in 2009.

Saying the proposal would have tied up the property for another nine months without a guaranteed purchase or explanation as to how it would be utilized, a majority of councilors rejected the deal at the council’s first meeting this month.

The mayor and investor attempted to sway members at a work session last week, but the councilors followed the exact same voting lines on Monday, with Gendron, Garrett Mancieri, Albert Brien and Roger Jalette voting in the majority.

The action puts at least a temporary end to a discussion that has dominated city politics over the past several weeks. Baldelli-Hunt has said that the while an initial proposed agreement would have seen the building purchased for only $400,000, the group was slated to invest millions more in rehabilitation of the structure, a sprawling four-story building designed by noted city architect Walter Fontaine and built in 1915.

“I cannot help but scratch my head as to why a majority of the council would decide to further delay redevelopment of the former middle school when the city was inches away from entering into an agreement that would have guaranteed short-term progress on this project,” she said this week. “Restarting this process introduces additional risk to the city by swapping a known outcome with an unknown result.”

The mayor has accused councilors of allowing politics to stand in the way of the deal, a portrayal Gendron and Brien took special offense to. Jalette is running against the mayor in the upcoming municipal election.

“Councilman Brien was particularly concerned that such a complicated, detailed agreement was being presented for their consideration without adequate legal representation. The grantee, Hawthorne Development, was represented by a high powered Chicago law firm; the administration was represented by City Solicitor Marcello; but the council was effectively being asked to fend for itself without the benefit of appropriate legal counsel,” the pair said in a communication this week. “It turns out that the agreement negotiated by the administration shifts a significant portion of those costs to the city without explanation.”

Just prior to this week’s vote, Mancieri said he received a harassing phone call from the mayor, and that he was publicly threatened by a fellow councilor.

In a note to members of the board, Baldelli-Hunt and Public Safety Director Eugene Jalette last Friday, Mancieri said, “Yesterday I received a harassing and intimidating phone call from the mayor to try to defeat my legislation that is on the docket for Monday night. Also last night, I was publicly threatened at an event with multiple witnesses by Councilman Beauchamp.”

“In light of these events, I would suggest having a uniform police detail attend the meeting to ensure the safety of all elected officials, employees, and constituents who may want to attend the meeting,” he concluded.

For her part, Baldelli-Hunt said there was nothing threatening about the phone call, and that her and Mancieri just talked.

“It’s not true,” said mayoral spokesman Blake Collins.

Mancieri told The Breeze that Baldelli-Hunt called him on Thursday, Aug. 11 to discuss his resolution, which was ultimately passed Monday night. He said his conversation with the mayor on the subject “went on and on.”

“Eventually, I had to just hang up,” Mancieri said.

That same night, at a fundraiser for Councilor Melissa Murray’s re-election campaign, Mancieri says he was confronted by Beauchamp.

“He was upset that I didn’t call him back. He started talking about the middle school situation,” said Mancieri.

Mancieri said Beauchamp threatened to file an ethics complaint over his proposed legislation to put the building back out to bid and said, “we’re going to make sure we get you out of office.”

“He was talking very loudly for people to hear around us. He clearly was getting agitated and upset,” said Mancieri.

Of his feelings on the issue Mancieri said, “The city of Woonsocket is not a real estate firm. The process that we’re advocating for will take longer, but it’s a much more open and transparent process. You’re dealing with a public entity.”

Members of the administration had initially said that there were no other entities interested in the property, but at a recent work session, the mayor admitted to having spoken to another developer just before asking to enter an agreement with Hawthorne. News reports this week stated Louis Yip of Pawtucket, the owner of Tai-O Group could be among the possible interested parties and that Mancieri, a realtor by trade, had shown him the property. Mancieri has stated he would not represent the potential buyer.

“I feel like they’re just trying to tie up the property,” said Mancieri. “I don’t think it’s a bad thing to solicit other bids and make sure this offer truly is the one that’s best for the city.”

While the discussion was kept somewhat civil at the Monday meeting, it was clear members of the administration were frustrated with the decision. It will be the third attempted RFP on the property since 2009, and the first two attracted no bidders.

Monday’s vote now requires the administration to produce an RFP for the redevelopment of the Park Place property, subject to City Council approval, by Sept. 30.

“My administration will move forward with producing an RFP and continue to work towards the goal of redeveloping the former Middle School,” said Baldelli-Hunt. “Since my first day in office I have committed to generating progress for our city and that effort will continue against what appears to be endless obstacles.”

Gendron questioned why and if the vote would derail the deal, pointing out the investor did not expect to close on the property until August of 2018.

“I am committed to pursuing the potential redevelopment of the former Middle School and would indeed support an agreement with Hawthorne if done properly,” Gendron said. “Hawthorne has indicated a strong interest in the property and I would hope that a modest delay in order to do this in a transparent manner does not dissuade them.”

Comments

Why not just develop this building into a safety complex - along with agencies like CCA and Thundermist - develop it into a police/emt/fire station - Costly yes but could be done and then house the homeless, especially the veterans with the above mentioned agencies providing both medical and mental care ?

- "there was no other investor interested in the middle school building".
- "I didn't try to illegally use DEA money to buy my city car"
- "the Walmart building fell through because of city councilman comments"
- "no ambulance went to Boston with a member of my staff".
- " I didn't realize that we didn't need to raise property taxes so much last year".
- "nobody told me it was a bad idea to hire my son for an unadvertised city job"
- "I didn't use a visit to the high risers to get my election papers signed"
- "I don't have a disability pension from the USPS "
- (fill in the newest one ).....

- "There was no other investor interested in the middle school building".
Yeah, and they were represented by a “Standing” member of the city council. Can you spell “Ethics Violation”?
Woonsocket Call Quote: Mancieri is a commercial real estate broker and a principal in Gateway Realty. In a phone interview, Mancieri denied he has any financial interest in the possible sale of the middle school or that he would represent Yip in such a transaction. He said Yip would represent himself.
But Mancieri did acknowledge that on at least two occasions since late 2015, he led Yip on a tour of the locked building without informing the mayor. He said the only member of the administration he told about the tours was Highway Supt. Richard Lambert, who unlocked the doors for them.
“I contacted the correct person that had access to the building,” said Mancieri. “I needed to get in there quickly to set up the showing. As a city councilman, I can inspect any property in the city that I want.”
WOW! And he’s not representing Gateway Reality? This says it all doesn’t it?
Thought: So he can just walk into any “Building under consideration from another developer, “As a city councilor because I can, and show it” without representing who he is as a “so called” Real Estate Broker? Please, wake up and smell the flowers…..

- "I didn't try to illegally use DEA money to buy my city car". FUD at best…..

- "The Walmart building fell through because of city councilman comments" Project after project, if they’re LBH driven, the “Proactive Business City Council” shoots them down to make her look bad……..

- "No ambulance went to Boston with a member of my staff". Can’t even comment on this FUD….

- "I didn't realize that we didn't need to raise property taxes so much last year". Talk to the “Budget Commission” brought in by your last “Precious” regime that relinquished their power to them after totally ‘Screwing things up”! Remember 8 Million WED deficits? Please, give me a break!

- "Nobody told me it was a bad idea to hire my son for an unadvertised city job"
Ethics violation paid, get over it, lesson learned. Check out the ethics violation Manceiri paid a few years ago, Hmmmmm, do we have another one to admit to? Enough said!

- "I didn't use a visit to the high risers to get my election papers signed"
Prove it. A typical Dionne listener…….

- "I don't have a disability pension from the USPS”
This is a concern of whose?

- (fill in the newest one).....
Elect Roger Jalette, the guy who hasn’t had any new technology in house in the last 40 years! Good choice! Go Roger!

I would have been disappointed if you did not share your opinion. Thank you. You took a good amount of time to create a response but generally your argument is ad hominem. Not that the mayor is doing a good job but that the City Council and her opponent and bad people. The response you wrote that concerns me the most is about her decision to hire her son for an unadvertised city position. Your answer is - if I may paraphrase - "lesson learned". Unfortunately, that could be the farthest thing from the truth. She has continued with her selfish, near-sighted. thug-like decision-making.

In hiring her son, she embarrassed the city and gave us all reason to doubt her c common sense and basic decision-making. And she showed her unwillingness to listen to smart advisors like her Public Works Director.

In trying to illegally obtain DEA money for her city car, she cost us a popular and effective police chief.

In trying to sneak this highly questionable Middle School deal through, she cost her city solicitor his credibility and his Man Card.

Fill in Number nine (9)-------The middle school building is/was a "Work in Progress" like everything else is DESCRIBED when NO SUBSTANTIVE information is provided to the Council and/or Public.

Going to be another long 2 years for you!

What do you think the margin of victory will be for the mayor? 65-35%? 60-40%?

I have a question for you. How long do you think the Federal sentence will be for public corruption? If I was one of the mayor's best friends or a family member, I would not vote for her and keep putting her in harm's way.

If I was one of the mayor's best friends or a family member, I might very well be dependent on her keeping her position as mayor to maintain employment - what a dilemma!

Let’s talk about accomplishments shall we:

- Improving the Bond rating with Moody’s at a record rate
- WED budget under control and not running multi-million $$$$ deficits
- Extending the line of city communications directly up to the state government level to get things done like the WWII Memorial park, which by the way, has been an enormous success!
- Repaving roads in Woonsocket at a record rate
- Reducing blight in the city at a record rate
- Picking up trash, litter, trimming city sidewalks, sweeping city streets and performing general city maintenance in the city at a record rate. (Street Lights Included)
- Bringing new business opportunities into the city only to be SHOT down by the current City Council and the 4 stooges including a possible Ethics Violation
- Hiring the right people for the right job in her current administration

This is just off the top of my head; do I need to go on?

What a difference from the mamby pamby, do nothing, blame it on “Everyone else” city officials that we had in our last regime, and virtually drove this city to the verge of bankruptcy, who by the way, are trying to “Organize” a “Take over” team in the upcoming city elections.

Folks, don’t fall for this political crap, if this “Brien” team gets elected, forget any progress moving forward. Look forward to a more obstructionism based city council similar to that which has been shown on the Middle School project and the Lowe’s storage facility business. (Asking them for a business plan by the zoning board? Really?)

Also, remember, we need a Water Treatment plant in the clouds right there Jimmy C ?

Over and out and can’t wait for this up coming election process….

Don't forget that City Solicitor Marcello introduced "Pillow Biting" day in Woonsocket.

I have read the given blow article here that is truly awesome thanks about to share this.
http://bit.ly/2bFxpxX

Stevie H,
Water Treatment Plant in the clouds??? Do you mean the 20+ relatively secluded acres near the existing water tanks at Bernon Heights? Are those the "clouds" you are referring to?

Are you one of those nit-wit, uninformed obstructionists that thought it would be a good idea for Woonsocket to site one of its most valuable and important pieces of infrastructure in another town so that we'd be held hostage to the whims of people that refer to us as "Gangstas"? I hope that's not the case.

People that live in pink houses shouldn't throw stones at things they know nothing about. If our aging WTP fails, how will you make your Kool-Aid?

That WTP should have been placed at the existing location on Manville Rd. (plenty of room and probably half the cost) and brought on line in phases, rather than relocating it to the highest location in Northern RI, which requires massive excavation and will disrupt the local traffic patterns in that area for years to come.

It’s amazing to me why this wasn't even an option, most likely it would’ve made too much sense.

Imaging, heavy construction equipment traveling daily on local, high density, residential streets? Classic planning....

I'm sure the folks on “Secluded” Jillson, Joffre, Miles and Roy St. will really appreciate the blasting noise, heavy commercial traffic, cracked foundations and disruptions to their neighborhood once the blasting starts, not to mention the disruptions to the “Secluded” Bernon Heights School teaching environment there too.

Oh well, keep up the good work there Jimmy boy, and good luck with your upcoming City Council political team's agenda bid. Go team go, go team go…… Brien & co. all the Way!

Oh, by the way, nice job on helping to tank a 40 Million dollar redevelopment project. The city thanks you for that……

Good afternoon, Mr. Hollistev, my friend! Here I am with my CAPS again...ha...ha...ha. I've noticed that YOU now use QUOTES to emphasize YOUR words, etc...!

Yes, "let’s talk about accomplishments shall we":

- Improving the Bond rating with Moody’s at a record rate
~~~~~Due to the Supplemental Tax monies "prescribed" by the Budget Commission---this situation would have occurred and been accomplished by any other administration anyway.

- WED budget under control and not running multi-million $$$$ deficits
~~~~~Due to the Supplemental Tax monies "prescribed" by the Budget Commission---this situation would have occurred and been accomplished by any other administration anyway. The WED budget is “under control” only because the Budget Commission suggested that, the City oversee their budget where before, the WED budget was treated as a separate one. Thus, this is/was why the “multi-million $$$$ deficits” occurred in the WED. If you recall, the “multi-million $SSS deficit was only REALIZED /ANNOUNCED the night Mayor Fontaine was elected; he had only learned about this status the night before. What would YOU have done had you been placed in THAT predicament?

- Extending the line of city communications directly up to the state government level to get things done like the WWII Memorial park, which by the way, has been an enormous success!
~~~~~Due to the Supplemental Tax monies "prescribed" by the Budget Commission---this situation would have occurred and been accomplished by any other administration anyway. This project was in place, PRIOR to the present mayor's election. Unless the terms have been changed, the so-called $250,000/year maintenance monies are/were for a 5-year period. What happens after that time-frame? Also, the State is also in a “multi-million $$$$ deficits”, so what kind of an example have they set, or are THEY setting? Do we want to follow in their PATH? By the way, has the City received anything in “writing” yet regarding the State's 5-year commitment to the maintenance expectations?

- Repaving roads in Woonsocket at a record rate
~~~~~Due to the Supplemental Tax monies "prescribed" by the Budget Commission---this situation would have occurred and been accomplished by any other administration anyway.

- Reducing blight in the city at a record rate
~~~~~Due to the Supplemental Tax monies "prescribed" by the Budget Commission---this situation would have occurred and been accomplished by any other administration anyway.

- Picking up trash, litter, trimming city sidewalks, sweeping city streets and performing general city maintenance in the city at a record rate. (Street Lights Included)
~~~~~Due to the Supplemental Tax monies "prescribed" by the Budget Commission---this situation would have occurred and been accomplished by any other administration anyway. Please check the Detroit situation where one of the first things they did when they went into receivership was to “shut off some of the street lights” as well. There was NO CHOICE! If I'm not mistaken, this decision was made by the Budget Commission???

- Bringing new business opportunities into the city only to be SHOT down by the current City Council and the 4 stooges including a possible Ethics Violation
~~~~~Due to the Supplemental Tax monies "prescribed" by the Budget Commission---this situation would have occurred and been accomplished by any other administration anyway. Had those business opportunities been more openly discussed with the City Council vs. the opposite, the new opportunities might have been successful! Where was the TRANSPARENCY which had been promised? Plus, an administration should have “things in place” before announcing the “opening” of new businesses. Also, you indicated that there was a possible ,“Ethics Violation”. Do you have any PROOF that there was such a violation, or is this just another “ad hominem” statement!

- Hiring the right people for the right job in her current administration
~~~~~The “right people” is in the “eyes of the beholder”. What's “right” for one is NOT for the “other”---depending on which “side” you're on. All administrations have felt that they had hired the “right” people for their future goals and functions. It's that simple!

This is just off the top of my head; do I need to go on?
~~~~~No, enough said......we “get the picture”.

What a difference from the mamby pamby, do nothing, blame it on “Everyone else” city officials that we had in our last regime, and virtually drove this city to the verge of bankruptcy, who by the way, are trying to “Organize” a “Take over” team in the upcoming city elections.
~~~~~Here we go again with the “ad hominem” situation. Wow! The “Take over” team sounds very positive to me, as there are many individuals on that particular “team” who are very astute and capable of “taking over” our City politics, and who will do a great job at “RESTRUCTURING” our City----just MY impression!

Folks, don’t fall for this political crap, if this “Brien” team gets elected, forget any progress moving forward. Look forward to a more obstructionism based city council similar to that which has been shown on the Middle School project and the Lowe’s storage facility business. (Asking them for a business plan by the zoning board? Really?)
~~~~~Oh! You've given the team a name---the “Brien Team”. Sounds good to me. The word “progress” is also defined by “movement”, which is exactly what this City needs.....a NEW MOVEMENT regarding our BUDGET situation where the “Brien Team” will be trying to prevent another deficit situation by reducing the City's EXORBITANT SPENDING..

Lastly, hate to say it, but AGAIN, thanks to the SUPPLEMENTAL TAX FUNDS "prescribed" by the Budget Commission, the “BRIEN TEAM”, as you named it, will also be able to accomplish other feats and continue to improve those which you mentioned above as well. We do hope and pray, however, that the exorbitant spending which is now being PERMITTED will not continue as is because we will definitely be heading for another DISASTER!!!

Remember, “Propaganda doesn't work when the TRUTH is allowed to GET OUT.”

AMEN!

Hello Pauline,

In your response, you continually quote: “Due to the Supplemental Tax monies "prescribed" by the Budget Commission, this situation would have occurred and been accomplished by any other administration anyway.”

I ask you, who brought in the Budget Commission and why? It was the previous City Council members. They did this before the city went bankrupt due to total neglect, poor financial management and woefully poor oversight! Now that’s good government right? Please, spare me the Budget Commission and Supplemental Tax thoughts.

Past multi-year million dollar deficits, budgets and spending totally out of control, a city in total chaos, on the verge of bankruptcy, and you say the current administration has a spending problem?

Do you seriously think that the “In House” repaving of roads, improving the city’s infrastructure, buying a few new DPW trucks, and adding a few more pieces of Rescue equipment is EXORBITANT SPENDING? Please, these investments are saving more money than what was spent and will most likely pay off in the long run when looking at attracting new businesses to the city.

Maybe you can’t remember when the city had no snow plows to send out in a snow storm and had to hire private contractors to get the job done, or had 3 out of 4 Rescue units broken down and depended on Cumberland to bail us out. I know, the good ole’ days when we wondered if the streets would get plowed or the Rescue units could make a run. I really miss those days too. Not!

Regarding Ethics Violations, what does this sound like to you? "Mancieri did acknowledge that on at least two occasions since late 2015, he led Yip on a tour of the locked building without informing the mayor."
Do you think he’s showing this property as a City Council person or as a Realtor? I have my thoughts, and this screams Ethics Violation….

And I love the phrase “ad-hominen”. Looks like you learned a new one over the last several days. Here’s another one to look up, “ad-populum”. Pretty much sums up your Supplemental Tax Monies claim.

As always Pauline, it’s been a pleasure……

Stevie Boy,
Gee, where the hell were you when we needed you most? If only you were around when we were considering the various options available for a new location. We could have used a really bright guy like you. Nobody was smart enough to consider your novel idea - just plop a new WTP down where the old one is. Simple. Wish we had thought of that. You're a genius. Maybe if you actually did more than sit behind your keyboard sipping Kool-Aid in your basement, you'd have a more informed understanding of things.

Regarding your statement that "the mamby pamby, do nothing, blame it on “Everyone else” city officials that we had in our last regime": I'm not sure N. David Bouley, Joel Matthews, Michael Annarrumo, Christine Chamberland and others - all of whom were city officials in the last regime(s) - will appreciate your comments. That said, I'm sure they will consider the source - it's hard to get too worked up over the comments of a simpleton.

Again, those that live in pink houses shouldn't throw stones.

Since it's fairly late and I have things to do, this will be my last correspondence on this topic.

I see that my “repeated” statement made an impact on you. Yes, the previous city council did bring in the Budget Commission; however, at the time, there was NO CHOICE. It was either receivership or bankruptcy. By the way, at the time, I felt that having the Budget Commission come into the City was a very good idea, but now I feel that we should have gone into bankruptcy----for my own reasons. We must move on to the future, however.

The Budget Commission held around 65+ meetings and I only missed around 5 of them. Did you ever attend ANY of those meetings? It was very educational and informative about what had transpired in our City in the previous years.
Again, this administration is SPENDING the SUPPLEMENTAL TAX MONIES like it's “going out of style”. Excessive spending leads to a destructive pathway! Again, this administration could NOT have accomplished those things which you listed. It would have been most interesting to see HOW this administration would have functioned under the same conditions that the previous administration underwent. Oh well, again, this is the PAST and we must focus on the FUTURE!

Re: Mr. Mancieri---he's able to defend himself. I don't want to get involved in that situation, but one shouldn't accuse others of an Ethics Violation, unless there is proof of such.

Re: “ad populum”----Since I took 3 years of Latin in school, I had some idea of what those words meant, but here is the online definition: “....ad populum is a fallacious argument that concludes that a proposition is true because many or most people believe it." I guess this is what's happening to many of the people in this community right now???

Enjoyed our civilized debate.

AMEN!

All rhetoric, constant belittlement, no substance, slams the commenter, typical Jimmy Boy response. Good luck on the “Brien team”, you’ll need it.

Question there Jimmy Boy, why couldn’t the WTP have been located on the present site, thereby eliminating a massive construction project directly in the middle of a “Secluded” residential site? Was it even considered, was it viable, why wasn’t it even listed as a possible site in the WTP proposal document? Yeah, I’ve read it. (By the way, 12 usable acres rather than the 20 you quote), that ear pencil should have caught that oversight just like the Middle School Hawthorne proposal documents you were looking during your last city council propaganda session, and your 120 Million dollar quote on the Middle School project. “Golly Gee, I can’t see anything here that Hawthorne has done a project like that”. Nice move, like you can comment on a multi-million dollar real estate developer’s project, but that didn’t stop you did it? Kind of what we’re talking here right?

Hmmmmm……. Just rounding off numbers I guess…….

Also, on the WTP site, once all this blasting, construction and traffic mayhem is completed in the clouds, and the local streets are turned into a major trucking route, what are the plans when bringing tankers of Chlorine and other toxic treatment chemicals up to and waste out of this site that has just been “plopped” into a residential site surrounded on three sides by residents of Woonsocket?

Any considerations here. Are these tankers going be traveling on high-density residential streets? Are there waste deposit shipments that will leave this facility and be traveling on these high-density residential streets? Gee, where was I in these topic discussions?

Jimmy boy, you are a classic commenter; trying to belittle the opposing comments with BS, and hope it sticks. Honestly, I can’t wait to see to see this project started, and see the ramifications it brings to the residents in that area. It will be monumental…..

As far as N. David Bouley, Joel Matthews, Michael Annarrumo, Christine Chamberland, and while we’re at it, Ward, Fontaine and crew, if your suggesting they were doing a good job, think again, as you can see what the Budget Commission has left behind right? Man, good job for almost driving the city into Bankruptcy? I think they need an MVP award!

And on a final note there Jimmy boy, my tax bill to the city of Woonsocket is about 3K more than yours seeing how I don’t get your 25% homie exemption.

Yeah, go figure, a poster that actually has a pencil behind his ear too and doesn’t live in their mothers basement, but actually right in your local neighborhood too……..

Another topic discussed and dissected three ways to Sunday right?

Good leaders focus on correcting issues now, not yesterday, and not tomorrow.

I would think that this administration would have seen the issues that were very present in the past administration, and would have taken steps to correct them then, instead of passing the blame to the state, the WED and any other party that made sense at that time.

Weak leaders make for a weak governing party, and without strong leaders, this city has nothing.

Let’s hope we follow this trend going forward.