The Town Council approved on Tuesday night, Sept. 3, a proposal by the Friends of the Bay Spring Community Center (FBSCC) to operate the Narragansett Avenue facility as public-private partnership with Barrington.
The vote was 5-0 to develop an agreement with Town Manager Peter DeAngelis Jr. and two council members.
The proposal would take advantage of the nonprofit group’s experience in event planning and production, marketing, and fundraising and its range of artistic and cultural skills and interests while working closely with the Barrington recreation director, the parks and recreation commission and the Department of Public Works to maintain the building.
“We want to improve the relationship with the town that we already have,” said Dave Parkhurst, president of FBSCC.
“We want to run the building for the benefit of the whole town while hoping to raise money to support the facility,” said Duncan Maio, a Friends’ member who presented the proposal with Parkhurst.
DeAngelis said the former fire station has had close ties to the Bay Spring neighborhood since the 1980s.
“They probably saved it from being torn down,” he said.
And members of the nonprofit group have invested their own time, talent and money into making the second floor meeting space and smaller space on the first floor that used to be a fire truck bay into entertainment venues.
“It makes sense to me,” DeAngelis said of the proposal.
Parkhurst said the facility has been an “outlet for artistic and talented people of this town for years.”
Town Councilor Cynthia Coyne said the proposal is “the next step in going forward on how to use this building.”
A lift that makes the second floor accessible to the disabled was recently added to the two-story building. Lack of a lift forced DeAngelis to close down the second floor to community events about two years ago.
“I see this as a huge step in the right direction,” said Town Council President June Speakman.
“What we’re doing is a good thing,” added Town Councilor Bill DeWitt.
The only councilor who had some reservations was Ann Strong, who said at first that she was fearful of this type of agreement.
See the complete proposal from the FBSCC for the public-private partnership.