The Barrington Town Council approved on Monday night, Oct. 7, a five-year agreement with the nonprofit Friends of the Bay Spring Community Center (FBSCC) to operate the facility as a public-private partnership for arts, cultural and educational programming.
The vote was 5-0. Town Manager Peter DeAngelis Jr. worked with FBSCC’s leaderships to draft the agreement that formally makes the renovated fire station on Narragansett Avenue part of the town’s recreation program.
“This is a good opportunity to develop a partnership,” DeAngelis said to the Town Council. “They (FBSCC) have demonstrated that they can do this. Let’s make this happen.”
The agreement is set up to 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. It will work as an independent contractor with the Barrington recreation department and offer programs to residents and non-residents alike.
The agreement can be terminated at any time by Barrington or the FBSCC with six months notice. The proposed agreement included a 12-months termination period.
The agreement also designates that the public works department maintain the building as it does other Barrington facilities.
According to the agreement, the recreation department and FBSCC will work together to make performances and other activities available to the public the same way the public library and other facilities do. FBSCC will use town software for scheduling.
Fees charged for programming would go to FBSCC to cover costs, including fees charged by artists and the purchase of equipment.
FBSCC can solicit memberships at $20 per family per year with 10 percent of those fees going back to a reserve account set up by Barrington specifically for recreation. FBSCC currently has about 100 families as members, said Dave Parkhurst, president of the nonprofit.
“We want to improve the relationship with the town that we already have,” said Parkhurst last month when the proposal for the agreement was introduced and got the go-ahead from the Town Council. The facility has been an “outlet for artistic and talented people of this town for years,” he said.
“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.
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.