By JOHN HOWELL On Monday Mayor Frank Picozzi took the first bite of the former City Hall Annex that was deemed unsafe after a water pipe burst in early January 2018. The action launches his dream to revitalize the village. First bite? That was the case.
On Monday Mayor Frank Picozzi took the first bite of the former City Hall Annex that was deemed unsafe after a water pipe burst in early January 2018. The action launches his dream to revitalize the village.
That was the case.
Picozzi was at the controls of the excavator operated by AA Wrecking and Asbestos Abatement of Johnston. He swung the extended neck of the mechanical beast, its jaws open and crunched into the northeast second story wing of the building that housed Fire Department administrative offices before a new Station 1 was built on Veterans Memorial Drive.
As has become the trademark of municipal events of note such as the reopening of McDermott Pool where Picozzi opened a hydrant to fill the pool and the delivery of a much needed sanitation truck to augment an aging fleet where he climbed into the cab, a staff member captured the moment on video to post on social media.
What wasn’t recorded came later in the morning when Picozzi excitedly recounted the event. He said his brother David, who served as Public Works Director and then chief of staff to former mayor Scott Avedisian would have been better suited to operate the machine. Yet, he said he caught on quickly and thought with some more time at the controls he could master the job.
Demolition is often easier than construction although reaching the end stages in the life of the annex has taken almost four years. Immediately following the flooding incident, Avedisian relocated municipal offices into the partially vacant Greene Elementary School. The late Mayor Joseph Solomon moved most municipal offices again to improved offices in a renovated former Buttonwoods Community Center.
Meanwhile, the future of the annex remained clouded as Solomon argued with the Rhode Island Interlocal Risk Management Trust that insured the property should pay more than it was willing to. When Picozzi took office, he moved quickly to settle the matter, settling on an amount to level the structure. Knowing that projects frequently exceed projected costs, he insisted the trust cover all expenses exceeding the estimate. The provision has apparently paid off, as asbestos removal in the building that started off as a police station and later with additions served as a fire station and municipal offices was more extensive than first thought.
And what will become of the site?
Picozzi has shared thoughts for the site with members of the council and will be talking with the Apponaug Improvement Association.
He pointed out that with the relocation of annex offices for a third time to the former Apponaug Mills saw tooth building next year, the area will bring people in and there will be ample parking. The mill building being outfitted to meet city office needs is being leased under a 15-year agreement with AAA Northeast that bought it in auction.
Picozzi said the plan is coalescing and will be displayed when ready.
The immediate steps are clear: complete demolition of the annex and bring city offices back to Apponaug.
And one other thing said Picozzi looking at the black smudge on his right hand.
“I must have done that getting out of the cab,” he said rising to go wash his hands.
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