Guests Allen Shers and Andrew Kelly discussed the Elmhurst School project with host Doug Smith on this week's edition of "Portsmouth this Week - the Voice of Portsmouth Town Hall." This former Portsmouth Elementary school was closed in 2009 and a Town re-use Committee recommended to the Town Council last year that the school buildings be demolished so that the property can be re-used by the Town. A proposal by the Aquidneck Land Trust (ALT) to provide $1 million to the Town for the demolition of the school in return for a conservation easement that would protect most of the rest of the Glen Properties as open space, was also recommended by this Committee in their report to the Town Council. The Town Council agreed to take this proposal to a public vote in a referendum, once the details of the cost of demolition are known. Prior to formulating a request for proposals (RFP), the Town has engaged a company, VHB, to conduct a thorough study of the topography and surroundings of the school structure, which fronts on the Sakonnett River, before issuing an RFP. The results of this study are expected within the next few months.
A further complication of this issue is the fairly widespread support for maintaining the Elmhurst School Chapel, located near the middle of the school structure, with its vaulted wooden ceilings and stained glass windows, as a public Town venue for meetings and Performing Arts. It is expected that the demolition of the school while preserving the Chapel will add to the costs of this project. Both guests agreed that the next step in the process will be to hear and digest the report by VHB before any decision on these three related issues - the demolition of the school, preserving the Chapel and the ALT conservation easement proposal - can be addressed by our Town Leadership and taken to a public referendum.
Portsmouth this Week is a weekly public service television program started by Town Administrator, John Klimm. It airs on Public television (Cox channel 18) on
Wednesday evenings at 7:30 PM. It can also be seen by clicking on the video box
above or from links on the Portsmouth Town website www.portsmouthri.com
and the Portsmouth Economic development Committee website www.portsmouthriedc.com