Amendments call for more spending in Barrington

Council requesting $500,000 for affordable housing

By Josh Bickford
Posted 6/10/21

Barrington residents will be asked to decide on at least three amendments at the June 16 financial town meeting.

Four members of the Barrington Town Council filed one of the amendments — it …

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Amendments call for more spending in Barrington

Council requesting $500,000 for affordable housing


Barrington residents will be asked to decide on at least three amendments at the June 16 financial town meeting.

Four members of the Barrington Town Council filed one of the amendments — it asks for an additional $500,000 to be added to the budget for the “creation and preservation of affordable housing in the community…” 

Councilor Jacob Brier filed a separate amendment requesting an additional $250,000 that would be used to purchase the Carmelite Monastery on Watson Avenue in Barrington. The money represents the maximum annual cost to finance the sales price, which would be negotiated by the town council or an agent of the council.

Barrington resident M. Anne Chapin filed a third amendment. Ms. Chapin has requested that $7,000 be added to the town’s capital requests to build bocci and croquet courts in town. 

Affordable housing

Barrington Committee on Appropriations Chairman Stephen Primiano said the town council had initially included $500,000 for affordable housing in its proposed budget, but members of the COA removed the funding from the budget. 

“We took that out,” Mr. Primiano said. “Members of the council have filed an amendment to put that back in…”

Mr. Primiano said it is his opinion that it is premature to ask Barrington taxpayers to fund the affordable housing initiatives when there may be other funding sources available. He reference state funding and federal money as well. 

Mr. Primiano also questioned the idea of asking taxpayers to fund affordable housing when some of the taxpayers who would be footing the bill make less money than those individuals who would benefit from the affordable housing.

Council members Michael Carroll, Jacob Brier, Annelise Conway and Carl Kustell filed the amendment, which stated that the $500,000 would be “dedicated to the creation of and/or capture of affordable housing units using a method or methods proposed by the Housing Board of Trustees and approved by the Barrington Town Council. Such methods may include, but are not limited to, a down payment assistance program and/or the purchase, deed restriction, and resale of properties in Barrington.” (Mr. Humm said his name was not included because he was not able to attend the council meeting where members discussed the amendment.)

Chris Brady, the chairman of the Barrington Housing Board of Trustees, filed a letter to the editor this week calling for people to support the amendment.

“The stock of modestly priced homes in town is rapidly disappearing,” he wrote. “It is important to take action now to address the problem.”

Carmelite Monastery

Mr. Brier’s amendment would serve as an early step toward purchasing the former Carmelite Monastery property on Watson Avenue in Barrington. The property, listed by Lila Delman real estate, is priced at $3.5 million. It covers 7.2 acres that overlook Narragansett Bay. The property is zoned R-40.

“The motion is for $250K because that is at the high end of a conservative estimate of what it would cost to finance a purchase at that price,” Mr. Brier wrote in an email to the Times. “I filed the amendment now so that we don't have to worry about deadlines as we move forward. If things progress well, and we do end up with a purchase and sale agreement, it would be contingent on a vote at the FTM. If we don't have an agreement in place, I'd almost certainly withdraw the motion.”

Mr. Brier said there is no final plan for the property, should the town be able to purchase it, although he mentioned some possible uses: Senior housing, with some affordable units; some open space; and possibly re-selling portions of the property to reduce the cost to taxpayers.

Mr. Brier said he hears often from people who said the town should not have let the opportunity of purchasing the Zion campus pass by. He said the town is now suffering through the deterioration of the property and the resulting safety hazards. 

“This motion creates the opportunity for voters to decide if they want to purchase the Monastery,” Mr. Brier wrote. “Like all investments, it comes with a cost, but there is tremendous upside to protecting some open space in a beautiful area, ensuring more of our aging residents have a variety of living options that can allow them to remain in the town they love, and preserving a bit of the history of a special place that has been part of the community for nearly a century.”

Bocci and croquet

Ms. Chapin filed an amendment recently, calling for the town to fund bocci and croquet courts. Ms. Chapin has filed the amendment on behalf of her mother, Mary Kay Chapin, who has been requesting the courts because they will offer “a healthy outdoor activity to an estimated 4,000 seniors residing here…” She has suggested a space behind the public library for the location of the court. 

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