Armory: To Be Continued

Last week, Carole Cornelison, Director of the state's Division of Capital Asset Management & Maintenance (DCAMM), spoke to a cafeteria full of neighbors at our June Neighborhood Nights meeting about the state of the Cranston Street Armory.

Cornelison, whose office leads the care of state-owned buildings including the Armory, gave a short presentation highlighting the building's significance, provided an overview of the past four years of maintenance performed on the Armory, and mentioned ongoing meetings of a Cranston Street Armory Steering Committee that includes WBNA's Executive Director Kari Lang.

Cornelison's presentation introduced to the audience that Utile Design, which submitted a proposal during the state's Request for Proposals process last year, had been hired in August 2017 "to determine all viable options for the re-use of the Armory," as was charged in the RFP.

Cornelison continued that Utile had engaged with the community in multiple outreach sessions, which stunned many in our audience of 75 people. Many neighbors raised hands, letting Cornelison know that no community outreach process as described in the RFP has yet been seen in our community.

Several neighbors mentioned that they had read the RFP and understood that a robust community engagement process resembling a charrette was one of the key stipulations in that document and had been expected by the community, but that it has not happened.

Cornelison, who expressed her understanding that consultants Utile Design had already undertaken and completed a community engagement process, responded that she would "put on hold" the state's next step of seeking RFIs (Requests for Information) from interested developers until the community had been duly engaged. She said she would ask Utile to come to a future WBNA meeting to share its findings and get feedback from the community.

Last week WBNA presented several possible July dates to DCAMM for a follow up community meeting with the state and Utile, and is awaiting the state's confirmation. Stay tuned!