WOONSOCKET — The City Council faces a busy agenda tonight that includes requests to lease office space at City Hall to U.S. Rep. David N. Cicilline and grant a tax deferment for a local mill building.
The office space lease was negotiated by Mayor Leo T. Fontaine and will provide the city with monthly rent of $100, according to an ordinance submitted to the council for action Monday evening in Harris Hall.
The lease will run from June 20, 2011, to January 2, 2013, and cover the use of 50 square feet of office space in City Hall at 169 Main Street, a storefront space formerly part of offices used by the law department.
City Council President John F. Ward said Cicilline’s request for a satellite congressional office is the first outside use of city hall in recent memory but will provide a service to local residents.
Cicilline has maintained an office in Pawtucket as did his predecessor, U.S. Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy but the Woonsocket satellite office will allow local residents to meet with his staff on occasion without having to travel outside the city.
“We certainly have plenty of space in City Hall,” Ward said. The window office is just large enough for one or two people and will likely house Cicilline’s staff members working on constituent matters.
The proposal before Council regarding the “Le Moulin” mill complex at 68 South Main Street was recommended by City Economic Development Director Matthew J. Wojcik as a way to help “solidify” the future of a critical Main Street area property.
The proposal would allow Le Moulin owner Marie Deschenes to enroll her property and related businesses under the city’s Job Creation Incentive Program (JCIP) even though that step was not taken under the previous city administration, according to Wojcik. The program allows an enrolled property a structured tax deferment based on the number of jobs it brings to the city.
Deschenes has conducted significant renovation of the South Main Street mill property since acquiring it in 2007 for over $900,000. The owner’s investment of $500,000 in the property since that time has helped it to serve more than a dozen small businesses, a popular after-school arts program for city young people, and Deschenes’ Vogue Communications cable company service operation.
The fact the property was not enrolled in the city’s Main Street redevelopment initiatives at the time of its purchase has limited the owner in obtaining tax incentives other Main Street area property accessed under the Job Creation Incentive program, according to Wojcik.
Allowing Deschenes company to join the Job Creation Incentive program as a result of a “retroactive” finding of eligibility would put the city in the position of supporting the property’s continued redevelopment along with the state and other interested business development organizations, according to Wojcik.
The future use of the building includes plans for a market showcasing local arts and crafts and also a farmer’s market space. Deschenes has also gained support for the continued growth of her cable technology service operation from the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation and the Rhode Island Small Business Development Center.
As part of its consideration of the request, Wojcik said he hoped the Council would hold a special work session to review redevelopment plans for the property and also possibly tour the mill complex to gain “visual appreciation of what is at stake.”
Ward will not be attending Monday’s session do to a commitment to appear at a Rhode Island College forum on public government. Council Vice Chair Stella Brien will be presiding as the council debates the merits of the request and several other items of business on the agenda, including a reworking of the police department’s hiring process, license transfer requests, and a resolution in support of state efforts to complete a restructuring of the state pension system.