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Richmond sets workshop on community center design

RICHMOND — The first public workshop on the design of Richmond’s new community center will take place on Nov. 4, and Town Council President B. Joseph Reddish is urging residents to attend.

“I would hope that the community gets out and really gives their input on what they want to see,” Reddish said at the Oct. 15 council meeting.

John Aiello Jr., owner of the 294-acre Richmond Commons property, donated 14 acres of land to the town for use as a community center site, and the town asked 15 senior students in the University of Rhode Island’s landscape architecture program to design it. The students and their professor, Will Green, have already walked the property, and will present their ideas and ask for input from the public at the workshop.

Town Administrator Robert Rock said he had toured the site with the students.

“They had their books out, their sketches out, and were really excited, asking some good questions. So I’m confident that they’re going to put together a good plan for the town,” he said.

Town Planner Denise Stetson said the students’ ideas will focus on sustainable use of the wooded property, which also features wetlands.

“They’re going to do a presentation and show some examples, so that people have an idea of what kinds of things we’re talking about. The class is about sustainability so that’s going to be the theme,” she said.

Participants will also have an opportunity to work with the students in smaller groups.

“They’re going to break people up into tables, and we’re going to have some hands-on activities,” Stetson explained.

Stetson said she had not seen any of the students’ preliminary designs.

“I do not know what they’re doing, Stetson said. “We have a little bit of a laundry list. We know we’d like to have a senior center. Whether or not that’s in combination with a community center is a question. We want people to come and tell us. Do you want a basketball or tennis court? Soccer fields? What?” she said.

Council Vice President Henry Oppenheimer echoed Reddish’s request that residents provide input on the center sooner rather than later.

“This is really our future for recreation, whether it be fields, buildings or a combination. So we need significant input from the people. It’s either input at the beginning or once we start doing something, it’s going to be too late. This is something that’s very important,” he said.

The workshop will take place Nov. 4 at Richmond Elementary School at 7 p.m. Residents wishing to participate are asked to contact the planning department at 401-539-9000 ext. 6 or by email at:

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