It's unfortunate and short-sighted to move so quickly to sell the Old Ranger and Nonquit properties -- especially in this depressed real estate market where it is likely that if any sale were to take place, the properties would not fetch their greatest financial potential.
Truth be told, though: I'm an alum of Old Ranger with a wee bit of nostalgia nipping at my ankles.
That said, I recently submitted an alternative idea for the Old Ranger School property to the Tiverton Town Council that seeks to create a win-win for the town and the greater Sakonnet Community by establishing a new 501(c)(3) organization and housing it in a refurbished Old Ranger School building. Aside from Mr. Brett Pelletier, no one else replied to my letter. So I wanted to put the idea out to you, my fellow Patch readers, to see what you thought.
The vital community resource, which I've dubbed "The Sakonnet Community Collaborative", would aim to engage and empower citizens to better themselves, their careers and their community. The rationale is simple: The current economic and social environment we are living in is driving an unprecedented need for resources related to continual improvement of knowledge, skills and access to social and professional networks. At present, I am not aware of any definitive resources that address these needs in the greater Sakonnet area.
As envisioned, the Sakonnet Community Collaborative would provide a mix-use facility and program that offers the following to the community:
Small Business development resources such as business plan development coaching, classes in business basics, a state-certified industrial kitchen for rent, private offices and meeting rooms for rent as well as access to a variety of other business technology resources. Such offerings could be a potent elixir for transforming our local and regional economic scene.
In addition, the Collaborative would offer a program of seasonal and age-based personal and professional development classes, health and well-being classes, and a variety of youth programming aimed at fostering our leaders of tomorrow.
It is proposed that this endeavor be driven by the creation of a dedicated 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and advised and managed as required under such a charter. This would include a Board of Directors, possible advisory board, and at least an executive director and grant writer in such a capacity that the organization’s finances allow.
The mission of the Sakonnet Community Collaborative would be fulfilled through the execution of a detailed, multi-year strategy that focused on growing resources and programming organically as infrastructure, funding and programmatic expertise were in place. Funding would be sourced through a variety of state and federal resources as well as grants. Revenue would be generated through facility and resource rentals, class enrollment and community membership options.
The centralized location of the Old Ranger School property makes it attractive for such a community-based endeavor as the Sakonnet Community Collaborative. With the development of the general Bliss Four Corners area, interest and access to this location is growing.
Given the current real estate environment, simply seeking to sell the property might not bear as much financial fruit as the town would like. It is very likely that such (limited) short-term gain could be shortsighted. A longer-term view of how to achieve a win-win for both the Town as well as the broader community economic and social well-being lends itself well to exploring other creative solutions to how to leverage this unique town asset.
True, it is unlikely that the new non-profit endeavor could purchase the property and facility outright. Instead, interested parties could explore more creative options, including an out-right lease or lease-to-own option (both generating revenue for the town). Based on prior assessments it is known that significant enhancements would need to be made to the building infrastructure in order to make it a feasible location for the next generation of usage. Initial phases of the Sakonnet Community Collaborative’s strategy and programming would need to account for this and seek to undertake such a refurbishing after careful consideration of the options and capabilities afforded to the new organization.
Whether it is a concept such as I have set forth with the Sakonnet Community Collaborative or any other idea brought forth by the citizens of Tiverton, we owe it to ourselves to carefully consider what losing this unique resource would mean for the town. I, for one, could not stand yet another donut depot setting up shop in this neck of the woods.
What do you think? Does the Sakonnet Community Collaborative concept interest you? What other ideas do you have for what Old Ranger School (or Nonquit) could become?