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Pawtucket – On October 19, 2022, the Pawtucket City Council approved a compromise that saves a large original portion of Morley Field while allowing JK Equities to move forward with construction of a distribution facility that will create 450 new jobs.
The plan for the overall development calls for transforming currently vacant buildings that have been a public nuisance into a distribution facility that is easily accessible for potential employees living in the community. The proposed development is on the R-Line, the most utilized bus route in the city, and recent legislation has made this route free to all riders.
“The goal was to develop an equitable solution for all those affected by these resolutions and I believe we achieved that,” said Council President David P. Moran. “The resolutions that were passed last night will bring accessible jobs to our residents, increase the greenspace on the west side of the city, and support the cleanup of Morley field with community input.”
“This balance comes from City government working for the people and listening to all of the involved parties to come to a fruitful determination,” said Mayor Donald R. Grebien. “I thank the City Council for passing these resolutions. Working together, we will be able to keep needed green space in Pawtucket’s 5th district, create a beautiful new greenspace in our city, and create new jobs and economic development.”
The first of two resolutions passed by the City Council allows for the City to enter into a purchase and sale agreement with JK Equities for the city-owned property located at 94 Moshassuck Street. The transfer of ownership will take place only after the completion of the recreation conversion process managed by the National Park Service and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, along with the approval of the Recreation Conversation and Relocation Plan, which will include an additional 9.4 acres of new green recreation space west of the Blackstone River.
The second resolution passed supports the rehabilitation of recreational land on Grenville Street and asks the Administration to work with the Woodlawn Neighborhood Association, the Pawtucket Parks Commission, and the Council’s Recreation Committee to take the necessary steps to rehabilitate and reopen the property as a recreational facility designed to meet the needs of the residents of Woodlawn.
The process leading to this compromise has included multiple public meetings about the proposed distribution facility, the purchase of Morley Field, and the need to accommodate a new, larger green space/public park in the vicinity. As part of this process, soil samples taken at Morley Field found elevated levels of environmental hazards. In particular lead, gas and petroleum related byproducts at levels above residential and industrial direct exposure criteria were found. Once the City was made aware of these results, the City immediately notified RIDEM and abutters. Out of an abundance of caution, the City has also limited public access to Morley Field, which is standard procedure in such situations.
JK Equities, the developer, has begun demolition work, and the City has been working collaboratively with them and others, including the City Council, since 2021 in order to ensure a transparent process.
JK Equities will be compensating the City $280,000 for the property plus another $1.5 million to go toward the purchase of a new property to be used for the relocation.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 20, 2022
- Mayor Donald R. Grebien