Town Hall dedication draws enthusiastic crowd
By Michaela Kennedy
“Architects say, ‘Great buildings are because of great clients,’” William Burgin said while standing in front of his newly-constructed design on Sunday. The great building referred to was the new Jamestown Town Hall, which was dedicated on Aug. 13.
Town Council members stood with municipal workers, residents and visitors as a color guard marched forward to the new entrance. Town Council President David Long introduced Burgin fondly as the “mad architect” of the project. He also introduced Richard Pezzuco, the builder. “I’m sure I can tell you how happy I am to be here,” Long said. “This has been in the works for a long time.”
It’s official! Barbara Szepatowski, Sen. Jack Reed, Arlene Petit, David Long, Julio DiGiando, Rep. Bruce Long and Michael Schnack were among the officials who cut the green ribbon, formally dedicating the new town hall on Sunday. Photo by Andrea von Hohenleiten
The complex combines the old town hall structure with a new, larger building and a connector between the two. Town administrator Bruce Keiser called it an “absolute award-winning building.” He said the town had wanted to consolidate its municipal offices for a long time, and the space would be multi-functional. “We will line the walls with local artwork. The historical society will have important photographs on display,” he said.
The town administrator experienced an extra rush of auspicious timing when his birthday was announced by Long. The crowd paused from the dedication for a round of “Happy Birthday” to the surprised Keiser.
Keiser went on to read a message from Governor Donald Carcieri, who extended his best wishes for the occasion, and also read a Rhode Island Senate citation received in recognition of the purchase of Conanicut Island. Rep. Bruce Long also stepped forward, offering recognition from the House of Representatives.
U.S. Senator Jack Reed spoke a few words at the gathering. “This is a new chapter in the history of Jamestown. It has come a long way since the sheep herders that inhabited the island long ago,” he said.
Tree Preservation and Protection Committee member Jim Rugh stepped forward and presented six trees, secured with a grant from the Rhode Island Tree Council.
Rosemary Enright, president of the Jamestown Historical Society, handed a pair of scissors to the council president. The officials lined up in front of the entrance for the symbolic ribbon cutting, and cheers erupted again.
Karen Dionne, the mother-inlaw of the builder, came down from Johnston to witness the event. “The turnout in this small town is phenomenal,” she said, adding that Pezzuco had been excited about the ceremony for a while. Dionne noted that the cupola on top of the building was a present from Pezzuco and his brother Ronald, who dedicated it in the name of their late mother.
Paula Cogswell, a friend of Dionne and a summer resident of Jamestown for the last 70 years, beamed with pride. “It’s the most wonderful, amazing, greatest building,” she said.
Mary Hutchinson of the Land Trust also marveled. “It’s exciting, it’s fresh. Finally we’re going to have everybody under one roof. The town will be more efficient,” she said.
The historic Conanicut Island Land Agreement will be on display in the Wright Museum in the Jamestown Philomenian Library.
Article reprinted with permission of the Jamestown Press