By DAVID PEPIN
So whereâ€™s that new 1,500-square-foot addition to the East Greenwich Housing Authority offices at 146 First Ave?
If youâ€™re driving past, you canâ€™t tell which half of the yellow one-story wood building has just been completed and which half dates back to its 1848 origin as part of the townâ€™s poor farm.
And thatâ€™s just fine with Executive Director Marcia Sullivan.
With just a couple of minor details remaining in the interior and some landscaping of the grounds to be completed, the $300,000 project, paid for with competitive federal stimulus funds, has helped the agency deal with what Sullivan feels were its two biggest concerns: privacy and handicapped access.
Prior to the addition, the building lacked a conference room and safe, secure areas in which officials could talk business with clients and contractors.
â€śBasically, all the frontline staff was in one room when I got here three years ago,â€ť Sullivan remembers.
With a spacious new office of her own and a conference room featuring the original 1848 ceiling beams, Sullivan feels the revamped building is much more conducive to the sometimes sensitive business conducted inside.
â€śIssues of applicant and tenant confidentiality were compromised, and we didnâ€™t have handicapped access,â€ť she says. â€śItâ€™s a better experience doing business here now, even for contractors, who may need to spread things out in a larger space.
The conference room will allow staff and board meetings to be held inside the building instead of at Shoreside Apartments.
â€śWe had board meetings there in the room where hairdressing was done,â€ť says Sullivan, adding that moving the meetings out of Shoreline was a positive for its senior residents.
Another benefit, she says, is additional storage space, including a crawl attic, that allows the authorityâ€™s records to be kept in one place.
â€śBeing a HUD (federal Department of Housing and Urban Development) agency, we have onerous record retention requirements. They were all over town, but now weâ€™vce brought them into one location,â€ť she says, adding that the extra space will be welcome during the authorityâ€™s annual toy drive.
The renovated building also includes energy efficiency and fire safety improvements, including an upgraded heating system, insulation, low-energy lighting and energy-efficient windows.
Contractors Network of East Providence was the principal contractor for the project, with Oâ€™Hearne Associates Architects of North Smithfield serving as project architect.