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Station site faces an uncertain future

September 20, 2012

Makeshift memorial makers commemorate some of the 100 lost on the night of February 20, 2003, when The Station Nightclub went up in flames. Times File Photo.

WEST WARWICK -- With the 10 year anniversary fast approaching, the fate of the Station Nightclub Fire memorial site has been a topic of discussion for residents, survivors, friends and family for quite some time.

For many years, members of the Station Fire Memorial Foundation have been working hard to obtain the property where the nightclub, which burned down in February 2003, once stood on Cowesett Avenue in West Warwick.

Unfortunately, their efforts to reach out to the land owner have been unanswered.

Vice President of the foundation and fire survivor Victoria Eagan explained that the board has been trying to contact the Villanova family for many years.

She said they are desperate to require the property to build a memorial park, but will not resort to taking the property by eminent domain.

Recently, Governor Lincoln Chafee and House Speaker Gordon Fox spoke about using the power of eminent domain to secure the property following the groundbreaking of a memorial in Warwick yesterday.

“We don’t support eminent domain,” said Eagan. “We’re not looking to seize personal property by force. We would like him [Raymond Villanova] to want this to become a memorial."

Secretary of the foundation and fire survivor Gina Russo explained that she would love to work out a peaceful agreement with the land owner and have him involved in the building of the memorial.

“A tragedy happened on their land and maybe this is a way to make it right,” she said. “We don’t want to push them further away by taking it through eminent domain.”

Eagan explained that the foundation plans to meet with the Governor and discuss the site memorial; she hopes it will spur some response from Villanova.

“If the government seizes the property they have the right to whatever they want with it,” she said. “Anybody who cares doesn’t want it to be involved in state hands. We want it to be involved with the survivors, friends and families who lost people that day.”

Town Council President Angelo Padula, who had a relative burned in the fire, said the Town Council does not believe in taking the property through eminent domain either.

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