By DAVID PEPIN
So where’s that new 1,500-square-foot addition to the East Greenwich Housing Authority offices at 146 First Ave?
If you’re driving past, you can’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 town’s poor farm.
And that’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.
“Basically, all the frontline staff was in one room when I got here three years ago,” 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.
“Issues of applicant and tenant confidentiality were compromised, and we didn’t have handicapped access,” she says. “It’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.
“We had board meetings there in the room where hairdressing was done,” 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 authority’s records to be kept in one place.
“Being a HUD (federal Department of Housing and Urban Development) agency, we have onerous record retention requirements. They were all over town, but now we’vce brought them into one location,” she says, adding that the extra space will be welcome during the authority’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 O’Hearne Associates Architects of North Smithfield serving as project architect.