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Al Beauparlant Resigns from Redevelopment Agency

Developer cites threat from Councilman, expresses hope to work with Mayor.

Al Beaparlant reads his resignation from the Redevelopment Agency. CREDIT: Rob Borkowski
Al Beaparlant reads his resignation from the Redevelopment Agency. CREDIT: Rob Borkowski
Al Beauparlant has resigned from the Redevelopment Agency, saying a recent conversation with a City Councilman has made it clear he's too much of a 'lightning rod' to be of use to the board.

Following the Nov. 5 election, Beauparlant said, he approached a City Councilor to offer congratulations and attempt to establish a working relationship. But, he said, the Councilor did not react graciously, essentially telling Beauparlant he'd work to block his efforts on the Redevelopment Agency.

Those efforts include an initiative to encourage an area university or college to locate in the city with a satellite campus, a  project Beauparlant took the lead on. The self-described "Woonsocket guy," a developer with 29 years of experience as a project manager and problem solver, has a stack of poster boards in his home illustrating various plans of attack for the city's economic rebirth.

"At least there'll be some kind of movement without me," Beauparlant said. 

Mayor Lisa Baldelli-Hunt said Beauparlant's choice to resign was his own, and declined to comment on Beauparlant's account of his conversation with the Councilor. "That's between him and the Councilor," Baldelli-Hunt said.

Baldelli-Hunt said she's sure the Redevelopment Commission will find someone to replace Beauparlant from a large pool of qualified people in the city. She also noted that the board was only recently reconstituted this year, and there is not much momentum lost with Beauparlant leaving it.

Beauparlant also experienced difficulties with his plans for a closing ceremony for the City's 125th anniversary celebration planned for the lot across from the Woonsocket Call during the Holiday Stroll.

Beauparlant, architect of the 125th Anniversary Block Party, as well as the 100th in 1988, had planned to re-build the Arc de Triomphe in the lot with an added feature to the spectacle, The Woonsocket Rocket, a 5-foot high model that was to be pulled to the top of the Arc with fireworks, but the city placed several conditions on the event he wasn't able to meet. 

Beauparlant said the city couldn't guarantee a fire engine as a precaution for the fireworks; It required him to be personally indemnified for the event; and it would've charged him $12,300 for city workers to block off streets with saw horses and signs. 

Regarding the insurance, Beauparlant said, the city is already insured under its special events coverage, which was also used during the 125th Anniversary Block Party. So, he said, the insurance requirement was an unreasonable request. Taking all the conditions together, he said, it was clear, "This event, the city wanted nothing to do with it."

The closing ceremony's cancelation carried a particularly sharp sting, Beauparlant said, since the event had originally been planned, with all approvals from the city in place, for Dec. 1 under Mayor Leo Fontaine's term. Beauparlant insisted on moving the date to coincide with the Holiday Stroll, he said, to make sure newly elected Mayor Lisa Baldelli-Hunt could participate in the ceremony. He said he has also resigned from the 125th Block Party Committee.

Baldelli-Hunt disagrees with that characterization of events. First, she said, while the Holiday Stroll takes place on Main Street and cooperates with the City, it is actually an event run by the Main Street Riverfront Initiative, the same organization that ran the 125th Anniversary Block Party. 

It was the Main Street Riverfront Initiative's responsibility to line up the permits and precautions for the Holiday Stroll, Baldelli-Hunt said, but when she took office Dec. 4, those permits were not in place. Beauparlant told her staff that former Mayor Leo Fontaine hadn't been in for the last few weeks, and hadn't been available to make the arrangements. 

She said some of Beauparlant's plans, including the fireworks, were potentially dangerous, and while not everything he'd intended could be arranged with the time they had, some of it still could have been done. She said the Main Street Riverfront Initiative canceled that portion of the Stroll, not the city.

Beauparlant said he holds out hope that he can still be of assistance to the City. "I will still be putting forth great plans for the City of Woonsocket," Beauparlant said.

Beauparlant, who worked closely with former Mayor Charles Baldelli, the new Mayor's uncle, and considers him a friend, said he's also looking forward to meeting with Baldelli-Hunt. "Some things that I will tell her will be profound, significant and very enlightening," Beauparlant said. 
Russell Archambault December 13, 2013 at 07:37 PM
First of all I detest the term " Woonsocket Rocket ". As for profound, significant and very enlightening," I can't wait for that. The idea for an area university or college to locate in the city with a satellite campus, nice idea, sound good, but any real developer knows that it would take in the area of 50 million dollars, the city's blessing and lets not forget zoning to get that in place to work as it should. It is possible but will not happen without a full time CEO in place for that vision to succeed.
David T December 13, 2013 at 10:16 PM
Is there anyone else left at City Hall or part of a board who had ties to Fontaine? If so, tread lightly. Geez!
Yvette M Ayotte December 14, 2013 at 06:42 AM
It never fails, whenever someone/something good is for this city, someone knocks it down. Sad.
Marcel Foisy December 14, 2013 at 09:46 PM
Let's face it, assumption of risk and liability is a big issue. In my opinion, maybe a political wink and nod from the previous administration would have allowed this event to fly under the radar at the city's expense. Maybe Leo, in his absence, allowed the event to wallow so the new administration could shoulder the blame. A final "I told you so!" Proper permits and inspections are a Must to ensure the safety of all.
llaacc90 December 15, 2013 at 12:41 AM
suck eggs Marcel u know nothing
give me a break December 15, 2013 at 06:03 AM
llaacc if you need a permit to use river island then you a permit for anything else and as for resigning he should name the moron of a council
Marcel Foisy December 15, 2013 at 08:05 AM
llaacc90, it is fact that the planning committee had a meeting at city hall with representatives of the police dept traffic division, fire chief and fire marshall and other dept heads regarding permits and planning. It was a surprise to all that proper permits were not handled. Closing of streets and lighting of permit only fireworks by a licensed pyro technician are not small undertakings. It is also fact that Leo was absent his last few weeks as lame duck mayor and offered no assistance to the transition team. I think this would have been a very nice event but you can't just set up without the proper approvals and conditions, especially event liability insurance.
Still Hope December 15, 2013 at 10:57 AM
A shooting rocket on Main St is one part neat and two parts ridiculous. Remember that guy that couldn't have a make-shift haunted house in his yard? Why would you expect make-shift explosives on Main St to pass muster without a permit? These events always need the blessing of the council, chamber of commerce, and public safety officials. If one of those is not on board for some reason, you have failed.
Melissa Murray December 16, 2013 at 09:25 AM
A clarification: the Main Street Stroll Committee, of which I was a member, obtained all the necessary permits for all of it's planned activities that evening. The fireworks, rocket launch and so forth was being run by a separate group headed by Beauparlant (calling their event "first night"). This group did not obtain the necessary permits and did indeed choose to cancel their event themselves. Despite the misleading headlines in The Call that the event was canceled the stroll went on as planned and was a fun and positive event for all participants.
Meesh December 16, 2013 at 10:00 AM
Give Me a Break, everyone knows who the person was on the council just by the words used by Al in his resignation letter.
Russell Archambault December 16, 2013 at 03:50 PM
if this site closes its because its everyone's fault except me. So I say bye bye to all, its been fun. and to all, Merry Christmas and a Happy new year.
Steve December 16, 2013 at 05:52 PM
Russ, I enjoy all your posts, and always appreciate the opposing side of any discussion. There's always a saying that I live by, let no man cast a stone if he lives in a glass house. If this site goes down, it's due to the fact that it's become nothing more than a "I have a car, couch or stove for sale" web site that has nothing to do with the current state of Woonsocket or it's struggles. The Valley Breeze has a comment section, but from what I can see, not all stories are, for lack of a better term, commentable. Oh well my friend, life goes on, and we'll see where this goes.........
Russell Archambault December 17, 2013 at 07:06 AM
Steve as you know I do live in a glass house, ive just learned to install bars around them so no one breaks in. We should ALL try to meet at DD. for coffee. place and time.??? Would also love to meet still hope, and others. Maybe we can start OUR own Woonsocket tea party. Hey I have an idea, maybe we can all meet at Yvette's house. How about it Yvette. Yvette if we can get a quorum at the tea party, we could vote you in as the first TEA POT. Luv to all
Meesh December 17, 2013 at 07:46 AM
Russ a tea party at Yvette's would be great! I will really miss reading these comments if the Patch goes away. We could all start a group on Facebook. We could call the group "Previous Patch Participants."
Still Hope December 17, 2013 at 12:47 PM
Patch's current business model is unsustainable. As noble as it seems to be hyper-local, the ad revenue doesn't justify keeping an entire staff and site maintenance for each town. Unfortunately, Patch needs to consolidate its resources and delegate them to entire areas. Unless I'm running for local office, why would I advertise only in Woon? Gimme Cumb, NS, and Lincoln also, we might have a deal. Patch doesn't own a physical newspaper, so it can't rely on pages upon pages of garbage advertising like The Call and Breeze can. The Call is losing its subscriber base and can't seem to figure out how to make a usable website, so they'll be gone in 5-7 yrs. The Breeze should be a model for Patch, however Patch already has better infrastructure. Should things fail to work out for Patch, I would attend the Previous Patch Posters and Participants Post-mortem Party.
Meesh December 17, 2013 at 12:56 PM
We'll be happy to see you Still Hope at the PPPPMP. (previous patch posters & participants post-mortem party.)
Marcel Foisy December 18, 2013 at 07:31 AM
Thank you Miss Murray for clarifying my intended thoughts. I meant planning for the last night event, not the stroll. I also agree with your statement about The Calls reporting of the cancellation. Many were confused by that.

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