The City of Newport is negotiating a proposal to sell the 18,000 sq. ft. Armory property located on Newport Harbor with frontage on lower Thames Street, and situated alongside the city-owned Ann Street Pier. It is also the location of the City Maritime Center which opened in 2012 and provides needed services for the many transient boating enthusiasts who visit our city. If this sale is approved, the city will lose one of the most historic structures on Newport Harbor. Newporters will have to deal with another irreversible loss of Historic Thames Street/ Waterfront Property if they allow the City Council to approve the sale of the Armory.

Friends of the waterfront and Newport taxpayers should be concerned with this proposal, as articles in the newspaper have indicated that the new owners intend to use the Ann Street Pier in conjunction with their operations. What effect will this arrangement have on the public’s free access to the waterfront?

The newspaper articles have also indicated that the Mayor is the catalyst of this proposal, having reached out last spring to Gary Jobson, President of the Sailing Hall of Fame, with an invitation to consider the Armory building for a possible move to Newport. Why is the Mayor so willing to part with a Newport treasure?

This proposed sale is clearly not in the best interest of the City of Newport or its taxpayers, and will result in the loss of one of the last remaining waterfront buildings owned by the city. Newporters should be given an opportunity to say whether or not this important piece of our waterfront should be offered up for sale. I urge Newport residents to voice their position to the members of the City Council before this ill-conceived idea becomes a reality.

Frederick Biastre | Newport, RI

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